DETROIT (AP) — Every new car window sticker shows the estimated cost of fuel for a year, but that figure may not reflect the miles you drive. A new survey does that math for you.
GasBuddy.com, a website that uses data from volunteers, gas stations and other sources to keep track of gas prices nationwide, ranked more than 750 vehicles from the 2013 model year based on the cost of fuel per mile driven. The survey used the average gas price in July — $3.59 per gallon — and measured vehicles based on their combined city and highway mileage, as calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Honda vehicles performed best, averaging 12.8 cents per mile. General Motors Co.'s GMC brand was worst, averaging 21.2 cents.
After Honda, the most efficient brands were Kia, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Toyota. The worst performers, after GMC, were Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Jeep, Jaguar, Infiniti, Chevrolet, Dodge, Porsche and Chrysler.
GMC spokesman Brian Goebel pointed out that the brand's lineup is all trucks and SUVs, and lacks small cars to bring down the average. GMC's smallest vehicle is the Acadia midsize SUV, which gets 19 mpg and costs 15 cents per mile to fuel it up. By comparison, Honda's smallest U.S. vehicle, the subcompact Fit, gets a combined 31 mpg, and costs 10.3 cents per mile.
Goebel also said the brand is improving. The 2014 GMC Sierra pickup, which went on sale in June, now gets up to 20 mpg in combined city and highway driving, an improvement from 17 in the previous model year.
The most efficient car, the Toyota Prius C hybrid subcompact, costs 7.2 cents per mile. The least efficient vehicle, a Bugatti Veyron sports car with a 16-cylinder engine, costs 35.9 cents. The difference is substantial. Assuming you drive 12,000 miles per year, the Prius C would cost you $864 to fill up; the Veyron would cost you $4,308. But anyone who buys the $1.3 million Veyron probably isn't too worried about fuel costs.
Hybrids generally did well, but beware. You pay a premium up front, and it takes years to recoup that cost in fuel savings. For example, the regular Ford Fusion midsize sedan costs 12.8 cents per mile, while the hybrid version costs 7.6 cents. Assuming you drive 15,000 miles per year, the regular Fusion costs $1,920 to fill up, while the hybrid costs $1,140, a difference of $780 per year. But the hybrid costs $5,300 more than the base model. You'd need to drive the hybrid for nearly seven years to break even.
Tom Kloza, an analyst with GasBuddy, said he wasn't surprised by the rankings. But he was impressed by the number of vehicles in the 12- to 15-cent range. That's where you'll find the Toyota Camry midsize car, Ford Escape SUV, Mazda5 minivan and even the Porsche Boxster sports car.
"You don't have to be Wayne and Garth driving around in a little Pacer to get a reasonable bang for your buck," he said.
Starting with the 2013 model year, every new car's window sticker must show the EPA's estimated annual fuel costs. But those costs assume that the owner will drive 15,000 miles per year and pay $3.70 per gallon. That will vary by driver, and where they buy gas. Right now, for example, drivers in South Carolina are paying $3.24 per gallon while those in Hawaii are paying $4.33.
Whatever you pay, and whatever you drive, the EPA has some suggestions for saving money. Speeding, and rapid acceleration and braking, can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds, or by 5 percent in city driving. Use cruise control on the highway to maintain a constant speed. And when you stop, turn off the engine, since idling wastes fuel.