The controversy over fuel efficiency testing and how it compares to real-world results has endured for several years now, with many consumers finding that their vehicles fall short of things like official EPA estimates. There are many variables involved in this process, of course, ranging from the way a vehicle is driven to the conditions that it’s driven in that have a big impact on efficiency. This is true not only of ICE vehicles, but also EVs, many of which struggle to hit their claimed range figures in real-world conditions or when towing heavy loads. Then there are other variables such as petrol particulate filters that are required in places like Australia, which is also where a recent test by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) found that the Ford Puma is less-efficient in real-world driving as well.
This is the first time AAA has conducted its real-world testing program, which compares the fuel consumption and emissions of vehicles in Australian driving conditions to each vehicle’s laboratory test result to see just how accurate those ratings are. The idea is to give consumers a more realistic look at how much money it costs to actually operate a vehicle rather than relying on fuel economy numbers that are generated in a controlled setting.
The first round of tests focused on small and mid-size crossovers and SUVs, in particular, and was centered around nine specific models. Interestingly, four of those models produced fuel economy results that were within 2.5 percent of lab results, while the other five were within eight to 13 percent. In terms of emissions, four SUVs recorded high pollutant results, three of which exceeded the limits for Australian regulations, while two surpassed the European particle number (PN) lab test emissions limits.
The Ford Puma was among the worst offenders in this particular test, as its real-world fuel consumption was eight percent higher than its lab ratings – 5.7L per 100 kilometers versus 5.3L – and the crossover emitted 10 percent more CO2 emissions as well – 134 g/km versus 121. AAA plans to continue testing other models in the coming months, a list that will eventually grow to include the roughly 200 different vehicles on sale in the country, currently.