Are you tired of being lied to by your car's fuel economy display? Well, brace yourself because the truth is, these displays are almost always wildly inaccurate.
We've been comparing the average MPG displays in our test vehicles to the actual miles travelled per gallons consumed for years and the results are shocking. Out of hundreds of vehicles tested, we have only seen the display be accurate a handful of times.
Most of the time, the MPG display in your dash is telling you your mileage is about 10 to 15% better than it actually is. In a recent test of an all-new 2021 model year crossover, the MPG display had us preparing to write a story saying this vehicle was as efficient as a hybrid. However, when the display went above 40 MPG, we started to wonder if it could possibly be correct. Over the full test, it settled in at 35.8 MPG. We travelled 241.6 miles using 7.43 gallons of fuel, which means our true mileage was 32.5 MPG. A 10% difference, and typical in its optimism based on our testing.
One of the highest MPG scores we ever observed was in a test of a diesel Volkswagen Golf. The in-dash display told us the average was 56 MPG. However, by our calculations dividing miles by gallons, we came up with 50.2 MPG, a 10% lower MPG. Still a high number, but why does the car have to exaggerate?
It's not just the average MPG displays either. Even the trip odometer can be misleading. In one of the rare examples of a vehicle displaying a lower than actual fuel economy was in the all-new Honda CR-V Hybrid. We recorded a 39.09375 MPG number during our time with the CR-V Hybrid. But the dash displayed 36.3 MPG.
It's time for car manufacturers to stop deceiving consumers and start providing accurate information. Don't take our word for it, try it yourself. Zero the MPG average using the infotainment settings, fill the tank to the first click, and zero the trip odometer. Drive for the majority of the tank, at least 250 miles, then re-fill to the first click and record the gallons consumed. Compare that to the in-dash display and see for yourself just how far off it is. This is not acceptable and it's time for car manufacturers to step up and provide accurate information to consumers