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Organization claims a high number of drivers are unable to come close to mileage estimates

Most drivers know that when they buy a vehicle the estimates for fuel economy on the window stickers are just estimates. In the real world, driving the fuel economy can be much different. There has been more than the typical number of complaints about the fuel economy that Hyundai is claiming for its new Elantra.
 
Hyundai is claiming that the Elantra gets 29 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway for an combined rated of 33 mpg. The problem is that according to the higher than usual number of complaints about the efficiency of the Elantra, the real world mileage is in the mid-20 mpg range. Drivers that purchased the vehicle based in large part on the efficiency claims are understandably upset by the real world figures. 
 
 
Consumer Watchdog is asking the EPA to investigate the mileage claims for the Elantra. The letter sent to the EPA read in part:
 
A notable exception to this rule has caught the attention of Consumer Watchdog. For the two most recent model years, Hyundai Motors has actively marketed its base models of the Elantra on their very high 29/40 MPG, and 33 MPG average, leaving a trail of disappointed drivers. An Edmunds online Town Hall discussion on the Elantra attracted scores of drivers who can't, no matter how hard they try, duplicate such numbers. One very public example of this was USA Today tech writer Jefferson Graham, whose Sept. 22 article on his new Elantra expressed his disappointment that he averaged only 22 MPG, a gap that no "break-in" period seems likely to fill.
 
Consumer Watchdog also pointed out that while automotive publication Motor Trend named the 2012 Elantra a Car of the Year contender, the fuel economy it achieved in testing was only 26.5 mpg. That number was poor enough compared to estimates for Motor Trend to mention it in the review. The consumer organization is asking the EPA to retest the Elantra and if it finds the estimates Hyundai is giving aren't accurate to impose a fine on the automaker to compensate drivers.
 
 
One of the big selling pints of the Elantra was that the 40 mpg highway claim was for the normal model of the car whereas other automakers needed special trims to hit 40 mpg. Hyundai also has the Accent with the same 40 mpg claim. Chevy has touted a version of its Cruze, the Eco, which gets 40 mpg on the highway. Ford has a special version of the Focus with a claimed 40 mpg highway rating that is called the SFE.
 
In October of this year, Hyundai announced that it planned to offer a plug-in hybrid to go against the Prius called the Elantra Touring

Source: Consumer Watchdog



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Ford Focus
By BioHazardous on 12/5/2011 1:49:02 PM , Rating: 3
I got a 2012 Ford Focus instead of an Audi A3 TDI because it was less money and nearly the same fuel economy. I had a TDI Jetta before which did nicely with fuel economy even for the way I drove it back then. With my new car I was going to try and do my best to get the most out of fuel economy just for my own personal amusement with experiments.

I mainly drove it with a mix of city / highway where I'd be on the highway for at most 10 miles driving 55-65 mph. Fuel economy was good for those short trips on the highway under 65 mph, around 37 mpg which is what they advertise for my model.

I took my first real roadtrip about a month ago and then again over Thanksgiving. I averaged between 70 mph and 75 mph. I tried one 300 mile leg of my trip with cruise control at 70 mph and got 32 mpg (5 below EPA estimates). I got 30 mpg at 75 mph cruise setting for another 300 mile leg.

I'm glad this article came out though because I started questioning whether it was just me or some flawed testing. I thought the whole new EPA measures of fuel economy were supposed to be a more real world mix with things like highway driving being 70 mph.

Had I known the car wouldn't get over 32 mpg at 70mph then I'd have just stuck with my Jetta and not gotten a new car. I used to do those drives at 80-95 mph in my Jetta and still got 26-28 mpg. Why in the world did I buy a new car that's supposed to be tested to a more real world standard and claims 37 mpg highway to get something barely better than my 2004 Jetta?

I normally live with my purchase decisions and don't get buyer's remorse.. but I have to say I'm feeling a bit cheated.




RE: Ford Focus
By The Raven on 12/5/2011 2:07:43 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Had I known the car wouldn't get over 32 mpg at 70mph then I'd have just stuck with my Jetta and not gotten a new car. I used to do those drives at 80-95 mph in my Jetta and still got 26-28 mpg. Why in the world did I buy a new car that's supposed to be tested to a more real world standard and claims 37 mpg highway to get something barely better than my 2004 Jetta?
I'm sorry (Really. Not just saying this to be a punk.) but you should know that different cars perform differently at different speeds. That is unless that all are shaped the same drive the same, etc. There are so many factors to determine your mileage and that is why the EPA numbers are estimates. There are a lot of people out there who think the gov't should brand every car with a number and then we can all make our decisions based off of that, but we all have different tastes and weights and climates and driving styles etc.

It sounds to me that you let your guard down because of these magic one-size fits all numbers that the gov't comes up with. Read MT, R&T, CR, etc. and then make your decision. Don't just rely on that sticker.

And BTW, my understanding is that 50-60 is closer to the optimal speed for maximum fuel economy. Of course this varies model by model but 55 seems to be a good rule of thumb.

http://duckduckgo.com/?q=best+fuel+economy+speed


RE: Ford Focus
By Stuka on 12/5/2011 3:17:13 PM , Rating: 2
Assuming level ground, in practice, RPM is the only factor in economy. The lowest RPM you can achieve in the highest gear for the speed you want will net you the best economy. There are obvious variables, ie. wind, hills, turns, throttle position, but the only practical control point is RPM.

My DSG will hit 6th gear around 45mph which puts the revs near 1800; which just happens to be the point before the turbo starts spooling. If I remember correctly, cruising at 45mph in 6th gives an instant economy easily in the 50s.


RE: Ford Focus
By Solandri on 12/5/2011 8:51:40 PM , Rating: 1
No, RPM determines at what point in the engine's efficiency curve you're operating. If your engine operates at peak efficiency at low RPM, then low RPM will help improve mileage. If its peak efficiency is at a higher RPM, then a low RPM will actually hurt mileage.

For energy needed to move the car, it's almost entirely dependent on velocity (assuming steady state speed). You have two main sources of energy consumption:

- A steady "hotel load" below which the engine's fuel consumption cannot drop (i.e. you're still burning that much stopped at a red light). The faster you go, the less of this energy you use per distance covered. So faster is better.

- Air resistance. This goes as roughly the cube of your velocity at high speeds, so the faster you go, the more energy you use per distance covered. So slower is better.

When you add these two together, both slow and high speeds consume more fuel. 40-50 mph is about where the sum of these two yield the least energy required per distance traveled. That's considered unbearably slow for highway travel, so the speed limit was set at 55 mph when the country was trying to cut oil usage.


RE: Ford Focus
By Spuke on 12/5/2011 9:15:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When you add these two together, both slow and high speeds consume more fuel. 40-50 mph is about where the sum of these two yield the least energy required per distance traveled.
Depends on the car. Mine is in 4th (5 speed) at those speeds and that's definitely not where I get my best mpg. Between 60-65 mph is where my best mpg happens but I have been able to mix it up a little (a few miles of stop and go) and still get my best mpg.


RE: Ford Focus
By steven975 on 12/6/2011 1:02:43 PM , Rating: 2
I won't rate you down for this, but your assertion of RPM being the prime factor is false. The prime determinant is really the amount of air going through the motor. More air means more gas. In many ways, MPG is determined more by fuel consumption over time. Gearing, drag, engine displacement, and engine design all affect that.

My S2000 runs 4000RPM in 6th gear at 75mph, but returns better-than-rated highway MPG of 27MPG. Doing 4000RPM constantly in most cars will overheat the oil and/or make mileage go into the 10s. Some of it is due to some power and efficiency upgrades I've made, but it met the EPA number without it.

At 4000RPM, I don't need to press the throttle as much, so less air per stroke is coming in. At lower speeds, I need to use more throttle in 6th gear, so mileage is in the same ballpark. I've tested numerous cruising speeds from 60-80 and they're pretty much the same except when I approach 80 and drop 1-2MPG.

My engine is most efficient at higher RPMs, because it has a ported head, huge valves with high lift, and a low-mass forged rotating assembly. An engine with long intake runners, small valves with low lift, and a heavier cast rotating assembly will be more efficient at lower RPMs and get good mileage at that range.


RE: Ford Focus
By BioHazardous on 12/5/2011 5:24:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
you should know that different cars perform differently at different speeds.


Hence the EPA's testing standards and the changes they made in 2007 to them to more accurately reflect real world conditions. I wouldn't expect EPA estimates to go from fairly accurate in 2004 to over estimating in 2007 with changes meant to reduce those estimates from years prior to 2007.

quote:
It sounds to me that you let your guard down because of these magic one-size fits all numbers that the gov't comes up with.


The government didn't come up with these numbers, the manufacturers did. They didn't just arbitrarily say it's this size car so it gets x MPG because of some government guide to lying about real world fuel economy.


RE: Ford Focus
By The Raven on 12/6/2011 10:51:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Hence the EPA's testing standards and the changes they made in 2007 to them to more accurately reflect real world conditions.
Who's real world conditions? You missed my point I think.
quote:
The government didn't come up with these numbers, the manufacturers did.
Yes they did and the gov't checked them and said, "Yup, you guys are right on the money! We'll endorse your car with our seal of accuracy!"


RE: Ford Focus
By BioHazardous on 12/6/2011 11:29:40 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Who's real world conditions? You missed my point I think.

*whose
I got your point and you seem to be missing mine. 70 mph is real world conditions. MN and Iowa both have interstate speed limits of 70 mph.

quote:
Yes they did and the gov't checked them

Checked isn't the same as actually doing the testing. People 'check' a lot of things without actually checking anything.


RE: Ford Focus
By The Raven on 12/7/2011 1:55:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Checked isn't the same as actually doing the testing. People 'check' a lot of things without actually checking anything.
Correct. This is what I am saying. You left out the important part
quote:
and [the gov't] said, "Yup, you guys are right on the money! We'll endorse your car with our seal of accuracy!"
This is why you were mislead. Because of this number that the EPA put on the window.
quote:
I got your point and you seem to be missing mine. 70 mph is real world conditions [sic]. MN and Iowa both have interstate speed limits of 70 mph.
70mph may be real world conditions, but do it for 300 miles and it no longer is. The EPA says that they factor in speeds up to 80mph. We don't know at what distance, and that is an important factor.

I'm not going to argue with you about what the number or conditions should be, I was just pointing out that it sounds like you let your guard down because of these numbers that the manufs and gov't collectively come up with. You should've checked C&D and others where they let you know specifics of their testing methods and they do them independent of the manufs (or political agendas). You are the one saying that you feel cheated. I agree. Screw the EPA. Don't defend their deception. (All this said, I find EPA estimates to be relatively accurate based on personal exp. I just think this is completely unnecessary.)


RE: Ford Focus
By MonkeyPaw on 12/5/2011 5:38:32 PM , Rating: 2
I've tested the best fuel economy speed on an isolated long stretch of paved road (straight as an arrow for miles). I just kept reseting my MPG meter on my 2010 Focus to see what was the optimal speed for best MPG. Sure enough, about 50-55mph was best, bringing 50MPG. At 60-65MPH, I got about 40MPG, and 70MPH brings in 35MPG. The Focus is a pretty slippery car, but aerodynamics can only take you so far.


RE: Ford Focus
By Keeir on 12/5/2011 7:24:08 PM , Rating: 2
So I am a bit confused.

For the majority of the time, you drive 55-65 mph for around 10 miles. During this time, you get the advertised Fuel economy.

On rare occasions, you take long trips at 70-75 mph. You get less than advertised, but still okay.

But you would prefer testing to report the fuel economy on the rare long trips, rather than the frequent short trips?

Sorry, but this doesn't make sense. Unless you drove cross country, far more miles of your driving experience has been at the "advertised" MPG right? Shouldn't the EPA testing refect the majority of miles traveled rather than the extreme conditions? Or maybe I misunderstood and you actually tend to drive long roadtrips for the majority of miles?


RE: Ford Focus
By BioHazardous on 12/5/2011 8:33:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
So I am a bit confused.


I consider highway driving the driving you do when on the freeway / interstate, not driving around town for short distances at 50-65 mph.

I fully realize that your best fuel economy will be at around 50 mph, but if you drive 50 mph on the freeway where the speed limit is 70 mph, you're an idiot.

The old EPA testing standard used to test to a max speed of 60 mph and the new standard was supposed to have more realistic numbers with more realistic testing. So my point is I'm finding the numbers to be less realistic for real world driving on the highway.


RE: Ford Focus
By The Raven on 12/6/2011 11:00:03 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I fully realize that your best fuel economy will be at around 50 mph, but if you drive 50 mph on the freeway where the speed limit is 70 mph, you're an idiot.
If they all jumped off a cliff would you jump too? Bro this is America. You shouldn't have to feel like you have to go 70 in a 70 zone. Hell those Uhaul trailers aren't supposed to be driven faster than 40 or 50 I think lol. And I've never seen a minimum speed limit lower than 40.

So knock yourself out. Live a little and drop it down to 55 or so. We won't judge ;-) I think the rule in CA is if there are 5 people waiting for you, you should pull over and let them pass. Otherwise remember that we have multi-lane highways where people pass each other all the time.

And I am not Ed Beagley Jr or anything. I do 70-75 all the time so this is a judge free zone. I'm just saying that you shouldn't feel ashamed of your desire to save some money.


RE: Ford Focus
By Keeir on 12/6/2011 3:33:38 PM , Rating: 2
I am still confused.

On one hand you want to EPA "to test more like real life" but on the other you want the testing to reflect what you personally rarely do...

Data collection to date has suggested that a relatively minor percentage of US light duty passenger miles occur at 70-75 mph steady state travel.

Potentially the EPA should create a new Category of Testing cycles: Interstate.


RE: Ford Focus
By Solandri on 12/5/2011 8:58:48 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I'm glad this article came out though because I started questioning whether it was just me or some flawed testing. I thought the whole new EPA measures of fuel economy were supposed to be a more real world mix with things like highway driving being 70 mph.

It bears repeating: The EPA mileage figures are not meant to be a predictor of what fuel mileage you will get with a car. While it's possible to duplicate the EPA mileage if you match their test pattern exactly, personal driving habits and vehicle maintenance patterns will alter the mileage you get.

The EPA mileage is meant to assist you in choosing between vehicles. If one car is rated at 20 mpg and another at 25 mpg, then you know to expect about 25% more mileage out of the second car. This could mean you get 19 mpg instead of 15 mpg. Or it could mean you get 30 mpg instead of 24 mpg. The EPA isn't trying to tell you what mpg you're going to get. They're trying to tell you the ratio of mileage you should expect from the two vehicles.


RE: Ford Focus
By BioHazardous on 12/6/2011 8:18:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It bears repeating:


Then it also bears repeating that the new EPA testing standards were supposed to be more realistic with real world driving, not less as they appear to be from my tests.


RE: Ford Focus
By Dr of crap on 12/6/2011 10:26:43 AM , Rating: 2
The real problem is that you SPENT money on a new car, you didn't say if the Jetta needed replacing, to get better mpg's. You would have to get real high mpg numbers to save enough on fuel to justify what you just did, let alone the fact that you BELEIVED the EPA sticker would be exactly what you would get mpg wise.

You would have been better off keeping your old car even at $4 gallon gas!


RE: Ford Focus
By BioHazardous on 12/6/2011 11:24:36 AM , Rating: 2
You're making this an issue about money, and it's not. My buyer's remorse isn't because I spent money on a new car, it's that my new car doesn't come close to the advertised fuel economy. People can sit here and say it's an estimate and not to be expected all day long.. that doesn't change the fact that my Jetta actually achieved its advertised fuel economy and was tested with methods less realistic than the latest methods my new Focus should have been tested to.

I still have my Jetta and am driving it now. It's my winter car now.

I also did a shorter roadtrip earlier this year to a state park about 70 miles away and averaged 55-65mph and still got only 33 mpg.


RE: Ford Focus
By ElFenix on 12/6/2011 4:10:31 PM , Rating: 2
i think you've done something wrong with your calculations. there's practically no way that mixed driving can return better mileage than steady state highway driving at legal speeds.


RE: Ford Focus
By Targon on 12/7/2011 7:28:09 AM , Rating: 2
I also have a 2012 Focus(5-door SEL), and from what I have seen, at 60MPH, you can hit 40MPG, which goes down to 33MPG at 70mph. If you find a lot of your driving is in the 32-42MPH range, that will drive your fuel economy WAY up. Testing at 35MPH and no traffic lights or stop signs will have fuel economy going up over 50MPG.

My own average is between 31 and 35MPG daily, depending on the road conditions.

One thing to consider here is that if you have a car that has a weak engine, or a diesel, you will have an easier time getting those great fuel economy numbers. The 2012 Focus(not 2011 or earlier) has a 160 horsepower engine and holds the road VERY well. I may be a LITTLE biased as an owner, but compared to what you get with most other cars in the compact class, the Focus really is a good deal. Unless you went with a Titanium and lots of features to push the price upwards of $25,000, I can't see having buyers remorse here. Not everything is about fuel economy, and the Focus is pretty close to getting the advertised fuel economy. 28/38 for the S/SE trim, 27/37 for the SEL/Titanium trim.


RE: Ford Focus
By BioHazardous on 12/7/2011 9:56:05 AM , Rating: 2
I have the Titanium with everything on it except the backup camera.

I do alright with it for fuel economy driving to and from work with that mix of in town and short distances on the highway. I get about 30-31 mpg for the around town stuff which is why it's so frustrating to only get 32 mpg on the highway. It's not very difficult to do math at the pump, miles divided by gallons.. I do it every tank.


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