EPA finds Hyundai exaggerated fuel economy claims, refunds coming to customers

Consumer Reports News: November 02, 2012 04:38 PM

Hyundai and Kia today announced that the companies are revising their fuel economy estimates downward after the EPA spot-checked several models and found that the results did not live up to Hyundai's and Kia's claims.

The affected Hyundai models include the 2012 and '13 Accent, Elantra, Sonata Hybrid, Azera, Tucson, and Veloster, and the 2012 Genesis sedan and 2013 Genesis coupe, and Santa Fe Sport. From Kia, this correction includes 2012 and '13 Rio, Sorento, Soul, and Sportage.

The fuel economy figures are off by an average of 3 percent, according to a press release issued by the two automakers. The biggest error came in highway mileage for the Kia Soul Eco, which is now down from 35 mpg to 29 mpg.

"I sincerely apologize to all affected Hyundai and Kia customers, and I regret these errors occurred," said W. C. Yang, chief technology officer of Hyundai/Kia research and development. "Following up on the EPA's audit results, we have taken immediate action to make the necessary rating changes and process corrections."

The errors were discovered in the EPA's lab tests, which measure car's fuel economy on a dynamometer (treadmill), and in a closed-track coast-down test. Incorrect procedures by Hyundai in the coast-down test lead to too little resistance on the dynamometer, and thus inflated fuel economy claims. EPA retested the cars based on complaints from consumers who said they did not get the advertised fuel economy. Many of the complaints centered around the Hyundai Elantra, which the company claimed in ads returned 40 mpg on the highway.

In Consumer Reports' own real-world fuel economy tests, we also found the Elantra could only muster 39 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg overall. That's unusual, given that many cars beat their EPA high rating. Our fuel economy ratings are independent and unaffected by the revisions.

We have found that the latest crop of Hyundais and Kias have been more competitive in our tests, but not necessarily class leaders.

Hyundai will issue customers debit cards, crediting them for the estimated additional fuel costs based on the actual miles drive, plus 15 percent.

Make/model Old EPA mpg New EPA mpg
  City Hwy Combined City Hwy Combined
2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra 29 40 33 28 38 32
2011-2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 35 40 37 34 39 36
2012-13 Hyundai Accent 30 40 33 28 37 31
2012-13 Hyundai Azera 20 29 23/24 20 29/29 23
2012-13 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 19 29 22 18 28 22
2012-13 Hyundai Genesis 4.8 17 26 20 16 25 19
2012-2013 Hyundai Tucson 21 28 23 20 27 23
2012 Hyundai Veloster (manual) 28 40 32 27 37 31
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 21 28 23 20 26 22
2013 Hyundai Veloster 28 40 32 27 37 31
2012-2013 Kia Optima Hybrid 35 40 37 34 39 36
2012-2013 Kia Rio 30 40 33/34 28/29 36/37 31/32
2012-2013 Kia Sorento 21 28 23 20 26 22
2012-2013 Kia Soul 26 34 29 23/24 28/29 25/26
2012-2013 Kia Sportage 21 26 23 20 25 22

Reality check: Will your car actually achieve the advertised 40-mpg?
Fuel-efficient cars test finds winners and losers from Chevrolet, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, and Toyota

Eric Evarts

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