Correcting Toyota's mistake in correcting Boston Globe's mistake on Sequoia's MPG rating

We all make mistakes, but if I told you an article written by a Boston Globe editor (and then a correction by Toyota's Communications Vice President to that article) on something as simple as a car's MPG rating did not tell the whole truth, you might be surprised. That is the case and lets start with associate editor Derrick Jackson's article which says the the 2008 Toyota Sequoia "gets a reported 14 miles per gallon on streets and 14 mpg on highways." Communications VP Irv Miller writes on the Toyota blog that, "Actually, the 2008 Sequoia's EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy rating is 14/19 mpg" and "we're greatly surprised that Mr. Jackson and his editors at the Globe haven't checked their facts, and their biases." Who's right?

The truth is they are both right. If you go to the EPA website you will see there are four ratings for the 2008 Sequoia because of differences in things like speed, drive train, etc. The 4 wheel drive, 5 speed Sequoia gets 13 city, 16 highway but has a combined rating of 14. It's quite common to see the combined rating used in a way to imply higher or lower number for city or highway i.e "14 city, highway" or even "14 city and 14 highway" as the Boston Globe wrote. In fact, I wrote specifically about Toyota's abuse of the system in August and also Hummer's use of an early MPG rating after the switch to a better system. Irv repeats this tactic at the blog by pointing to the car with the highest rating of all four vehicles at the website; 14 city and 19 highway.

Derrick's 14 MPG rating backs up the thesis on this Op Ed, which has a good point; the Sequoia is not exactly what you would expect from a green car company. Irv's incomplete 14/19 corrected rating is just Irv defending the Toyota brand because that's his job. The system is broken and the EPA needs better enforcement, a single number for a brand and even the corporate twin, as I have suggested before. The EPA's fuel efficiency rating was wrong in the past and can vary by as much as +-5 MPG but it is probably the most important information in an ad, after price, for consumers. There should be much better rules in place so we don't have incidents like this one again.

[Source: Toyota's blog, Boston Globe]

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