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The Most And Least Fuel-Efficient Cars - New EPA Report Says Subaru Is Now The Best

How fuel-efficient are Subaru vehicles? See how the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek, Outback, Forester, and other all-wheel-drive vehicles compare with all manufacturers.

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The EPA released its new 2022 Automotive Trends Data report that details fuel-mileage results and finds Subaru's lineup of the 2023 Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, and other all-wheel-drive models ranks the best in U.S. automaker's fleets. Subaru improved from the 2021 EPA report last year and ranked the Japanese automaker number two.

How fuel efficient is Subaru's fleet of all-wheel-drive vehicles? According to EPA's new report, the average new car purchased in 2021 managed 25.4 mpg. The report says the Subaru lineup of the Crosstrek, Forester, Outback, Ascent, and other all-wheel-drive models average 28.8 mpg.

2023 Subaru EPA fuel efficiency

With gas prices rising, Americans rank fuel efficiency as the most critical factor in their decision to purchase a vehicle, according to a study by Edmunds and Consumer Reports. Drivers of less fuel-efficient SUVs are most interested in better mileage. When you think of an all-wheel-drive SUV, it typically isn't the most fuel-efficient drivetrain unless it's a Subaru.

The EPA report says Subaru ranks number one among all car manufacturers, with its overall fuel mileage trend increasing and emissions decreasing. Subaru's real-world fuel economy has increased from 28.1 mpg in 2016 to 28.8 mpg in 2021 for its entire lineup. Subaru's CO2 Emissions (g/mi) have dropped from 317 to 309 from 2016-2021.

2023 Subaru EPA fuel efficiency
photo credit: EPA 2022 Automotive Trends Data Report

The most fuel-efficient new car lineups

The EPA says Tesla's all-electric fleet had the lowest tailpipe CO2 emissions and highest fuel economy of all large manufacturers. Subaru, Kia, Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, and Mazda followed Tesla.

The least fuel-efficient new car lineups

The Automakers with the highest new vehicle average CO2 emissions and the lowest fuel economy of the prominent manufacturers are Stellantis, GM, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz.

The EPA report says Subaru has the lowest CO2 emissions (309 g/mi) of any automaker with its all-wheel-drive lineup. Kia and Hyundai are next at 310, Nissan at 311, and Honda at 312.

How does Subaru accomplish it with an all-wheel-drive lineup?

It's surprising since Subaru only fields all-wheel-drive vehicles except for one, the rear-drive 2023 BRZ sports coupe. All-wheel-drive is generally less fuel-efficient than other configurations. The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek, Forester, Outback, Ascent, Impreza, WRX, and Legacy all come with Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system.

Subaru's technology

Subaru vehicles are all powered by horizontally-opposed Boxer engine technology, coupled with a CVT automatic, a fuel-efficient powertrain. Subaru is one of the leading manufacturers of continuously variable transmissions (CVT), also used for fuel efficiency. According to the EPA, Subaru is a top automaker in adopting CVTs (95%).

Subaru uses direct gas injection (GDI) technology in 99 percent of its engines, improving fuel mileage. The technology is now standard in all next-generation boxer engines Subaru is rolling out. Subaru added lean combustion cycles and cylinder deactivation (stop/start) in 80 percent of its new vehicles.

New Subaru vehicles like the 2023 Outback, Ascent, and Legacy also get new 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engines that offer similar power and improved fuel mileage over some automakers who still use the less-efficient V6 engine.

With all-wheel-drive SUVs gaining popularity with U.S. shoppers, Subaru now produces the best fuel economy with a gas-powered lineup that includes standard all-wheel-drive. Its fuel-efficient SUVs include the 2023 Crosstrek, Forester, Outback, Ascent, and other new models.

You Might Also Like: 10 Easy Tips To Improve Gas Mileage In Your AWD Subaru and 3 Things That Don’t Work

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report, where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Kath (not verified)    December 16, 2022 - 8:13AM

Oh, I just procured a Crosstrek. It's a great car and yes, so far the gas mileage has been great. It handles well and has plenty of get-up-and-go.

Steve Power (not verified)    December 17, 2022 - 6:25AM

The article makes it seem like engineering prowess is the reason for this, when fleet composition is obviously the main reason. Companies like Subaru that focus on compact sedans and SUVs are always going to do better than companies that sell a lot is trucks and SUVs.

David (not verified)    December 18, 2022 - 12:25PM

The difference between 26 miles per gallon and 25 mi per gallon is no difference at all. The only true difference is between gas and hybrid and electric. Otherwise all four cylinder all gas engines have no real difference between them the weather and the way you drive is going to make a much bigger difference than the car you buy

Richard Torres (not verified)    December 18, 2022 - 7:43PM

Our ascent is terrible on gas mileage. No better then 16 to 19 . It sucks, had an outback before and mileage was great. 32+ very disappointed with the Ascent. Talked to other Ascent owners and they say the same. Mileage sucks.!!

Sam Williams (not verified)    January 15, 2023 - 10:33AM

The 2022 ascent I purchased averages 10-12 mpg city. There is something fraudulent with the rankings and information put out by the EPA and this needs to change given it's 2022. Perhaps this car shouldn't even be made anymore. A government investigation needs to occur but it seems as though the folks at the EPA and NHTSA could care less. (this stuff has been going on for so long these gov workers have no good answer).

Regardless, Subaru is in denial and their response has been to send me back to dealers for unspecified test after test. So far they've told me the mpg is normal and they even wrote as much on Yelp.

Shawn warnick (not verified)    April 25, 2023 - 9:04AM

No way. My wifes outback gets 25mpg on the highway, gets about 23 average commute. Its the 2.5L not the xt or the 3.6r. My 3.6r legacy gets only like 15 in the city and on the other hand gets 28 on the highway. So absolutely terrible in stop and go and decent on the highway for a large 6 cylinder. Did not realize a 4 cylinder smaller midsize suv at 23mpg was good. Same with my midsize 6 cylinder sedan, getting 23mpg combined is pretty poor. That is like the same as a taurus or a maxima and both are more powerful and larger. Between gas mileage and oil leaks on my subarus those are really my only complaints.