Fuel Consumption Testing

Fuel consumption testing helps consumers make informed, energy-efficient purchase decisions by providing a reliable comparison of the relative fuel consumption performance of different vehicles.

It would be difficult to drive every model of new vehicle on the road to measure fuel consumption, and almost impossible to consistently duplicate on-road testing results because many variables can affect a vehicle’s performance. Instead, a controlled laboratory testing procedure is followed to ensure that all vehicles are tested under identical conditions and that the results are consistent and repeatable.

Vehicle manufacturers test their own vehicles using standardized testing and analytical procedures to generate the fuel consumption data that appear in the Fuel Consumption Ratings Search Tool and on the EnerGuide label affixed to all new light-duty vehicles sold in Canada.

Improved test methods

Manufacturers are using an improved testing procedure, introduced for model year 2015, to determine the fuel consumption ratings of new light-duty vehicles. The Government of Canada-approved 5-cycle testing better approximates typical driving conditions and styles, resulting in fuel consumption ratings that are more representative of a vehicle’s on-road fuel consumption.

The 5-cycle testing procedure supplements the standard (2-cycle) city and highway tests by integrating three additional test cycles that account for air conditioner use, cold temperature operation and driving at higher speeds with more rapid acceleration and braking. For the same make and model, 5-cycle testing produces fuel consumption ratings that are 10 to 20 percent higher than 2-cycle ratings.

View our video about the fuel consumption testing procedure.

Remember: Manufacturers are not producing less fuel-efficient vehicles - the test methods used to determine the fuel consumption ratings are simply more reflective of on-road driving conditions and styles.

Published ratings are a useful tool for comparing vehicles before you buy, but keep in mind that even the new ratings that better reflect everyday driving are based on standardized tests and may not accurately predict the fuel consumption you will get on the road. Your fuel consumption will vary depending on how, where and when you drive.

To see the ratings of all 1995–2014 model year vehicles adjusted to reflect the improved testing, use our Fuel Consumption Ratings Search Tool.

How vehicles are tested

Vehicle manufacturers follow a controlled laboratory testing procedure to generate the fuel consumption data that they submit to the Government of Canada. This controlled method of fuel consumption testing, including the use of standardized fuels, test cycles and calculations, is used instead of on-road driving to ensure that all vehicles are tested under identical conditions and that the results are consistent and repeatable.

Selected test vehicles are “run in” for about 6,000 km before testing. The vehicle is then mounted on a chassis dynamometer programmed to take into account the aerodynamic efficiency, weight and rolling resistance of the vehicle. A trained driver runs the vehicle through standardized driving cycles that simulate trips in the city and on the highway. Fuel consumption ratings are derived from the emissions generated during the driving cycles.

Detailed test information:

Which vehicles are tested

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

  • sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and passenger vans with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 4,536 kg (10,000 pounds [lb.]) – 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 lb.) or a curb weight of more than 2,722 kg (6,000 lb.) – 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.