In the land of $2.00 a gallon gas, does anyone care a flying fig leaf about fuel economy? Judging by the number of people flocking to buy the biggest, thirstiest gas powered behemoths they can find, the answer appears to be a resounding “No!”
However, if you are part of the minority who still thinks a fuel efficient car is important, direct your attention to the folks at Mazda. According to the latest numbers from the EPA, Mazda’s average fuel economy across all models was 29.4. Subaru, was 2nd at 27.6 mpg and Hyundai was third at 27.5 mpg. Honda and Nissan rounded out the top 5. The numbers are as of the end of 2014, the latest year the EPA has figures for. Fiat Chrysler scored the lowest in the EPA 2014 survey. Ford, GM, and Mercedes Benz were also near the bottom
What is interesting about Mazda’s performance, according to Edmunds.com, is that it has no hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric cars in its lineup to help boost its average fuel economy ratings. It relies exclusively in the US on its so-called SkyActiv gasoline engine technology.
To the casual observer, that is just Mazda’s name for direct gas injection. In traditional fuel injected engines, gasoline is sprayed into the intake air stream, where it combines with oxygen before entering the cylinder. With direct gas injection, air and gasoline are kept separate until inside the combustion chamber.
This allows more precise control of how much and when gasoline gets added to the mix. That in turn produces more complete combustion with fewer emissions. The SkyActiv technology is so good, Toyota is sharing its hydrogen fuel cell secrets with Mazda so it can take advantage of Mazda’s expertise building fuel efficient engines. Every engine in the Mazda model lineup uses SkyActiv technology except the 7 passenger CX-9 crossover, which will get a new SkyActiv engine for the 2017 model year.