ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The average fuel economy for new vehicles sold in March remained at 25.3 mpg, according to researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The March average is the same as the revised figure for February, and 0.5 mpg less than the peak reached in August 2014, but still 5.2 mpg better than October 2007 when the researchers first began compiling data.
The most recent UMTRI Eco-Driving Index stands at 0.84, indicating that the average new vehicle produces 16 percent lower emissions than in October 2007, although that number is 6 percent higher than the record low reached in August 2014.
To arrive at its figures, UMTRI calculates average sales-weighted fuel economy from the monthly sales of light-duty vehicles (cars, SUVs, vans and pickups) and the combined city/highway fuel economy ratings that appear in the EPA Fuel Economy Guide and on vehicle window stickers.
The average new-car fuel economy has now held steady for the first three months of 2016, which likely reflects stable gas prices and the continued strong sales of a mixed bag of small and large cars, pickup trucks and SUVs.
As recently reported by Edmunds, sales leaders for March included fuel-efficient compact models like the 2016 Nissan Sentra and 2016 Honda Civic, midsize sedans, such as the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, and SUVs like the 2016 Ford Edge and 2016 Jeep Compass.
According to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline nationwide was $2.05 per gallon on Tuesday. Although that compares favorably to $2.39 at this time a year ago, it does represent a slight upward trend over the past month.
AAA notes, however, that "despite increasing for 36 of the past 41 days, the national average is at its lowest price point for this same date since 2009."
And in the near future, AAA says: "Although prices are expected to move higher leading into the summer driving season, consumers will likely continue to benefit from comparative savings due to the overall abundance of supply and the lower price for crude oil."
Edmunds says: With pump prices remaining relatively stable, fuel economy doesn't seem to be a major factor for most new-car shoppers.