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The 2011 Hyundai Elantra (Hyundai).
It has no doubt been a banner week for Hyundai Motors at the Detroit Auto Show, hauling in two big awards for "Car of The Year," and the brand with the highest customer loyalty. But it has its detractors too.

The Korean automaker stole headlines at Detroit's auto show when its compact Elantra garnered North American Car of the Year honors--beating out new models like Toyota Camry, VW Passat and Ford Focus--to the surprise of many attendees. Then, J.D. Power released a study that ranks Hyundai first in customer retention rates among 33 automotive brands.

But the awards have rekindled debate about whether Hyundai's fuel-efficiency claims on the newly popular 2011 Elantra model meet reality.

A number of disappointed customers and advocacy organization Consumer Watchdog have expressed concerns that the company's sticker estimates of 29 miles per gallon in the city and 40 mpg on the highway are grossly exaggerated.

"Neither Hyundai or any other car company should be allowed to misrepresent its efficiency standards or dupe consumers into buying its cars," wrote Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, in a letter last month to the Environmental Protection Agency that asks for the Elantra's fuel economy to be re-tested.

As gasoline prices have settled in at between $3.25 and $4.00 per gallon for regular, car companies have been doing everything they can to get their new cars to hit 40 mpg on the highway and to boast that fuel economy in advertising.

In a separate letter to the automaker, Consumer Watchdog demanded Hyundai remove its 40-mpg claims from its advertising campaigns, including upcoming Super Bowl commercials. The automaker stands behind its 40-mpg claim.

"We have no intention of removing our fuel economy numbers from our advertising," company spokesperson Jim Trainor said in a written response. "Simply put, the charges being made by Consumer Watchdog don't hold up."

Tests done by Consumers Union and Motor Trend recorded shortfalls from Elantra's 33-mpg combined claim by 12 and 29 percent, respectively. A recent USA Today review said that its drivers averaged 22 miles per gallon in city driving, significantly shorter than the 29-miles per gallon claim.

The Consumer Watchdog letter questioned whether the majority, if not all, of the company's self-testing took place in ECO mode mode, which modifies engine and transmission control resulting in up to 7 percent fuel savings, according to Hyundai.

In his letter to the EPA, Court cited a example of a California motorist who wrote on a message board that he was "hugely disappointed" in his 2011 Elantra because it averaged 18 or 19 miles per gallon in city driving because fuel economy drove his purchase. Rather than focus on a handful of web complaints, Hyundai said an independent JD Power survey found that Elantra owners were the happiest of any car in the compact segment when it came to fuel economy.

The EPA has not yet said whether it will investigate the complaint.



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  • 466 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      If you drive with soft pedal foot you can greatly increase your cars efficency. Most people are always in a hurry to get some where and speed and stop too quickly on average as well as take off like they are drag racing from light too light. That is why most do not see the numbers they claim you can get under the right conditions. Challenge yourself and you might be suprised how much you can save on gas in a couple of months time.
      msnova47
      • 3 Years Ago
      People who choose a car by fuel economy are doomed to disappointment. Even diesel purchasers. Most people use fuel ratings as a weak factor in their purchase.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I lease a 2011 hyundai sonata. I LOVE THIS CAR! I would do it again. I get absolutely great mileage! I don't even do alot of highway driving , mine is more 10 miles in to town and the rest is all over the city streets starting and stopping. I get almost 400 miles on a tank of gas and when we took it to Chicago we only used 1/2 a tank of gas to get there. Some people aren't happy unless they are causing trouble.
      edritzer
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think AOL has taken a lesson from Fox news and has started running stories with distorted half truths and misinformation just to meet the needs of their agenda. Whats wrong, Ford not happy spending their advertising $ with you until you give people a bunch of garbage about their up and coming competitor? I don't drive and Elantra, but I do drive a Sonata.... and love it. I will never buy another American made car, no matter how good they claim to be. I've been burned way to many times over the years to ever go back. Nice try AOL.
        NANCY'S MAN
        • 3 Years Ago
        @edritzer
        The 2012 Hyundai Elantra is made in the good ol' USA in Alabama. I know , I own one.The MPG does vary as expected with stop and go traffic I get sometimes higher and sometimes lower, but not by much.
          harleydavid105
          • 3 Years Ago
          @NANCY'S MAN
          It's still a foreign brand. Buy GM or Ford. Chrysler is mostly Italian owned (Fiat).
      • 3 Years Ago
      One way they 'get' these gas mileage ratings is they don't put a spare tire (or donut) in the car.. and they don't tell the buyers either... not bad until you get a flat then you are SOL...
        NANCY'S MAN
        • 3 Years Ago
        They not only told me ,but they showed me. I bought a used tire and wheel from ebay and still get the gas mileage.
      jeff4165
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have a 2011 Jetta Sportwagen TDI. It does, consistently, get higher mileage than the lying, thieving bastards at the EPA will admit. The EPA's "real world" mileage figures are garbage, or they would not continue to vastly inflate the actual highway mileage of a Prius at 70mph. My figure. 33 city, and 45-46 consistently at 72mph.....and, its very quick because of the 236lbs of torque. I still have my 2004 Jetta TDI, which I retired after 240,000 miles. 41mpg at 72mph on the highway. It was also incredibly reliable. Not always the case in that vintage of VW, but mine was great.
      stewie1152
      • 3 Years Ago
      My neighbor bought one and is disappointed the best he gets is 23 mpg combined , and he's an older driver that does not speed! I'm getting 22 mpg with my v-6 half ton pickup truck! This company has been caught at this before.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nice auto; Nice lines, What could be wrong! Little expensive for everyone to buy!
      • 3 Years Ago
      I visited the dealership today in Tucson, after reading the comments on this website I will throw the brocure in the trash. Changed my mind, back to the great 4 cylinder Toyota Camry. I really wanted this car based on the mileage and looks. Too bad, I have neighbors that bought this car with the past two weeks. They haven't read thi article yet. Sorry, a real shame. Back to the toyota store tomorrow. Dufunny
        • 3 Years Ago
        Way to go by what some AOL post says, and by what anonymous users say on the INTERNET. Everybody that had bad comments, could ALL be car dealers for other brands, for all you know. What I would say is, to be completely sure you AREN'T making the wrong decision by not looking into a Hyundai, is talk to the dealers at the dealership, and see if they can work you into a 1-2 week test drive. They will have to do a credit check, of course, but it will let you make YOUR OWN informed decision, instead of having to completely rely on the opinion of others. You could even rent a Hyundai for a bit, rather cheaply I might add. However, if I WERE to make a suggestion based on my own experience with them, Volkswagen is one HELL of a car.
          • 3 Years Ago
          If you happen to be interested in a VW, and want some unbiased, first-hand opinions, than you can feel free to e-mail me to (the name listed above)@aim.com
      eurocardriver000
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hyundai is great at Marketing but these cars are built cheap and basically a piece of crap. It' time for these hunks of junk to go away. Don't buy a Hyundai !!!!
      mtrk2002
      • 3 Years Ago
      SEEN A LOT OF WHINING ON HERE ABOUT BUYING FOREIGN CARS. I WILL SAY I AM 41 YRS OLD AND HAVE OWNED 2 FOREIGN MADE CARS AND CAN NOT EVEN COUNT HOW MANY GM,FORD PRODUCTS . TELL YOU WHAT THOUGH THEY WERE DAMN NEAR ALL JUNK .DID HAVE 1 BUICK THAT WAS SUPERB BUT FOR THE MOST PART JUNK PLAIN AND SIMPLE. WHEN I CAR SHOP I USE A SIMPLE RULE THESE DAYS IF IT ISN'T FOREIGN I AM NOT INTERESTED PERIOD. WHEN THE LAZY UNION CRYBABY ASS AMERICAN AUTO WORKERS START BUILDING A GOOD CAR (IF THEY EVER DO) I MIGHT CONSIDER AMERICAN MADE AGAIN.
      David Gibson
      • 3 Years Ago
      I meant to say though, that it is a very impressive looking automobile. I think they are giving, Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota a good run for the money. Hyundai has come a long way in making a better looking and better quailty car for the money. The older ones were so ugly! These new ones are 200k mile plus cars excellent for the bedroom community drivers that rack up lots of miles in a very short time. They deserve every bit of respect, that they, get for delivering a top of the line product! Good show Hyundai! Salute!
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