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  • Image Credit: Sebastian Blanco
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  • Image Credit: Honda
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Do not poke Consumer Reports with the hybrid fuel economy stick. That seems to be the lesson illustrated here yet again. The Honda Accord Hybrid is the latest to arouse the ratings bear, returning "just" 40 combined mpg in CR testing. Even so, that makes it "a class leader for fuel economy among midsized sedans," besting even the Civic Hybrid in CR testing, but that's still a lucky roll of the dice short of its EPA rating of 47 mpg. Remember, it was back in December 2012 that CR knocked the Ford Fusion and C-Max hybrid models for the exact same failing: certified with an EPA-rated 47 mpg but delivering "just" 40 mpg.

Beyond that, while the Accord Hybrid earned a lower overall score than the traditional gasoline Accord because of its ride, handling and refinement issues, it gets unqualified applause from the institute for its "very impressive hybrid system."

It will be interesting to see if CR's findings will negatively impact the model's sales, which to this point have been impressive enough that demand is outstripping supply. In the meantime, you can check out CR's brief video review of the Accord Hybrid below, and check out the magazine's press release chiding its mpg rating.



Show full PR text
Honda Accord Hybrid Delivers Class-Leading Fuel Economy, But Falls Well Short Of EPA's 47 MPG Estimate

Jeep Grand Cherokee and BMW 328d diesels shine, Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid underwhelms


YONKERS, N.Y., May 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer Reports fuel economy tests found the Honda Accord Hybrid delivered impressive overall fuel-economy, tying the smaller Honda Civic Hybrid and just below the top-performing Toyota Prius hatchback.

The Accord Hybrid's 40-mpg performance on Consumer Reports combined city and highway tests make it a class leader for fuel economy among midsized sedans. Testers found the Accord Hybrid has a very impressive hybrid system that smoothly transitions between battery and engine power. To save fuel, even at highway speeds, the engine willingly shuts off as soon as drivers lift their foot off the gas pedal.

But Consumer Reports' engineers caution that buyers expecting their car to the EPA's figure of 47 mpg posted on the window sticker might be disappointed.

"We've found that the EPA tests often exaggerate the fuel-economy of hybrids," said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports.

Prior Consumer Reports tests of the Ford Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid also found a significant shortfall between the EPA's estimated highway fuel economy figures and those in CR's own fuel economy tests.

Although the Accord Hybrid delivers improved fuel economy over the non-hybrid version, the Hybrid falls short in other areas of Consumer Reports' testing including ride comfort, emergency handling, and quietness. As a result, the Accord Hybrid scored lower overall in Consumer Reports' tests than the non-hybrid four-cylinder Accord while costing about $6,500 more.

Consumer Reports has also tested the new hybrid version of the Subaru XV Crosstrek, as well as new diesel versions of the BMW 3 Series and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The XV Crosstrek Hybrid underwhelmed Consumer Reports' engineers, as testers found it to be a halfhearted hybrid. When applying the gas pedal gingerly, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid managed to creep up to 20 mph on electric power, but only if the outside temperature was above 50° F and the heat or air conditioner was turned off. Moreover, this hybrid isn't particularly refined. As with others, a start/stop system shuts off the engine when drivers come to a halt, but it restarts with a shudder when they're ready to go again.

The traditional XV Crosstrek Premium's 148-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine helped it deliver a frugal 26 mpg overall in CR's test. The hybrid version improves slightly on the drivability of the regular one, but it averaged only an additional 2 mpg overall in Consumer Reports tests. Considering it costs about $3,000 more than the regular version, the hybrid is not worth the extra money for most shoppers.

The Jeep and BMW diesels turned in a more impressive showing in Consumer Reports tests. Compared with their gasoline counterparts, they boosted fuel economy by a significant 6 and 7 mpg overall to 24 and 35 mpg, respectively-without a significant compromise in performance or refinement. With their excellent highway efficiency of 32 and 49 mpg, they provide lengthy cruising ranges of 785 and 735 miles. Both vehicles scored near the top of their classes in Consumer Reports testing.

For 2014, though, the BMW 328d's new 180-hp, 2.0-liter turbo diesel, left 328i impressive gas-mileage figure (28 mpg) in the dust. The 35-mpg CR averaged in the 328d, even with all-wheel drive, is terrific. In this class, that's eclipsed only by the 40-mpg of the Lexus CT 200h hybrid, which doesn't come close to the 3 Series in luxury, sportiness and size.

There were trade offs to the 328d's impressive fuel economy. Its acceleration isn't exactly speedy; its 8.5-second 0-to-60 mph time is more than 2 seconds slower than the 328i's. But with 280 lb. ft. of torque on tap, the diesel packs a nice punch for merging or passing. With a trace of diesel clatter, the 328d is a little noisier than the 328i.

A 2014 freshening of the Grand Cherokee brought improved controls, better fit and finish, a slick eight-speed automatic transmission, and electric steering system. The available 240-hp, 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6 helps the Grand Cherokee further stand out for its impressive versatility. Overall, this modern diesel brings a new level of fuel efficiency to the Grand Cherokee while retaining a mostly civilized driving experience. Consumer Reports averaged an impressive 24 mpg, which is a 6-mpg boost in overall fuel economy compared with the 3.6-liter gasoline V6. That ties the Grand Cherokee with the diesel-powered Volkswagen Touareg TDI as the most efficient non-hybrid midsized SUV.

Complete reports and ratings for the Honda Accord Hybrid, Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid, BMW 328d, and Jeep Cherokee Diesel, as well as updated tests for the recently freshened Volkswagen Passat, Honda Civic and Dodge Dart are available now at www.ConsumerReports.org or in the July Issue of Consumer Reports on sale June 3.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 240 Comments
      Dave
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Remember, it was back in December 2012 that CR knocked the Ford Fusion and C-Max hybrid models for the exact same failing: certified with an EPA-rated 47 mpg but delivering "just" 40 mpg." I just looked up CR's ratings for a few other hybrids. They averaged 44 mpg in the Prius, which has a window sticker of 50 mpg. They averaged 36 mpg in the Avalon Hybrid, which has a window sticker of 40 mpg. They averaged 37 mpg in the Jetta Hybrid, which has a window sticker of 45 mpg.
      Naturenut99
      • 1 Year Ago
      As JB says below... Different testing methods equals different numbers. If they followed EPA testing and got different numbers , then there would be something to talk about. CR only got 44 for the 3rd gen Prius. I always got 45 in the2nd gen. in an area where I get less than I did throughout the Chicago area. The 3rd gen is better, if they/you can't at least half the time get the EPA avg. you drive way too aggressively, or are in horrible driving conditions.
      Alex Berentsen
      • 1 Year Ago
      I own a 2013 Honda Accord LX. This "basic" 4cyl model consistantly get 40+ mpg. I live in Southwest Florida and I have been driving about 500 miles a week for the past 3 weeks with an average mpg of 39.7mpg based on the 8" display in my center stack.
      Dean Hammond
      • 1 Year Ago
      what I wish for , is the manufacturers that CR has lambasted, all get together and get CR to re test the vehicles under their supervision, and THEN tell them what potentially they are doing wrong. After all, CR seems to take great glee in calling the Car Companies out, so why not reciprocate....instead we have to put up with these guys putting themselves on a pedestal as THE final authority....
        normc32
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dean Hammond
        Still waiting for CR's secret test loop on public roads to be revieled.
        normc32
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dean Hammond
        Still waiting for CR's secret test loop on public roads to be revieled.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dean Hammond
        [blocked]
      Dean Hammond
      • 1 Year Ago
      seems there is a common denominator...it just happens to be the company crying foul...Consumer Reports...
      Victor Hoyles
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's pretty stupid that CR implies this is Honda's fault. The EPA are the one's that make this claim, not Honda. The whole purpose of the tests are so that there is a standardized method for testing fuel economy and therefore, cars can be engineered to as well as possible in these tests. It also provides a benchmark for comparisons among all the cars that are tested.
        ScottT
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Victor Hoyles
        I believe Honda reports their numbers to the EPA supposedly using the EPA's guidelines, the EPA then uses Honda's numbers. The EPA does spot check a small number of models.
          Victor Hoyles
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ScottT
          As an engineer I test products at our facility on behalf of UL and CSA on a regular basis. I have a UL/CSA accredited lab. These tests are repeatable. I can test a product here and get the same result at the actual UL or CSA labs. Again, if the test guidelines are set up properly by the EPA, they are repeatable in any accredited lab.
          Victor Hoyles
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ScottT
          Yes, I know this. The point I'm making however is that the tests are all designed by the EPA and are such that if any accredited test lab at Toyota or Ford or any other automaker tested an Accord the results would be the same.
          Victor Hoyles
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ScottT
          As an engineer I test products at our facility on behalf of UL and CSA on a regular basis. I have a UL/CSA accredited lab. These tests are repeatable. I can test a product here and get the same result at the actual UL or CSA labs. Again, if the test guidelines are set up properly by the EPA, they are repeatable in any accredited lab.
          Victor Hoyles
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ScottT
          Yes, I know this. The point I'm making however is that the tests are all designed by the EPA and are such that if any accredited test lab at Toyota or Ford or any other automaker tested an Accord the results would be the same.
          Victor Hoyles
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ScottT
          Yes, I know this. The point I'm making however is that the tests are all designed by the EPA and are such that if any accredited test lab at Toyota or Ford or any other automaker tested an Accord the results would be the same. So, if anything, it's the EPA tests not representing real world results that is flawed.
          JakeY
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ScottT
          "if any accredited test lab at Toyota or Ford or any other automaker tested an Accord the results would be the same." There are ways to fudge the test. Ford and Hyundai did this by making "mistakes" with the aerodynamic numbers of the vehicles they reported (Hyundai by making errors in their coast-down test, Ford by assuming the C-Max has the same aerodynamics as a Fusion). And there is no requirement that the test lab be an independent third party either.
        Larry Litmanen
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Victor Hoyles
        Automaker has the option of providing a lower number that accounts for real world conditions. Dude don't you get it, if someone expects a 47 MPG car but gets 40 they will feel like they were taken advantage of, lied to, they will never recommend the car to friends, in the end automaker will lose.
        Chris Bangle
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Victor Hoyles
        The EPA doesn't test the vast majority of the cars. The individual manufacturers do their own testing based on the EPA's guidelines. The EPA certifies the cars based on what the manufacturers come up with.
          Victor Hoyles
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Chris Bangle
          As an engineer I test products at our facility on behalf of UL and CSA on a regular basis. I have a UL/CSA accredited lab. These tests are repeatable. I can test a product here and get the same result at the actual UL or CSA labs. Again, if the test guidelines are set up properly by the EPA, they are repeatable in any accredited lab.
        Larry Litmanen
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Victor Hoyles
        Automaker has the option of providing a lower number that accounts for real world conditions. Dude don't you get it, if someone expects a 47 MPG car but gets 40 they will feel like they were taken advantage of, lied to, they will never recommend the car to friends, in the end automaker will lose.
        pkchari
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Victor Hoyles
        Well, for a sort of parallel in the computing world, we have things like standardized benchmarks like SPEC and LINPACK or Cinebench and 3DMark (for GPUs) and there are plenty of cases where chips score tremendously well on these benchmarks and it doesn't bear out respectively in general use. It happens because people tune their compilers, tune their power management, focus on certain features and efficiency that specifically benefit these benchmarks. Heck, not that long ago, AMD put out a GPU that runs significantly above its nominal clock speed for about 90 seconds before throttling back down to its normal power envelope just so it can score well on Cinebench. i.e., They literally created something that was the most powerful GPU on the market at the time, but it could only hold onto that title for 90 seconds. I don't find it implausible that car manufacturers are measuring their success on the basis of performance in these standardized EPA benchmarks, so they tune things in just such a way that it benefits those numbers rather than how it performs in other more general testing. Not saying that it's an effort to be deliberately misleading on the part of the OEMs (well, it _could_ be, but that's not a certainty), but rather an artifact of the fact that those EPA MPG numbers are a selling point for certain classes of vehicles... so it's actually natural for a manufacturer to focus on such market factors.
          Dean Hammond
          • 1 Year Ago
          @pkchari
          yeah, because computers are perfect....no freezing, virus's, hackability....crashing.....
          Dean Hammond
          • 1 Year Ago
          @pkchari
          yeah, because computers are perfect....no freezing, virus's, hackability....crashing.....
        Larry Litmanen
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Victor Hoyles
        Automaker has the option of providing a lower number that accounts for real world conditions. Dude don't you get it, if someone expects a 47 MPG car but gets 40 they will feel like they were taken advantage of, lied to, they will never recommend the car to friends, in the end automaker will lose.
      Larry Litmanen
      • 1 Year Ago
      WTF is wrong with this Ramsey guy, why is is "just". People paid for 47 MPG not 40, just because 40 MPGs is still good that does not meat an automaker gets to lie. They said 47...............car should get 47. Not the first time Honda has been caught fudging the numbers. Someone needs to sue and force them to change. Good job CR yet again, and huffington post strikes yet again in autoblog with lame "JOURNOlism"
        Luc K
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Larry Litmanen
        Go to fuelly.com and look at what actual consumers are getting with their Honda Accord Hybrids. Lot better than CR so don't believe everything that's written down. The headline at CR article though was nowhere as misleading as Autonews (stellar fuel economy...).
          Walt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Luc K
          Some are getting better mileage than CR, but a lot of drivers are getting exactly what CR got on the Accord Hybrid. And very few are meeting or beating 47mpg. http://www.fuelly.com/car/honda/accord/2014
      SlothLovesChunk
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh god, aaronm_mt/Mary Keana is going to have to work overtime today.
        Rob
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SlothLovesChunk
        Also goes by FIdtro and Zoom Zoom Zoom. This is not the first Honda Hybrid to fall short of mileage estimates. They lost a class action suit not long ago with another model
          carguy1701
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rob
          The Civic Hybrid. I remember that. And Fidtro isn't him, though I can understand why you'd think so; they spout the same BS.
          carguy1701
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rob
          The Civic Hybrid. I remember that. And Fidtro isn't him, though I can understand why you'd think so; they spout the same BS.
          carguy1701
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rob
          The Civic Hybrid. I remember that. And Fidtro isn't him, though I can understand why you'd think so; they spout the same BS.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SlothLovesChunk
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        • 1 Year Ago
        @SlothLovesChunk
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        • 1 Year Ago
        @SlothLovesChunk
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        @SlothLovesChunk
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        @SlothLovesChunk
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        @SlothLovesChunk
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        @SlothLovesChunk
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        @SlothLovesChunk
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      carguy1701
      • 1 Year Ago
      laughinglink.jpg I doubt CR's findings will affect sales. It's a good car held back by two things IMO: lack of a linear brake pedal (endemic to all hybrids) and a bad infotainment system design (Honda, touchscreens are the future. Y'all should jump on that bandwagon).
      Croatian
      • 10 Months Ago
      I am an owner of 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid, the Touring model. My daily commute to work and back takes me through a few miles of streets and 10 miles of highway in each direction. I'm averaging (according to the on-board computer and my own calculations) about 42 MPG. My average highway speed is 65 MPH. I tried using the EV override button a few times, mainly for those times when I didn't want the gas engine to kick in every time I step on the gas pedal after a full stop at the red light. That didn't seem to improve the gas mileage, so I just left it for the computer to figure out when and how it will use its resources. I'm always driving in the ECCO mode and my dashboard is full of green leaves. So, the 40MPG claim by the Consumer Reports to me seems too harsh. To really know what you are getting out of this vehicle you have to drive it for at least couple of months. I watched my MPGs climbing from 38 something up to only about 40 the first month of use, but as I kept driving it, it climbed to 42 and now it hovers around that number for the last 3 months. Sometime it gets to 42.2 if I'm only driving on the streets for a day or two. I would imagine it going even more towards 47 if I never had to hit the highway.
      Rick
      • 7 Months Ago

      I thought I'd chime in here as our 2014 Touring model is now about 6 mos. old and just under 3000 miles (I don't have a long commute and I carpool). My average mpg is probably about 42-43 with a low of 42 and a high of, you guessed it, 44. However, as others have said, maximizing mileage depends on how you drive, conditions and where you drive. We live at 500' on one hill and my commute takes me to sea level and back up another hill at about at 200' or so. Total one-way miles is 14. So what I gain and generate going downhill is more than lost going back up. I consider it great mileage considering the circumstances. But, after topping off yesterday and resetting the meters we drove out behind us on sort of a plateau with less elevation change. Covered about 30 miles total visiting friends and I watched as we pulled back into the driveway I had 49.9 mpg showing. Couldn't be happier. A side note, the mpg displayed always seems to be spot on when calculating mileage at the pump. The car does ride firmly, but so did our CTS, is quiet and smooth. Great car!

      • 1 Year Ago
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        chanonissan
        • 1 Year Ago
        The result you post is based on a contest to see who could hypermile the best , so you can read ordinary (means real world driving) were in the low to middle 40s. Their ordinary highway drives were in the low to middle 40s – EPA rates it at 45 highway, 50 city – and later, during a contest to see who could achieve highest mpg, city drives reached 70 and even into the mid-80-mpg range under very careful driving. http://www.hybridcars.com/consumer-reports-accord-hybrid-mpg-cant-match-epa-estimate/
        cynicalrick
        • 1 Year Ago
        Yup. I got 52.7 that day.
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