WASHINGTON, D.C. — The good news is the new fuel economy labels are designed to help consumers who are looking for more fuel-efficient vehicles.  The bad news is applying the ratings to 2011 models shows the majority of vehicles get a rating of 6 or less, the Consumer Federation of America reported today.  

“If (like school) you consider anything below a 60 to be a failing grade, then 70 percent of the 2011 models would fail under the new fuel economy labeling requirement,” said Jack Gillis, director of public affairs for the Consumer Federal of America.

The CFA has applied the sample rating system, developed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to the current model-year vehicles and the results show a great need for improvement.  Currently, Gillis said, only 1 percent of the 2011 models available get a perfect 10 in fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.

As the new fuel economy labels begin appearing on 2012 models, consumers will begin to be able to more readily compare vehicles.  “Not only will these ratings empower consumers, enabling them to vote with their hard-earned dollars for better performing vehicles, but even those consumers who don’t use them will benefit from manufacturers scrambling to avoid the bottom of the list,” said Gillis.

Right now, nearly 20 percent of the 2011 models are at the bottom of the list, getting 1s, 2s, and 3s.

“One of the issues that has surfaced in our surveys is that consumers want better performing vehicles, but they just are not available,” said Dr. Mark Cooper, director of research for the CFA. “Giving consumers good information addresses part of the problem, but raising fuel economy standards, which is the next item on the agenda of the DOT and the EPA, is critical to lowering gasoline consumption and reducing oil imports.”