Fuel consumption testing

It would be difficult to drive every model of new vehicle on the road to measure fuel consumption. Also, it would be almost impossible to consistently duplicate on-road testing results because so many variables have an impact on the vehicle. Instead, a controlled laboratory testing method is followed to ensure that all vehicles are tested under identical conditions and that the results are consistent and repeatable. The values generated through this procedure allow fair and reliable comparisons of the relative fuel consumption of different vehicles.

Estimated fuel consumption ratings are derived from two test cycles:

  • city test - simulates urban driving in stop-and-go traffic.
  • highway test - simulates a mixture of open highway and rural road driving, typical of longer trips.

Note: Additional testing criteria are used to derive the estimated fuel/energy consumption ratings of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). These additional criteria result in higher estimated consumption ratings compared to conventional testing.


Fuel consumption ratings in Canada and fuel economy ratings in the United States differ significantly.

Beginning with model year 2008, the United States implemented additional testing cycles and procedures for fuel economy ratings.

Furthermore, U.S. fuel economy ratings are listed in miles per U.S. gallon and are averaged based on U.S. sales and adjustment factors.

For more information on vehicle fuel consumption testing and answers to frequently asked questions, visit vehicles.nrcan.gc.ca.

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