ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The average fuel economy for new vehicles sold in January jumped to 25.1 mpg, according to researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The January average is up 0.2 mpg from last month and 0.7 mpg less than the peak reached in August 2014, but still 5.0 mpg better than October 2007 when the researchers first began compiling data.
The most recent UMTRI Eco-Driving Index stands at 0.82, indicating that the average new vehicle produces 18 percent lower emissions than in October 2007, although that number is 4 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.
According to UMTRI the recent increase in average fuel economy "likely reflects the month-to-month seasonal decrease in sales of pickup trucks and SUVs."
As reported by Edmunds, cars like the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu midsize family sedan, the 2016 Honda Civic compact sedan and the Volkswagen Golf R performance hatchback showed a notable uptick in sales last month.
According to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline nationwide was $1.77 on Thursday, versus $2.11 a year ago.
The price of U.S. retail regular gasoline is forecast to average $2.03 a gallon in 2016 and $2.21 a gallon in 2017, compared with $2.43 a gallon in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Edmunds says: Fuel economy still appears to be a non-issue for many car shoppers.