The average fuel economy of light vehicles sold last month reached 24.1 mpg (9.8 L/100 km), a 1% increase over year-ago and a 14.9% gain on the WardsAuto Fuel Economy Index’s base rating established in fourth-quarter 2007.

The February score eclipsed the prior record set in January by a statistically negligible hundredth of a point.

Mitsubishi sat atop the index for a second straight month, with a company-record 29.3 mpg (8 L/100 km), spurred by the phasing out of its Endeavor cross/utility vehicle and rising sales of its Lancer small car and 112 mpg-e (2.1 L/100 km) rated “i" electric vehicle.

While Mitsubishi’s daily sales were up nearly 30% from year-ago, the auto maker accounted for only 0.5% of monthly LV deliveries, limiting the impact of its industry-leading index ranking.

Second-place Toyota, on the other hand, matched its highest rating of the past 10 months, 27.5 mpg (8.6 L/100 km), while earning a 14% market share.

Volkswagen’s 26.9 mpg (8.7 L/100 km) score was slightly below its company-best 27.1 mpg (8.7 L/100 km) registered in January, but was good enough to hold the No.3 slot, ahead of Kia. The Korean brand achieved a best-ever 26.3 mpg (9 L/100 km) average in February, helped by a significant month-to-month rise in sales of its 32-mpg (7.4 L/100 km) Rio small car.

Ford, with 23.9 mpg (9.8 L/100 km), and Chrysler, with 20.5 mpg (11.5 L/100 km), recorded new highs in February, as both auto makers saw sales shift toward cars and away from light trucks.

Along with General Motors’ 21.6 mpg (10.9 L/100 km), the combined Detroit Three rating reached a best-ever 22.1 mpg (10.6 L/100 km) for the second consecutive month.

In all, six of the 21 auto makers tracked on the WardsAuto Fuel Economy Index achieved record results, including Subaru, which matched its high of 23.1 mpg (10.2 L/100 km), posted in December and January.

In addition, Jaguar Land Rover, though still at the bottom of the Index, recorded a 1.3% year-over-year improvement with a best-ever 17.1 mpg (13.7 L/100 km) score, fueled by a rising car-to-light truck sales mix and increased sales of Land Rover’s Evoque CUV, the luxury-truck brand’s highest-scoring vehicle, at 23.5 mpg (10 L/100 km).

Cars accounted for 50.4% of industry LV sales, down two share points from year-ago, while the vehicle type’s 27.6 mpg (8.5 L/100 km) FEI rating represented a 2% gain.

Light trucks accounted for 49.6% of deliveries, compared with 47.6% during same-month year-ago, while tying a vehicle-type best 20.1 mpg (11.7 L/100 km). CUVs scored 22.3 mpg (10.6 L/100 km), while leading all segments with 24.8% of LV sales.

jsousanis@wardsauto.com