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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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RE: Who is to blame? Hyundai, EPA or both?
By Solandri on 12/5/2011 8:38:16 PM , Rating: 1
I own a2011 Sonata 2.0t. It's rated at 22/33/26 (city/highway/combined). Although my combined numbers are pretty much in line with where they should be, I have NEVER, EVER gotten 33 mpg on the highway after over a year with the car and 15,000 miles. That's even when I set the cruise and do between 65mph and 70mph .

That will do it. The EPA highway figure is derived from a test which (except for the start and stop and some brief periods in between) is between 50-60 mph. Air resistance increases as roughly the cube of speed, so 65-70 mph requires significantly more energy. Looking at mpg vs. speed curves, a 10%-15% drop going from 55mph to 65-70 mpg is about what you should expect. This is the reason the government lowered the speed limit to 55 mph in response to the 1973 Arab oil embargo.
(You can google for these, there are tons of them out there.)

RE: Who is to blame? Hyundai, EPA or both?
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 12/5/2011 8:52:48 PM , Rating: 2
The EPA highway figure is derived from a test which (except for the start and stop and some brief periods in between) is between 50-60 mph.

I'm sorry, but I think you're wrong here. 55-60 was for the old, pre-2008 EPA standards. The 2008 standards, which caused MPG to drop across the board, took into account higher freeway speeds:

The reason why fuel economy estimates have been coming out too high is simple: The EPA-specified testing and reporting method has not been updated since 1985. Since then, a lot has changed. For one thing, the former national speed limit of 55 mph has been abolished. So instead of topping out at 60 mph, the new highway rating test includes speeds up to 80 mph.

RE: Who is to blame? Hyundai, EPA or both?
By omnicronx on 12/5/2011 9:03:00 PM , Rating: 2
There are also many other factors involved than just speed and it certainly changes car to car, and depending on configuration.

A 6 speed transmission for example will most likely have better highway mileage than a 5 speed at those speeds because you are sitting at lower RPM even in the exact same vehicle.

RE: Who is to blame? Hyundai, EPA or both?
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 12/5/2011 9:04:04 PM , Rating: 2
My car has a 6-speed auto, and at 70 mph it's turning 2,000 rpm.

By omnicronx on 12/5/2011 9:47:07 PM , Rating: 2
Figured as much, I don't think that 2.0T comes in anything but.. I was just trying to point out that even at 65-75, the conditions can be ideal (or close to it) for mileage depending on the vehicle.

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