Toyota's Prius Ranks First in EPA's 2008 Fuel Economy Guide

Toyota's Prius Ranks First in EPA's 2008 Fuel Economy Guide

Toyota's 2008 Prius hybrid car, with its average 48 miles per gallon in city driving, and 45 mpg on the highway, is the most fuel-efficient car in the United States for the second year in a row. Following the Prius in second and third places are Honda's Civic Hybrid and Nissan's Altima Hybrid, with 40/45 and 35/33 city/highway mileage, respectively.

Those are the results of the annual Fuel Economy Guide, which is released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, in order to help consumers make better-informed decisions when shopping for new cars.

At an event marking the release of the Guide, EPA chief Stephen L. Johnson said that this year's results show that "'going green' can fit the need of any lifestyle," while Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman warned that "Greater fuel efficiency is something we must approach more aggressively, effectively and creatively than we have over the past 30 years."

Sports and luxury cars had the notable distinction of ranking lowest in fuel economy this year, with Lamborghini, Bugatti, Bentley and Ferrari all manufacturing cars with lower than 10 mpg in city driving. Audi and Mercedes-Benz both have station wagons that place in the bottom of the list, rating at 13/20 and 12/18 city/highway, respective. Although the Ford F150 Rousch Performance Stage 3 pickup and Mercedes' G55 AMG sport utility vehicle have lower fuel economy, under current law, these vehicles, and any others that weigh over 8500 pounds are exempt from fuel economy requirements.

But despite -- or perhaps because of -- the news, Toyota has been taking heat lately from environmental groups that criticize its support of one of two fuel economy laws under discussion in Washington, D.C. TruthAboutToyota, an umbrella group including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the League of Conservation Voters and others, have targeted Toyota for its support of a bill that would raise the average fuel economy to 32 mpg by 2022, compared with another bill, one supported by the environmental groups, that would raise the average to 35 miles by 2020.

Toyota is not alone in supporting the 32 mpg bill (Eco-Geek reports that Ford, GM and Chrysler support it as well), but because Toyota has seen a boost in sales, in large part attributed to its more fuel-efficient models like the Prius, the groups have singled Toyota out for trying to have it both ways.

Full details of the 2008 Fuel Economy Guide are available at FuelEconomy.gov.