ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The average fuel economy for new vehicles sold in February held steady at 25.2 mpg, according to researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The February average is the same as the revised figure for last month and 0.6 mpg less than the peak reached in August 2014, but still 5.1 mpg better than October 2007 when the researchers first began compiling data.
The most recent UMTRI Eco-Driving Index stands at 0.85, indicating that the average new vehicle produces 15 percent lower emissions than in October 2007, although that number is 7 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 fuel economy of new vehicles sold in January and February was a slight increase from the December average, which UMTRI said "likely reflects the month-to-month seasonal decrease in sales of pickup trucks and SUVs."
As recently reported by Edmunds, February sales leaders included fuel-efficient compact cars, including the 2016 Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra, and smaller SUVs, like the 2016 Chevrolet Trax, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and Volkswagen Tiguan.
According to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline nationwide was $1.81 on Friday. Although that compares favorably to $2.45 at this time a year ago, it does represent a slight upward trend over the past couple weeks.
AAA notes: "Gas prices are moving higher in many parts of the country as refinery maintenance season gets underway and as some refineries cut production in response to abundant supplies."
On the other hand, AAA says that despite these minor increases, "abundant gasoline supplies and lower crude oil costs should keep gas prices from rising as high as drivers have seen in recent years."
Edmunds says: With gas prices still relatively low, fuel economy doesn't appear to be a major factor in purchasing decisions for most car shoppers.