Fuel consumption testing

It would be difficult to drive every model of new vehicle on the road to measure fuel consumption. And it would be impossible to get repeatable results that way because so many factors – road conditions and weather, to name just two – can affect a vehicle’s performance.

That is why vehicle manufacturers use standard, controlled laboratory testing and analytical procedures to generate the fuel consumption data that appear in the fuel consumption ratings search tool and on the EnerGuide label for vehicles.

Environment and Climate Change Canada collects the data from vehicle manufacturers. Natural Resources Canada puts the data and other information together to publish the Fuel Consumption Guide.

Improved testing

Before model year 2015, manufacturers used the 2-cycle testing procedure, which tested vehicles under simulated city and highway conditions to find out how much fuel they use.

Manufacturers now use the 5-cycle testing procedure. The improved procedure tests for city and highway conditions as well as operating a vehicle in cold weather, the use of air conditioners, and driving at higher speeds with more rapid acceleration and braking.

5-cycle testing does a better job of reflecting typical driving conditions and styles. It produces fuel consumption ratings that are more representative of a vehicle’s on-road fuel consumption.

Model year 2017 update

Some of the calculations used by manufacturers to determine the fuel consumption ratings of their new vehicles were updated. This better reflects today's more fuel-efficient technologies such as hybrid vehicles and turbocharged engines. The ratings for a 2017 or later model may be slightly different from the model year 2016 ratings for the same vehicle.

Watch the video

Learn more about the EnerGuide label and how 5-cycle testing gives better results.

Transcript

Narrator:

If you’re like most Canadians, you’ve probably used the figures on the EnerGuide label to help you choose the vehicle that’s right for you.

Starting with the 2015 model year, vehicle manufacturers will use an improved testing procedure to determine the fuel consumption ratings of new vehicles.

The new Government of Canada test methods will better reflect everyday driving in Canada.

Manufacturers will use 5 different tests designed to simulate different road conditions:

  • Driving in cold weather
  • Driving in hot weather with air conditioning in use
  • High speed/rapid acceleration driving
  • Stop and go city driving, and
  • Driving on highways and rural roads

The testing is done in laboratories to make sure every car is tested under identical conditions in order to ensure consistency.

These five tests will better reflect what it’s like to drive a car in Canada twelve months of the year – creating ratings that are far more useful for you.

As a result of the new testing, fuel consumption ratings will immediately jump up by 10% to 20% for most vehicles – not because vehicle manufacturers are producing less efficient vehicles, but because the testing is more extensive – and a lot more realistic.

Despite the new methodology no test can simulate all the possible combinations of conditions that Canadian drivers experience.

It’s all about how, where, and when you drive.

Visit vehicles.gc.ca for more information.

 

How 5-cycle testing works

A vehicle is driven about 6,000 km before testing. Then the test vehicle is placed on a machine called a chassis dynamometer, which is like a treadmill for vehicles. The dynamometer is adjusted for things like the weight and aerodynamics of the specific vehicle. A driver runs the vehicle through standard driving cycles that simulate trips in the city and on the highway.

City and highway fuel consumption ratings come from the emissions generated during five laboratory driving cycles:

  • City test
  • Highway test
  • Cold temperature operation
  • Air conditioner use
  • Higher speeds with more rapid acceleration and braking

City test simulates urban driving

The city test simulates urban driving in the following ways:

  • It begins from a cold engine start, which is similar to starting a vehicle after it has been parked overnight during the summer.
  • It simulates stop-and-go traffic with an average speed of 34 km/h and a top speed of 90 km/h.
  • It includes 23 stops.
  • The final phase of the test repeats the first eight minutes of the cycle but with a hot engine start. This simulates restarting a vehicle after it has been warmed up, driven and then stopped for a short time.
  • More than five minutes of test time are spent idling, to represent waiting at traffic lights.
Parameters
Test Cell Temperature 20° to 30°C
Total time 31 minutes, 14 seconds
Distance 17.8 km
Top speed 90 km/h
Average speed 34 km/h
Maximum acceleration 5.3 km/h per second
Number of stops 23
Idling time 18% of total time
Engine start* Cold

Highway test simulates open highway and rural road driving

The highway test simulates a mixture of open highway and rural road driving in the following ways:

  • It uses an average speed of 78 km/h and a top speed of 97 km/h.
  • It does not include any stops.
  • The test begins from a hot engine start.
Parameters
Test Cell Temperature 20° to 30°C
Total time 12 minutes, 45 seconds
Distance 16.5 km
Top speed 97 km/h
Average speed 78 km/h
Maximum acceleration 5.2 km/h per second
Number of stops 0
Idling time 0
Engine start* Warm

Cold temperature test dips to -7°C

In the cold temperature operation test, the same driving cycle is used as in the city test, except that the ambient temperature of the test cell is set to -7°C.

Parameters
Test Cell Temperature -7°C
Total time 31 minutes, 14 seconds
Distance 17.8 km
Top speed 90 km/h
Average speed 34 km/h
Maximum acceleration 5.3 km/h per second
Number of stops 23
Idling time 18% of total time
Engine start* Cold

Air conditioning test raises ambient temperature

In the air conditioning test, the ambient temperature of the test cell is raised to 35°C. The vehicle's climate control system is then used to lower the internal cabin temperature. Starting with a warm engine, the test averages 35 km/h and reaches a maximum speed of 88 km/h. Five stops are included, with idling occurring 19% of the time.

Parameters
Test Cell Temperature 35°C
Total time 9 minutes, 56 seconds
Distance 5.8 km
Top speed 88 km/h
Average speed 35 km/h
Maximum acceleration 8.2 km/h per second
Number of stops 5
Idling time 19% of total time
Engine start* Warm

High speed/quick acceleration test

The high speed/quick acceleration test averages 78 km/h and reaches a top speed of 129 km/h. Four stops are included and brisk acceleration is added at a rate of 13.6 km/h per second. The engine begins warm and air conditioning is not used.

Parameters
Test Cell Temperature 20° to 30°C
Total time 9 minutes, 56 seconds
Distance 12.9 km
Top speed 129 km/h
Average speed 78 km/h
Maximum acceleration 13.6 km/h per second
Number of stops 4
Idling time 7% of total time
Engine start* Warm

*A vehicle’s engine does not achieve maximum fuel efficiency until it is warm.

Not all vehicles are tested

Vehicle manufacturers are not required to submit fuel consumption data for:

  • sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and passenger vans with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 4,536 kg (10,000 lbs.) – GVWR is the weight of the vehicle plus maximum carrying capacity (passengers and cargo)
  • other vehicles with a GVWR of more than 3,856 kg (8,500 lbs.) or a curb weight of more than 2,722 kg (6,000 lbs.) – curb weight is the weight of the vehicle without passengers and cargo

Vehicles that exceed these limits are not tested, so their fuel consumption ratings do not appear in the fuel consumption ratings search tool or on the EnerGuide label.