Gas prices may be cooling off a bit, but thanks to the 2013 VW Jetta Hybrid, the battle for fuel-efficiency leadership is once again heating up. The Jetta Hybrid—which is expected to get into dealerships just before the new year opens—recently received its official fuel-economy grades and the numbers are no doubt impressive. Backed by the only turbocharged engine in its segment, the car will showcase an EPA line of 42 mpg city/48 mpg highway/45 mpg combined. That combined number gives the Jetta Hybrid a 1-mpg advantage over its direct rival, the Honda Civic Hybrid, in terms of combined travel, and it gets the same mark on the highway as the Toyota Prius.
But it’s not the performance of the 2013 VW Jetta Hybrid—as impressive as that may be—that represents a new development in the auto-industry’s efficiency landscape; it’s the fact that the car now allows Volkswagen to claim it offers more models capable of at least 40 mpg than any other automaker in the country.
Oh, the Hyundai-Kia fuel-economy fiasco helped out, too. The former brand in particular was leveraging its own family of 40-mpg entries to build buzz (and sales volume), and even though the new EPA marks on the Hyundai portfolio generally don’t change all that much in reality, perception can be a funny thing—and with Ford now receiving unwanted attention for its fuel-efficiency reporting procedures, Volkswagen could be the brand getting the last laugh here.