26/31 are the posted mpgs for the corolla engine. Keep in mind however that the car's factory sticker does have 21-31 mpg listed underneath the large 26 city mpg number, stating that the "expected range for most drivers is 21-31." In DC suburban traffic, I got 30 or 31 each time I filled up for over 6 years. Now driving in Cali rolling hillsides and horrendous traffic, I am getting 28 or 29 and even sometimes 30 mpgs when I can get some freeway miles in. I have NEVER gotten 26 mpgs. I would think I would have to be driving block to block in NYC to get down to 26 mpg. My car drinks oil like it is Zinfandel, and I have no idea how much time I left on my catalytic converter given all the extra oil being vaporized. This too should be taking a toll on my mpgs. As such, your numbers are way too low. I first thought you had a Camry engine which would account for those low mpgs but when I re-read that you have the base model, I wanted to respond. Unless you are driving up mountainous roads with an ambient outdoor temperature of 10 degrees Fahrenheit, I can only conclude that there is something wrong with your engine. Short of putting in new iridium spark plugs and Denso ignition coils, along with a clean air filter and tires filled to 34 psi, I can't imagine what would be keeping your mpgs that low other than high hills/mountains, winter gas blend and sub 20 degree temperatures. I can't see how an accident would have any impact on your mpgs.
average mpgs outside of dreadful California: 30
average mpgs in highway driving at 75-80 mph: 33 (these Corolla engines have a sweet spot at 80, but they do suck down the gas)
highest average mpg on the highway doing 55 mph the entire trip: 43
Live it up: There will be plenty of time to be old when you die.
** 2009 Vibe: 1.8 liter automatic **
** 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring **
** 2007 Honda Fit Sport **