ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The average fuel economy for new vehicles sold in June dropped to 25.4 mpg, according to researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The June average is down 0.1 mpg from May but an improvement of 5.3 mpg from October 2007, when the researchers first began compiling data.
The latest UMTRI Eco-Driving Index stands at 0.85, indicating that the average new-vehicle driver produced 15 percent lower emissions than in October 2007, although that figure is 9 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 decline "likely reflects the increased sales of light trucks and SUVs in June."
As previously reported by Edmunds, trucks and SUVs proved to be a major showroom hit last month, with strong sales of models like the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, Ford Explorer and Ram ProMaster, while smaller, more fuel-efficient cars continue to struggle.
Explained Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com director of industry analysis: "Small cars are feeling pressure from the new crop of compact and subcompact SUVs like Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade, which have proven popular, especially with Baby Boomers."
According to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline nationwide was $2.76 on Monday. That's up slightly from last month's average of $2.75 but still down quite a bit from $3.65 a year ago. Data for Tuesday was unavailable.
AAA says that despite rising gas prices over the past several months, drivers paid "the lowest prices at the pump over the Fourth of July holiday weekend in at least five years."
Fuel prices commonly fall each year around Independence Day. However, notes AAA, "a seasonal decline in the national average this year has been offset by supply shortages due to localized refinery issues and global crude prices that have recovered from multi-year lows this spring."
Still, says AAA, Americans have saved a total of about $65 billion on gas in the first six months of 2015.
Edmunds says: Comparatively low gas prices have helped spur sales of larger vehicles, but economy-minded consumers still have a wide choice of fuel-efficient options.