The Truth About Cars » mileage The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » mileage Even Back Home In Korea, Lying About Gas Mileage Can Get Expensive Tue, 30 Apr 2013 12:18:30 +0000

Guess which South Korean carmaker prompted the South Korean government to tighten its rules about overstating their cars’ mileage? Under new South Korean government rules “aimed at reassuring consumers after Hyundai Motor Co’s fuel economy fiasco last year” it can cost more than $900,000 if one is caught with overly optimistic mileage claims, Reuters says.

What’s more, the guidelines to calculate fuel mileage have been changed, which will lead to a 3-5 percent drop in a vehicle’s overall stated fuel economy.

Hyundai’s Sonata sedan, for example, will be said to get 11.4 km per liter, down  from currently 11.9 km.

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Hyundai Fuel Fiasco: Whose Shoe Will Drop Next? Fri, 30 Nov 2012 05:25:36 +0000

“Who’s next?” This is the number one topic at the Los Angeles auto show. After Hyundai had to restate its MPG numbers and pay compensation to customers, executives and analysts are convinced that more automakers may have to do the same, reports the well-connected Reuters reporter Bernie Woodall from the back-rooms and cocktail parties in LA.

“I think we might see more of this,” said Jake Fisher, the head of automotive testing at Consumer Reports. “There are other vehicles that don’t really stack up to the EPA estimates.”

Auto executives at Nissan, GM , Toyota, Honda, Mazda, and Chrysler, told Woodall they are confident that their mileage claims are true.

So what do you guess? Who’s next?

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Louis Bird Is About To Get Swindled, And Not By Hyundai Wed, 11 Jul 2012 17:32:21 +0000

A gentleman named Louis Bird is suing Hyundai because his 2011 Elantra isn’t getting the claimed 40 mpg that Hyundai’s ads apparently tout. Bird is being supported by a group called Consumer Watchdog, and if that rings a bell, maybe it’s because TTAC has dealt with them  a few times in the past regarding Hyundai.

Before we delve into Louis Bird’s folly, let’s recap the situation for those who are just tuning in. Consumer Watchdog has been hassling Hyundai since December regarding the Elantra’s 40 MPG highway mileage claims.  Mileage tests are often conducted by the automakers who then report their findings to the government, with the threat of severe financial penalties if they lie. Independent testing done by our own Jack Baruth returned  “35-36 mpg in conditions which were far from the test lab“, with Baruth being satisfied by the results, even if they didn’t quite hit the 40 MPG mark that is possible under the carefully controlled conditions of a fuel economy test. Popular Mechanics was another publication that managed to match Hyundai’s claims.

The lawsuit appears to hinge on the fact that Hyundai apparently advertised the car as  “The 40 MPG Elantra”, without a voice-over disclosing that the 40 MPG figure was related to a highway mileage estimate, without stating that city figures would vary significantly. The complaint acknolwedges that disclaimers did appear, but they were  “neither clear nor conspicuous” since they were comprised of text being flashed at the bottom of the television ads. Bird is alleging similar tactics were used for print ads.

A chat with TTAC’s General Counsel didn’t yield a whole lot; being unfamiliar with California law, he was unable to accurately assess how successful Bird would be in getting a judgment against Hyundai. He did have some commentary on the peripheral details of the case

“Since it’s a class action Hyundai will probably want to avoid having the evidence dragged out in public through the court system, and since it’s being done on contingency the lawyers don’t want to drag it out either as the costs which they have to cover are enormous – so there’s a natural inclination on both sides to settle.”
However, unlike Honda, the Koreans are less concerned about negative publicity and may put up more of a fight. The only thing that you can say with certainty about these [class action] claims is that at the end of the day, the loser pays out a lot of $$, the plaintiffs get some token amount of damages, and the lawyers do very well.
Consumer Watchdog and the law firm representing Louis Bird have the most to gain here, even if Hyundai ends up “winning”. Louis Bird looks set to come out on the losing end, no matter what happens.


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Forget Quality, Safety: Car Buyers Care Most About Mileage, Mileage, And Mileage Tue, 22 May 2012 15:21:08 +0000 Fuel economy now is the leading factor that drives new car decisions, a study by Consumer Reports says. “Fuel economy” ranks top by a wide margin, followed far behind by quality, safety, and value.

The factors that trigger premature ejaculations in basement-dwelling, Gran Turismo playing phantasy car buyers, namely performance, design, and technology, are also-rans.

Car-purchase factor Most important (%)
Fuel economy 37
Quality 17
Safety 16
Value 14
Performance 6
Design/style 6
Technology/innovation 3

The heightened insistence on more mileage is not only good for the wallet, it also soothes the conscience. Says Consumer Reports:

“While gasoline costs were the number one reason cited for wanting a more fuel-efficient vehicle (at 90 percent), more than half of respondents also had other reasons, including a desire to be more environmentally friendly (62 percent) and concern about the nation’s dependence on foreign oil (56 percent).”

Full text of the report can be found here.

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Payback Is A Bitch: Mazda’s ICE Challenges Hybrids Wed, 20 Oct 2010 12:27:51 +0000

When someone tells you “you’ll save a lot of money,” always ask: “How much will it cost me?” New technology that saves you a lot of money usually comes with a nasty habit: It costs a lot upfront. With a car, you are faced with the dilemma whether to pay Big Car now or Big Oil later. I never forget when I was a young copywriter and I had the task of launching the first diesel powered Golf. I extolled its prudence at the pump and its longevity. Whereupon a grizzled old guy at the advertising department of Volkswagen said: “That thing is expensive. You need to drive 80,000 km to get your money back. By that time, the engine will fall out of the car.” (VW had some corrosion issues back when.) That introspection was triggered by two events: Ed is in Michigan, he has a date with the Volt. His mission: Find out when you will get your money back. Then there’s Mazda, which did something utterly boring, but likewise highly exciting.

Mazda announced today that it has improved the fuel efficiency of its Demio subcompact to 30km per liter, on par with that of hybrid vehicles, and that they will will release the new car in Japan next year. That according to The Nikkei [sub], which also tells us that “the gas mileage will be the best among conventional cars available in Japan, surpassing the previous record of 26km per liter achieved by Daihatsu’s Mira minivehicle and Nissan’s March subcompact.”

What’s much more interesting: The conventional, ICE powered Demio is just a tad less efficient than Toyota’s Prius, which gets 38km per liter. And it’s right up there with Honda’s Fit hybrid, which also gets 30km per liter. (All numbers Japanese standard, non-EPA. Converted via math alone, 30 km per liter would be 70 mpg.)

At the heart of what Mazda calls “SKYACTIV” technology is a direct injection pump gas engine that that gets its improved fuel efficiency out of a frighteningly high compression ratio of 14:1 . I hear you knockin’? No, you won’t.

No price has been named for the car (better known as the Mazda2 outside of Japan,) but a good guess is it won’t cost more than a comparable, ICE powered car. Don’t expect complicated ROI calculations from me. (I won’t step into a previous quagmire.) But one thing is clear: If you can get the mileage of a hybrid at ICE prices, you’ve got yourself a winner. Especially in the booming emerging markets, where cars are paid with cash, and where people are more concerned with upfront cost (and also often are better schooled in math.) And maybe they have the inside track on China’s insidious Rare Earth caper.

While on the topic of Mazda, their Prez. Takashi Yamanouchi said at the sidelines of the presentation that he’s not considering tying up with other automakers, and that “we have agreed with Ford to continue our strategic partnership.” Listen carefully: When it’s down to “strategic partnership,” then it’s down to nothing. A strategic partnership is a business relationship at best, usually, it’s a lot of fluff.

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Hyundai Aims High With Record-Low 50 MPG Mon, 23 Aug 2010 08:14:28 +0000

Did we mention that Hyundai is doing well in the U.S.? Sales up 21 percent for the year. Hyundai cars sold in the U.S. average about 30 miles per gallon, the best fuel efficiency in the industry. Jack Baruth loves his 2005 Hyundai Accent so much that major portions had to be redacted such as not to conflict with indecency laws. Can Hyundai do much better than that? They think they can. How? No idea.

By 2025, Hyundai  plans to have a fleet average  of 50 mpg  for its cars sold in the U.S., says The Nikkei [sub]. That’s on par with hybrid cars.

A lofty goal? Hyundai is used to lofty goals. Faced by a government mandated fuel efficiency of 35.5 per gallon by 2016, Hyundai previously targeted 35 miles per gallon by 2015. They aren’t too far away from reaching it.

John Krafcik, president of Hyundai U.S., told The Nikkei that he has no idea how they will reach the 50 mpg target. In the world according to Krafcik, a target one knows how to reach cannot be called a target.

Hyundai also plans to release seven new models in the United States by the end of 2011.

For high-end models, there will be something highly unusual: Only two trim levels. Their Equus, to be launched stateside in fall, will be offered as a stripper and a fully decked-oout version, including an LCD TV, and a refrigerator. A printed manual will be missing. It will come on an iPad tablet computer.

Krafcik said people are tired of going through long lists of confusing options. By cutting down on the choices, the car is easier to make.

Hyundai’s U.S. market share, including Kia, rose to 7.8 percent in the January-July period this year, mainly on the strong sales of the Sonata.

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The EPA’s Ten Most-Efficient Vehicles Since 1984 Wed, 09 Jun 2010 15:12:30 +0000

  1. 2000 Honda Insight 5MT CVT (49/61/53)
  2. 2010 Toyota Prius (51/48/50)
  3. 1986 Chevrolet Sprint ER 5MT (44/53/48)
  4. 1990-1994 Geo Metro XFI 5MT (43/52/47)
  5. 1986-87 Honda Civic Coupe HF 5MT (42/51/46)
  6. 1994-95 Honda Civic Hatchback VX 5MT (39/50/43)
  7. 2006-2010 Honda Civic Hybrid CVT (40/45/42)
  8. 2010 Honda Insight CVT (40/43/41)
  9. 2001-2003 Toyota Prius CVT (42/41/40)
  10. 1989 Chevrolet Sprint/Suzuki Swift 5MT (38/45/41)

Keep in mind that this list [via our pals at Autosavant] is for EPA ratings, adjusted to the new post-2008 methodology (city/hwy/combined). Luckily, the EPA also accepts real-world mileage submissions from citizen-motorists to help illustrate the whole “your mileage may vary” thing. That list is after the jump.

  1. 2004-2006 Honda Insight 5MT (70.4/52)
  2. 2010 Honda Insight CVT (49.7/41)
  3. 1990-1994 Geo Metro XFI 5MT (49.4/46)
  4. 2010 Toyota Prius CVT (48.6/50)
  5. 1999 Chevrolet Metro 3 Cylinder 5MT (48.4/37)
  6. 2002-2003 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon TDI 5MT (48.2/39)
  7. 2003-2005 Honda Civic Hybrid 5MT (47.8/41)
  8. 1994-95 Honda Civic Hatchback VX 5MT (47.6/43)
  9. 2000-2003 Volkswagen Golf TDI 5MT (47.0/38)
  10. 1998-2003 Volkswagen New Beetle TDI 5MT (46.2/38)
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Why The Chevy Equinox EPA Mileage Numbers Don’t Add Up Tue, 16 Feb 2010 21:32:42 +0000

TTAC GM Bashing Alert! The following article has been read and reviewed by the TTAC-GM Assault Protective Services Committee and has been found to contain material that may put GM in a negative light. Reader discretion is advised.

Unless the elves are asleep at Google, the odds are good that there will be an ad for the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox immediately to the right of this article. And it will proudly trumpet its 32 mpg EPA highway rating, like every other Equinox ad. From GM’s first gleeful announcement, it was hard to swallow from the that a tall, almost 4,000 lb CUV could actually get 32 mpg on the highway, or 26 mpg combined. It appears others are having the same blockage of the pharynx. Now that there’s a number of reviews out, they all show the same pattern: the Equinox EPA numbers are highly deceptive. But would the EPA ever come down on Government Motors?

We conducted a survey of independent tests that actually measured fuel economy by comparing miles driven versus actual  fuel tanked. That alone is important, because the Equinox’ own mileage computer seems to be fairly consistently optimistic by about a couple of mpg. Of course, in this day and age, none too many of the car reviews (including TTAC’s) that are available have actual observed mileage. The majority just regurgitate the remarkable EPA economy that the Equinox is presumably blessed with.

Before we get to that, let’s do the suspect Equinox EPA numbers: FWD  22/32/26 (combined); AWD 20/29/23. Now there’s already a tip-off in just looking at these. The FWD version “premium” (improvement over AWD) is 3 mpg in both the highway and combined numbers. Comparing those to every other comparable CUV that offers both AWD and FWD versions, one finds that the rest of the gang (RAV4, CRV, Outlander, Rogue, Escape) average a 1.4 mpg FWD premium on the highway test, and a 1.0 premium on the combined numbers. The discrepancy with the city numbers is similar: the Equinox has a 2 mpg FWD premium; the rest average a 0.6 mpg FWD premium.

On to the real world: Car and Driver observed 18 mpg with a FWD equinox, and called it “thirsty”.

Edmunds’ test resulted in an 18.8 mpg overall, and made this observation: “Yet our testing didn’t come close to achieving these (EPA) numbers, even though we’re usually within 1 mpg of the EPA combined number.” (emphasis added).

Consumer’s Reports has a carefully calibrated mileage regime that results in very usable comparisons. The Equinox got 21 mpg; that compares to 23 mpg for the RAV4 (24 EPA combined); 22 mpg for the Outlander (22 EPA combined), and pretty much the same for the rest of the competition.

AutoWeek recorded 23.0 mpg as the average of several drivers.

Did anyone actually get close? The GreenCarReports tried to attain the 32 mpg highway numbers by gentle driving with the Eco button firmly engaged. The result: 25.8 mpg, and a comment of  “not spectacular”.

A limited degree of variation from EPA numbers is reasonable and understandable, although the revised formula tend to mirror real world experience quite well. But a consistent pattern has emerged with the Equinox and its GMC Terrain stablemate. And its not just against their direct competitors either. Consider the case of its corporate relative, the Chevy Malibu. Equipped with an almost identical I4/6 speed automatic combination, weighing five hundred pound less and with a dramatically lower total aerodynamic drag, the Malibu’s EPA ratings are an almost perfect dead ringer with the Equinox: 22/33/26.

But in the case of the Malibu, those numbers jive with both the competition (Camry: 22/32/26) as well as CR, which recorded a 25 mpg consumption. Hmm.

To assuage the TTAC GM Assault Protective Services Committee’s paranoia, Ford seems to have a similar case of EPA inflation infection. The Fusion Hybrid has been Ford’s poster boy ever since its arrival, trumpeting its 39 mpg combined rating. A survey of tests of it and the very similar 34 mpg rated Camry hybrid shows the same results, literally; as in 34 mpg. The consensus of a number of tests fails to show any measurable difference between the two, except their EPA ratings, of course. CR also tested both at 34 mpg.

Conspiracy theories are not exactly our preferred fall-back explanation, but it really is rather curious that these two particular cars (Equinox, Fusion Hybrid) are both being heavily advertised (despite the Fusion hybrid’s limited availability) as symbols of American auto manufacturer’s ability to deliver class-leading fuel efficient vehicles. And they carry that EPA stamp of approval. Yet neither of them delivers; in fact the Equinox actually underperforms its peers.

Keep in mind that the EPA tests are not actually performed by the EPA, but by the manufacturers themselves, with a small percentage of cars potentially retested by the EPA. Have they retested the Equinox or the Fusion Hybrid? And if they fell short, would we actually ever hear about it?

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