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Canada's top fuel-sippers

Winners are announced of the ecoEnergy for Vehicles Awards.
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Each year, Natural Resources Canada makes an announcement at the Toronto auto show: the winners of the ecoEnergy for Vehicles Awards, which reward the most fuel-efficient 2011 vehicles in each of 10 categories.

The winners for 2011 are:

Two-seater: Honda CR-Z

Subcompact: Ford Fiesta Super Fuel Economy (SFE)

Compact: Honda Civic Hybrid

Midsize: Toyota Prius

Full-size: Honda Accord Sedan; Hyundai Sonata (tie)

Station wagon: Audi A3 TDI Clean Diesel; Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI Clean Diesel (tie)

Pickup truck: Toyota Tacoma

Special purpose: Ford Escape Hybrid

Minivan: Toyota Sienna

Large van: Chevrolet Express Cargo/GMC Savana Cargo

Many vehicles make the list year after year, but there are several new faces for 2011 — the largest turnover yet, according to Natural Resources. Returning entries are the Audi and Volkswagen diesels, the Civic Hybrid, Prius and Escape Hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, Hyundai Sonata, and the mechanical twins of Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana.

New to the list are the Honda CR-Z, which replaces the Smart Fortwo that took the two-seater spot for 2010; Ford Fiesta SFE, knocking out Toyota Yaris; the Toyota Tacoma, in place of the Ford Ranger and its twin Mazda B2300; the Accord Sedan; and Toyota Sienna, which takes over from the Mazda5, a model temporarily discontinued for 2011 awaiting an all-new replacement for 2012.

“These awards have become bragging rights, and they assist Canadian purchasers when they are choosing their cars,” says Daniela Dibartolo, Director of Transportation Energy Use at Natural Resources Canada, who handed out the awards at the show.

“At Natural Resources, we work closely with other government agencies and automobile manufacturers on this commitment to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.”

According to Dibartolo, 12 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada come from cars and light trucks.

Fuel economy testing isn’t done on the road. Rather, it’s all determined in a laboratory, tested by the automakers using a standardized procedure with the vehicle run on a dynamometer. The city test runs for 12 km at an average speed of 32 km/h, while the highway test is over 16 km at an average of 77 km/h.

Although these models may have the best published fuel efficiency numbers, it’s important to consider a number of factors when you’re buying a vehicle. Some are for specific trim lines, such as the Fiesta SFE; others, including the Volkswagen, Tacoma, Accord and Sonata, only hit those ultra-low numbers when equipped with manual transmissions. And above all, how you drive the vehicle makes all the difference in the world.

Your fuel economy will always suffer if your tires aren’t inflated properly, if you drive aggressively, or if you’re always hauling a full load of passengers or cargo. “Your mileage may vary” is absolutely true. Don’t use the published figures as gospel of what you’ll get on the road, but as a guide to help you pick the right vehicle for you.

To see the fuel figures for all cars and light-duty trucks sold in Canada, visit www.tinyurl.com/fuelcanada.

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