Consumer Group Slams Fuel Economy Ratings

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Washington, D.C. – A U.S. consumer group is calling for the government to conduct fuel economy tests in-house, citing data showing that a Chevrolet Cruze Eco got 28 per cent better overall miles per gallon in real-world driving than a Hyundai Elantra, even though both have the same Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) combined mileage ratings.

Consumer Watchdog sent a letter to the White House, saying that such disparities between tested and actual mileage are “likely putting domestic automakers at an unfair marketing disadvantage to foreign-based competitors,” which is important for U.S. taxpayers who still own a 25 per cent share in General Motors following its federal bailout.

Almost all clean air and fuel economy testing is done by manufacturers, not the EPA, which merely certifies the results. Consumer Watchdog has asked President Obama to require the EPA to bring these tests in-house to increase consumer confidence, and to also reevaluate its testing procedures.

The group said that using data from drivers who reported their mileage at, it determined that the Cruze Eco achieved nearly 28 per cent better m.p.g. than the 2011 Elantra; that the Elantra fell below its EPA 33 m.p.g. estimate for combined driving by 12 per cent for the 2012 model and 7 per cent for the 2011 model; that the regular Chevrolet Cruze exceeded its EPA estimates of 28 to 30 m.p.g. combined, by 3 per cent in 2012 and by 7 per cent in 2011; and that the Chevrolet Cruze Eco was 12 per cent above its 33 m.p.g. combined estimate in both 2012 and 2011.

“If a shopper looks at two similar cars of nearly equal price and one claims three or four more miles per gallon in combined driving than the other, as is the case with the Elantra and the Cruze, the smart driver will pick the more efficient car,” said Judy Dugan, research director of Consumer Watchdog. “But if the car with lower m.p.g. on the dealer’s sticker actually gets better mileage in the real world, it’s a false choice. Consumers need to know the tests are fair, and that they can get the same result on the road.”

In previous letters to the EPA and Hyundai, Consumer Watchdog noted that in professional tests, Consumer Reports got an overall 29 m.p.g. on the Elantra, while Motor Trend only got 25.9 m.p.g. The group said that previews of the Elantra ads for the Super Bowl claim 40 m.p.g., “but the caveat that this is only the highway number is in very small print, unmentioned in the voiceover,” the group said in a statement.

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