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MPG Meaning Explained: What is a Good MPG in Cars?

With gas prices moving higher and budgets tightening, you want to get the most mileage possible before you have to fill up your tank. When it comes to fuel economy, MPG is the metric by which you can determine whether or not a vehicle will make the most of each gallon of gas. So, what exactly does "MPG" mean?

What is MPG?

MPG Car Meaning: Miles per gallon, a standard measurement of your vehicle's fuel economy.

MPG stands for "Miles Per Gallon"; put simply, MPG means how many miles your car can drive for every gallon of gas it burns. The higher your vehicle's MPG, the more fuel efficient it will be on the road. How many miles per gallon your car gets is not a static number; your MPG is affected by several factors, including:

  • Travel Distance: While longer distances will inevitably burn up a higher quantity of fuel, the amount of MPG you get during travel can be changed by how warmed up your engine is. If you frequently start your car in the cold and travel a short distance, your vehicle will be less fuel efficient than it would with an adequately warmed-up car.
  • Travel Speed: Fast acceleration or sustained high speeds can quickly drain your gas tank, and maintaining a travel pace over 60 mph can reduce your fuel economy significantly. At the same time, frequent stopping and starting (like you often see in city driving) can also cause a drop in fuel efficiency.
  • Maintenance Level: A well-maintained vehicle will perform to the best of its abilities and travel as efficiently as possible. If your car struggles due to irregular oil changes, shoddy equipment, or clogged air filters, it will likely consume more fuel just to travel at the same speeds. If there is any part of your car that you've been neglecting, you can expect poor performance coupled with lower MPG as a result.
  • Tire Quality: Worn-down tires that lack proper tread can cause friction issues when you travel, lowering your MPG and requiring more engine power to maintain speed. Tire pressure can also harm fuel economy; low-pressure tires will cause similar friction problems to tires with low tread, resulting in higher fuel use.
  • Where You Drive: Cars get vastly different MPG in the city vs the highway, with highway miles being kinder to your car's condition and overall fuel economy. This is due to the rougher roads you find in cities and the way street systems are designed. With frequent intersections, stoplights, and other traffic impediments, you'll stop and accelerate frequently enough to significantly lower your vehicle's fuel economy.
  • What Type of Oil You Use: Frequent oil changes, along with certain types of oil, can increase the fuel economy of your vehicle. Lower-viscosity oil can pump more easily through your engine, decreasing resistance as it travels between its moving parts. However, regular oil maintenance is the more critical factor, as neglecting oil changes can lead to sludge and poor engine performance.
  • Weather Conditions: Cold weather conditions can make it harder for the internal mechanics of your vehicle to function, especially your engine. If the temperature drops low enough, your engine will struggle to propel your vehicle (especially when you first start it up.) Even if you take the time to warm up your car, that gas spent idling will lower your overall fuel efficiency. With cold weather, you just can't win!
  • Cargo: The overall weight of your vehicle can also be a determining factor in your fuel economy; your cargo primarily decides this. Cargo can be the luggage or equipment you bring with you on a trip, the passengers filling your seats, or any extra items you have strapped to the roof or rear of your vehicle. Lower weights mean better fuel economy, so consider how much weight you're holding before traveling. That extra luggage could cost you valuable miles per gallon and tack on extra costs to a trip.

What is a Good MPG?

When we ask the question "what is MPG in cars", we are usually looking for the best possible fuel economy we can get. A good ratio of miles per gallon can range depending on what type of vehicle you are using and what purpose you use it for. A good MPG for a truck meant to haul supplies short distances will vastly differ from a good MPG for a passenger car on a road trip.

For cars, a good MPG ranges between 50 and 60 miles for every gallon of gas used. Cars like the Toyota Yaris, Suzuki Ignis, Volkswagen Up, and Renault Kadjar are examples of vehicles that sit comfortably in this range. For trucks, a good MPG would be closer to 25 miles per gallon. Most trucks come in at less than 30 MPG, with the average sitting closer to 18 miles per gallon.

Where Can I Find High MPG Cars?

The best place to find information about any type of vehicle is GoodCar. GoodCar can provide you with all the tools you need to research fuel-efficient vehicles, allowing you to find all the available information about a car before your sale is finalized. GoodCar also provides one of the most comprehensive vehicle history reports available on the market. These reports can give you countless essential details about a vehicle, including:

  • Vehicle Overview
  • Title History
  • Sales History
  • Location History
  • Pricing
  • Residual Values
  • Junk/Salvage Records
  • Insurer "Total Loss" Records
  • Auto Specs
  • Title Brands (Problem Checks)
  • Mileage Information
  • Awards and Accolades
  • NHTSA Crash Testing and Recall Data
  • And Much More!

Getting a vehicle history report is essential if you want to get the most fuel-efficient vehicle possible and avoid hidden damage or issues with a car you want to purchase. These reports can save you time and money, plus reduce your chances of falling prey to a vehicle sale scam.