Slow Down to Save Fuel: Fuel Economy Decreases About 27% When Traveling at 80 mph Versus 60 mph

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Fuel economy for a light-duty vehicle going 80 miles per hour (mph) is about 27% lower than when traveling at 60 mph. Between 40 and 50 mph is the optimum cruising speed for the best fuel economy in cars and light trucks, according to an Oak Ridge National Laboratory study of 74 different vehicles. The best fuel economy is typically obtained when the vehicle is traveling at the lowest speed in the vehicle’s highest gear.

Estimates for fuel economy by speed for an individual make/model of vehicle can be found on the FuelEconomy.Gov website at Driving More Efficiently.

Note: The study of 74 light-duty vehicles included two-seaters, sedans, station wagons, sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and minivans for model years ranging from 2003 to 2012 with a wide variety of powertrains (e.g., 4-, 6- and 8-cylinder engines and transmissions with 4, 5, 6 and 7 speeds and continuously variable transmissions). Both 2- and 4-wheel drives were included. Slow Down to Save Fuel: Fuel Economy Decreases About 27% When Traveling at 80 mph Versus 60 mph

Courtesy of Energy.gov. Return to 2022 Fact of the Week.

Fact of the Week — Fact #1240 Dataset

Sources: U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Fuel Economy Guide, Driving More Efficiently.

ORNL researchers quantify the effect of increasing highway speed on fuel economy.

Driving More Efficiently

Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic.

Driver feedback devices can help you drive more efficiently. A recent study suggests that they can help the average driver improve fuel economy by about 3% and that those using them to save fuel can improve gas mileage by about 10%.3

Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.

*Electric car drivers are always aware of this fact, as well, to save and extend range, as well as avoid collisions.


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