In response to an EPA investigation, prompted by complaints from consumers unable to achieve the advertised MPG, Hyundai and their subsidiary Kia have lowered the EPA fuel economy ratings for several 2011, 2012 and 2013 models, and plans to compensate around 900,000 owners for the added fuel costs.
The changes affect several Hyundai and Kia models, most notably the Hyundai Elantra sedan, Hyundai Accent, and Kia Rio, all of which were rated for 30 MPG city and 40 MPG highway. These ratings drop to 28/38 for the Elantra, 28/37 for the Accent and automatic Rio, and 29/37 for the manual Rio. The biggest decrease was for the Kia Soul 2-liter, which decreased by 3 MPG in the city and 6 MPG on the highway.
How does something like this happen? It's a little-known fact that the EPA does not actually test most cars -- they allow the manufacturers to do the testing, although they will test and certify the results on some cars. As you can probably surmise, all of the affected vehicles were tested by Hyundai/Kia, and not the EPA.
Hyundai blames the inaccurate estimates on an honest mistake in the testing procedure, and insists that there was no intention to deceive either the EPA or the buying public.
Hyundai plans to compensate owners of the affected cars in the form of a debit card. The compensation amount will be calculated based on the difference in the combined EPA fuel economy estimates, fuel prices in the owner's vicinity, and the mileage driven anually, plus fifteen percent. A Los Angeles Elantra owner who drives 12,000 miles per year can expect compensation of about $55 per year.
Along with the 2011-13 Elantra sedan, 2012-13 Accent and 2012-13 Rio, affected Hyundai models include the 2013-13 Azera, 2013 Elantra Coupe, 2013 Elantra GT, 2012-13 Genesis Sedan, 2013 Santa Fe, 2011-13 Sonata Hybrid, 2012-13 Tucson, 2012-13 Veloster and 2013 Veloster Turbo. Affected Kias are the 2012-13 Optima Hybrid, 2012-13 Sorento 2.4, 2012-13 Soul, and 2012-13 Sportage.
Photo © Hyundai