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The fuel economy estimates that are shown on the window stickers of all new light-duty vehicles sold in the United States are a result of calculations and data from five different fuel economy test cycles conducted in a controlled laboratory setting.

  1. The city cycle represents driving in stop-and-go traffic.
  2. The highway cycle represents free flow traffic with longer periods of higher speeds.
  3. The high-speed cycle represents both city and highway driving with more aggressive acceleration and braking.
  4. The air conditioning cycle represents driving when the outside temperature is hot and the vehicle’s air conditioner is in use.
  5. The cold temperature cycle represents driving when the outside temperature is cold.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies new vehicle fuel economy and makes adjustments to account for variables that are not included in the testing, such as wind, hills, and road conditions. Vehicles that are not tested include motorcycles; pickup trucks and cargo vans with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) over 8,500 pounds; and passenger vehicles, such as SUVs and passenger vans, with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or more.

City cycle graphic represents driving in stop-and-go traffic.
Highway cycle graphic represents free flow traffic with longer periods of higher speeds.
High-speed cycle graphic represents both city and highway driving with more aggressive acceleration and braking.
Air conditioning cycle graphic represents driving when the outside temperature is hot and the vehicle’s air conditioner is in use.
Cold temperature cycle graphic represents driving when the outside temperature is cold.

Note: Figures have differing scales for both time and speed.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Detailed Test Information. For more information, see EPA’s Fuel Economy Testing and Labeling.

Fact #1141 Dataset

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