How Many Miles Can you Go on a Gallon of Gas? (MPG Explained)

Are you buying, selling, or registering a vehicle? Be prepared to satisfy any insurance requirements. Get a free quote.

ATTENTION

Please Enter your ZIP Code to Get Started.

It’s been a really long time since gas prices were so low that we didn’t really care how few miles our cars could drive on a full tank, let alone a gallon.

Nowadays, however, even when gas prices aren’t at their peak, they are still much too high for us not to be concerned about our vehicle’s fuel economy.

If you’ve shopped for cars, it’s likely you factored in gas mileage at least a little bit into your final decision.

If you’re new to car buying, you might be wondering what good gas mileage even is, or at the very least, what a decent amount of miles per gallon (MPG) is. 

Understanding how many miles to expect from a gallon of gas can help you choose the right car for you, and also help you keep track of your current car’s efficiency. 

How Far Can the Average Car Drive on One Gallon of Gas?

With the price of gas so high, it’s a question many drivers are asking themselves as they allow their tanks to get lower than usual: how many miles does 1 gallon of gas get you?

It’s definitely a gamble between stretching the time between fill-ups and risking having to tow your car to the next gas station.

So many things factor into how far a car drives per gallon, but on average, cars get about 25 miles on a gallon of gas

Because size plays such a big role in MPG, we can break down the averages by car type. Check out the quick reference table below.

Vehicle TypeAverage MPG
Sedan32 MPG
Pickup Truck18 MPG
SUV19 MPG
Van17 MPG
Hybrid Car48 MPG

How to Determine your Vehicle’s MPG (Easy Calculation)

Wondering how your car’s MPG stacks up against the average? You’re going to have to do some math. 

Actually calculating how far your car can go on a gallon of gasoline will give you a more accurate MPG for how you drive compared to the average MPG provided by the manufacturer.

Before you fill up your gas tank, take note of where the fuel gauge is, then reset your odometer trip reading to zero. After you fill the tank, record how many gallons it took to fill up the tank, then drive around as you normally would.

Once the fuel gauge reaches where it was before filling the tank, grab the odometer trip reading and divide it by the number of gallons you added to the car. This final number will be your car’s miles per gallon.

Calculate MPG for Your Car

  1. Note the position of the fuel gauge before you fill up.
  2. Reset your trip odometer to zero.
  3. Fill up the tank, and record how many gallons you put in.
  4. Drive around as normal, and pay attention to your fuel gauge.
  5. One the gauge reaches the original position, record the odometer’s trip reading.
  6. Divide the mileage of the trip odometer by the # of gallons you added during the last fill up.

The result is your true MPG.

Factors That Affect Gas Mileage in Different Cars

When buying a car, you’re going to see MPG plastered very prominently on the window sticker.

While this is the general benchmark for MPG on the car, there are different factors that could determine how many miles the car can really get per gallon.

The biggest factors can include:

  • Your driving habits/driving style.
  • Maintenance routine and condition of your vehicle.
  • Condition of your tires.
  • Traffic and driving conditions.
  • Weather conditions.
  • Vehicle’s weight.
  • Running the AC.

Essentially, anything that makes your car work harder, will affect its gas mileage.

Even poor road conditions can decrease your car’s MPG!

1. Your Driving Habits

Your driving habits have a big effect on your vehicle’s fuel economy.

If you have a lead foot, you can expect to get fewer miles per gallon out of your car.

Aggressive and frequent speed changes, as well as driving over 80 MPH, can considerably decrease your MPG.

Obey the speed limit, use cruise control at an efficient speed when driving on long open stretches, and practice gradual changes in speed.

2. Vehicle Maintenance

General maintenance is important for a lot of reasons – saving money at the fuel pump being one of them.

Staying on top of your car’s routine maintenance will help ensure that it’s running efficiently and getting the most out of every gallon of gas.

Keep up with your regular oil changes and tune ups, and you’ll help your gas go farther.

3. Tires

Surprisingly tires can also have a big effect on your car’s MPG.

Yes, race cars drive on bald tires, but those are designed to be bald.

Bald tires on your everyday car are worn and, thus, likely uneven and highly inefficient—not to mention unsafe.

The best tires for your car’s MPG are properly inflated and have good treads.

Good tires will also help to better combat the condition of the roads (potholes, bumps, etc.).

4. Traffic and Driving Conditions

Traffic is another big one.

Constant stopping, idling, and accelerating wreaks havoc on gas mileage.

This is why the estimated miles per gallon on city streets tend to be lower than highway MPG.

When you’re driving in the city and on surface streets, you’ll be doing a lot of stop, go, and acceleration. Same goes for driving in heavy traffic.

The best fuel economy usually comes when you’re able to drive on the open highway without frequent changes in speed.

5. Weather Conditions

Both cold weather and hot weather can affect MPG.

Your car works harder in cold weather, which will negatively affect your car’s gas mileage.

So, if you live and commute in a place that gets colder in the winter, you may find you’re paying more at the pump.

Conversely, hot temperatures can also affect MPG, but not directly.

By itself, hot weather actually helps to increase fuel economy.

But, running the AC and driving with the windows down to keep cool can reduce it.

6. Extra Vehicle Weight

Again, anything that makes your car work harder will decrease its fuel economy. Extra weight is definitely one of those things.

The more weight your car is carrying or towing, the harder it has to work, thus the worse its MPG will be.

7. Running the Car’s AC

As stated above, running your car’s AC can decrease gas efficiency too.

The best thing you can do is to make sure the air conditioning system is running as efficiently as possible. Learn how much it costs to fix the AC in your car. 

How to Get the Best Gas Mileage for your Vehicle

With gas prices as high as they are, you want to make sure you are getting the most out of every gallon of gas.

Take these steps to help get the best gas mileage:

  • Stay on top of maintenance: Refer to your owner’s manual and be sure that you are always up to date on suggested maintenance.
  • Keep tires properly inflated: There should be a sticker in your car’s door jamb with recommended PSI for your tires.
  • Avoid traffic when possible: This is also good for your sanity.
  • Keep a constant speed below 80 MPH: When out on the open road, maintain a safe speed. In general, cruise control is better at this than your foot is. 

There are so many little things you can do that can add up to better gas mileage.

Basically, anything that keeps your car from working hard will help.

Planning out trips so that you make as few stops as possible, and making the most out of the stops you do have to make, can even help. 

Cars with the Best Gas Mileage

Wondering what the best cars for gas mileage are? Here are some of the top picks and their combined (city + highway) miles per gallon ratings:

Gas-only cars:

  1. Mitsubishi Mirage: 39 MPG 
  2. Hyundai Elantra: 37 MPG
  3. Honda Civic: 36 MPG
  4. Hyundai Accent: 36 MPG
  5. Kia Rio: 36 MPG

Hybrids:

  1. Hyundai Ioniq: 59 MPG
  2. Toyota Prius: 56 MPG
  3. Hyundai Elantra Hybrid: 54 MPG
  4. Honda Insight: 52 MPG
  5. Toyota Corolla Hybrid: 52 MPG

Plug-in Hybrids (MPG equivalent*):

  1. Toyota Prius Prime: 133 MPGe
  2. Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid: 119 MPGe
  3. Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid: 105 MPGe
  4. Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid: 105 MPGe
  5. Toyota RAV4 Prime: 94 MPGe

*Plug-in hybrids primarily run on electricity, then switch to gas when the battery is drained.