Can We Still Believe Window-Sticker MPG Numbers?

Window stickers


There’s a war among automakers, and the casualties are beginning to pile up.

It’s a war to claim the best miles-per-gallon figures in a market where consumers are heavily influenced by the numbers on the window sticker or touted in TV commercials.

To get the attention of more buyers, and to get them to hand over their hard-earned money, would automakers be willing to inflate those numbers? We certainly won’t accuse anyone of misleading the public on purpose, but two automakers in the last month have been hit with claims that their stated MPG numbers are higher than actual results.

In November, Hyundai and Kia got hit hard when buyers started to notice that real-world MPG numbers were missing the mark promised in advertising. Rather than staying quiet and accepting mileage in the low-to-mid 30s instead of 40 on the highway, buyers staged an online revolt. News organizations and car blogs took notice, and it didn’t take long for a full-on PR nightmare to develop. At first, Hyundai blamed “procedural errors” for the miscalculated numbers, but now the company is adjusting its MPG claims and has started a reimbursement program for owners of certain vehicles.

2013 Ford Fusion

Now Ford may experience something similar, though on a smaller scale. The Blue Oval has touted the redesigned 2013 Fusion Hybrid sedan and new C-MAX Hybrid wagon as getting “47 city/47 highway/47 combined mpg.” Sounds great… but it may not be entirely true. Consumer Reports ran both cars through its own battery of testing and found discrepancies as high as 20 percent. That 47 on the highway for the C-MAX was 37 in tests—still a good number, but much less than claimed. The Fusion landed a 39.

CR notes that consumers and other media outlets have had similar results, but posted a response from Ford that said,

Early C-MAX Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid customers praise the vehicles and report a range of fuel economy figures, including some reports above 47 mpg. This reinforces the fact that driving styles, driving conditions, and other factors can cause mileage to vary.

Do you get the miles per gallon you expect out of your car?


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1 Comment

  1. Mpg claims are a joke. Should be used as a reference only, not gospel. Probably good to estimate a good ten percent lower than sticker!

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