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Hyundai Sued Over Elantra 40-MPG Ad Claims

2011 Hyundai Elantra

2011 Hyundai Elantra

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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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Comments (11)
  1. I'm sort of surprised that anyone (like Bird) would admit that they are so stupid about cars. Has this guy ever owned a car?
    A sharp lawyer could make this guy look like an even more complete dope on the witness stand. That should be amusing, I would think.

  2. Well I guess there are a lot of stupid people out there, then. Of course we know it varies according to driving habits, but I have never seen such a discrepancy between the low and high numbers. I get about 31 miles to the gallon (hwy) with the Elantra when they advertised 40. Far too off for me, no matter my driving habits or STUPIDITY. I think we should be allowed to exchange our car for another one. If we bought something in a store that did not live up to its claims (no matter our stupidity in buying it in the first place), we would return it. Their reimbursement program figures too low for money lost in those gas usage differences. To me it's a matter of theft through deception. Isn't theft criminal?

  3. Everyone know that real world EPA mileage is never achieved except with electric vehicles.

  4. It should be clear that the frivoulous nature of this lawsuit is the second piece of evidence that this guy is not too sharp. His choice of cars is the first !!!!

  5. A good friend who rents cars for long trips recently rented a Hyundai Elantra for a Kentucky to Michigan round trip of 5 days! He was so excited about geting 36.9 MPG in the car (posted picture of MPG display on facebook) that he said that he would buy one when it came time to buy. As the other posters have mentioned, it is rare to hit EPA MPG rating in normal driving; I have when I tried; (no A/C, driving 50-55MPH on highway, lots of coasting). As a Hyundai Sonata ('09), I think the company is very solid and produces a quality product!

  6. People are so stupid, the price sticker says that it is based on different models of cars, but even with Hyundia saying 40, you should know it is under ideal conditions. Dumb

  7. I own a Sonata, and my mileage has been great, I drove 469 miles and still had 100 miles till empty.All highway, and with the a/c on. I have a 2012 2.0T... THE CAR IS GREAT....

  8. I know it will get over 40 mpg. You just cant take off fast and you have to make sure the car shifts at 2000-2500 rpm. Thats how you get good gas mileage. Sip that fuel. It pays off in your pocket.

  9. I would love to go to court and back up Hyundai and squash all those people who claim they don't get the 40mpg

  10. People are stupid. Period, the downfall of America how one can sue over this & other nonsense.

  11. I have driven my 2011 Hyundai Elantra GLS for 11,100 miles over 18 months and the car has consistently averaged 21 to 22 mpg on each full tank of gas. I drive 10 miles a day round trip to and from work in stop and go traffic and a few times a month, I travel about an hour each way on a parkway to and from a major city. I had the car serviced at my Hyundai dealership yesterday and complained that I have been averaging only about 22 mpg but the car is rated at 29 to 40 mpg. I was told that they checked the car and it is functioning normally. I asked does that mean that 22 mpg is normal and I was told yes. I then asked does that mean the car should be rated at 22 mpg and not 29 to 40 mpg and I was told yes.

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