2013 Kia Soul - front three-quarter view

First came Hyundai's and Kia's corporate admission of guilt about overstating fuel economy numbers, then the recompense, then the lawsuits. Now begins the process of gnawing on every one of the consequences. In case you've only just returned from the International Space Station, Hyundai and Kia have admitted that about a third of the cars they have sold over the past three years have advertised inflated EPA fuel mileage numbers. For instance, the highway mpg number for the 2013 Hyundai Accent isn't 40 mpg anymore, it's either 37 or 38 miles per gallon. The combined mpg for the Kia Soul can take a four mpg hit depending on the trim level.

A piece in USA Today questions how the revelation will affect resale values for the Korean automakers, and the majority of opinions seems to be "not much." An analyst at Kelley Blue Book suggests there could be a short-term penalty, but that the impact might be mostly emotional, and industry watchers at the Institute for Crisis Management and ALG believe that Americans move on pretty quickly and the "absolute dollar" impact will be minimal.

When Consumer Reports compared advertised highway mileage to actual mileage it received, it found discrepancies from 11 mpg more (for the Volkswagen Passat TDI) to one mpg less (for the Hyundai Elantra, coincidentally), and Hyundai and Kia each had three vehicles that were spot on, including the Sonata Hybrid that achieved the company's advertised 40 mpg. Paradoxically, as consumers focus even more on EPA ratings and the government agency's testing protocols have been revised in an attempt to improve accuracy, people seem to be putting even more stock in the phrase "your mileage may vary." So too might your resale values, but it probably won't be because of this latest boondoggle.