MPG Leader Mazda Does it Without Hybrids or EVs

The Mazda brand has once again achieved the top miles per gallon (mpg) rating amongst all manufacturers in the US, reaching a fleet-wide average of 29.4 mpg for 2014, according to a report published by the EPA this week.

2016 Mazda CX-5

2016 Mazda CX-5.

SKYACTIV Technology Leads the Way

For the third consecutive year, Mazda beat out all comers and did so without the usual hybrid and electric vehicle models other manufacturers rely upon to achieve higher numbers. Instead, the company has been working diligently to improve its engines and transmissions, what it calls “SKYACTIV Technology”. The technology also extends to vehicle platforms as extensive lightweighting and sleek designs are employed.

“At Mazda, driving matters and so does fuel economy,“ said Jim O’Sullivan, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations. “Using SKYACTIV Technology, Mazda has been able to achieve class-leading fuel efficiency in nearly every segment it competes in. This achievement verifies that Mazda has evolved to offer what others can’t, vehicles that are of high-quality, great looking, fun-to-drive and fuel efficient.“

Besides exceptional fuel efficiency, the EPA noted that Mazda is the leader in CO2 emissions, specifically the manufacturer offering the lowest output of all. With a rating of 302 g/mile, the automaker easily outpaced the next two brands, Subaru and Hyundai.

2016 Mazda CX-3

2016 Mazda CX-3.

New Product Offerings

Mazda’s success can be attributed to a host of new products released in recent years, including its compact Mazda3 and midsize Mazda6 car lines, its MX-5 Miata roadster, and a pair of crossover SUVs: the tiny CX-3 and the compact CX-5. Yet another model, the next-generation CX-9 arrives in 2016 and comes outfitted with a turbocharged, 2.5-liter engine, replacing the current V-6. The automaker expects the new CX-9 to deliver “great performance…and excellent fuel economy.”

Granted, Mazda is more of a niche player as it doesn’t match the product offers of the top brands, including Chevrolet, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, and Honda. The first four brands along with Fiat Chrysler are heavily reliant on larger SUVs and trucks, vehicles that skew mpg numbers accordingly.

Other Manufacturers Represented

Subaru, another niche manufacturer, came in second with a fleet-wide average of 27.6 mpg. This automaker relies on all-wheel drive models nearly exclusively, with only the rear-wheel drive BRZ lacking such a system. Subaru offers only one hybrid model: the XV Crosstrek.

Hyundai, with a fleet average of 27.5 mpg is another manufacturer with just one hybrid model: the Sonata Hybrid. This Korean manufacturer has no trucks and also has a relatively low presence in the utility vehicle segment. But it also has larger models such as the Genesis and Equus sedans that neither Mazda nor Subaru offer.

2016 Scion iA.

The Mazda-supplied 2016 Scion iA.

Among the largest manufacturers, Honda (inclusive of Acura) achieved a 27.3 mpg average. All three major US manufacturers brought up the rear with Ford and GM averaging 22.8 mpg and Fiat Chrysler coming in last at 20.8 mpg. These manufacturers dominate the full-size truck segment; FCA also lacks a hybrid or an electric vehicle (other than the California Fiat 500e) to help lift its numbers. FCA also finished dead last in CO2 output.

Incrementally Rising EPA Requirements

All manufacturers have a long way to go before reaching the 54.5 mpg corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) requirement for 2025. In fact, incremental year over year increases are mandated, therefore greater use of alternative fuels and power sources are likely, including for Mazda.

Beginning in 2016, Mazda will discontinue its last V-6 engine even as competitors continue to rely upon both V6s and V8s for some models. However, Mazda hasn’t announced what products will eventually get hybrids, but when it does the automaker will rely upon Toyota’s green technologies to achieve its goals according to Green Car Reports.

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Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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