Hyundai’s Elantra 40-MPG Claim Under Scrutiny From Consumer Watchdog

Hyundai’s Elantra 40-MPG Claim Under Scrutiny From Consumer Watchdog

Just when we thought absolutely nothing negative about Hyundai could hit the press, this happens. A group called Consumer Watchdog has requested that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigate Hyundai’s MPG claim on their popular Elantra model.

Hyundai states that the Elantra can get 29-mpg city, 40-mpg highway with a 33-mpg average, but Consumer Watchdog is claiming that the vehicle’s real-world MPG average is more in the mid-20s. Reports are coming in from Elantra owners all over that they’re having a very difficult time achieving any MPG-average in the 30s, with even USA Today tech writer Jefferson Graham reporting that he only average a disappointing 22-mpg.

Hit the jump to read the press release

Washington, D.C. — As automakers make their annual pitch for holiday sales, Consumer Watchdog has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate Hyundai’s high mileage claims for its popular Elantra model (29/40 MPG city/highway, 33 MPG average).

The Elantra has attracted an unusual number of consumer complaints about real-world MPG averaging in the mid-20s, far from Hyundai’s stated average of 33, said Consumer Watchdog.

“Gasoline remains well above $3 a gallon and MPG is a key factor for car buyers, who expect to match the window-label MPG if they drive carefully,” said Judy Dugan, research director for Consumer Watchdog. “A loss of 6 or 7 miles per gallon, a conservative average for the Elantra based on tests and complaints, adds up to real money for drivers.”

The letter said, in part: “As the holiday season commences, automakers are touting discounts and year-end deals; record-high gasoline prices for the season will make MPG a significant part of their red-bow advertising. …

“This makes the accuracy of EPA MPG estimates all the more important, to prevent any maker from marketing autos on a stated city or highway MPG that substantially misstates the result that drivers will get on the road. In general, the new EPA MPG estimates seem to comport closely to real-world results. …

“However, a notable exception to this rule has caught the attention of Consumer Watchdog. For the two most recent model years, Hyundai Motors has actively marketed its base models of the Elantra on their very high 29/40 MPG, and 33 MPG average, leaving a trail of disappointed drivers. An Edmunds online Town Hall discussion on the Elantra attracted scores of drivers who can’t, no matter how hard they try, duplicate such numbers. One very public example of this was USA Today tech writer Jefferson Graham, whose Sept. 22 article on his new Elantra expressed his disappointment that he averaged only 22 MPG, a gap that no “break-in” period seems likely to fill.

“Additionally, while Motor Trend named the 2011 Elantra Car of the Year in its class, the magazine’s on-road testers achieved only a very disappointing 26.5 MPG average, bad enough to get special note in the review. Consumers Union found similar fault in with the 2012 Elantra, a redesign. While CU’s highway mileage was 39, its city mileage, with experienced drivers who know how to drive a low-mileage auto, was only 20 MPG–very far from the listed 29 MPG. …

“Gasoline prices remain at record high levels for this season, making efficiency a top purchasing issue for consumers. Neither Hyundai for any other car company should be allowed to misrepresent its efficiency standards or dupe consumers into buying its cars. We ask you, through prompt re-testing and action as needed, to send a message to the company and the auto industry that MPG misrepresentation will not be tolerated.”

See the complete letter at:

Consumer Watchdog asked the EPA, if re-testing finds flaws with Hyundai’s original EPA-mandated tests, for fines against Hyundai and owner compensation.

“The popularity and increasing sales of the Elantra make it all the more important that drivers get the same or nearly the same results as the EPA mileage,” said Judy Dugan, research director of Consumer Watchdog. “EPA’s current MPG testing model has been close to real-world results for other high-efficiency models, so at the very least Hyundai has some hard explaining to do about the Elantra’s shortfalls.”

  • Professor Hyundai

    I am still confused by Consumer Watchdog, I keep asking them why they would be targeting the manufacturer, not the government agency that is meant to report and test the vehicles. I myself, am able to achieve the fuel economy. Surprised, huh?

    I can do it in YOUR car, too. Bring it to me. If I CANNOT accomplish the fuel economy average of 33mpg for a 55%/45% 20 minute period, then I WILL show you how to trade out of that car for the same payments into a car that is NOT under this scrutiny. I promise you, I would rather you all stay in your cars.

    For more details, check out my wall at

  • Dono

    The story is total bull. I bought a 2012 Elantra a couple of months ago. I’ve put 4,000 miles on it. I computed the mpg by doing my own math by dividing miles driven by gallons used. I am averaging 33.4 mpg over the past 4,000 miles. Those are my real world figures. There is no way anyone is getting 20’s on their car. If they are, they should have it checked out.

  • Gary

    I agree, I have a 2007 elantra that gets better than low 20’s…. If you get low 20s city/highway, a driving test for the drivers might be in order.

  • Melvin

    Too funny. Even I’m getting 22mph average on my Kia Optima with most of my driving done in city. Something is wrong with the Consumer Watchdog’s numbers because the Elantra’s MPG has been steadily improving over the years.

  • Jerry

    Cars don’t get gas mileage – drivers do. I got 40mpg on one trip with my 2.4 liter 2009 Sonata. I suspect that the Elantra could easily top that if driven well. Or it could get terrible mileage if driven badly. Keep the speed down and hold your foot as still as possible if you care about good mileage. You have to work at it. It just doesn’t magically happen because of the EPA ratings.

  • Harry

    I owned a 2011 Elantra for a year (traded it on a new Veloster). The worst gas mileage for a tank was 28.2 and several times I exceeded 42 mpg for long Interstate trips. For those trips, I drove between 65 and 70 mph and did not use cruise control. 90% of the time, I averaged 32-33 mpg.

    It sounds like some of the complaining drivers need to learn how to drive more economically.

  • Merri

    I have a 2012 hyundai elantra that’s supposed to get 40mpg, 29 in town and 34 average. Well, I’ve tried everything including asking the dealer about the fact I get supposedly 35 -40 on the highway, 26 – 29 in town, however when I do the math and divide gallons into miles traveled the magic number is only 27. My older Hyundai did better than that. I’m not impressed at all.

  • Bear

    It’s a true shame more people aren’t aware how to get the best MPG. The truth is, when you accelerate, hold the pedal at 70%-75% of power. Accelerate to 3-5 MPH over your target speed, and let off the pedal. Set cruise at this speed if applicable or hold the pedal as still as possible. 45 MPH is about the best MPG you’ll get as that’s top gear with the lowest RPM, and the closer you stay at that speed, the better the MPG. It is tricky in 25-40 MPH, but the acceleration is still important. You’ll have to eyeball stop signs, lights, ETC. When low on gas, I’ve driven 50 MPH on a 60 MPH highway. I don’t think I made many friends but… just stay in the right lane. THIS WORKS!!! 18.5 AVERAGE! on my 1996 4.3L Chevy Blazer! mostly 35-60 speed limits. Lastly, cruise control DOES NOT reduce MPG. Use the acceleration advice and try for 45 MPH.

  • Scott Kane

    I have had my 2011 Elantra now for a year and I receive an average of 32MPG. Cannot seem to reach the 40MPG mark no matter how hard I try and I do not have a lead foot.

  • Eric W

    The Hyundai is advertised as a 40MPG car and with that advertising come expectations on the part of consumers.

    We should not have to apply extrodinary driving techniques to achieve 40 on the highway.

    My average miles per hour hovers at 40 MPH and my MPG is only 30. I have driven for long periods at 55 to 65 and never seen the MPG rise above 35.

    40 must be achiveable only by means of a certain specific combination of activities. As such, this car should not be advertised as a 40 MPG.

    There appear to be variations in these numbers from car to car so clearly there are issues as well.

    In any case, consumers have purchased this car based upon claims of high mileage, and while I would agree that 30 is good….I fully expected to achieve closer to 40 as an average.

  • EricC

    I just purchased a ne Elantra and with highway driving at 70ish I get about 38 mpg in town and stop an go traffic in boston city I am getting 31mpg. I am satisfied with that. If I put cruise on 65 and travel on flat highway I can get 40.

  • Coreen

    I have an new Elantra, and I have been frustrated with combined MPG of around 28. Even on a Hwy road trip on a mostly flat route and use of cruise control we didn’t break 30. I’m at 1500 miles, and I am regretting the purchase.

  • Steve

    We bought our 2012 in October 2011. It had 9 miles on it and now is at 5,500. We are lucky to get a combined 28. We have gotten around 33 on I5. What I have heard is that there is 10% ethanol in Oregon gas and much more in some other states. This “green” ethanol fuel does not give you the same pop as the fosil fuel and thus will effect your milage. We had a pilot that got far worse mileage so we are happy to get more. Oh by the way, we bought a spare tire that is also reducing our mileage too I’m sure. Love the car, feel a little lied to about the mileage and I do not drive at 45, more like 72 ish if you know what I mean.

  • Patrick King

    I love my 2012 Elantra but I am PISSED about the MPG. I spoke with the dealership and they claim the car is still “breaking” itself in. I know this won’t be the case. What can I do now? I’m screwed. 29 IN TOWN was a huge factor in my decision. I drive 14 miles to work round trip every day, 10 of which are HWY and I got 23 and 22 on average the past two tanks of gas.

  • John

    My 2011 Elantra has 8500 miles on it and the gas mileage has not improved. I am getting 34-36 mpg on all highway trips and 24-26 in city. If I drive no faster than 70mph on the highway then I get 38. My 2001 Toyota Celica GT rated 25 mpg city and 32 highway has always gotten better than that (avg 26 city and 37 highway even up to 75+mph. I drive both cars the same way with the same number of passengers. I think the new rating system is not as accurate as the old one or they just fudged the numbers to make the present Government Administration look good on improving gas mileage. Overall I am happy with the car but very disappointed in the gas mileage and have no faith in the government ratings anymore. Also, the automatic dash mileage calculator is inaccurate. it reads out a better number than if you do the math yourself. Next car I will probably go back to Toyota.

  • Chris

    I know this is a longshot, but EricC, if you happen to read this, I would love to see that in action. I’m in Boston as well and I cannot for the life of me figure out what I am doing wrong to achieve anything near 29/40. Driving as perfectly as I possibly can on nearly 100% highway, I was able to get 34mpg. I’ve done this trip with a rented 2010 Cobalt and achieved 35 paying no attention to FE-friendly driving habits. I believe that car is rated at 33 or 35 highway.

    My usual output is 21-23mpg with more highway than city (maybe 55-60%). I’ve tried this with ECO mode on and off; neither seems better than the other except that with ECO off I can actually accelerate at a decent pace when entering a highway. I thought, perhaps, that I’m still in a “break-in” period (which is not supposed to exist for this car), but I’m seeing other people get better mileage than me (e.g. EricC) with no break-in. I’m at 3680 now and going in for my first oil change soon since I fall under the “severe driving” criteria. I’m hoping they can clue me in to what is going on.

    This is not something happening to just a few people and it cannot be blamed on poor driving habits. I’ve followed every possible rule thrown at me to no avail. What I’d really like to do is use one of the cars for a day that are pushing out numbers close to the estimates and see if I get close to the same numbers with my driving.

  • Power Serge

    I feel like I totally got screwed on the 2012 Elantra MPG. I got about 29mpg on the first tank of gas, which were mostly highway miles. I’ve been riding around on all different roads trying to get the estimator reach 30mpg, but I could not do it so far. What do you do in this situation? Can you return your car and get your money back for false advertizing in this situation?

  • Crazy Commute

    Purchased a 2012 Limited just over one week ago with promises and stories from the dealer about 40+mpg at 70+mph. Well, because I have a 95 mile daily commute (that’s ONE way) that is 85% highway, I’ve had quite a bit of time and road to test the highway mpg. Now at about 1200 miles. I’m getting about 33mpg, and I have to “baby” the car to get that. 65-68 avg on cruise control for about a 70 mile stretch. I traded a 2011 Kia Forte that got a consistent 34.5mpg at 80mph on cruise (it’s rated at 36mpg hwy). I will be able to give a good city estimate after this weekend, but from what I’m seeing, it ain’t good. I’m sure I can do better driving the Elantra at 45mph, but that is ridiculous. Why purchase a more expensive car touted for it’s superior mpg, but have it perform more poorly than a “lesser” rated automobile (and cheaper too). Neither I, nor my local dealer will rest until this is resolved. Be extremely careful with this model. Great looks…shaky performance.

  • Nick

    I have a 2012 Veloster which has the same engine as the elantra.. I have 800miles on my car and im averaging around 35Mpg and thats mostly city driving. If i drive at 55-65 on the highway i can push 38-42 out of the car. So i really think the editors were driving it like they stole it. Coasting and accel and braking habits have ALOT todo with mileage.

  • bernie

    My hubby purchased a brand new Hyundi Santa Fe now it is suppose to get 20mile per gallon. My hubby calculated 14 mpg just going to the train parking lot and back home. That is false and a down right lie on the auto industries. What can be done about these lies. Here you think you get rid of a gas guzzler which wasn’t a guzzler at all.

  • Tim G

    Guess what guys? I just bought a brand new 2012 Hyundai Elantra, I’ve been driving it in Eco mode, just like all the experts say to drive, slow acceleration, no quick stops, even driving, inflated tires, nothing in the trunk. My MPG (both by the onboard computer, and my own figures) is anywhere between 17 and 22 MPG – and that’s not just city driving. I only bought this car for the mileage – shoulda bought a Prius. I’d sell it for $750 under invoice if anyone’s interested – only a week old! Didn’t think so.

  • Rob L

    I have a 2012 Elantra.  I have put 3,000 miles on it in the first 45 days.  I routinely drive 200 miles each way on the highway for trips.  I generally get about 36 to 38 mpg, but boy am I babying the heck out of it to get that, rarely exceeding 75 mph on a 70 mph highway, coasting up and down hills, no passing or heavy accelerating, and crawling onto the highway (a big disappointment after trading in my 280 hp Acura TL).  Can’t get to 40 mpg on I-75 in central Florida due to the hills.  Once got 37 mpg one way, and then 32 mpg on the way back due to driving against a heavy wind.  Got 40 mpg one time on a 100 mile trip at about 60 mph, but cannot duplicate.  Around town with tons of lights, get about 17 mpg (same as in my Acura), and if I get a lot of green lights, maybe up to 24 mpg, but NEVER 29 mpg in the city.  Gas mileage was the #1 reason I bought this car and why I looked up this topic and found this message board after not getting what was advertised.  Feeling totally ripped off.  


    my 06 elantra averages about 34 mpg, higher if it’s all highway driving.

  • rizal jaiman

    Guys, I’m a computer tech, and I’m experiencing the same problem with my 2011 Elantra, not getting the actual mileage – this is due to the mathematical error done by the chip. The chip calculated/estimated our driving, I noticed they make different estimates from the first reset to the 2nd reset. Based on my experience, chips can make numerical error which indicated a bad chips.  I’ve asked dealer to replace it but they refused, saying that everything is in good condition. Of course, based on the diagnosed the mechanically is functioning properly but they don’t know that there is no tools to diagnose the chip. I agree that there is nothing wrong with the fuel consumption, it’s just the chips that is, I think, made in Korea, not Japan.

  • Ashishsinha 1984

    I bought it 2 months back and driving all the time in city. I getting mileage of around 24. Only once I had gone long for 60 miles and I got mileage of around 26.. I never reached more figure… Don’t know why they misguided by such a much figure .

  • LDSTiger

    I have 2013 Hyundai Elantra Limited.  I started tracking the MPG myself using Excel and my gas station receipts, I began this process about 45 days after I purchased the vehicle brand new.

    Over the course of 5 fillups (and then throwing out the high and the low) my average MPG is 29.25.  I have also tracked the “way” I drove the car (i.e. aggressively, hypermiling, cruise control, etc.).  Here are some interesting results:

    MPG / Comments and driving behavior29.59881679 / Most miles were spent on interstate to Orlando and back.29.44971166 / Tried hard on this tank to squeeze every mile (i.e. hypermiling).28.81448957 / Just drove the way I wanted to.29.48811036 / Used cruise control as much as possible on this tank.My commute is 26 miles one way, 90% of which is interstate (usually do around 78mph).I think Hyundai or the EPA has some explaining to do.  I bought this car PRIMARLILY for the gas mileage, as a commuter car.  I love the car in every way… except this one area: the gas mileage.

  • Professortim7

    My wife just got a 2012 Hyundai Elantra and of course the 40 mpg claim is great…because when our current cars, we save enough fuel to almost make the payment. It depends on the driver. Entirely. My wife is a leadfoot who does not pay the fuel costs…so she was getting 32.1mpg as measured by the on board mpg indicator. I drove from our home to the west suburbs and she drove back. This route is about 85 percent freeway. I got 51.4 mpg driving there. She got 32.1 mpg driving the exact same route back. It depends on the driver.

  • Mike

    I have had my new 2012 Elantra for 5 months now. The car has 8500 mostly freeway miles on it. It continues to average 28-29 mpg no matter how hard I try to stretch the mileage. Do not believe the claims of 40 mpg this car is never going to see 40 mpg unless it is coasting down hill with the engine off.

  • Erika

    I bought a 2012 hyundai elantra manual transmission back in november 2011. I drove 8 miles to work in city traffic and averaged 31 mpg. The car LOVES to go 45-50 mph though and have gotten as high as 54 mpg. I just drove northern wisconsin down to western kentucky driving 73 mph using mostly cruise control and averaged 37 mpg. I do have to add that i am not a driver who accelerates into stop signs/stoplights. I also have the opinion that manual is superior to automatic transmission in the area of fuel economy and in longevity of other car systems, i.e. brakes. Me…extremely happy with the purchase! And of course have to say, maybe I got a “good one”.

  • TruthJusticeandReason

    We get 29 MPG’s regularly with our 2012 Elantra.
    Traded our pristine 2009 low mileage Sonata (which we loved) for this piece of crap.
    Fun to drive, horrible seats, good styling but 1 MPG more than our 6 cyl Sonata….WHY
    Sure hope the consumer watchdog drops a big pile of stink on the Elantra!!!

  • dirk

    Some recent tests on my 2012 Elantra
    20 Miles @ 60mph cruse:  34.6
    11 Miles in stop/go traffic:  23.7
    20 Miles @ 60mph reverse course with cruse: 35.9
    173Miles from Seattle WA to Portland OR @ 65mph cruse 32.5
    177Miles from Portland OR to Seattle WA @ 60mph cruse 33.2
    Summary from a few small tests:
    HWY: 34.
    CTY: 23.7

    the best extensive testing but enough to show that after driving 400+
    consecutive HWY miles that the EPA estimates might be a bit exaggerated,

  • Chris

     Bought a 2013 Elantra 2 months ago and I am very pleased with the mileage achieved. I am always within 1 or 2 mpg of the 30/40 advertised mileage and I attribute the difference to different driving conditions.  I am very happy with the care in every way.

  • Matt L

    can I return my 2013 elantra because of the false representation of mpg ?

  • Linda L

    I bought a 2013 Elantra in September – primarily based on the fuel economy claims. I have started to track my mpg because it doesn’t seem like I am getting the fuel economy I expected. Recently, I drove 257.5 miles on the freeway going 70 mph using cruise control. I filled up the gas tank just before entering the freeway and reset the mpg calculator to measure the fuel economy specifically for this trip. I also filled up the gas tank immediately after exiting the freeway so that I was measuring only freeway miles. My actual mpg was 31.82. The computer said my average mpg was 35.0. Not only does the car not get the mileage I expected, the computer does not accurately calculate the average mpg. I am really disappointed with this purchase and would return this car if I could.

  • josh1945

    I have 5000 miles and took a 250 mile trip babying the car. The best I got was 33 mpg while the computer averaged 42 mpg on the dash. Is this a hate American campaign coming from Korea or what?

  • josh1945

    Chris, you are a liar and probably employed by a Hyundai dealership.

  • Sheliaadams

    I’m only getting 15-16 miles per gal in my 2 years old Hyundai Sonata with less than 3k miles on it. This is majority ~90% highway
    miles around 55mph. I seem to fill it up just slightly less often than
    my old 2001 Oldsmobile Intrege I expected better to be honest.

  • gws

    I have a 2012 Elantra with 12000 miles. I check the MPG the old way by filling tank and calculating MPG. The dash MPG is not accurate. The best I get is an average of 26 MPG. I think we have be the victims of false advertising by Hyundai

  • MikeM

    After reading previous comments and my personal experience with wife’s bought new 2011 Elantra, I’m of the opinion something is very wrong with the automatic transmission. After getting disappointing 34mpg driving in the most economical way on the highway, and only 27 or so city, the highway mpg just dropped after a software ‘upgrade’ to 28 highway! Hyundai MUST KNOW SOMETHING IS WRONG! Anyone know what it is???

  • johnny smashum

    I actually got 40 mpg in my Hyundai Elantra limited 2012 . You must drive 55 mph to get this gas mileage not 60 or above.