Vehicle EnerGuide Label 2014
Vehicle EnerGuide Label 2015
2014 and 2015 EnerGuide Labels for new vehicles. Click image to enlarge

Article by Michael Bettencourt

More accurate five-cycle fuel consumption numbers are now available from the Canadian government online, seven years after the the U.S. EPA instituted similar five-cycle testing numbers. These new 2015 Canadian figures show an average increase in fuel ratings of 10 to 20 percent for the same exact vehicles, compared to the previous two-cycle (city and highway) criteria.

The less realistic 2014 figures are still being used on window labels across Canada now, until new labels roll out on 2015 vehicles throughout the year.

The revised figures can be found on the Natural Resources Canada fuel consumption ratings site, under the department’s general vehicles site, which also links to details of the new test methodology. Like the U.S. did starting with 2008 vehicles, Canada has added three new test parameters to its city and highway tests: a cold temperature test, one using air conditioning, and a quick-acceleration/high-speed-driving test that maxes out at 129 km/h, compared to the highway rating’s 97 km/h top speed.

The lag in the Canadian standards caused many Canadians and Canadian media outlets and websites to increasingly rely on and report U.S. EPA numbers for more realistic fuel efficiency figures, including this one. But interestingly, NRCan’s new 2015 numbers and the U.S. EPA numbers translated into metric L/100 km often don’t line up exactly, even though they use largely the same methodology.

The Canadian and U.S. numbers do end up very close, going by a comparison of some of the bestselling 2014 compact models in Canada, all of which either won or did very well in the last Mega Comparo Test of 11 compact cars. Here’s a look at how the revised ’15 Canadian numbers compare to its two-cycle 2014 figures, as well as the U.S. EPA numbers.

For fun, we’ve also listed the observed real-world fuel consumption figures we achieved during that chilly but snow-free late fall comparison test on our top four finishers: the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T and Honda Civic, all using automatic or CVT transmissions.

Standard Honda Civic Mazda3 Toyota Corolla VW Jetta 1.8T
2014 2-cycle (city/hwy) 6.7/5.0 6.7/4.7 6.5/4.6 8.2/5.6
2015 5-cycle est. (city/hwy) 7.9/6.0 7.9/5.7 7.7/5.6 9.5/6.7
EPA 5-cycle (city/hwy/overall) 8.1/6.2/7.1 7.8/5.7/6.9 8.1/6.2/7.4 9.4/6.5/8.1
Observed 9.3 7.8 7.9 9.2
Comparison of fuel economy estimate standards (L/100km)

As these numbers show, the overall observed fuel consumption during this route with urban, suburban and highway segments are still higher in the real world than any of the government tests suggest, at least in chilly November conditions in Toronto. But at least the Mazda3 and Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T managed real-world consumption below the city figures for the nearly-but-not-quite-equal Canadian and U.S. five-cycle city numbers. Not surprisingly, none of these cars’ observed consumption fell within the city or highway range of the old – and current – 2014 Canadian two-cycle fuel economy numbers.

Comparison Test: Compact Cars2013 Honda Civic Touring2014 Volkswagen Jetta
2014 Toyota Corolla, 2014 Mazda3, 2013 Honda Civic Touring, 2014 Volkswagen Jetta. Click image to enlarge

We’ve reached out to folks at the Natural Resources’ Office of Energy Efficiency department, including Steve Akehurst, head of the ecoEnergy for Vehicles program, on why the common discrepancies between the U.S. and Canadian five-cycle programs. Of the above cars, all except the Mazda3’s highway figure differed slightly between the Canadian and U.S. fuel economy figures, even though they’re both supposedly using the same testing methodology. We haven’t received any responses yet, but will update when we do.

For now, it appears the discrepancies come from the estimated nature of the 2015 Canadian figures. The 2014 Canadian Fuel Consumption Guide, launched in late February of this year, states that the 2015 numbers are estimates only. “City and highway (2015) ratings are based on the new test methods that better reflect everyday driving,” it reads. “Note that these are approximate values that were generated from the label ratings, not from vehicle testing.”

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