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.”


dirk says:

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 says:

 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.

josh1945 says:

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

Matt L says:

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

Linda L says:

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 says:

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?

Sheliaadams says:

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 says:

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 says:

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 says:

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.