We'll let you in on a little secret: Those EPA mileage ratings the automakers advertise? They're off by as much as 50 percent -- on the high side, that is. Now, the agency says, it's getting ready to bridge the gap between sticker figures and reality by changing the way it tests fuel efficiency. Consumers can expect to see mileage estimates revised downwards
on all 2008 models. The figures may be particularly tough on hybrid fans. According to the New York Times
While hybrids are almost always more fuel efficient than conventional vehicles, E.P.A. officials said their estimates for city driving would shrink more because their engines were more sensitive to changes in road conditions, as well as the use of fuel-draining features like air-conditioning and electronic controls.
Of course, more accurate information is better information. But in the final analysis, the new ratings are largely beside the point. The Sierra Club's Dan Becker gets the kicker in this story: "The real issue," he tells the Times
reporter, "is making auto companies put the technology in cars that make them go farther on a gallon of gas." Amen.