Surf on over to hyundaiusa.com and ford.com, and the two momentum-blessed automakers will greet you in a remarkably similar fashion: with a lineup of 40 MPG Highway-rated vehicles. Of course, Hyundai would, in its inimitable “asterisk-wrangling” style, point out that Ford’s 40 MPG requires more footnotes than a David Foster Wallace book. But then Ford might shoot back that Hyundai leaves out any reference to City or Highway ratings in its lineup, leaving consumers to play “hunt the legal disclaimer” itself. And as Autoobserver recently noted, highway ratings make for good ad fodder, but combined EPA ratings are much more helpful to consumers.
Meanwhile, it’s interesting to note that while Ford and Hyundai are pushing 40 MPG on their main splash pages, GM is touting “an approach to the environment as ambitious as our cars” (with a big, glossy Volt picture) and Toyota is sticking with its simple “number one for a reason” tag. Chrysler and Nissan have devoted their pages to pushing lease and incentive deals, while Honda’s stripped-down site simply features the new Civic (with significant space devoted to Tsunami aid donations). Each site says something about the automaker behind it, and based on Ford and Hyundai’s strong sales momentum, their shared emphasis on miles per gallon is probably instructive.