All automakers are under pressure to hit more stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations, figures set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 1978, the CAFE standards were just 18 miles per gallon, but they have increased gradually each year. This summer, the bar was raised high when automobile manufacturers were told to hit 54.5 mpg by 2025. While that is a very steep ladder to climb, Hyundai hit the 2016 CAFE requirements in 2011 – the Korean automaker seems to be jumping the rungs on the way up.
The announcement that Hyundai hit a 36 mpg average four years ahead of the requirement is impressive, but there is never good news without some controversy. A consumer protection group is standing behind its claim that the Hyundai Elantra doesn't meet its U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy in real-world driving. Hyundai acknowledges that consumers may not achieve EPA estimated efficiency, but the Elanta's discrepancy was consistent with the other vehicles in its segment when tested by Consumer Reports (and just about every vehicle on the road, says our experience).
It is interesting to note that, while the EPA has not altered its fuel economy ratings on the 2012 Elantra, the automaker has added its ActiveECO feature to the model that reportedly improves fuel economy up to seven percent.