What is a good miles per gallon average?

Quick Answer

There is no single “good” miles per gallon average that applies universally. What constitutes a good MPG depends on many factors like vehicle type, engine size, driving conditions, and personal needs. However, here are some general MPG benchmarks:

  • Compact sedans – 28+ MPG is good
  • Midsize sedans – 24+ MPG is good
  • Large sedans – 22+ MPG is good
  • SUVs – 18+ MPG is good
  • Pickup trucks – 15+ MPG is good

As a rule of thumb, achieving 20+ MPG in everyday driving is considered fuel efficient for most non-hybrid vehicles. The average MPG across all vehicles sold in the US is around 25 MPG.

What Impacts MPG

Miles per gallon depends primarily on three factors:

Vehicle Size and Type

Larger and heavier vehicles require more energy to move, so they typically have lower MPG. Sedans are generally more fuel efficient than trucks and SUVs. Within each vehicle class, smaller and lighter models tend to have better fuel economy.

Engine Size

Vehicles with larger displacement engines consume more fuel. A 6-cylinder engine will use more gas than a 4-cylinder of the same make and model. Turbocharging and supercharging can improve MPG in large engines.

Driving Style

Aggressive acceleration, hard braking, high speeds, excessive idling, and heavy cargo loads reduce MPG. Smooth and moderate driving improves it. Highway driving is typically more efficient than city driving.

Proper vehicle maintenance like regular oil changes, proper tire inflation, clean air filters, and tuned engines can also help maximize MPG.

New Vehicle MPG Trends

Thanks to advances like engine stop/start systems, turbocharging, and weight reduction, the average MPG for new vehicles sold in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 25.4 MPG in 2020.

Here are the MPG trends for popular new vehicle types:

Vehicle Type Average New Vehicle MPG
Compact Cars 31 MPG
Midsize Cars 29 MPG
Large Cars 26 MPG
Pickup Trucks 21 MPG

As fuel efficiency regulations get stricter over the next decade, average new car MPG is expected to keep rising.

Used Vehicle MPG

Since older vehicles lack the latest fuel-saving technology, their real-world MPG tends to be lower than the original EPA estimates. Here are the average MPG drops by vehicle age:

Vehicle Age MPG Reduction
5 years old 2 MPG decrease
10 years old 4 MPG decrease
15 years old 6 MPG decrease

When evaluating used vehicles, checking services records is important to ensure proper maintenance has been performed to maximize MPG.

MPG Impact of Driving Style

Aggressive driving can lower MPG significantly. Here are some examples:

  • Speeding above 60 MPH reduces MPG by 15% on highways
  • Hard acceleration decreases MPG by 35% in city driving
  • Using A/C reduces MPG by 10% in city driving

Eco-driving techniques like slower acceleration, coasting to stops, and staying at low RPMs can improve MPG by as much as 25%.

How to Estimate Real-World MPG

The EPA fuel economy sticker is based on standardized government tests. But real-world MPG is typically 10-15% lower than EPA estimates due to factors like:

  • More aggressive driving
  • More A/C usage
  • Colder weather
  • Short trips
  • Traffic conditions

To estimate your real-world MPG:

  1. Reduce EPA Highway MPG by 15%
  2. Reduce EPA City MPG by 10%
  3. Take a weighted average based on your driving (e.g. 70% highway, 30% city)

Tracking your fuel fill-ups and miles driven for a few months will provide the most accurate picture of real-world MPG.

Tips to Improve MPG

Here are some effective tips to maximize MPG:

  • Accelerate and brake gradually
  • Maintain steady cruising speeds
  • Avoid excessive idling when possible
  • Reduce cargo weight
  • Check tire pressures monthly
  • Use the recommended motor oil grade
  • Remove excess items from interior
  • Disable A/C and roll down windows at lower speeds
  • Combine errands to reduce cold starts
  • Avoid rush hour driving when possible

Simple changes in driving habits and vehicle maintenance can improve MPG by 10% or more.

How Weight Impacts MPG

Vehicle weight directly affects MPG. Hauling extra weight increases the force required to accelerate and reduces efficiency. Estimates indicate:

  • 100 lbs extra weight decreases MPG by 1%
  • 250 lbs extra weight decreases MPG by 2-3%
  • 500 lbs extra weight decreases MPG by 4-5%

Removing unnecessary cargo is an easy way to lighten your vehicle and boost MPG. Installing a truck bed cover can also improve MPG by reducing aerodynamic drag.

EVs and Hybrid MPG

All-electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids rely heavily on battery power instead of gasoline. That makes MPG less relevant since they use little or no gas for daily local driving. Here are typical electric ranges:

Vehicle Type Electric Range
Full EV 100+ miles
Plug-In Hybrid 10-50 miles

For longer trips that exceed electric range, MPG ratings for hybrids vary widely based on battery size and gas engine efficiency. Real-world MPG is generally 20-30% below EPA ratings.

Pickup Truck MPG

For full-size pickup trucks, good MPG is typically in the 15-22 MPG range. Truck MPG is impacted by:

  • 2WD vs 4WD drive trains – 2WD is more efficient
  • Payload weight – Heavier loads decrease MPG
  • Towing – Reduces MPG significantly
  • Bed cover – Can improve MPG on highways
  • Engine size – Smaller V6 engines have better MPG than V8s

Midsize trucks tend to be more fuel efficient with MPG in the 19-26 MPG range for new models.


For SUVs, good fuel economy varies widely by vehicle class and features:

SUV Class Good MPG
Compact SUV 25+ MPG
2-Row Midsize SUV 22+ MPG
3-Row Midsize SUV 19+ MPG
Full-size SUV 17+ MPG

Factors like 4WD, towing packages, and roof racks can reduce MPG. Lighter 2WD models with 4-cylinder engines have the best efficiency.

Which Vehicle Classes Have the Best MPG?

On average, smaller and lighter vehicle classes achieve the highest MPG:

Vehicle Class Average MPG
Subcompact cars 31 MPG
Compact sedans 30 MPG
Compact SUVs 25 MPG
Midsize sedans 27 MPG
Midsize SUVs 22 MPG
Full-size sedans 23 MPG
Minivans 22 MPG
Full-size SUVs 18 MPG
Pickup trucks 20 MPG

However, there can be significant variation within classes based on engine size, drivetrain, and features.


Good fuel economy depends on your specific needs. While smaller vehicles offer the best MPG on average, improvements in engines and transmissions have increased efficiency across all vehicle classes. Focus on total operating costs, not just MPG, when choosing a vehicle. And utilize eco-driving techniques to maximize MPG regardless of what you drive. With rising gas prices, even minor improvements in MPG quickly pay dividends.

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