'Your mileage may vary.'

We're all used to seeing those words at the end of any advertisement that mentions fuel mileage, and we all know what it means: Not all drivers will get exactly the same mileage, and oftentimes what you get will be lower than what it says on the car's window sticker.

That explanation may not hold water with Louis Bird of Sacramento, California, owner of a 2011 Hyundai Elantra.

"I feel like Hyundai took advantage of me. Hyundai's advertisements about the '40 MPG' gas mileage of the Elantra instantly caught my attention. I bought the car thinking I would be seeing major savings at the pump and getting over 500 miles per tank, but Hyundai fooled me... I have not saved any money on gas and have been driving the Elantra for well over a year now. It is frustrating and disappointing. I never would have bought the Elantra in the first place if I hadn't seen Hyundai's ads boasting about gas mileage."

Bird is representing consumers in a class-action lawsuit in California that "seeks to stop Hyundai from illegally using gas mileage numbers in its advertising of the Elantra without government-mandated disclosures." Naturally, damages are being sought for owners of 2011 and 2012 Elantra models. As you can see above, the 2013 Elantra is still advertised with a 40-mpg rating on the highway.

From what we can tell, Consumer Watchdog, the organization that brought the lawsuit, is alleging that Hyundai failed to "disclose certain information when mileage estimates [were] provided in their advertisements," thereby deceiving consumers into thinking the Elantra would provide better mileage than its competitors.

Scroll down for the press release from Consumer Watchdog and a response we received from the automaker. We've also included some video advertisements for the Elantra. So far, we've been unable to find any ourselves that don't include the expected asterisks and disclaimers, and Hyundai says it has "reviewed [its] ads and think Consumer Watchdog and their client are dead wrong."










Show full PR text
Hyundai Sued by Consumer Watchdog for Misleading '40 MPG' Elantra Ads

SANTA MONICA, Calif., July 9, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Hyundai's Gas Mileage Claims in 2011 and 2012 Elantra Advertising Campaign Misled California Drivers

Hyundai Motor America misled consumers about the gas mileage of the 2011 and 2012 Elantra through a broad-based media advertising campaign designed to capitalize on public concern over escalating gas prices, according to a lawsuit filed by Consumer Watchdog and Cuneo Gilbert and LaDuca, LLP.

The lawsuit alleges that Hyundai touted "The 40 Mile Per Gallon Elantra" in high-impact television, Internet, and print advertisements without government-required disclosures that those mileage estimates were for highway driving only and that city driving mileage estimates were much lower. The omitted disclosures would have informed consumers that the car does not attain 40 MPG under most driving conditions. The illegal advertisements caused tens of thousands of California drivers to purchase or lease 2011 and 2012 Elantras and consequently incur unexpected fuel costs.

Download the lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/resources/birdcomplaint.pdf

"I feel like Hyundai took advantage of me. Hyundai's advertisements about the '40 MPG' gas mileage of the Elantra instantly caught my attention. I bought the car thinking I would be seeing major savings at the pump and getting over 500 miles per tank, but Hyundai fooled me," said Louis Bird of Sacramento, California, a 2011 Elantra owner who is representing other consumers in the class-action lawsuit and meticulously documents his mileage. "I have not saved any money on gas and have been driving the Elantra for well over a year now. It is frustrating and disappointing. I never would have bought the Elantra in the first place if I hadn't seen Hyundai's ads boasting about gas mileage."

The lawsuit seeks to stop Hyundai from illegally using gas mileage numbers in its advertising of the Elantra without government-mandated disclosures and asks for damages on behalf of California residents who purchased or leased 2011 and 2012 Elantras.

"Hyundai used the '40 MPG' figure in a deceptive manner in order to differentiate the Elantra from similar vehicles, an especially egregious tactic during a time when consumers are looking for relief from continually rising gasoline prices," said Laura Antonini, staff attorney for Consumer Watchdog.

"Car companies are required to disclose certain information when mileage estimates are provided in their advertisements and Hyundai ignored the rules," said William Anderson, attorney for Cuneo Gilbert and LaDuca, LLP. "Without this required information, consumers cannot make accurate comparisons when shopping for vehicles."

Consumer Watchdog is a nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C. and Santa Monica, CA. Find us on the web at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org

Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP, a firm with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Bethesda, Md. and Alexandria, Va., specializes in the representation of plaintiffs in consumer, antitrust, civil rights and securities class actions and is active in major litigations pending in federal and state courts throughout the United States. For more information, go to: http://cuneolaw.com

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog

------------------------------------

STATEMENT BY HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

IN RESPONSE TO CLRA LITIGATION BY

CONSUMER WATCHDOG AND CUNEO GILBERT & LADUCA, LLP

Hyundai Motor America ("Hyundai") believes this case has no merit, as our advertising is accurate and in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations. In fact, we've reviewed our ads and think Consumer Watchdog and their client are dead wrong.

Importantly, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently confirmed our advertised fuel economy for the Hyundai Elantra of 29 miles-per-gallon (mpg) city, 40 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined. The EPA results, generated from testing conducted on January 25, 2012 at the EPA's National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, are identical to the testing data Hyundai originally submitted to the agency. We are gratified with the EPA results, and are committed to continuing to reduce the fuel consumption of our vehicles in order to provide greater value and efficiency for our customers.

On the heels of the EPA testing, Popular Mechanics on February 3 released the results of its own testing of the Hyundai Elantra and reported obtaining significantly better fuel economy than advertised. "Cruising along at 55 mpg on the highway, our cars easily cleared 40 mpg and, astonishingly, approached 50." The publication stated that "40 mpg [for the Hyundai Elantra] is quite a realistic figure." Car and Driver and Consumer Reports recently have achieved similar highway results – 41 mpg and 39 mpg respectively.

The EPA deemed Hyundai the most fuel efficient automaker in the U.S. for the model year 2010, the most recent year officially tracked by the agency. Hyundai is currently the only manufacturer with four models achieving 40 mpg EPA ratings on the highway, including the Elantra, the 2012 North American Car of the Year. Last year, Hyundai sold more 40 mpg highway vehicles than Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Ford and Chevrolet combined. Through May of 2012, our new car fleet averaged more than 37 mpg, about 50 percent higher than the U.S. average.


Background:

In recent years, the EPA has revised its test methods to bring the agency's fuel economy estimates closer to consumers' "real-world" results by including factors such as high speed/rapid acceleration driving, the use of air conditioning, cold temperature operation, road grade, wind, tire pressure, load and the effects of different fuel properties. Beyond its consumer usage, EPA fuel economy data is used by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Internal Revenue Service.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 86 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ok I just had to put my 2cents in. I own a 2002 Honda Civic Coupe stock with automatic & is well maintained. I decided to see just how far I could go. Well, even I was shocked, on 13.2 gallon tank I was able to squeeze 567 miles out of 1 tank of gas or almost 43 mpg & this is city/highway combined. I may have been able to go a little further on whatever gas I had left but decided to pull over & get some gas before I ran out, (running out of gas in a fuel injected engine is not the smartest thing to do--dont believe ask any mechanic). Ok before calling me a liar, let me tell you that I live in NJ. I did this in cold weather, so no a/c was used, all tire pressure was correct. On my way to work I went no faster than a steady 55mph & since I leave at 12am (no one really on the road) I traveled back home at 50mph both times using my cruise control as much as possible. Ok, so would I do it again-no not really, I have nothing to prove; could I replicate it if I wanted to, hell ya. My reward was that instead of gasing up weekly I went twice as far & used less gas over all. Would love to see what she will do at a steady 60mph. My usual combined city/highway driving falls betweeen 34-35mpg. Am I a happy camper you bet ya. When I first bought the car used I thrashed around some (not to any extreme) I couldnt get less than 32 mpg. The fastest I've gone is 110mph @ 4500 rpm with a redline @ 7000rpm. Its no rocket but nice to know it can do over 110mph( could have gone faster-but who needs a speeding ticket);- do the math- my car sips fuel. I am going to hate to part with it whenever that day comes, its already going to be an 11y/o car. Would have loved to have bought an american car but they dont make then like this. Only other foreign car I ever owned was a VW bug. The other 20 or so cars I have owned have been american made. This my 3rd Honda but only my 1st Honda car:-you really cant beat the reliabilty they have built into this car. Enuff said/ Peace to all who read this, thanks for your time!
      stumpy
      • 3 Years Ago
      if you're going to drive your elantra like a sports car, well, you're going to get the mileage of a sports car. i'm a 2008 honda civic hybrid driver. i'm sick of seeing honda sued by that woman who can't get above 30mpg. I don't get the advertised 42 city, but you know what? it's because sometimes i drive not so conservatively. I'm aware that my mileage reflects how i drive. But I still best the highway mileage consistently getting over 50 miles per gallon highway. You can get great mpg in most any 4 cylinder if you just try. He needs to realize HE is the problem, not the car.
      Eideard
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nothing but contempt for litigious trolls. Class action suits serve a useful function. I've been part of a couple that established positive precedents in their day. This is just one more craptastic pile of greed.
      AddLightness
      • 3 Years Ago
      If I drive my truck (rated 14/20/16/) how I perceive the average person to drive, not racing around but not being easy on the acceleration I'll get 15-16 mpg per tank (its rated at 16 combined, if I drive like theres an egg on the pedal I'll get 22-23 mpg combined on a tank (as well as a lot of irritated drivers around me lol). I've gotten over 26+ mpg on a perfect trip. In any car you should be able to exceed the EPA numbers, even the stickers show even lower and even higher numbers for best and worst case conditions.
        Ziv
        • 3 Years Ago
        @AddLightness
        AL, I hear this frequently but I really have a hard time beating the 30 mpg my 2007 RAV4 I4 is rated at. Is it due to the change in rating procedure in 2008? I drove to Key Largo a year ago, and to Maine the year before and both times I tried to beat 30 mpg and even when I drove 57-8 mph, (I just couldn't bring myself all the way to 55) I only got 29. I only have 40 pounds of luggage and I don't think weight means that much in hwy mpg. My combined mpg is horrific, around 19.7 combined on Fuelly, even though the combined for my car should be around 26 mpg. I have tried pulse and glide and the egg on the accelerator concept and it only gets me to 21.5.
          AddLightness
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          Wow that is disappointing, even in city driving I can get close to my highway rating if I hypermile by going the speed limit, accelerate gently, and coast to minimize breaking and maintain momentum. I also pay attention to the gearing and drive in the cars low RPM sweet spot for each gear (30 mph in 4th and 40 mph in 5th). I pay attention to stop light timing and am careful on hills by not letting it downshift to get up them and use them gain momentum going down. Sounds like a lot of work but it becomes second nature and its actually very relaxing to cruise and drive slowly and not be in a rush, you don't get anywhere significantly faster anyways, if at all. Plus it's a personal challenge to be as efficient as possible :-) I'm sure you're aware of some of these techniques. I don't know if you've been struggling with you're mileage since it was new, but also try checking things like tire pressure and filters etc. Maybe Google some blogs to see if others are having the same issues and see if they found solutions.
          Ziv
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          I have tried to keep the R's below 2,000 but get honked at a good bit, so I upped it to 2,200 and that seems to work better. I increased my psi to just under 40 from 34, ride is harsher but it seems to have helped a bit, maybe a half an mpg. I am coasting more, but neither of my cars gets average mpg on Fuelly. My 350Z is my fault, I drive it like I stole it at times, but I kind of think that every vehicle is different. I had a YZ125 that got me hole shot after hole shot, and I weighed more than at least half the other racers, so I know Yamahas at least vary in hp. None of my other Yamahas got me to the corner first that frequently. I did ok with my old Tauruses, I usually matched the hwy mpg and was within 1 mpg in the city. I haven't noticed my car downshifting on hills, I will check that out. I do "hyper miler tanks" every 3rd or 4th tank to see if I can improve my mileage and it usually makes a small difference but I never get above 20 mpg unless my hwy miles are more than 50%. I think I may try to hyper mile 2 or 3 tanks in a row, maybe bad habits of accelerating too much are what is keeping my mpg down and I just don't notice it. Thanks for the tips!
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have an old Elantra and I only get 15mpg. I gas up once a week. It has been like this since the day I got it.
      • 2 Years Ago
      My 2012 Kia Rio claimed 40 mpg highway but I get 32-33. Previously my 2009 Ford Focus got 37-38 driving the same highways at the same speeds. When I asked the dealer if there could be something that could be done to "fix" the low mileage problem I got a shoulder shrug. Since mileage was a major factor in choosing this car I feel like I got ripped off.
      Grendal
      • 3 Years Ago
      Every car ad only talks about the highway mileage because that's the higher number. I drove a Hyundai Sorrento and the thing got atrocious mileage. My parents bought a Santa Fe after trading in a Saturn Vue to get a little better mileage and there was no difference. That's hardly proof that every car fails to meet its mileage but maybe there is something to this. There are a lot of other choices out there in the Elantra size and category. So buy something else. My next car will be an EV. I'm tired of paying at the pump - period.
        Nick
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Grendal
        My Chrysler / Dodge achieved precisely its advertised mpg numbers.
      HollywoodF1
      • 3 Years Ago
      Top Gear (GB, not US) drove a Prius around its track, trying to get its fastest time. They sent an M3 to keep up with it. The point was to test which got the better mileage. Surprise: the M3 got higher MPG than the Prius. Of course, had the M3 been going its fastest as well, it would have fared worse. The point is that when an engine is tuned to operate within a certain range, that is also where its efficiency is found. And if Elantra drivers are kinda lead-foots off the line, they will do more damage to their MPG than the higher-performance car next to them at the light.
      SNP
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's quite a mileage spread over there. 29 - 40.
        SNP
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SNP
        I think every car should use regenerative braking. I dont know what to do with the extra energy, but i'd assume it would require some small addition of a batteries. That in turn could power onboard computer/ ac/ heating. So it wont be such a demand on the engine when driving with the AC on and it wouldnt have the huge overhead cost of hybrid drive systems and very large battery packs. All that's needed is $2000 worth of batteries / regen brakes and that could boost city mileage by 10-15% on those hot summers or cold winters.
          SNP
          • 3 Years Ago
          @SNP
          I also think Ford should integrate their ecoboost tech with their hybrid tech ASAP and charge out swinging with Direct Inject, Hybrid, Turbo'd, 1.3 / 1.6 / 2.0. Can you imagine the numbers of a hybrid Edge on 2.0ecoboost? No compromise on performance, very high mpg in city driving, good mpg in hwy drive. Or a hybrid Focus 1.3boost? No compromise on performance and excellent everything. It could easily do 40mpg city and hwy - without driving like a prius. The only thing would be whether they can get their engine/hybrid controllers working well. A flat torque curve on ecoboost w/ engine shutdown on hybrid mode. I think there's a huge market for regular driving cars with hybrid mileage and it wouldnt even cost a whole lot. Just initial R&D.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @SNP
          There are cars out there that do this. They are not hybrids but they still use regen breaking to reduce the electrical load on the engine. It makes sense, why not decouple the alternator from the engine load if can get plenty of free electricity from braking?
          SNP
          • 3 Years Ago
          @SNP
          @Spec, What i mean is, I want a leading manufacturer to do this in volume. I guess it's kinda hard in design terms...It's not like having an optional 4 speaker or 10speakers where they have placeholders for 10. The platform needs to be fitted with these brakes and batteries...and in the end, the "almost" exact same vehicle will have to be sold for thousands more while costing millions of dollars to design and many millions more to implement. It's a risky move for so little return...now I know why ford went with ecoboost with an average $1000 premium instead of going outright hybrid on everything...it's hard to gauge the market demand and very risky. I guess it's always easier/cheaper to slightly modify a couple of components on an engine than the underlying structure of the car's brakes and electrical systems.
        Smoking_dude
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SNP
        this is normal, you can get 40 on hwy, but soem rural roads, dense traffic will decrease the milage. even the honda civic hybrid woud do better with 44 city and 44 hwy. that is the problem with all modern gas only cars with big hwy numbers. they still suck in the city or country roads travveling from town to town.
      Seph
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow, kudos to Autoblog green for posting these videos, so that we can see it for ourselves... If these videos are what being used as ads during US TV prime times, then I guess, their case have some weight.. I've also read a post by some consumer group that the 40 mpg is very had to achieve, even when you are really trying to achieve it.. I don't know if those claims are true, but I think they should be proved...
      Smoking_dude
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why 5 videos??? For a dumb lawsuit as usual. 29 mpg city says it all. the 40 mpg can only be achieved on the highway with continous driving. it the low city mpg that hurt at the pump. even rural roads can suck with such a car.. Louis Bird bought the wrong car. or is to dumb to drive. same with the high mpg german diesels. they work very fine on the autobahn, but suck at city driving. Should have bougth a hybrid.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Smoking_dude
        And continuous driving at a speed of a mere 48 miles an hour.
      Ford Future
      • 3 Years Ago
      The problem of automakers like FORD and GM now ONLY advertising Highway mileage, it that in itself is FRAUD. Did Hyundai do that as well? I see city mileage.
        cwerdna
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        Yes. This practice is ridiculous. It should be mandated that if they're only going to list one number, that can ONLY use the combined EPA figure, not cherry pick the highest number. It should be combined or all 3 numbers (city/highway/combined) in equal prominence.
          Andrew
          • 3 Years Ago
          @cwerdna
          AddLightness: Sure, but the problem is many of those folks don't. Figures like "40 mpg" (highway, which is sometimes not even mentioned in ads) attract people to cars and not consider 50 mpg combined Priuses. People compare "40 mpg" (highway) cars to 50 mpg combined cars and conclude the latter isn't "worth it". In reality, they're comparing ~30 mpg combined cars (or less) to 50 mpg combined cars. Not everyone lives and works on a highway. Not everyone is able to to continuous highway speeds for the duration of their highway drive. In major metro areas like SF Bay Area, LA, Seattle, try going in the flow of traffic on in rush hour. It's a TON of idling to get on/off the highway and a ton of stop and go once on the highway. That's nothing like the EPA highway cycle and much closer to city.. This is why it should be all 3 or combined only in advertising.
          AddLightness
          • 3 Years Ago
          @cwerdna
          Or people can do some research on a car before buying it instead of saying "Oh! 40 mpg highway!? Here's my money"
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