We’ve taken a big step backwards. The new 2013 window stickers deliver less information on fuel economy than their predecessors. I’d reckon that the EPA had good intent when they redesigned the stickers (aka: Monroneys), but the end result is that new vehicle shoppers will be short changed. The new design does deliver more graphical information, but it has lost two key pieces of crucial information.
The new slider graphics for Fuel Economy / Greenhouse Gas Rating and Smog Rating are welcome additions for buyers interested in the environmental impacts of the vehicle. At a glance, these sliders show how the vehicle stacks up against all other vehicles. The ratings for the manual transmission-equipped front-wheel-drive 2013 Mazda CX-5 (as shown below), clearly indicate how the little Crossover fares when compared to every vehicle on the market – not just those in its class. (Never mind that the top end of the scale represents vehicles that will not fit the needs of a Crossover buyer.)
The new design stresses the combined city/highway figure as the dominant typographical element … it’s roughly four times the size of the individual city and highway figures. (I measured the numbers with my trusty old type gauge on a copy of a copy of the CX-5 Monroney and came up with 40 points vs 11 points.)
By comparison, the old Monroney (as shown below) listed the city and highway figures as roughly three times the size of the combined figure. (I measured 36 points for city / highway and 12 points for combined, on a copy of an original CVT-equipped 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport.) Putting the emphasis on the combined figure is a good idea, but here’s where things start to fall short. The old sticker showed the combined figure on a simple slider that demonstrated how that model stacked up to all the other vehicles in its specific class. With a quick look, you can see how the Impreza compares favorably to all other small wagons – at 30 MPG combined on a scale that ranges from 14 through 34 – taking into account that it’s an all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicle. The new sticker lacks that direct graphic comparison, as it’s been relegated to fine print.
The new sticker adds gallons per 100 mile information and fuel cost savings over five years, when compared to an average new vehicle. That’s good stuff, although the latter might be more useful if the comparison was within the vehicle’s class. There’s also a new QR Code for shoppers that want to look up more information with their smartphones. (This is splendid for folks that can afford a mobile device with an expensive data plan.)
Here’s the ultimate rub. The biggest omission in the new Monroney can be found in the missing fine print.
When you look underneath the big bold 36 point figures for city and highway MPG on the older window stickers, you’ll see an "Expected range for most drivers." In the case of the Impreza, it’s 29 to 46 MPG.
Don’t bother to get out your reading glasses anymore, as they’ve taken that information off the 2013 Monroneys.
Now this might not upset most folks. But over the course of the past five years or so, I’ve demonstrated how it’s possible to exceed the big bold MPG figures with most vehicles – at times by very significant margins – simply by driving with a light-footed style. I’ve done this in vehicle-after-vehicle, paying for the fuel out of my own pocket. The EPA used to give us a target to shoot for … even if it was printed in six point type. Our goals were clearly laid out by the Expected Range figures. And now they’ve vanished.
By erasing that fine print, the EPA has taken away a key incentive for folks to learn how to drive in a fuel-efficient manner.
Why would they do that?
This doesn’t seem like progress. It seems like obfuscation.
In this case, less isn’t more.
– by Daniel Gray
July 26th, 2012
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