By on November 2, 2012

 

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TTAC’s inbox was inundated this morning with reports of Hyundai’s revised mileage claims, which remove a number of its vehicles from the 40 MPG club.

According to Hyundai

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

Maybe it’s time for a new way to measure fuel economy standards?

Over-inflated MPG numbers aren’t the exclusive domain of the United States either. Fuel economy numbers in Canada are widely inflated to the point where the advertised numbers bear zero relation to real world figures, thanks to a combination or arcane test methods and shady “imperial-to-metric conversion practices”.

The irony of the Hyundai case is that independent tests have corroborated the Elantra’s mileage claims. Popular Mechanics re-created the standard testing procedure, did their own version of the test and their Elantra (presumably a press car) delivered 34.1/47.6 MPG city/highway. Our own Jack Baruth rented an Elantra that had seen better days, and found the mileage consistent with expectations – even though it was slightly below the advertised 40 MPG rating.

There’s nothing scientific about the resulting 35.5-ish MPG rating, but based on the way I drove it, the mileage and abuse the poor little car has suffered, and the entirely adequate performance from the engine and transmission, I’m giving “Consumer Watchdog” a thumbs down. Had I purchased this Elantra, I wouldn’t feel cheated in any way. They promised 40MPG under ideal conditions, and I’m getting 35-36MPG in conditions which were far from the test lab.

The gripes surrounding fuel economy testing, whether it’s the test procedure, the self-reporting by the OEMs or their failure to match up to real world conditions, are enough to prompt calls for a change in the way things are done. Tell us how you’d change things below.

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101 Comments on “QOTD: Time For An End To Manufacturer Measured MPG Numbers?...”


  • avatar
    Robstar

    I think it removes ALL of them from the 40mpg club, no ?

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    The EPA should go back to testing all the cars. This ‘self reporting’ is complete BS, and unfair to the few honest players. Reminds me of the ‘voluntary compliance’ fantasy peddled by one of the political parties.

    • 0 avatar
      snabster

      holy shit kenyan socialism bankrupt GM commie black dude vote for guns regulation is bad free market fox news girls hot.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      I don’t think the EPA ever did the testing itself. From the begininng this has been a program were the EPA sets the test method, the car companies do the testing, and the EPA spot checks for compliance.

    • 0 avatar
      Ciriya.com

      As a staunch liberal democrat (you know, the kind righties love to blame for big government), I’m surprised at how many folks want more gov’t regulation on this. Frankly, we don’t need anymore of it. In addition to EPA tests, there are endless amounts of alternate MPG sources in the form of car journalists, magazines, aggregator websites from fuelly to True Delta, etc etc. there’s no need for government to have a bigger hand in it.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Derek, you might be right that it is time to end manufacturer generated numbers. There could be an independent group, like their is for safety (NCAP or IIHS). But all the other manufacturers played by the rules. Hyundai and Kia did not, they cheated (or had a procedural error!). Several people on here have commented in the past about inflated numbers from Hyundai and Kia. H/K should pay a price for this.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      There’s nothing here to suggest that other automakers ARE playing by the rules. The news here is that Kia and Hyundai have actually admitted reporting the wrong numbers. I’m sure this mpg inflation reaches far beyond the Korean automakers. (Google Honda Civic Hybrid EPA class action”

      Just as bad, however, are the in-car displays of current miles per gallon. There is ZERO regulation of those, so they are virtually all wildly optimistic, to make their drivers feel good. A friend’s Fusion consistently reports 36mpg average over long (~1500mi) trip resets. His calculated mileage puts it in the high 20s. It even plagues cars that are remarkably efficient: Browse PriusChat and you’ll see that the 2010+ Prius embellishes in-car MPG stats by 4%.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        I’ve found that my trip computer is almost 100% accurate in measuring fuel consumption AS LONG AS idle times are kept to a minimum (and as long as I’m not driving like a maniac).

        If I have long periods of idle times, the fuel consumption is reported as over-optimistic (e.g. 7.1L/100km displayed, 7.6L/100km calculated – or 33mpg displayed vs 31 calculated)

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I too think that cheating is rampant, though more by the “teaching to the test” method where the car is optimized for the test results rather than the real world. I cannot believe for a split second that Hybrids are not smart enough to recognize the VERY specific driving parameters of the EPA test and optimize their electric usage accordingly.

        My Saabs and BMW have always been reasonably spot on with the fuel economy calculations. My Jeep is actually pessimistic, by a fair amount. There is not a whole lot of accuracy in the miles divided by gallons method either, as pump shutoffs vary wildly. Add tilt of the pump forecourt, etc.

        And ultimately, a couple mpg either way once you get into the 30s is irrelevant anyway. But I did tell my two Soul-owning friends about this development – they both have fairly long commutes so they are going to make out like bandits if the initial refund annually for life thing actually happens!

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        The moment they actually enforce odometer and speedometer calibration, then they can enforce eco-meter calibration.

        The only way to get 100% accurate economy numbers is with a weighing scale and a GPS device.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      ” But all the other manufacturers played by the rules.”

      Says who? Do you really believe H/K are the only ones that fudged the numbers? Are you certain that they did anything wrong at all? Based on unbiased third party results they met their claims or at least came plausibly close. H/K voluntarily issued a correction to their prior claims, while everybody else is pretending to be shocked! Shocked, I tell you!!

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        This was a systemic error/over estimation by Hyundai/Kia. I probably shouldn`t have said that all other manufacturers always play by the rules because some other cars like the Fusion hybrid and some GM models (Equinox) have been criticized for too optimistic values. However as has been commented on TTAC for a long time now it was always thought that Hyundai/Kia were the worst offenders. This seems to confirm that. They only came clean because they were going to be exposed.

  • avatar
    areader

    Well we certainly wouldn’t want to increase the size of government now would we? This is of NO importance compared to what we read about food manufacturers, such as slaughter houses, inspecting themselves.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    “The irony of the Hyundai case is that independent tests have corroborated the Elantra’s mileage claims. Popular Mechanics re-created the standard testing procedure, and their Elantra (presumably a press car) delivered 34.1/47.6 MPG city/highway.”

    From the linked Popular Mechanics article: “For our testing, we specifically didn’t want to replicate the way the EPA tests cars. This wasn’t just for the sake of being contrarian, but because we wanted­ to test the cars the way any reader might be able to, which meant driving the cars on the road.”

    Their test had nothing to do with the EPA lab test and the 30% reduction of raw results before issuing an official highway rating. The reduction was last expanded in 2008, so getting 5 mph less than EPA rating on the highway on cars sold since really isn’t as likely. One of my cars had its EPA highway figure reduced to 29 mpg in 2008. I’ve beat that figure by 10% while driving 1,200 miles a day. Higher than EPA test cycle speeds were involved. Anyway, this story seems to be wrapped around a misunderstanding. Popular Machanics didn’t recreate the EPA test or even try to mimic it. Their results have nothing to do with whether or not Hyundai lied to consumers. It merely shows why they thought they’d get away with it.

    • 0 avatar
      ezeolla

      I assume this 1,200 miles of driving was in South Dakota? Now I have never been there but according to the topographical map that Google just gave me, it seems like depending on where in the state you are driving, it can be. This has a lot to do with mileage. When I drive from SE PA to NC, I can beat the EPA rating in my Jeep by 15-20% because it is a completely flat drive.

      I don’t disagree with your overall statement about the article, just wanted to point out that little fact.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I drive from San Diego to Charlottesville, VA and back. Going east, it is easy to do 1,200 miles each of the first two days. Going west, I64 and I81 speed enforcement usually puts me in a zombie like state by the time I’m looking for a hotel in Eastern Texas. One thing I have noticed is that sometimes my fuel economy improves by an improbable amount once I fill up outside of California.

      • 0 avatar
        hf_auto

        “One thing I have noticed is that sometimes my fuel economy improves by an improbable amount once I fill up outside of California.”
        That’s a pretty interesting comment. You didn’t happen to make this trip in summer did you? i.e. summer blend gas season with higher ethanol content.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I think the last time I observed this was in early September. It was dramatic in my old BMW. When I first brought it here, my commuting average fell from 24 mpg to 20 mpg and with a highway maximum of 27 mpg. Then when I drove it back east a year later, highway mileage hit 31 mpg at very high speeds and overall went back to the pre-California numbers.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        California gas has a reputation as being crap, but I’ve actually had the opposite experience as CJinSD.

        I actually get better mileage in the SF Bay area than when I lived in Eastern MA. Given CA’s reputation for poor gas and the terrain, I was surprised. Maybe that just means gas in MA is even worse…

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        My 80s Panther went from about 15 mpg (combined) outside CA to 12 or so in CA, but that could be because of lower speeds due to traffic, rather than gas quality.

        However, another car of mine easily hit the original pre-revision EPA figure of 26 mpg on an intra-California trip (19/26 pre-revision) on exclusive highway driving above the speed limits. The revised number was 17/24, and I usually was in the 18-19 range for normal commute, which is a mix of highway and local.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Then again, show us any industry where self-regulation is effective? Even your hallowed doctors and teachers, you might trust and love them, but the government doesn’t, at least not completely. That’s why regulatory boards, even for ‘altruistic’ professions, have mandated outside representation.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The window sticker on my 2012 3.6L Impala says 18 city, 30 highway. I can’t recall the combined number, but on average, my commute plus a minimum amount of suburban travel averages between 26.5 – 28.9 mpg. Last fill-up was the lowest number. I hope the next is better.

    A commenter said to me soon after I bought the car and about my complaining it didn’t do as well as my 2004 Impala with the 3.4L: “You gotta feed those horses”!

    I guess, but I suppose until I take a road trip, I’ll never know how good mpgs I’ll get. I’m not UNhappy, but wish it were still better. At least GM’s numbers appear to be really close to actual, but I drive with a lighter foot than many.

    Perhaps the “40 mpg club” means money in the bank to the OEMs, but being caught publishing less-than-real-world numbers can come back to hurt you.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I rented a ’12 Impala over a week and was able to nurse out 38 mpg over one 100 mile trip by being very ginger with the throttle and using the fuel shutoff strategy to my advantage on any downgrade.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        What is a “fuel shut-off strategy”?

        My Impala is a 2012 LTZ, if that makes any difference.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The engine controller will completely shut off the fuel injectors under negative engine load conditions like coasting down long hills etc.

        It’ll come back on as you near a stop but I was probably able to roll several miles on some really steep hills without injecting any fuel at all.

        Most modern cars have some variaton of this. If you were able to access the fuel flow PID, you’d see the gpm readout fall to zero under certain conditions at which point you’re riding for free.

        We’ll not really free, you already spent the resources to get the car up to speed, at this point, you’re just recovering some of the investment.

    • 0 avatar
      ezeolla

      I am pretty sure the combined number is just 65% city, 35% highway, not an actual number from an experiment. That would make yours ~22.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    “Procedural errors.” That’s hilarious.

    I don’t think Jack’s review does much to corroborate Hyundai’s numbers either. I realize Jack never claimed that was a scientific test, but I don’t see how Jack can ignore efficient driving techniques for much of the trip and then extrapolate what the results would be if conditions allowed and he had any discipline. You can only corroborate Hyundai’s numbers if you actually hit them.

    I actually don’t really care much about Hyundai specifically with this issue. The whole testing system is broken beyond repair, and the EPA should probably just give up on it. Whatever it is that they do to verify manufacturer’s numbers, it’s a waste of time and money. It only provides incentive for manufacturers to tune their cars for the test in a chase for a marketing number.

    The worst part is published MPG numbers are increasingly less relevant in the segments where consumers care most. It’s a lot harder to hit published MPG numbers keeping up with traffic in a low power four cylinder than a more powerful car. For example, I rented a Focus not long ago and only hit 32 mpg, against 27/37, 31 combined. Along the same route in the same conditions, my 540 averages 23.5, against ratings of 14/22, 16 combined. People consider fuel economy when they buy a C-segment car, the published numbers should mean something.

    I would personally be happy to judge fuel economy with a combination of consumer reports and fuelly. If manufacturers and the EPA can’t fix the tests to consistently reflect accurate results, then don’t bother.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      The discrepancy isn’t low powered cars against high powered cars. It’s cars with throttle response and shift schedules tuned for the treadmill against cars that aren’t.

      In the good old days of $1.00 a gallon when your 540 was engineered there was no incentive to game slow cars either. My 125 horsepower 93 Accord was rated 24 highway!

      • 0 avatar
        afflo

        Eh? My ’92 Accord (LX 5spd Sedan) was rated at 24/30 if memory serves, and the 4spd autos were 22/28.

        And they still had CAFE requirements. Why would there be no reason to “game” it?

        That was under the old EPA standard, of course. It’s probably 21/28 and 19/26 for manual and auto respectively under the new system!

        EDIT: I just looked them up on FuelEconomy.gov. Was yours an automatic wagon? The revised (post-’07) figures are 18/24 for a ’93 Accord wagon. At the time, it was listed as 21/27.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        CAFE didn’t matter without larger cars to cancel out and Honda didn’t have any. The requirement at the time was low enough that any small car would pass without intentional tuning.

        Yeah I had the wagon.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    No. Your mileage will vary. Forcing the EPA to test every single vehicle will only increase costs to consumers, far outweighing any perceived “damage” done to them by a +/- a few MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Why would the EPA testing every car, cost any more than teh manufacturers testing every car? Either way somebody is testing the cars and the consumers (and shareholders) are paying for it.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The manufacturers would be buidling and testing them (as they always have), then the EPA would need to test each of them again to produce their own results if they were to be responsible for ultimately reporting all the numbers themselves.

        That would require a LOT of labor and the EPA isn’t going to do it for free. They’d either charge the automakers who would tack it onto the sticker, or pay for it through some sort of taxation.

  • avatar
    Wacko

    I’m off topic here, but those god damn auto play publicity is hack in full force on TTAC, i thought they got rid of those about two months ago…

  • avatar
    wsn

    Even if all the procedures are followed, the EPA number may not be the truth in fuel consumption, since the model itself can be flawed. The easiest way to enforce fuel efficiency requirement is to add a gas tax. Maybe 5c in the first year, 10c the 2nd year, and so on. Thus the inefficient car makers will be weeded out first. And the national debt can be repayed with that tax money.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      Let’s say you get your gas tax. As an average new car buyer, how do you know which car gets the best fuel econonomy? Do you propose not fixing the EPA MPG farce, and just letting the consumer get burned for making what seemed like the right choice in the face of rising gas prices?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        As TTAC and Popular Mechanics have shown, there are plenty of publications willing to test these machines and produce figures for you under any sort of conditions you might wish.

        I would say that conducting research, reading multiple reviews and asking other owners of a product before purchasing is preferable over making decisions based on printed Government labels.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The easiest way is to not do it at all. We could go back to the days of numerous drivetrain options if each one didn’t require costly certification. Gas prices have already doubled under Obama. Was Saab an egregious gas guzzler? How many people even know what kind of mileage they get? Cars that display their fuel mileage vary from 10% pessimistic to about 20% optimistic. We could raise mileage by doing away with ethanol in our gasoline. The EPA knows it. That’s why they let the car companies test their cars with 100% gasoline.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        We could also dramatically raise mileage figures by increasing compression ratios accross the board and utilizing more small diesel technology. There too the EPA is holding back progress with their emmissions regulations.

        That’s right, under the EPA, burning MORE fuel is better for the environment.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “Gas prices have already doubled under Obama.”

        This highly misleading canard again. If you liked gas prices then, then maybe you’d suggest we go back to the way the economy was then.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Yes, and we all understand how much impact a United States president has on fuel prices…

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        People who don’t understand how gas prices work think the president has a huge amount of influence. Unfortunately, these ignorant fools are the loudest.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Come on, people. There is a special room in the White House where Obama meets every week with the Kenyan foreign minister, the head of the Milky Way Intergalactic Communist Party, the al Qaeda leadership, and George Clooney to set oil prices.

        I thought that everybody knew this.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Don’t forget Al Gore, pch101.

  • avatar
    dwford

    So, how about that 38mpg Altima…..

  • avatar
    gslippy

    MPG should be reported independently – not by the mfrs and not by the government. The burden should be on the consumer and the market, and then buyers can decide who they want to believe.

    If 5 reviewers measure MPG, you’ll get 5 different results. Heck, Edmunds often reports MPG after driving their long-term cars at 80-85 mph.

    Come to think of it, there are too many variables. Just don’t bother.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      +1 on this. With something as subjective as fuel consumption, multiple angles would be areal benefit.

      • 0 avatar
        Spike_in_Brisbane

        + another 1. I suggest prohibiting the manufacturers from publishing fuel consumption and leave it to the magazines and web sites. This will engender competition between them and improve the mags because they will have another source of corrupt slush money. This free market approach is in-line with U.S. sensitivities and will promote healthy debate.

        It is not cancer research. If your numbers don’t match your expectations, you will not die. Plus there is some underlying obviousity. —i.e. A Boss Mustang will use more fuel than a Prius regardless of who tells you otherwise.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I suggest prohibiting the manufacturers from publishing fuel consumption and leave it to the magazines and web sites”

        This is completely impractical for the US situation.

        For one, companies have rights under the First Amendment to tout their features. A company has a right to brag about its car’s fuel economy, just as it can about its handling or Corinthian leather.

        For another, the EPA needs the results for CAFE compliance. The US uses CAFE as a substitute for a higher gas tax. Since Americans would freak out at the thought of paying more for gas, CAFE is here to stay and so are the EPA ratings.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Tell us how you’d change things”

    I wouldn’t. The current testing method is fine.

    The purpose of the test is to allow cars to be compared to each other, not to estimate exactly what every driver will get in his individual circumstances. Ergo, “Your mileage may vary.”

    Consumers should figure out that “highway” driving is a rough approximation of driving on back roads in rural areas, not flat out driving on the Montanabahn (or I guess that should be Texastollroadbahn.) Suffice it to say, as you drive faster, your MPG will decline. Physics have a way of doing that, you know.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      But won’t you think of the children!

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      PCH, the problem arises when the test isn’t uniformly applied and the results not uniformly reported, so that BMW’s 34MPG Hwy isn’t the same as Honda’s 34MPG Hwy.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “the problem arises when the test isn’t uniformly applied and the results not uniformly reported”

        There is a rather rigid testing procedure in place that applies to everyone. Unless they lie or screw up big time, the results should be consistent.

        This is a matter of cost-benefit. To have the EPA test everything would raise costs and, perhaps even worse, delay launches because of the resulting queues. The benefit received in exchange for this: next to nil.

        The key is to punish offenders with large fines and larger doses of bad PR, which should discourage cheating. With sufficient vigilance, the cheaters will be caught in time and remedies provided.

        This isn’t comparable to regulating a banking system, the lack of which can cause the entire economy to fail. Here, the losses are nominal to each individual, and the primary damages can be cured easily enough with checks being written to the appropriate parties.

        If I was Uncle Sam, I would tack on penalties that would require the manufacturers to pay their rivals for sales that they may have lost due to the offender’s false advertising. Make this stuff costly and ugly enough, and these companies will comply quite nicely without the added cost and time burden of enforcement before the fact.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        PCH I’m not seeing it add significantly to the price of an automobile. Say you have 4 power train combos. $10K per version would be $40k for a model. Sell say 100K and that only adds $2.50 per car. In the real world $10k should more than cover the cost of doing a test that only lasts a few minutes 3 supervisors for each employee that is actually working, the facilities ect.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I’m not seeing it add significantly to the price of an automobile.”

        According to Car and Driver, the EPA claims that it would cost $10 million to open a testing facility that could test one car per day.

        Based upon how the EPA counts models (engine type, transmission type, and wheels driven), there were almost 1,100 models sold in the US during the 2011 model year.

        To test every car within six months, it would be necessary to have nine or ten testing facilities. So there’s $100 million taxpayer dollars right there.

        Of course, then the facility would have to be staffed, year after year.

        All of this for what exactly? The manufacturers generally don’t cheat because EPA tests enough cars to keep them pretty honest. They obviously caught Hyundai. My quibble would be with the modesty of the penalty, not the approach.

        This also runs contrary to the US approach of voluntary compliance. A system that processes vehicles too slowly would effectively serve as a non-tariff barrier. When you domestic fans complain about Japan, this is the sort of the stuff that your spokesmen legitimately gripe about.

  • avatar
    BrianL

    I think this is a very softball approach. Many people have been saying how great Hyundai/Kia are doing, largely impart to the HP/TQ numbers (which many think are about 10% inflated) and the MPG’s that are returned from testing. Now, it appears that they are coming back down to Earth.

    TTAC has been doing sales based mfg MPG reporting from true car for awhile. Hyundai has been at that top of that for the past few months (if not longer). Now, I disagree as sales based mfg MPG reporting as a valuable metric, but how has this changed now? How many sales did Hyundai/Kia win because of these inflated numbers? The number isn’t 0, but I don’t know how much it would be either.

    At the same time, TTAC was defending Hyundai/Kia on these reports referencing that JB and Popular Mechanics says that the numbers are good.

    With all of that said, I don’t think it is valid for the EPA to do and test every vehicle. I think it would be good for the EPA to actually follow up with real world driving of these vehicles to see if there testing actually is making sense. We don’t want a manufacture EPA number to be 40, tested properly, when it actually gets 27. Many people aren’t getting the 32 MPG highway from 4cyl Equinox/Terrain. I had one for a rental one time and I had to baby it to get 30 MPG highway.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Your suggestion that the EPA should follow up with real-world testing makes sense, but I don’t think they’re staffed for that. We’d have to increase the EPA’s budget for this, and become more dependent on Big Government when we don’t have to.

      There are enough independents out there who test vehicles for money (car mags, bloggers with ads, etc) who already supply this information.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        The problem is the people like auto magazines don’t test with any particular method and in fact most of the time run the cars very hard.

        I am not say they should follow up with real world testing of every vehicle, but pick a few every year at random to test in the real world. The idea isn’t around verifying the individual models, but to verify that the testing represents close to real world driving.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Living in God’s waiting room, Florida, I can see that the local living dead would probably be able to replicate the EPA figures in the left lane of 75 and 95, but for the rest of us, why do we even have those idiotic stickers.

    I have yet to own a car that MEETS EPA advertised city and highway numbers, most undershoot it by 2-5 mpg. My Sierra is claimed to have a “combined” MPG of 17, I’ve yet to see it go above 13.9.

    “Your mileage may vary” is a pretty disingenuous statement, when in real-world use “your mileage will be lower” is more apt.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      LOL +1

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      They’re pretty meaningless to me as well. I know that I’ll be able to over or undershoot those numbers completely based on my driving attitude on a given day.

      In my experience, I have been able to achieve higher than the stickers AND lower. I don’t let the onboard computer do the calculation either, always the pump and trip odometer.

      • 0 avatar
        ezeolla

        The only time I trust the on board computer is if the drive has been 100% highway. I find that then is the only time the are completely accurate.

        Also, I have never had a car that got below the city rating when the driving was done 100% on paved roads (according to my calculations when filling the tank)

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      My former 05 xB met – and sometimes beat – its EPA numbers, and that was before the revised 2008 standards came out.

    • 0 avatar
      d524zoom-zoom

      FJ60…”Living in God’s waiting room”

      Thanks for the laugh HA HA

  • avatar
    Grumpy

    Self regulation doesn’t work very well where the stakes are high and as the price of fuel goes skyward, and folks shop carefully for the most efficient models, the stakes are indeed high.

    Imagine if professional cyclists just had to fill in a form saying what drugs they were taking, and no testing was done.

    EPA data needs to be more reproducible–avoid special tuning by randomly scooping cars off showroom floors and testing them in real world conditions, by non professional drivers.

    The resulting expectation should be that with careful non hoonery, the published numbers could be easily achieved or bettered.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      “Imagine if professional cyclists just had to fill in a form saying what drugs they were taking, and no testing was done.”

      Um… isn’t that prerty much what happens? The automotive equivalent to the cycling world’s anti-doping agencies would be checking the fuel level to see if the car’s overheating.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    By the way- JB’s test and the Popular Mechanics’ test, make for 2 samples over the span of maybe 4 tanks of gas total. For a more accurate picture, you need to look at either fueleconomy.gov or fuelly.com. You can see 100+ users reporting their mpg over 1000’s of miles each. The average seems to be ~30mpg for the Elantra.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      With no controls over highway/city mix, driving styles, gas used and conditions encountered.

      It gives a gpod estimate, but won’t beapplicable to all situations.

      I’ve always thoight simplistic city/highway numbers were bogus. Personally, I’d rate steady state economy at four different speed groups 30, 45, 60, 75, in a simulated traffic cycle, and a simulated hard acceleration cycle.

      Add idle consumption figures, and you’ve got a nice, trending graph that’s easy to understand.

  • avatar
    DIYer

    To get the advertised highway gas mileage, you really have to baby the accelerator pedal. No hard acceleration, zero-to-60 time of 20 seconds or longer. Keep the speed down, 60 mph if you can, no more than 63. This is how the car companies get these mileage figures. No way can you drive 70 mph and get the advertised mileage. The average vehicle going down the freeway here in Detroit is doing 85 mph, and these people are getting 30% less gas mileage than they could if they took it easy.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      Furthermore, the tests as said before are conducted in environments with perfectly replicated conditions. How often does one drive on a clear, flat and level road with absolutely zero traffic to have to slow down/speed up and maneuver around?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        THe EPA tests are to set a uniform benchmark for all vehicles to be tested against. That being said, the numbers are pretty meaningless in themselves other than to compare directly to other vehicles.

        To find out the real world figures beforehand, I think that independent reviews are the way to go as they’ll often detail how they drove the car to obtain the figures. You can compare this to how you might drive to guess at what might be in store.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        Wouldn’t it be cool if they could devise 3 test procedures:

        – Standard EPA
        – Granny on a Sunday Drive
        – Drive it like you stole it

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Wouldn’t it be cool if they could devise 3 test procedures”

        There already are six versions of the test.

        http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/fe_test_schedules.shtml

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        @pch: When will these be on window stickers? I find this very interesting. Thanks for the link.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I don’t think that all six will be on the window stickers. We’ll have to use the wonders of the interwebs to look them up.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        @ PCH

        Thanks, wasn’t aware of that. Revising my question like Robstar, when will they be on the window sticker.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        Also: I looked up my wife’s 2011 Kia in fueleconomy.gov & it has nothing more than city/hw/combined. Where do I find the results of these other 4 tests?

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    JB’s was a rental. He didn’t even know what the tire pressures were.

  • avatar
    redav

    Better question: What sort of fine will be levied against Hyundai?

    With the privilege of performing your own testing comes the responsibility (and accountability) of doing it correctly. When you fail such responsibility, you deserve something painful. I suggest $900 million ($1000/car) ON TOP of reimbursing buyers.

    Also, what reviewers get when driving the car (whether it be Pop Mech or JB) does not corroborate EPA tests because they were not doing EPA tests. We all know that EPA numbers and on-road numbers don’t match. They never will. Comparing them doesn’t yield useful info. However, since EPA numbers is all the real, hard data we have for comparison shopping, they must be done correctly.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Exactly, I would expect some penalty since having fines as an option ensures manufacturers play by the rules. Also as others have mentioned H/K gained sales by touting fuel economy since they were one of the first to the “magic” 40mpg.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    There seem to be some reported outliers in the fuel economy measurement business. I seem to recall that no one came close to the hybrid Ford Fusion’s numbers in the real world.

    Nevertheless, the EPA test is a uniform yardstick and, absent evidence of fraud, self-reporting doesn’t seem to be such a bad thing. I suppose the EPA could randomly pull a sample off the production line and run the test itself, and if that sample didn’t meet the numbers questions could be asked.

    The alternative is to use an outfit like Underwriters’ Laboratories to run the tests. The test a jillion other products for meeting various standards, and no one has said they corrupt, crooked or incompetent to my knowledge.

    The problem is your mileage really does vary. A huge factor is weather, especially if you do a lot of short trips. My mileage falls noticeably in the colder months (not that DC is particularly cold), although I rarely use a/c in the summer. I’ve noticed those times when I do use a/c, it takes a real bite out of mileage, too. I seem to recall someone complaining about getting terrible mileage out of Ford hybrid products. Apparently the problem is that the gasoline engine is programmed to run until it reaches operating temperature, and this person’s driving was a short trip commute to work from a cold start in the morning followed by an equally short trip home at the end of the day when the engine had mostly cooled down. Perhaps the use of electric engine block heaters should be more widespread . . . not for subzero temperatures when the oil is like goo, but simply for the fuel economy benefit of having an engine that starts off pretty warm.

    • 0 avatar
      Juniper

      I worked in a non automotive engine industry that required emission testing. We did our own certification. The EPA would audit us. They would buy a product retail, bring it to us and watch us test it. They would also review our records, calibration data etc. It worked then and I’m sure it is still working.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Perhaps there need to be a number of competing independent certified testing agencies empowered to do the testing and subject to audit, yet not directly managed by the government. Any of those independent agencies caught cheating or fudging could be both fined and de-certified, thus putting their business at risk if they get it wrong.

    Enrolled agent tax preparers work under a similar scheme. If they are ever found to be helping tax payers cheat, they are in serious trouble.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Perhaps there need to be a number of competing independent certified testing agencies empowered to do the testing and subject to audit”

      That could be a nice sideline for Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Countless car reviewers are doing this already. The EPA hasn’t been the sole arbiter of MPG since its inception.

      Per my idea in the above comments, consumers could/should be sampling this readily-available data to make their own decisions. Perhaps these reporters could simply run the standard EPA tests on their own, or some other real-world tests.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I buy a vehicle. I know what the EPA MPG is supposed to be. I get down to a 1/4 tank and fill up. If I’m inclined I figure mileage; if not, I don’t. I know there are many who keep logs and track their MPG. As long as I’m close to EPA MPG I don’t give a hoot.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I don’t think this is gonna hurt sales of H/K cars, most people really did not buy into those lofty 40 mpg claims. they bought the cars cause they liked them and were priced right.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “they bought the cars cause they liked them”

      Are there Hyundai/Kia enthusiasts? I mean besides that person who keeps telling us about buying a Hyundai for his/her granddaughter and her fat friends.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        I’m an enthusiast. And I don’t understand the personal attack on that other person.

        With 90k Hyundai/Kias sold every month, you can be sure some of them actually like their cars.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        It wasn’t a personal attack. That person consistently always points out that the granddaughter’s friends are chubby and repeats the story quite frequently.

        In fact, what I like about that person is that he/she actually says something substantive at least, unlike some of the drones on this site who basically copy and paste the same old crap from thread to thread, whether it’s responsive or not.

    • 0 avatar
      BrianL

      Volt 230
      So you are saying that most of the people who bought didn’t think that the MPG numbers were true? I would think nearly all of them thought the EPA numbers on the stickers were accurately tested EPA numbers.

      Honestly, I think Hyundai sold a lot of vehicles because they were offering 40 MPG on all of these vehicles.

  • avatar
    raph

    Welcome to the new ”gross horsepower” wars of the 60’s. I don’t think a new or separate government agency needs to be created instead just an independent observer and a common and universally accepted test method rigidly enforced.

    Ultimately it’s caveat emptor in the US at least since the auto industry has the financial clout to influence such things.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    What they need is a google robot to drive the car.
    Strap em in and follow a predetermined routine.

    Pick two race tracks to standardize the test. You must use the same track for that model year for all manufacturers.
    1. A banked oval track to calculate the highway mileage.
    2. A road course to figure out the city mileage. Start and stops would be programmed in.

    Every other year qualified race tracks can bid on getting the automotive mileage contract.

    The car should be filled up with fuel then driven until it quits.
    Then refilled to calculate the mileage.
    The car should have a summer and winter rating.

    Apples to apples

  • avatar
    TW4

    If you’re focusing on the test and its administration, you’re missing the point.

    Hyundai did a reasonably good job with the testing data, missing the actual EPA result by just a few percentage points. The problem is that they invoked the imaginary value associated with the 40mpg plateau without actually reaching the 40mpg plateau. The fault is not associated to the testing methods, but to Hyundai’s anxiousness to manipulate their consumers regarding the value associated with 40mpg. This is a matter of truthful advertising/marketing, not EPA testing.

    But since this discussion (and every other ‘Hyundai cheats’ discussion) is about missing the point entirely, I will say that the EPA test probably needs a different city cycle. City numbers always feel optimistic to me, and the gains from start-stop hybrid systems are not captured by the current test, though start-stop hybrid often generates fuel savings in real world driving conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “The fault is not associated to the testing methods, but to Hyundai’s anxiousness to manipulate their consumers regarding the value associated with 40mpg. This is a matter of truthful advertising/marketing, not EPA testing.”

      I made this point to Mr. Baruth. He pretty much blew it off.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    If you can’t trust Korean Government Motors, who can you trust?


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