By on November 2, 2012

Hyundai has long been in the top spots of America’s most fuel miserly vehicles. Over night, Hyundai will drop a few rungs down. Audited and found wrong by the EPA, Hyundai and Kia agreed to restate the fuel economy ratings on many of its cars. Cars in showrooms will be relabeled. Customers of more than a million 2011 through 2013 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada will receive debit cards.

Most labels see a reduction by one to two miles per gallon. The Kia Soul receives a a six mpg highway reduction. The 2012 Hyundai/Kia fleet fuel economy level will drop from 27 to 26 MPG, the company says.

With the debit cards, customers will be reimbursed for the difference between the overstated and the restated fuel economy rating, based on the fuel price in their area and their miles driven. An extra 15 percent will be added for the inconvenience. Current owners will be able to refresh their debit card for as long as they own the vehicle. Prior owners of affected vehicles who have already sold their cars will also be reimbursed using the same formula.

“Given the importance of fuel efficiency to all of us, we’re extremely sorry about these errors,” said John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “When we say to Hyundai owners, ‘We’ve got your back,’ that’s an assurance we don’t take lightly.”

For more information about reimbursement and a complete list of eligible vehicles, customers can visit www.HyundaiMPGinfo.com and www.KiaMPGinfo.com.

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59 Comments on “Hyundai And Kia Get Less MPG, Customers Get Their Money Back...”


  • avatar
    KixStart

    What?! They don’t get near-worthless coupons for a future purchase that they won’t want to make, anyway, while the class action lawyers get a big cash bribe, er, payout for “successful conclusion”?!

    The legal system as we know it could cease to exist!

    • 0 avatar
      Ray

      What people are missing here is the fact of disclosure…no one disclosed the mileage issue to me BEFORE I purchased. For me driving 80 miles one way to work mileage is a huge factor. Had I known I was only going to get 22 mpg I would have bought something I actually LIKED. I bought my Kia Soul ECO almost 6 mos ago and I don’t think I’ve gotten any higher than 22 mpg average and yes I’ve used the “approved gas”. For me the little tid bit of chump change they offer you is not worth it as my mileage difference is a ten mile swing not 3. I have had the car in for service twice and now of course I find out that performance issues like this are not covered under the lemon law (of course) SIGHS

  • avatar

    Well, this explains why the Soul 2.0 I recently drove to Chicago struggled to reach 30 MPG on the highway, despite an EPA highway rating of 34. The new rating: 28.

    I wonder if they’ll end up doing the same with some of their horsepower numbers. Hyundai’s generally feel about 90 percent as strong as their power ratings suggest.

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      6 MPG is a bit much for the Soul. I’ve always assumed that many automakers fudged maybe one or two mpg to hit magical marketing targets like 40 mpg, but ~20% is hard to hide. You gotta admire Hyundai’s chutzpah.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Managed 34 mpg in a rental Soul 2.0, but it involved almost entirely highway and two lane roads at very leisurely velocities. Every other car I’ve owned would have easily beaten their EPA highway estimates under those driving conditions. At a 70-75 mph cruise, it’s probably well under 30.

      • 0 avatar

        At 70-75 I observed 28-29. The EPA highway test includes some acceleration, so steady-state cruising, even at 70-75, generally at least matches its results.

        The part of the test they conducted incorrectly (the press release implies this was not intentional) involved aerodynamics. So it’s little surprise that the tall, chunky Soul was most affected.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        The EPA has two highway tests, the old one is low speed coasting and the new one is mostly acceleration, with 6 full and 2 near stops in less than 10 minutes. The average speed of both tests is just 48 mph.

        The results of these essentially arbitrary tests are then hit with a huge fudge factor to bring the results in line with what they think the undefined average car will do actually being driven on an undefined average highway so consumers don’t complain too much.

        The average car isn’t an 0.40 CD truck, which won’t come close to EPA numbers at 75 mph cruise. 21 sticker means about 18 in the real world. Slippery cars will exceed it handily. Crossovers are somewhere in between, but closer to trucks than not.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Wow, 28 is incredibly low for a hamster box on wheels.

      Agree on the horsepower ratings. Hyundai’s seem a bit optimistic. When they say 200, I think 180 measured by other companies.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      The 2010 Kia Forte EX I “borrowed” for 13 months (on a 7.95% APR loan from a local bank) was rated, I want to say, 22/34? And on a 45 minute commute, 80% highway, it would routinely get 26-27 MPG. The same route in my 2012 Focus hatch nets me 35-36 MPG. Both are doing 68-70 on cruise for 35-ish miles, preceded by about 5 minutes in “town” (back road doing 35 MPH with one light that you typically wouldn’t hit) and followed by another 5 minutes in “town” (a county highway, doing 55). Overall a pretty easy/leisurely drive, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      SimonAlberta

      “Well, this explains why the Soul 2.0 I recently drove to Chicago struggled to reach 30 MPG on the highway…”

      With all due respect, that is an entirely worthless statement.

      How do you know what the MPG “on the highway” was? Did you brim the tank just before starting on the highway portion of the trip, then refill immediately at the end of it, then do the calculation? I suspect not, right?

      No, I suspect you are relying on the in-dash readout in the vehicle which is not likely to be very accurate at all.

      Besides, even if the on-board computer is 100% accurate, citing a result from ONE TRIP is ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS and has no place on a supposedly authoritative automotive site like TTAC.

      Do you not realize how many variables come into play that can affect MPG? Speed, grade, wind direction, surface texture, traffic, temperature, humidity, tire pressure, driving style, load, etc. etc. etc.. Any or all of that could easily result in a 20% variation, if not more.

      Sorry to rant but this whole subject of MPG really annoys me. As a former sales manager in a dealership I got sick and tired of lame-brained customers complaining about poor MPG without taking the trouble to actually calculate it accurately over an extended period. Almost without exception their vehicles turned out to be well within “normal” range but, of course, they would still bitch to their buddies about it regardless. God forbid they could admit their own stupidity.

      Anyway, I really expect better from a reputable site like this one.

      As such, I would prefer you and your fellow testers to REFRAIN from quoting MPG readings from the vehicle computer. If you can’t be bothered to, or don’t have the opportunity to, conduct a proper consumption evaluation over at least 500 miles ABSOLUTE MINIMUM you should just not mention it at all.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I’m guessing us used owners get nothing?

    Wife & I bought a 2011 V6 AWD Sorrento (18/24 IIRC) and with very light feet we can maybe get 28 on the highway at a constant 55mph on cruise control on flat land. In normal driving it’s closer to 22 and maybe 15 in the city.

    at an average of about $3.85 and we’ve put (6k miles on the car) and probably (rated) 21 mixed, We “should” have spent about $1100 on gasoline. If you lower that 21mpg mixed to 19mpg mixed, that would be $1215.79. Does that mean if we were the original owner(s) kia would have given us a debit card for ~ $115?

    Edit: The Sorento isn’t even listed on their website as one of the affected cars..

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    “procedural errors”=lying

  • avatar
    gslippy

    As a Hyundai/Kia fanboy, I’ve defended them on this score for a long time. Now I hang my head in shame.

    What this action will do, however, is expose other mfrs to the same scrutiny. Look out.

    A month ago, it was Arizona Nissan Leaf owners in a spat over battery performance.

    Last week, Italian seismologists were found ‘guilty’ of not properly predicting a deadly earthquake. They could get jail time.

    Our litigious culture is making producers of data stand by it like gospel truth. Some data just isn’t like that, when a host of variables are involved.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I don’t see where you should hang your head in shame…

      Actually, I thought this was a pretty stand-up way to resolve the issue. If customers have a reasonable foundation for believing they’re spending more on gas than Hyundai led them to believe they’d spend… they get that money back in cash.

      • 0 avatar

        +1

        Here’s the take-away: Hyundai/Kia didn’t have to be taken to court before they decided to do the right thing here.

        My 2011 Sportage AWD is one of the vehicles covered. Let’s see where this ends up.

        I called their number this morning. The website is overwhelmed currently (IT didn’t prepare servers for the onslaught). Once fixed, buyers will enter their VIN, visit their dealer for verification and mileage recording, and within 2-3 weeks, a debit card will arrive, which will get replenished through ownership.

        As it stands, the best mileage my Kia registered on our summer SW driving tour was 27.5 mpg on a tankful. Typically in mixed driving we average about 25 mpg. Not so far off EPA estimates as the numbers for the Soul.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        I agree they’re doing the stand-up thing. It’s just that H/K has been on an upward trajectory for a while, and this is a chink in their polished armor.

        However, I think most consumers will see this story and think “yeah, so who really believes those numbers are gospel, anyway?”

        As a side note, it’s interesting that over the last 30 years or so, the EPA has adjusted their MPG test protocol at least twice in an attempt to better match real-world conditions. It used to be the EPA that took heat for over-inflated MPG figures.

      • 0 avatar

        Correction: My 2011 Sportage AWD is NOT on the list of affected vehicles. If it had been a 2012 or 2013, then a different story.

        The website is back up and running, though.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      EPA numbers are computed in a lab on a dyno with dictated parameters to eliminate variables. As many have known for some time, Hyundai simply inflated their numbers for marketing reasons. The only variability comes in the real world, which was why Hyundai was comfortable that if their vehicles weren’t selected by the EPA for testing prior to sale, which happens to a small number of cars that have their manufacturer supplied numbers verified or changed immediately, chances were they could tell their customers that ‘your results may vary’ with impunity. I seem to recall that BMW was trying the same thing with the 328i turdo, but they were chosen for random testing just as cars reached dealers and had to change their numbers by a chunk.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I like the fact that KIA stepped up, well with some legal prodding. It’s not that much money but the principal is important.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Is stepped up a euphemism for getting busted by the EPA after countless complaints for obviously falsifying their numbers to increase sales?

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      I don’t see anything here that insulates them from lawsuits. Anytime there’s this much blood in the water the legal sharks will circle. A mere debit card can’t make up for the mental duress caused by 1 mpg shortfall.

      /s

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Now this is big. Hyundai and KIA are the most egregious violators…. but hardly the only ones. Ford’s reported numbers for the C-Max and Fusion hybrid also look suspicious, to say the least. Ford needs to be put in the hot seat next.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Also- makers like VW and Honda need to be called out for lying too. Their reported mpg numbers are too LOW! Damn liars!

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        In which case owners of those vehicles should be forced to pay back the difference to the automakers via debit cards! It’s only fair!

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Honda Fit seems to already pay a high price in ridiculous car magazines for its low EPA ratings. In the October Road & Track it was rated last in a group test, when they said of it’s 36.1 mpg in testing, “that’s good mileage, but it lags the competition, as the fit lacks of the direct fuel injection of many of its competitors.” It was better mileage than the Dodge, Hyundai, Mazda, Chevrolet, or Fiat rated above it achieved. The only cars that actually beat it in testing were a diesel VW and a hybrid Lexus, but apparently people buy car magazines to have window stickers read to them. Autoweek’s online review also expends plenty of words decrying the pathetic EPA ratings while ignoring the 3,000 mile average of 35.9 mpg the car achieved in their hands. Dumb.

        Cars are most efficient in the real world when they’re geared so that shifting at HP peak rpm engages the next gear at the engines torque peak. Moving away from that paradigm hurts efficiency, but that is what must be done to get a good number on with the EPA’s dictated slow acceleration rates and needless low gear lugging. Setting up a car for the test in counterproductive in the real world, and Honda had no reason to game the system to meet their CAFE requirements before the great American IQ die-off of 2008. Going forward their cars will be just as compromised as everyone else’s. They’ll have to be.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      So far with my C-Max, I get 40 mpg on the highway and around 50 mpg on surface streets. I usually set the cruise control at 72-74 MPH on the highway.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        How many miles do you have and what is your average mpg so far?

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I have 1400 miles on the car and I’m on my third tank of gas. I am averging 44.1 MPG, according to the car. When my wife drives the car, fuel economy significantly suffers. I had to let her know that driving 90 MPH defeats the purpose of owning a hybrid.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The way you drive will make a big difference in the mileage returned. Gunning the accelerator to get going and braking hard and fast will negate many of the benefits of a hybrid drivetrain.

        To get the most out of it it helps to accelerate smoothly and gradually to keep the powertrain in electric mode longer, and stop smoothly over longer distances to take full advantage of the regenerative braking cycle. The C-Max does have a built in coaching mode that shows you how your driving style effects the economy. You don’t need to drive a hybrid differently from a regular car to return superior mileage, but to get the most out of it it helps to understand how it works and modify your driving habits when you can.

        One neat thing about the vehicle is that all C-Maxes have a GPS receiver built in, and they will learn the areas you drive to most often. When the car detects you are heading towards one of your common destinations it will stay in EV mode as long as possible to allow you to take the most advantage of the battery charge that you have left, thereby increasing the overall mileage (as you will lose some charge keeping the vehicle stationary for an extended period, and depending on the ambient temperature when you are ready to depart again the engine may have to run anyway to warm up).

  • avatar
    danio3834

    *Your mileage may vary.

  • avatar
    stuart

    When I read “Most labels see a reduction by one to two miles per gallon,” I (mistakenly) inferred that several other makes were also implicated. Not so; only Hyundai and Kia.

    From the EPA website:
    ———————————————
    EPA had received a number of consumer complaints about Hyundai mileage estimates. Through the agency’s ongoing audit program, staff experts at EPA’s NVFEL observed discrepancies between results from EPA testing of a MY2012 Hyundai Elantra and information provided to EPA by Hyundai.

    The agency expanded its investigation into data for other Hyundai and Kia vehicles, leading to today’s announcement.

    EPA’s audit testing occasionally uncovers individual vehicles whose label values are incorrect and requires that the manufacturer re-label the vehicle. This has happened twice since 2000. This is the first time where a large number of vehicles from the same manufacturer have deviated so significantly.
    EPA and DOE are updating their joint fuel economy site, http://www.fueleconomy.gov, to reflect the Hyundai and Kia corrected numbers.

    For more information, please see: http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/labelchange.htm

    ———————————————
    stuart

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Another interesting thing is- under the new revised numbers- the Accent actually gets worse mpg than the Elantra: 31mpg vs 32mpg for the combined rating.
    But if you check the real world reported gas mileage on fueleconomy.gov or fuelly.com, you’ll see that the Accent actually gets significantly better gas mileage than the Elantra. Plenty of people have complained about the Elantra not getting its reported gas mileage, but as far as I’ve seen, nobody’s complained about the Accent not making its numbers. It’s odd that Hyundai would knock down the Accent’s rating by a whopping 2-3mpg, when nobody’s clamoring for it.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Well, I can tell you from personal experience with the 2011 Elantra we helped buy for our grand daughter that she rarely gets over 20mpg on a dedicated ~150-mile roundtrip to college, four days a week. That’s on US Hwy 54 and US Hwy 70.

      I top off that Elantra every night after she gets home from school and have been doing it since we bought it in May 2011. The mileage is not that good.

      Mpg is determined by many factors, and the ones affecting our Elantra the most is mountainous terrain, high altitude and sustained cruising speeds at or over 75mph.

      Having four chubby teenage girls, their backpacks, laptops, and Big Gulps all packed into the Elantra doesn’t help either. And neither does my grand daughter’s lead foot she inherited from her grand mother.

  • avatar
    cadarette

    Do Hyundai and Kia get “less MPG”, or “fewer MPG”? I think they get “fewer”.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    Hyundai is very smart with these debit cards. It makes great business sense.

    First, debit cards, gift cards, rebates have a VERY low claims rate. Meaning that most people won’t even use these cards or won’t use all of it. Especially given the complex nature of the reimbursements’ calculations (there probably is a complicated claims process). Its also smart that they are using debit cards rather than checks. In total, this dramatically reduces the cost of this reimbursement.

    Second, paying for 1 or 2 mile difference on average is very insignificant. Its cheap considering the marketing cost and strength of hitting 40 mpg. The marketing dollars necessary for the 1 or 2 mile bump is huge.

    With these reimbursements, they dramatically reduce the risk of class-action lawsuit. Assuming that this doesn’t become a PR issue, not likely as its right before the presidential elections, this is smart business. Hyundai definitely benefited even after these reimbursements.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    highdesertcat always says that his grand daughter, with 2011 Elantra that he purchased for her, has a lead foot, now, maybe, he would reconsider his statement by 1-2 MPG :)

    And I hope he can get reimbursed for the gas, as from his posts he fuels vehicle from his own stash of premium gas.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Naw, man. The lead foot stays, no matter what the mpg. The girl was taught to drive by her grand mother, my wife. My wife’s got a lead foot. You betcha!

      My grand daughter has driven me to the El Paso, TX, airport on occasion in that little Elantra, and she drives the p!ss out of it, like accelerate hard in each gear to get up to speed. No rabbit-starts, just hard acceleration.

      Where we live there is very little city driving and you want to get up to speed when you enter US Hwy 54, or get run over by traffic.

      I haven’t really kept track but her mpg rarely gets over 20mpg on a ~150-mile roundtrip to college in Las Cruces, NM, four days a week.

      I top off the fuel from my home stash every night after she gets home, and it rarely varies: one full 5-gallon container and one full 2.5 gallon container and the tank is full up into the filler-neck. That’s 7.5 gallons for a roughly 150-mile roundtrip.

      Hey, I don’t worry about mpg. Too many factors determine what mpg a driver gets. I’m honestly surprised that little Elantra has held up so well. So who gives a hoot about mpg? As long as it keeps running.

      In the overall scheme of things, 20mpg, 30mpg, 40mpg are only numbers. Besides, the car is in her dad’s name. He’s overseas in the military, and I’m the one who pays for the gas.

      I’m not worried about it since I don’t get the advertised mpg on my wife’s Grand Cherokee or my Tundra either. There’s no way to replicate factory-testing and mpg in the real world, not even on a Dyno. Too many real-world factors affect mpg.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Totally agree with you, Lavventura. It is called “being proactive”, and it allows Hyundai to settle this fairly quick and inexpensively.
    Inexpensive compared to what it would cost if lawyers become involved.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    wait a minute. i naively assumed that epa set the mpg test criteria and tested all the car configurations. then they posted the results. accordingly auto manufacturers built engine / transmission combinations to match the epa test criteria thus maximizing their epa numbers.

    therefore the epa numbers were lower than reality because we dont drive like the test criteria.

    what this tells me is that epa doesnt test the cars. they just set the criteria and let the auto manufacturers report back what their city/hwy/combined mpg label should read. epa only spot checks vehicles occaisionally or when they think there is fraud.

    no wonder epa estimates are always high; 1) their hwy criteria does not match the way i drive hwy (75 mph for 3+ hours), 2) they allow the manufacturers to self-report, and 3) there is too much at stake to report fairly.

    kudos to honda and vw who always seem to be spot on or conservative w/ their estimates.

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      The EPA only tests 15% of cars, they rely on the manufacturers to submit their data.

      Another thing is been talked for years is that ECUs in cars detect EPA test cycles and can adjust their fuel consumption to maximize results.

      • 0 avatar
        ott

        So why not just make them that fuel efficient in the first place?

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        @ott.

        Because then other factors like acceleration and deivability suffer you if you design your entire car around EPA test procedures.

        The automotive market is incredibly competitive. People look at mileage, reviews, reliability studies, 0-60 times, safety, and many other factors.

        Getting better mileage is easier said than done. You either have to take away horsepower, make the car lighter, or put in more technology. You can always price your car higher or have a slower car. Neither is desirable.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    The Elantra and the Civic, somebody ought to right a book about these two cars over these two years. It’s like the tortoise and the hare, would make a fascinating business read.

    Hyundai lived by the specs, it gets hurt by the specs. A bigger question now is, if 6-speeds is so good, why isn’t the Elantra any faster or more fuel efficient than the Civic with older hardware?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Procedural errors at the automakers’ joint testing operations in Korea led to incorrect fuel economy ratings for select vehicle lines.”

    Translation: “Our testing was overseen by the marketing department.”

    Mr. Baruth probably should write a follow-up on this: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/900-miles-and-runnin-searching-for-truth-in-a-rented-elantra/

  • avatar
    carbufbruce

    This surprises me as a 2012 Elantra owner. I have not had any trouble achieving the EPA ratings with my Elantra GLS manual transmission car. My overall mileage over 20,400 miles (about 50% highway)is right at 37 mpg. Admittedly, I do upshift as soon as possible, but I generally drive at 5 mph over the speed limit, except in town. I do notice that headwinds have a much greater impact on mileage than my previous car, 2003 Toyota Corolla. I suspect the Elantra has a higher drag coefficient than the published number. The mileage drops off more at speeds over 70 mph than the Toyota did. Still, I’ve been happy with the car’s mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I think it is safe to assume that the people p!ssing and moaning about the mpg won’t be buying another Hyundai or Kia product.

      But for everyone else who owns one of these products and realizes that YMMV in the real world, the question remains, “Would you buy another Hyundai or Kia product in the future?”

      For us the answer is a resounding “YES!”, as long as the Elantra we have remains problem free. It’s got 100,000 miles to prove itself. Then it is time to trade.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I had no trouble in my 2011 Forte meeting and exceeding the published highway rating, when I took a full highway trip (which was only twice). I easily got 37 and change out of a car rated at 34 going 80 mph. I tracked the mileage for 15,000 miles and got an average of 29.2 with a 70/30 city/highway split.

    I’ve never bothered trying to figure out my “city” or “highway” mileage because I rarely have a 100% tank of either.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I really think this is a time to concentrate on the positive. This is an offer bigger than the likely settlement. And, it’s just to darn right. I look at this and am even more likely to buy a Kia than I was before.

    We all ought to be praising this idea. I would be thousands ahead if all the consumer class actions that have resulted in zero value had been handled like this. Could the airlines send people to South Korea to take notes?

    No company is perfect, they screwed up, and their solution is costing more than the sales they would have lost. I bet it doesn’t happen again any time soon.

    I want more companies to behave this way.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Every manufacturer has good vehicles and every manufacturer has lemons. It’s the nature of the beast.

      We know several people in our area who choose to drive Hyundai and Kia vehicles. If they were not happy campers they wouldn’t be repeat buyers.

      Our mailman has been delivering mail in his Sedona for years and was a repeat customer. Others at our church drove an Optima and recently traded it for a sleek new one. They were repeat customers. And recently another lady we know traded her old Sorento for a brand new one.

      These people don’t care about mpg. Most people understand that there are a ton of external factors that determine the mpg you achieve. And the quality of gas in many places is horrible. That alone knocks down mpg a bunch. You can’t match what the factory testing achieves.

      Most people don’t whine about mpg. They just want a decent vehicle at a great price. In many cases Hyundai and Kia provide just that, a decent vehicle at a great price with many of them built in America, by Americans, for Americans. You can’t beat that.


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