U.S. light-vehicle sales earned an overall 22.3 mpg (10.5 L/100 km) rating on Ward’s Fuel Economy Index in April, a 0.5% increase from year-ago’s 22.2 mpg (10.5 L/100 km).

April and March showed the smallest year-over-year improvements to date on Ward’s FIE, indicating that as the country’s economic recovery continues consumer demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles has slowed.

Led by gains made by cross/utility vehicles and vans, light trucks accounted for a higher share of the April market than prior-year, taking 49.6% of LV sales compared with 47.8% in like-2009 and creating downward pressure on the industry rating.

Light trucks earned a 19.4 index rating for the month, compared with a 25 rating for passenger cars.

While cars continue to lead in overall fuel economy, light trucks have made gains, rising 2.6% from April 2009, while the car index rating remains even with year-ago.

Related document: Ward's Fuel Economy Index

Toyota Motor Corp. raised its industry-leading ranking to 25.3 in April from 24.9 in March, but fell short of year-ago’s 25.7.

Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. held the No.2 spot on the index in April, matching its March rating of 24.7, while America Honda Motor Co. Ltd. finished third with 24.2.

General Motors Co. led Detroit-based auto makers with a 20.6 rating, ahead of Ford Motor Co.’s 20.2 and truck-dominated Chrysler Group LLC’s 19.8.

Porsche AG earned its highest rating to date on Ward’s FIE at 19.9.

Domestically built vehicles finished with a 21.5 rating, down slightly from March due in part to a slight bump in the light-truck market share. Import vehicles, meanwhile, registered a 24.9 rating for the month.

April’s results bring the industry’s year-to-date rating on the Ward’s FEI to 22.3, up 1% from year-ago.

jsousanis@wardsauto.com