New EPA window sticker

Hybrids like the Toyota Prius will be the biggest losers with the new EPA ratings
The EPA brings mileage ratings closer in line with reality

Starting with the 2008 model year, manufacturers will be required to post newly revised estimated mileage figures for their vehicles' windows. Customers have long complained that their cars, pickups, SUVs and hybrids are not achieving their rated mileage and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally doing something about it.

The previous EPA ratings standards have been in place since 1984 and don't accurately reflect real-world conditions. EPA testing failed to take into account stop-and-go traffic, lead-footed drivers, driving faster than 55MPH, extreme cold temperatures and the use of air conditioners in vehicles.

According to the EPA, most vehicles will see average city mileage ratings drop by 12% and highway ratings will drop by an estimated 8%. Hybrids will be the big losers, however, with the new EPA testing. Hybrids like the Prius and Civic Hybrid will see their city ratings drop by 20% to 30% in the city and 10% to 20% on the highway.

Despite what will likely be a slight damper on the image that its Prius hybrid projects, Toyota is fully behind the changes. "This doesn't change the car or the technology, just the way the mileage is calculated," said Toyota Motor Sales USA spokeswoman Ming-Jou Chen. "It makes the estimate closer to real-world numbers, and we fully support that."

The EPA sticker is also getting a makeover and will include an estimated city/highway mileage range of competing models, estimated costs based on 15,000 miles of driving and a link to where potential buyers can go for more information.

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