Originally, I was going to write a quick post on how the Environmental Protection Agency has named the Bugatti Veyron the biggest gas guzzler on the market. The agency recently released its 2011 fuel economy list, and smack dab at the top of the list of least fuel-efficient cars is the Car Hire Switzerland super exclusive, super fast supercar. But that’s not really a surprise for a 1,000-something horsepower car. What was surprising was how the E.P.A. classifies cars. For example — and don’t tell Jadakiss — a Bentley Continental GTC is considered by the E.P.A. a subcompact car.
In the words of Alec Baldwin’s character from “Glengarry Glen Ross,” have I got your attention now?
The list gets more baffling. The Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe and Phantom Drophead Coupe are classified by the E.P.A. as compact cars, just like the Honda Civic and Volkswagen Jetta. (I’d love to see these competing against each other in a comparison test.) The agency also considers the Aston Martin DB9 and DBS to be minicompact cars, like the Mini Cooper.
Puzzling, yes, but not something we haven’t encountered before at Wheels. Two years ago, we called the Ford Fusion Hybrid the most fuel-efficient midsize car on the market, and Toyota complained, saying that the Prius, which the E.P.A. considers a midsize car — is more fuel efficient than the Fusion Hybrid.
How could that be? Because the E.P.A. bases its classifications on interior volume. That’s how a Nissan Versa is classified as a midsize car, which Nissan doesn’t seem to agree with — otherwise the automaker wouldn’t be boasting about the Versa’s class-leading 122-horsepower engine. Within the E.P.A. definition of a midsize car — 110 to 120 cubic-feet of interior volume — the Versa would be competing with other higher-powered Nissans, like the Altima and the Maxima.
Why does the E.P.A. classify by interior volume? Good question, and one that I’ve posed to the E.P.A. I haven’t heard back — though I have received the E.P.A. classification guidelines — but I’ll let you know when I do.