On Wednesday, Consumer Reports issued a story taking umbrage with the auto industry's move toward smaller, turbocharged engines, noting its own testing revealed that many such powerplants fail to deliver their promised fuel economy numbers. The story covered a variety of domestic and foreign automakers, with Ford and Chevrolet featuring prominently in the discussion. Hyundai was also mentioned for its Sonata Turbo, but the Korean automaker's family sedan came within one observed mile per gallon of its EPA ratings in CR's test, and its normally aspirated 2.4-liter counterpart actually beat its combined EPA ratings, 27 mpg to 26.

Good news for Hyundai, right? The automaker was so pleased with its report card that it sent out a small statement to a handful of news outlets including Autoblog, reading in part:

"We at Hyundai believe that Consumer Reports real-world average fuel economy testing results and EPA combined fuel economy results should correlate, and in fact do correlate nicely for some brands. Among all brands, Hyundai does particularly well in this correlation, with no high-volume brand having a better correlation between EPA combined and Consumer Reports real-world fuel economy."

Garden-variety PR stuff to this point, but here's where the issue gets more complicated...

The chart suggests even Hyundai's pre-adjusted fuel economy results corroborate more closely than most automakers.

Los Angeles Times writer Ronald D. White was among those contacted by Hyundai with the unsolicited above pitch. Along with it, the automaker included the chart above that it says illustrates the close correlation between CR's observed mpg numbers and the EPA ratings for its products compared with the results from competitors' vehicles. The chart shows corroboration for Hyundai's fuel economy performance both before ("Old") and after ("New") it restated fuel economy estimates for its vehicles back in November after an EPA probe. The chart suggests that even Hyundai's pre-adjusted fuel economy results corroborate more closely than most automakers, with the largest disparity falling to Dodge and Ford, respectively.

Times writer White then took the exact chart above to Consumer Reports to follow up on the story, whereupon the institute denied that they issued it, noting that doing so would have conflicted with the institute's "no commercialization policy" that "precludes manufacturers... from using the materials for their own purposes." White then published a story on Wednesday with the headline "Consumer Reports rejects claim that it did Hyundai mileage study." In the story, White says: "After reviewing its records, Consumer Reports was left scratching its collective head. The magazine hadn't done the analysis Hyundai claimed they had done."

"We claim that we read their magazine and wrote down their numbers."

But here's the thing – Hyundai tells Autoblog it never attempted to represent the chart to the Times as being furnished by CR – the latter was merely a routine document it created using data gleaned from publicly available CR data. According to Erwin Raphael, Hyundai's Director of Engineering and Quality, "Keep in mind that this [chart] was internal, within my team, to find out directionally how we line up with others in the industry." It was made "using public domain Consumer Reports data – it can be easily replicated, even though it's very tedious."

Raphael says he compiled the chart in question and notes that it's one of many pieces of analysis of third-party data that he tracks for the company, along with tracking information from industry analysts like J.D. Power and Edmunds. Hyundai PR manager Jim Trainor, who gave the chart in question to the Times, put it more bluntly: "I never claimed they did anything – we claim that we read their magazine and wrote down their numbers." Both the newspaper and Consumer Reports have confirmed to Autoblog that the chart shown above is exactly what they were presented with, so the issue would appear to boil down to how one reads what it says.

So, is all of this much ado about nothing, or is there something the matter here? Have your say in Comments.


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  • 167 Comments
      PeterScott
      • 1 Year Ago
      Somewhere a Mazda Exec, must be smiling about the Chart Hyundai made. :)
      CH
      • 1 Year Ago
      The chart doesn't mean much, regardless of who produced it. All it tells us is the percentage difference between two different sets of standardized fuel economy measurements. The fact that CR's measurements are done on actual roads doesn't necessarily mean that they are more representative of the average experience of car owners. "Real world" in this instance is nothing more than a CR marketing slogan co-opted by Hyundai. Just think about it for a second. 2011 Accord 4-cyl auto (for example) owners are all driving in the real world on actual roads. The combined average mpg reported by eleven drivers on fueleconomy.gov ranges from a low of 18 to a high of 41. So which one is "correct"? The way to find out which estimates better represent the so-called "average driver" is to collect mileage data from statistically valid samples of drivers, compute the average for each model and compare it to the standardized test results. That would be good to know, but it doesn't change the fact that "your mileage may vary" from the results of any standardized test, depending on your specific driving style and conditions. As far as I'm concerned, the additional tests from CR serve to muddy the waters more than anything else. In particular, the idea of using the CR data to test the accuracy of manufacturers' EPA mileage claims (as CR did recently with small turbo cars) is stupid in conception. In principle, it is as absurd as testing a claim of, say, 35 mpg highway by driving in city traffic. The specific test cycle used to obtain a mpg number is an integral and inseparable part of each claim. Hyundai/Kia's problem is that validation runs conducted on the EPA cycles as claimed got lower mpgs. It's that simple and there's way around it. Incidentally, the average of the owner-reported estimates for the Accords was 26 mpg versus the EPA estimate of 27 mpg combined.
      finzenchrome
      • 1 Year Ago
      More bragging rights for Mazda! I\'m quite happy with my 28.5 mpg city (actual) in my CX-5.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @finzenchrome
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          • 1 Year Ago
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          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          the chart is the accuracy of combine mpg to epa estimate, but is guess you are hopeless lost.
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          no dude, hyundia is using the chart to elevate themselves to being more closer to EPA, but was not observing that mazda and vw and subaru was still ahead of them. The chart is meanless to hyundia in the sense that if you can calculate the difference in % then hyundia would still be near in the back base on calculations.
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Pondnavy look at the chart dumb ass, the hyundia is at 98% the sonata combined is rated at 28 mpg are you telling me the sonata is more efficient than a honda accord at 30 mpg combine at the same 98%? why don't you read carefully before you comment!!!
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          no it proof how stupid you are, if hyundai use consumer report estimate, then the true efficiency is that is which is reported by CR
          • 1 Year Ago
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          • 1 Year Ago
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          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          go read this http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/05/best-worst-fuel-economy/index.htm
          • 1 Year Ago
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      chanonissan
      • 1 Year Ago
      now what we need, hyundai now you have shown the combined mpg graph, provide the city and highway graph respectively now!! I bet you do not want to do that.
      Street King
      • 1 Year Ago
      Where is Mercedes, Audi and BMW? I like how they throw Chevy, Mopar and Ford under the bus against a bunch of 4cyl shoebox junk from the other brands that sell appliances. Make it fair and lets see the OTHER brands that sell V8\'s in mass quantities - CR, total and utter idiots.
        NightFlight
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        You didn't read the article, did you? It was done by Hyundai, and their Elantra and Accent isn't competing with an A8 or a 7 Series.
          Street King
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NightFlight
          Nope, didnt even read. I did now....I expect nothing less from Hyundai.
          NightFlight
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NightFlight
          If you actually read it, and that's the conclusion you came to, please go back to school. You just failed with basic reading comprehension.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NightFlight
          [blocked]
        Neil
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        I don't see what difference that will make. I can't think of any reason why the percentage difference between the CR mpg figure and the EPA mpg figure will be any greater for a V8 than for an I4. In any case, Hyundai, not CR, chose which brands to include, and presumably they weren't interested in showing brands that they don't compete directly with (or more importantly, hadn't wasted the time doing the calculations for brands they don't compete directly with).
          NightFlight
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Neil
          Slow clap for you. Thanks for being intelligent!
      Alfonso T. Alvarez
      • 1 Year Ago
      It is clear that Hyundai/Kia will do anything they can to weasel their way out of being nailed for their blatant attempts to fudge their fuel economy numbers so that they could advertise their 'most vehicles with over 40 mpg highway' horse manure!! Here's the deal - they got nailed big time, their sales are now sinking because of their asinine belief that they could get away with it and they are now trying to do anything, anything, to get the smell of their BS crap out of the focus of the auto buying public - but, it is not going to work!! They made up BS HP numbers, they made up BS fuel economy numbers and their vehicles are just not on the same level as the competition!
        NightFlight
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        Waaahhh wah wah says the Chevrolet salesman. Their sales aren't hurting at all because of the MPG debacle, that's been proven. People don't even care. Are you angry because the Sonata is better than your new Malibu?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        [blocked]
        RoyEMunson
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        The new Malibu sucks... but the Sonata... better than Camry, Accord, or Fusion. You're kidding, right? If its the right car for you, then all the power to you, but for my money, id get the Fusion... I will say that if the next Sonata is better I always reserve the right to change my mind and hold no allegiances to any brand.
      Kelly Lueth
      • 1 Year Ago
      its total bs. anyone notice it says sales weighted industry average? gm and ford sell many many pickups in their overall output. hyundai sells none. neither does honda or mazda. toyota very few
        NightFlight
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kelly Lueth
        Does anyone else find it shocking how few people know how to read on this site??? For the 10th time, this has nothing to do with what vehicles the manufacturer produces. This is ONLY based on how close ALL of the vehicles can get to matching their EPA figures. RE-READ the article.
          Marcus Spencer
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NightFlight
          Every time someone commented showing that they didn't comprehend this article...I laugh. And then I see NightFlight's response and i laugh my ass off for a good minute. This is insane!
        aviboy97
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kelly Lueth
        The story was in relation to the EPA ratings and real-world driving. Has nothing to do with trucks. Try reading the article again...
      toddisit
      • 1 Year Ago
      Small little death trap cars! Buy GM.
      Radioactive Flea
      • 1 Year Ago
      You retards. Mazda Subaru VW and Hyundi are at the top because they don\'t sell trucks.
        NightFlight
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Radioactive Flea
        This has NOTHING to do with the fact of they sell trucks or not. This has to do with coming close to the EPA rating, regardless of what kind of vehicle it is.
        Chris Bangle
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Radioactive Flea
        I think you're the one with comprehension issues. It isn't about who has better fuel economy. It's about whether or not a manufacturers EPA economy matches its real world economy.
        IOMTT
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Radioactive Flea
        This is not data on how fuel efficient automakers are. This data only shows how close CR FE figures compare to EPA figures. If Lamborghini tells the EPA the Aventador gets 11mpg and CR has one for a long term test (not that it would ever happen) and reports they saw 11mpg , then the little bar graph for the Aventador would read 100%. If all I sell is gas guzzlers, but they return what the EPA ratings are, then my bar on this chart would look great at 100%. I hope that cleared it up.
        sfast
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Radioactive Flea
        And VW is up there because of the diesels. Since the EPA can't tell people that diesels are as good as they are.
      NightFlight
      • 1 Year Ago
      What's the big deal? Hyundai used Consumer Reports FE testing data and made a chart. This is no different than Sony or Samsung using ComScore industry data to produce a study. I really don't see what Mr. White is all upset about, trying to get page clicks or more readers possibly?
      RoyEMunson
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why is Hyundai so focused on trying to convince people that they dont suck? I fell for the hype, owned one, and Im over it... the cars are nice looking and have an OK warranty, but thats about it... same old IMO.
      desinerd1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hyundai's EPA estimates match CR results better than Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and all the American brands. Ford was the one who went crying to EPA, and is at the bottom of the list. What a shame.
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