2012 Ford Focus Titanium
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Hyundai promotes its redesigned 2011 Elantra as a 40-mpg rated subcompact no matter how it's optioned. Meanwhile, Ford can only say, officially, that the 2012 Focus cracks the coveted 40-mpg mark when equipped with the SFE (super fuel economy) package and six-speed automatic transmission. This must upset Ford, so to prove that the Focus is a fuel-sipping hatch regardless of its options, the Blue Oval organized a media drive in Romeo, MI recently.

Ford engineers had automotive industry reporters drive the Elantra at a steady 45 miles per hour around its 2.5-mile track in Romeo. Then, reporters hopped in a Focus (one not equipped with the SFE package) and lapped the track at the same speed. Ford says all conditions were equal and that an engineer in the backseat of each vehicle monitored fuel economy.

After dozens of drives, the results showed that the average fuel economy of the Focus was 40.4 mpg versus the Elantra's average of 37.8 mpg. So, Ford seems to have proved that, when it comes to fuel economy, the Focus is more efficient at a steady 45 mph than the Elantra. Do these results matter in real-world driving? We haven't a clue.


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  • 34 Comments
      Ziv
      • 3 Years Ago
      How the times change. Ford is duking it out with, Hyndai? Not Toyota and Honda? I think Hyundai is causing nightmares in both Detroit and Tokyo, but they may be worse in Japan. Korea is really upping their game. But I just couldn't resist the thought... "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain... Errr, in the back seat!"
      Taggart
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well, looks like Ford handily beats the Elantra at highway speeds--which both companies are talking about when they go on and on about 40 mpg. Having said that, they've got to test mpg's in mixed, city/hwy driving, to see if combined MPG's between the two cars is a wash.
      JRBEINGINEER
      • 3 Years Ago
      I must say, these results are really disappointing! If these compact cars can only manage to get 40.4 mpg (or less) at a measly 45 mph, what will they get at real-world highway speeds of 70 mph or thereabouts?
      paulwesterberg
      • 3 Years Ago
      Did anyone of the journalists check the tire pressure? I bet Hyundai could setup a similar test that shows the opposite results.
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Tire pressures and ever thing that could have been thought of were equal. The test was independently monitored.
      John
      • 3 Years Ago
      Not that a couple of MPG makes any real difference, but why did Ford choose 45 mph, was it perhaps that the RPM's were lower in the Focus than in the Elantra? Would the same have been true at 40 or 50 or 55? Based on the way that Ford/GM/Chysler 'predetermine' the winner in their truck shootout advertisemetns, it was only a matter of time before the same thing happened with cars.
        paulwesterberg
        • 3 Years Ago
        @John
        Ford may have worse aerodynamics, but a more efficient engine/transmission. That means they win in low constant speed situations, but lose at speeds above 45mph where good aerodynamics becomes critical.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Perhaps they have proven that it is more aerodynamic? Ford still has the better engine, hands down. More torque and horsepower from the larger displacement motor and direct injection wins here.
        PR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Ford has proven that the Focus does better on a flat, constant speed test, even though the Elantra does better on the official EPA Highway test that is not done at a constant speed. Different test, different results.
      PR
      • 3 Years Ago
      The EPA "Highway" test is not a constant speed test. The EPA "Highway" test includes speed changes, starts and stops, and (simulated) hills. The Ford Focus may very well get better MPG numbers in a flat, level single speed test. While at the same time, the Hyundai Elantra may very well get better MPG numbers on a test that includes speed changes, etc. In fact, the roughly ~10% lighter CURB WEIGHT of the Elantra almost mandates that it will do better compared to the Focus in any test where weight comes into play. On a flat level constant speed test, vehicle weight has much less impact on MPG than on the official EPA test. So the heavier Focus won't pay an MPG penalty for it's heavier weight, and it will be more competitive with the lighter Elantra. On a test with speed changes and etc, the weight will have much more impact on MPG. The ~10% lighter weight Elantra will have a competitive advantage over the heavier Focus in this test. So it is COMPLETELY CONSISTENT that the Focus would beat the lighter Elantra in a constant speed MPG test, while the Elantra will turn around and beat the heavier Focus in a test where speeds change, there are hills, and starts and stops. Car buyers just have to decide if their everyday driving is typically done: 1) at constant speeds on flats --- buy the Focus for best MPG. 2) at changing speeds, with hills, and starts and stops --- buy the Elantra for best MPG. Here are the stats I used for this comment: Ford 2012 Ford Focus Four-door sedan, without options: BASE CURB WEIGHT (POUNDS) Manual transmission 2,907 Automatic transmission 2,935 2012 Hyundai Elantra base curb weights, also without options: Curb weight (lbs., M/T) 2,661 Curb weight (lbs., A/T) 2,701
        Noz
        • 3 Years Ago
        @PR
        PR: Most real world conditions will prove that the lighter vehicle will do better...so Ford is full of it for creating a very biased testing scenario...let's see how it does in Stop/Go traffic.
          PR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Noz
          That's pretty much what I was thinking... But it doesn't even have to be stop/go traffic. Just throw in some typical speed changes, like 45-70 and back a few times. I do that my whole commute.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @PR
        Thanks for thought out and relevant info there PR.
      winc06
      • 3 Years Ago
      I thought it was illegal for any car manufacturer to provide mileage figures other the ones from DOT. I guess there are no teeth in the law. Who really cares, though, about these special test conditions. Ford may have opened up a Pandora's box here, but maybe not, because it looks pathetically desperate, I suppose it is the extra cost of the more economical engine compared to the standard Hyundai engine that prompted it. I guess it is better than bragging about horsepower.
      Rick
      • 3 Years Ago
      No it does not matter. The content and features of the two cars matter more than a few mpg. But still, to some..
        A_Guy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rick
        Of course it matters. Maybe not the few MPGs, but the accuracy of the stated numbers is a big deal. Ford's numbers are more realistic while Hyundai gets away with 'Fudging with Numbers'.
          PR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @A_Guy
          Actually, it might be Ford that is "Fudging the Numbers" by attempting to use a non-EPA test to try and hide the MPG impact of the Focus's higher weight compared to the ~10% lighter Elantra. In fact, it is against regulations to advertise any other MPG numbers other than the official EPA test results number for this exact situation. If every manufacturer is allowed to manipulate HOW the MPG test is conducted, they would all figure out exactly which way they could hide their own car's faults. We wouldn't have any real numbers to compare, because every manufacturer would claim better EPA numbers for their own cars when they "Bake" the tests to their advantage.
          Rotation
          • 3 Years Ago
          @A_Guy
          Every company fudges some numbers. The Ford Fusion hybrid is rated at 20% better mpg than the (outgoing) Camry hybrid, but real-world differences are more like 5%. Then there is the Ford Explorer EcoBoost, reviews on it (AB, MotorTrend) say it gets about 7% better mpg than the V6 equivalent, instead of Ford's listed 15% difference. I'm not sure what got Ford so fired up about compact cars here, it's not like Hyundai is the only one who got away with something. They're not even the only one beating Ford on mpg in the segment. Maybe the Elantra really is some kind of new high water mark for fudging mpg?
          Rotation
          • 3 Years Ago
          @A_Guy
          It's not against regulations to use non-EPA tests. VW ran ads using non-EPA tests for their TDI Jetta a year or two ago because the EPA figures weren't high enough for them. I wish it were against regulations to advertise non-EPA tests, or at least to not advertise them more prominently than EPA test results.
      PeterScott
      • 3 Years Ago
      I like both cars and these aren't huge differences, but FWIW: In Consumer Reports testing at 65 MPH: Regular Focus Sedan: 43 MPG (EPA 38 MPG) Elantra: 39 MPG (EPA 40 MPG) I have been comparing CR to EPA for some time. The Elantra is the first car I have ever seen that failed to exceed it's EPA highway rating on CR testing. A little known fact about EPA testing. EPA accept the manufacturer own testing for most cars. It seems like Hyundai was probably given that opportunity here and fudged a bit. http://www.caranddriver.com/features/09q3/the_truth_about_epa_city_highway_mpg_estimates-feature "While the public mistakenly presumes that this federal agency is hard at work conducting complicated tests on every new model of truck, van, car, and SUV, in reality, just 18 of the EPA’s 17,000 employees work in the automobile-testing department in Ann Arbor, Michigan, examining 200 to 250 vehicles a year, or roughly 15 percent of new models. As to that other 85 percent, the EPA takes automakers at their word—without any testing—accepting submitted results as accurate." I don't mean to slag EPA here, Results are still better than most magazine testing, or anecdotal reports. But Consumer Reports MPG testing remains the gold standard IMO, and Hyundai likely stretched the truth a bit. They should be a prime candidate for an EPA official retest.
        niky
        • 3 Years Ago
        @PeterScott
        It's entirely likely Hyundai pulled a fast one with RON-specific economy tuning. Meaning you can get 40+ mpg on the highway... only if you use premium fuel...
        niky
        • 3 Years Ago
        @PeterScott
        It's entirely likely Hyundai pulled a fast one with RON-specific economy tuning. Meaning you can get 40+ mpg on the highway... only if you use premium fuel...
      Ford Future
      • 3 Years Ago
      Both companies are trying to claim mileage the Consumer will never see. With the Highway number obscuring the benefit of Hybrids. In essence, the highway number is FRAUD.
        sirvixisvexed
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        You're an idiot. I've driven gently and AVERAGED higher MPG than my car's listed HIGHWAY mpg. And i've been doing it the entire decade i've owned the car, so it isn't a fluke! You're honestly just spreading ignorance, and are probably completely oblivious to the fact that MPG testing methods got MORE DIFFICULT in 2008. But I never hear facts from you, just factless emotional comments.
      huisj203
      • 3 Years Ago
      Go check out the results real people are getting at Fuelly.com with each of these cars. Focus: http://www.fuelly.com/car/ford/focus/2012 Elantra: http://www.fuelly.com/car/hyundai/elantra/2011 Cruze: http://www.fuelly.com/car/chevrolet/cruze/2011 Overall, regardless of the ratings, the seem to average in the low 30s for most people. Though it looks like there's a group of mileage enthusiasts taking advantage of the Cruze's 6-speed manual in the Eco model to get some pretty outstanding numbers.
        Spiffster
        • 3 Years Ago
        @huisj203
        Hate to talk crap but those getting less that 40 out of the Cruze have to be doing something wrong. Im getting >40 just in city driving, I hit the highway and my average skyrockets. I dont hypermile either.
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