Finding the Most Fuel-Efficient Luxury Sedans
Although luxury sedans normally cost more to buy and run, certain models enable drivers to save money on fuel. Some high-end cars can travel more than 40 miles per gallon on the highway, but many others remain far less efficient.
Most luxury cars are relatively heavy, come with automatic transmissions and have large engines. Despite these similarities, several important differences have a major impact on fuel economy:
1. Fuel type
2. Hybrid engines
4. RWD or AWD
While the vast majority of luxury sedans feature automatic gearboxes, a few models like the Acura ILX offer manual units. A manual transmission weighs somewhat less and tends to work slightly more efficiently. However, energy savings are minimal.
Luxurious cars are known for their sophisticated safety features, including various cameras and sensors. This equipment prevents accidents but also adds weight. To save money, drivers should only buy safety options that they will actually use.
Some high-end sedans boost traction and improve safety with all-wheel drive. They include certain models from Audi, Tesla and Mercedes-Benz. This feature reduces gas mileage. However, the loss is often as small as one mile per gallon.
Many luxury cars travel fewer than 25 miles per gallon because they contain big V-6 or V-8 engines. The most efficient models tend to have two-liter or smaller four-cylinder units. This makes more of a difference than any other aspect of a vehicle.
Another major factor is the kind of fuel a sedan consumes. Different luxury models use regular gasoline, premium gas, ethanol, diesel or electricity. Diesel generally costs about 10 cents more than regular gas.
Ethanol-powered cars burn more gallons to travel the same distance. For instance, the Mercedes-Benz E350’s average fuel economy drops from 23 to 16 mpg when it runs on E85 ethanol. An E15 blend has a much smaller impact.
Several of the most efficient models run on diesel. For example, the BMW 328d achieves 45 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg in urban areas. The Audi A3 travels about two fewer miles per gallon.
Other top performers include sedans with hybrid gasoline engines. The Acura ILX, Lincoln MKZ and Infiniti Q50 hybrids all exceed 35 mpg on highways. Motorists can drive the MKZ an average of 40 miles on one gallon of gas.
Although styles vary, many high-end sedans are at least somewhat aerodynamic. Brands like Volvo and Mercedes-Benz have adopted less boxy designs in recent years. Some cars remain relatively compact. Nonetheless, powerful engines and numerous extra features limit the gas mileage of many models.
Luxurious autos often boast sophisticated communications, entertainment and navigation systems. These units increase power consumption and weight. However, navigation assistance devices can save energy when they help drivers avoid mistakes and follow more efficient routes.
Some luxury sedan owners drive more carefully because of their vehicles’ high value. On the other hand, big engines and turbochargers promote speeding and aggressive driving in some motorists. This results in poorer fuel economy.
Although most high-end cars are powerful enough to pull trailers, few drivers use them for this purpose. Trailer hitches are sometimes available as aftermarket equipment. Any towing will significantly raise the amount of fuel a vehicle consumes.
A “turbo” saves energy by using exhaust heat to generate more power. Drivers can achieve the same performance with smaller engines and boost efficiency by about 20 percent. One sedan that benefits from this technology is the four-cylinder BMW 328i.
The bottom line is that drivers save money when they select luxury cars with comparatively small engines that use diesel or hybrid gas-electric fuel systems. They can also conserve energy by driving carefully and avoiding unnecessary features.