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Honda's Accord Hybrid records 40 mpg overall instead of its rated 47 mpg figure

Consumer Reports is no stranger to calling out manufacturers when they’re hybrid vehicles fail to live up to their EPA-backed fuel economy figures. Consumer Reports was one of the loudest critics of the Ford C-Max after it found that the hybrid failed to meet its lofty [original] EPA fuel economy figures of 47/47/47 mpg (city/highway/combined).
 
Ford tucked its tail between its legs and reduced the official EPA figures to 45/40/43 following an EPA audit. As a result, year-to-date sales of the C-Max have fallen over 40 percent compared to the same period last year.

 

 
"We've found that the EPA tests often exaggerate the fuel-economy of hybrids," said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports.
 
It now looks as though it’s Honda’s turn to take some heat from Consumer Reports. While the publication says that the Accord Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan on the market, its real world fuel economy of 40 mpg failed to live up to its EPA combined rating of 47 mpg.

 
While the Accord Hybrid had a “very impressive hybrid system that smoothly transitions between battery and engine power,” the vehicle still managed to post a lower overall score in Consumer Reports’ testing than the non-hybrid four-cylinder Accord which costs $6,500 less.
 
The Accord Hybrid is averaging 42.2 mpg combined [versus an EPA rated 47 mpg combined] over a distance of 220,000 miles on Fuelly.com based on the reporting of 48 drivers.

Source: Consumer Reports



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Who is at fault?
By Fredd on 5/29/2014 4:50:08 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see why Honda automatically gets the heat here. Who is responsible for the EPA testing regime, Honda or the EPA?

Honda is required to test their car along EPA guidelines. Unless Honda blatantly gamed the system like Ford, primary responsibility lies with the EPA.




RE: Who is at fault?
By Samus on 5/29/2014 4:58:53 PM , Rating: 2
It seems like the manufactures NOT producing hybrids have the most honest EPA data. Mazda and Subaru come to mind.


RE: Who is at fault?
By Reclaimer77 on 5/30/2014 8:33:23 AM , Rating: 2
Mazda is actually a little conservative. My gf's Mazda 3 is actually getting 43mpg highway, and I see most everyone online on forums are posting similar numbers.


RE: Who is at fault?
By Nutzo on 5/30/2014 1:36:02 PM , Rating: 3
And if I keep the speed down on the highway, I've seen as high as 50MPG on a 60 mile trip in my Camry Hybrid, even though it's only rated at 38MPG.

Most cars will get better than the EPA on the highway, as long as you keep the speed under 65MPH.


RE: Who is at fault?
By Philippine Mango on 6/2/2014 1:00:47 AM , Rating: 2
You're right! Mazda's are conservative! I just went through a handful of Mazda vehicles comparing the EPA fuel economy with the fuel economy on Fuelly and all of the vehicles exceed their EPA fuel economy. Some manufacturers definitely cheat on their fuel economy #s and some lean towards conservative like Honda, Toyota, Mazda (though this Hybrid Honda, not so much) and exaggerated like GM, Ford, Chrysler (though their new Ram 1500 is better), Nissan, Hyundai/Kia.

Thanks for the post, wasn't aware that Mazda was conservative in their fuel economy ratings.


RE: Who is at fault?
By Apone on 6/2/2014 6:23:04 PM , Rating: 2
Would you know what year your gf's Mazda3 is? I've had my new 2014 Mazda3 iTouring for about two months now and it's rated at 29/41. Even after installing a K&N Air Filter and work commuting at a steady 65-70mph during the week, I'm only averaging 33-36 MPG. The best I've gotten was 39 MPG but only because I did a small road trip so it was all highway driving.


RE: Who is at fault?
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 5/29/2014 5:05:18 PM , Rating: 3
It's my understanding that the EPA hands down the guidelines, and the manufacturers do their own tests based on those guidelines. The manufacturers then submit those test results to the EPA... the EPA itself only tests a small fraction of the number of new vehicles on the road.

And the EPA will only audit results if they get a number of complaints IIRC.


RE: Who is at fault?
By GTVic on 5/29/2014 6:41:15 PM , Rating: 2
I think they tested without floor mats installed.


RE: Who is at fault?
By tayb on 5/29/2014 5:17:27 PM , Rating: 2
EPA sets the guidelines and Honda must follow them and come up with an EPA estimate. EPA doesn't test every vehicle, that would be a waste of money.

If there is a discrepancy between the Honda EPA estimate and reality the blame lies 100% on Honda. A difference of 15% probably means Honda gamed the system just like Ford. EPA may need to make their guidelines stricter to prevent this from happen.


RE: Who is at fault?
By Fredd on 5/29/2014 5:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree, EPA testing is not and has never been perfectly representative of real-world results. The changes in 2008 improved matters significantly but it's not perfect and it would be unreasonable to expect that.

The best that the EPA can do is tighten the allowable testing regimes to eliminate dodgy within-the-rules methods of inflating figures. Then at least buyers can have a reliable baseline for comparison. So long as they remember that their mileage may vary.


RE: Who is at fault?
By DiscoWade on 5/29/2014 5:52:45 PM , Rating: 2
Did CR test the vehicle with 100% gasoline or the usual 90% gas/10% ethanol almost every gas station has? That will make a big difference.


RE: Who is at fault?
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 5/29/2014 5:59:33 PM , Rating: 3
They test with 100% gasoline

"EPA fuel economy tests are conducted according to Federal testing regulations which require 100 percent gasoline. These regulations could be changed, but changing them would be somewhat problematic. While it is common for gasoline pumps to allow for up to 10 percent ethanol, the actual amount of ethanol blended into the gasoline varies greatly, and fuel blending requirements vary by state. Changing the test methods would also make it difficult to compare vehicles tested with ethanol blends with those tested with straight gasoline. So, without a national standard for blended regular gasoline and a Federal mandate to change the test fuel used, the EPA will not change the test fuel."


RE: Who is at fault?
By fxnick on 5/29/2014 9:37:47 PM , Rating: 2
Its pretty stupid they test with gas you can't buy at normal stations.


RE: Who is at fault?
By Solandri on 5/30/2014 3:49:20 AM , Rating: 2
The point of the EPA tests is to allow consumers to compare the mileage of cars while shopping. Whether the tests are done with 100% gasoline or 90%/10% gas/ethanol blend is irrelevant, as long as tests on all cars are conducted with the same fuel.


RE: Who is at fault?
By FITCamaro on 5/30/14, Rating: 0
RE: Who is at fault?
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 5/30/2014 9:38:28 AM , Rating: 2
Yup, you can find ethanol free gas using this nifty site:

http://pure-gas.org


MPG Image
By Flunk on 5/29/2014 2:27:41 PM , Rating: 2
It looks like you ripped that last image right off of Fuelly without any references.




RE: MPG Image
By Flunk on 5/29/2014 2:28:06 PM , Rating: 2
NVM, been fixed since I posted that.


RE: MPG Image
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 5/29/2014 2:31:19 PM , Rating: 1
It was never changed. It always referenced Fuelly and there was a link to the site...


Curious...
By NellyFromMA on 5/29/2014 4:43:42 PM , Rating: 2
Do the auto manufactures get fined / penalized when they blatantly lie about these ratings? If so, do those fines pail in comparison to the gains for selling vehicles on falsified and misleading information?

If not, they have no real incentive to tell the truth in this case at all which is quite odd considering it seems to be something all the manufacturers besides Toyota have been caught doing.




RE: Curious...
By Alexvrb on 5/30/2014 12:02:31 AM , Rating: 2
Sometimes. Depends on the situation. Hyundai got slapped a bit for fudging the numbers on many Hyundai/Kia models. They claimed they made a "mistake" on the testing procedure (for a couple of years and across a crapton of Kia and Hyundai models :-/). Ford recently was caught using a loophole for their C-Max. But for example, what if you are simply gaming EPA tests? Toyota is not guilt-free, when it comes to "optimizing" their engine computers for the EPA cycle. This becomes more apparent when looking at hybrid drivetrains - they try to run in electric mode as much as possible during known (detectable) EPA test cycles.

The revised tests (starting in 2008) are harder to game. For an example of how badly you could game the old tests, look at original sticker MPG of the 2007 Prius (or probably any full hybrid) vs the revised numbers (available on fueleconomy.gov). Went from 60/51/55 (City/Highway/Combined) to 48/45/46. Non-hybrids and mild hybrids typically took a hit too, but it wasn't as bad as the full hybrids. Anyway, it's still possible to optimize for the 2008 revised testing, but not to anywhere near the same extent.

As a result, current EPA numbers are generally reasonable, as long as nobody uses testing loopholes or makes "mistakes" in their testing.


All too common...
By Ranari on 5/29/2014 9:02:57 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, this seems to be the new norm with car manufacturers. While I'm sure not all are guilty, it's no surprise to me when another car maker/model gets called out for exaggerated fuel ratings. A almost two years ago (ish) when I was with my girlfriend at the time, she drove a brand new 2012 Hyundai Elantra. At the time, it was rated for something like 29mpg around town. After driving it a few times myself, I remember turning my head to her in the driver's seat saying, "This car does not get the fuel mileage it's rated at." And sure enough, a few months later, it was announced that Hyundai would be paying drivers back for the difference.

It did NOT get it's highway rated mileage either.

It's no doubt that mileage means everything these days, but cars are no simple purchase. They're an investment, and for the money they cost, I expect car makers to be honest about what they advertise.




Not that far below the norm...
By Nagorak on 5/30/2014 7:42:06 AM , Rating: 2
It's unfortunate that the Accord Hybrid does not get its rated fuel economy, but its underperformance is not that different from that of other hybrid cars. It definitely is not anywhere near being comparable to the Ford C-Max debacle.

In comparison take the current model Toyota Prius. It is rated at 50 yet the average on Fuelly.com is only a little over 47. The Accord Hybrid is rated 47 but averages 42.2, which is worse but not necessarily outside the realm of reason. Maybe Honda is gaming the system a little more, but it's not that egregious.

Meanwhile the C-Max doesn't even live up to its revised rating on Fuelly.com which shows how overrated the original claims were. Strangely enough the Fusion Hybrid performs no better than the C-Max but Ford has not been forced to revise that rating, which remains 47/47.

Another thing about the EPA ratings that I find suspect is the claim that plug in hybrids get the same fuel economy when running on gas as their non-plugin brethren. Considering they all carry a few hundred pounds more battery weight than the non-plug versions, I find that a little hard to believe.

Personally I always make it a point to check Fuelly to verify the real world numbers for a car's gas mileage. Unfortunately, sometimes the picture is muddled by the inclusion of multiple emgine types that you can't easily filter out (for example the 2.5 L version of the Mazda 3).




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