Hyundai Sued Over Elantra 40-MPG Ad Claims

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With gas mileage a much higher new-car purchase consideration these days, it isn’t surprising to see yet another lawsuit filed over purportedly misleading advertising on the part of car companies. A new lawsuit, according to an article by Reuters, is alleging that Hyundai misrepresented the mileage of its Elantra.

The owner, of a 2011 Elantra, expected to achieve the “40 Mile Per Gallon” number touted in the ads; and the 40 mpg that’s advertised is the model’s EPA highway rating.

Our colleagues at Green Car Reports were all over the story about public interest group Consumer Watchdog calling for the EPA to retest the 2011 Hyundai Elantra compact late last year. At issue was a “trail of disappointed drivers” failing to achieve EPA-published ratings of the car in real-world driving.

As for the current lawsuit, filed by Consumer Watchdog for plaintiff Louis Bird of Sacramento, California, the complaint is that “TV advertisements for the ‘40 Mile Per Gallon Hyundai Elantra’ reflected only highway mileage, not city or combined highway/city mileage.”

Bird also contends that he wouldn’t have bought the 2011 Elantra except for the ad claims of fuel efficiency, and that he’s paying more for fuel than he expected. He’s seeking class-action status and unspecified damages for Hyundai’s alleged violations of California’s consumer protection and fraud laws.

The Reuters report said a statement by Hyundai referred to government tests and those of three major magazines that “suggest the advertised fuel economy is realistic.” We’ve also found the Elantra’s highway mileage to be very close to 40 mpg, if not above that, in real-world driving.

Our take

Any driver who’s been behind the wheel for a good number of years, or has paid attention to numerous articles on how to achieve the best fuel economy under various driving conditions should know that the type of gas mileage numbers you get depends on how you drive, as well as other factors you have to contend with: weather, road surfaces, elevation, traffic, and so on.

Of course, Hyundai isn’t at all alone in advertising primarily the highway mileage and glossing over the often more relevant City or Combined numbers. So maybe the larger question here is whether all automakers should be perhaps a little more straightforward in how they advertise the gas mileage of their products. Would an industry-wide practice of advertising the EPA Combined figure get us out of this quandary?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below:

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