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Hyundai-Kia Gas Mileage Fiasco: What Does It Mean For You?

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2011 Hyundai Elantra

2011 Hyundai Elantra

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Now the recriminations--and lawsuits--will start.

And we expect the focus on real-world gas mileage to increase, following news that Hyundai and Kia will revise gas-mileage figures downward on 13 different models from the 2011, 2012, and 2013 model years--and reimburse buyers for the extra money they spent on gas.

The two companies blame administrative and procedural errors in their testing for the incorrect ratings, and have apologized unconditionally.

EPA ratings are largely provided by manufacturers, who test their cars over specified simulations of drive cycles. The Federal agency then certifies and publishes those results.

The errors by Hyundai and Kia were all overstatements. No gas-mileage ratings were incorrectly calculated on the low side, which would have required adjusting the efficiency shown on the window sticker upward.

About 900,000 cars sold in the U.S. over three years are affected, and the companies will likely have to refund about $100 million in total.

Concern over the real-world efficiency of the 2011 Hyundai Elantra, in particular, had been brewing for more than a year.

Last December, the Consumer Watchdog organization in Santa Monica, California, called on the EPA to re-test the 2011 Hyundai Elantra compact sedan.

The group noted that numerous owners reported much lower real-world gas mileage.

At the time, Jim Trainor, the national manager of product PR, said Hyundai "stands by the EPA numbers."

That position, obviously has now changed.

The Hyundai-Kia restatements highlight the importance of both EPA gas-mileage ratings and the discrepancies that some owners find between the combined rating and the real-world mileage they achieve.

2013 Kia Soul

2013 Kia Soul

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These days, higher levels are necessary to get the attention of new-car shoppers.

"No one cares about" gas mileage in the 20s, unless it's for a truck or sport utility vehicle, Toby Barlow of Team Detroit, Ford's advertising agency, told The Detroit News.

"When you get into the 30s, people start to notice" depending on what kind of vehicle they're researching, he continued.

Then, he said, " in the 40s, it really picks up"--but if you want to "break through," even higher numbers are necessary.

Barlow spoke about new television ads for the 2013 Ford Fusion mid-size sedan, now arriving at Ford dealerships across the country.

The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid model is rated at 47 mpg combined by the EPA, as is the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid.

But whether those two vehicles can achieve those ratings in combined real-world use remains unclear.

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, Los Angeles, August 2012

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, Los Angeles, August 2012

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Green Car Reports has now done two short tests of the C-Max Hybrid (here and here), neither of which came close to the 47-mpg rating.

On its FuelEconomy.gov website, the EPA lets owners of specific models submit their actual gas mileage, to aggregate real-world data that can be compared to the rated efficiency.

Thus far, the average from the five owners who have submitted data on their C-Max Hybrid mileage is 39.1 mpg--a far cry from 47 mpg.

We expect the focus on real-world mileage versus window-sticker ratings to increase, as makers jockey for marketing advantage by touting higher and higher gas-mileage ratings.

Meanwhile, any owner of a 2011, 2012, or 2013 Hyundai or Kia who wishes to make a claim for reimbursement should visit HyundaiMPGInfo.com or KiaMPGInfo.com.

Does your car live up to its rated gas mileage for the combined city-highway cycle?

Leave us your experiences in the Comments below.

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Comments (18)
  1. I can't speak for others, but in my personal experience, most cars I own live up to the window stickers. Even my parent's Honda and Buick both beat window stickers.

    My Volt has been better than the EPA rated all electric ranges and its MPG in extended mode is dead on. That is with my fast driving... However, those are only with A/C or heated seat. I haven't tried it with full electric heat blasting. I imagine the EV range will drop significantly once that happens.
     
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  2. " No gas-mileage ratings were incorrectly calculated on the low side,..." ah, yeah, what does that tell you?

    We all know there are significant limitations to the EPA numbers (like unstated diesel numbers) without anyone trying to game this system deliberately. It is pretty sad well more reliable numbers come from self-reported data on Fuelly and FuelEconomy websites compare to "official" tests.

    The Prius gets pretty close to its EPA numbers (in my experience and on the Fuelly website). It will be very disappointing if the Fusion and C-MAX hybrids are much lower than their EPA numbers.
     
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  3. Looks like EPA needs to re-test the Ford hybrids too. The results may make the vehicles a rather tougher sell for Ford's advertising agency, with results below the levels where attention for the vehicles "really picks up".
     
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  4. My C-MAX after almost 3,000 miles is averaging 41.7 mpg so far.
     
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  5. My C-MAX after 1200 miles is averaging 34.3 MPG. Was your experience similar at lower mileage? Dealership told me it was, but I'm skeptical.
     
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  6. If you only get about 42mpg in Prius with your style of driving (like me), then your style of driving will be only 34MPG in the C-Max. 12% fuel efficiency drop b/c of weight and then another 1-2mpg due to engine and tires.

    42 x 0.88 - 2 = 34.96 mpg...
     
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  7. No, I haven't seen any difference from when I got it. Ford has said I should wait until after 10,000 miles to get optimum mileage which is BS of course. As a point of reference I come from a 2006 Civic Hybrid which is rated at 42 mpg combined and I was generally in the mid-upper 40's. It will get worse as it gets colder but I should still be in the low 40's. My driving is mostly highway.
     
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  8. Assuming everything else being the same (the efficiency of the power train, engine and tires...etc), I would assume the C-Max to get about 42mpg. Here is why:

    Typically, weight impact the MPG the most when everything else are equal. If Prius can do 50mpg @ 3,100 lbs (in real world) and C-Max @ 3,600 lbs is about 500 lbs heavier. That is about 16% weight gain. It usually translate into about 12% loss in MPG (without major power detuning). That brings it down to 44mpg. C-Max also have better/sporty tires and more powerful engine, it can easily lose 1 to 2 mpg from those two factors. That brings down the "real world" MPG down to 42 MPG assuming everything else is similar to Prius and Prius gets 50MPG.
     
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  9. Xiaolong, you seem to know what you're talking about, but most people don't want to calculate this themselves, like you do. The whole point is that Ford is advertising 47 mgp, so that's what the Cmax should get, more or less. The onus is on the manufacturers to tell the truth, not the consumers to be able to calculate this themselves.
     
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  10. The question is not whether "real world" matches EPA. "Real World" is a range of about +/- 50% of EPA. The question is whether manufacturers obtain the same results as EPA when they say they have run the EPA test procedure.
     
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  11. As a very rough rule of thumb, the single value EPA number can be expected to match the MEDIAN of a large number of "real world" data points. Individual reports of results above or below the EPA are to be expected and do not clarify the underlying question.

    [/Statistics 101]
     
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  12. At least Hyundai is consistent in cheating; they did the same thing for HP claims and were busted big time in 2002.

    http://www.autonews.com/article/20121106/BLOG06/121109909/hyundai-has-been-busted-over-performance-claims-before

    It's too bad that a company which makes much better vehicles than it used to continues to operate dishonestly. This is not a random mistake, this was done intentionally. It's just amazing how H/K makes mistake after mistake, year after year, and magically, they all make the company look better. Never a mistake that errs in the wrong direction, etc...
     
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  13. Well, back in the 90s, Toyota got "busted" for overstating its HP number as well. But Toyota claimed it was due to a "measurement" differences...
     
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  14. Actually, it wasn't just Toyota, it was all of the Japanese OEMs. But it wasn't that simple, really. There wasn't a clear standard and different OEMs used different methods of measurement, if I recall correctly. Yes, the Japanese OEMs used overstated HP numbers, true, but it wasn't like this case where there's a clear standard. Unacceptable in both cases, of course, though.

    It's too bad because H/K has been making some very good vehicles.
     
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  15. It all depends on how much heavy duty city driving you do, and how you drive. If you go 80mph on the highway and then you're surprised and/or mad you don't meet the EPA numbers, then you're not very bright....
    I drive more then sensibly and get 31mpg on my '03 Protege (22/28mpg) diving 50%city 50%highway...
     
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  16. I've actually seen a few manufacturers that are getting better than advertised MPG. When you look at "real world drivers" on fueleconomy.gov, Ford C-max is an outlier with it's grossly overstated claims of 47 mpg. My C-max is getting about 35 mpg. Time will tell if it gets better, but if it doesn't, then I'll wish I had bought a Honda and saved 15K.
     
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  17. The avg mpg readout is always overstated by 4-5 mpg. It not only gets way less than advertised, it gets way less than it's telling you your getting. Do the math yourself for a real disappointment. Ck with the dealer and if you call 5 times about this huge discrepancy you will get 5 different answers, but, it all boils down to FRAUD. If I didn't have a $2000 down payment on my 3 years lease they would find it in their parking lot. Contact me of you are aware of additional class action suit besides the EPA token gas reimbursement .
     
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  18. I want out of my lease 2013 Elantra mpg grossly overstated not to mention computer rigged to overstate mpg by 4-5 mpg. This is fraud and I am pissed. Please contact me if you can help. Keypine@yahoo.com
     
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