In their bid to beat the Toyota Prius in the MPG wars, Honda seemed to have a winner with the hot-selling Accord Hybrid. But once again Consumer Reports has poured rain on the MPG parade, claiming that despite returning best-in-class fuel economy, the Honda Accord Hybrid still falls far short of its claimed MPG ratings.
Consumer Reports wrangled an average of 40 MPG out of the Honda Accord Hybrid in daily driving, which is less than even my admittedly lead-footed test driving of the Accord Hybrid returned. That’s high enough to make it the best-rated mid-size sedan, but it’s still 7 MPG, or about 20%, short of the “official” sticker rating. That’s a huge discrepancy, though one that seems a little less weighty when one compares the average user reported data on fueleconomy.gov, where the average fuel self-reported fuel economy of Accord Hybrid owners is 42.4 MPG.
Still, that’s far short of the EPA rating, which has come under fire lately for not translating well enough to the real world. If you remember, Consumer Reports said almost the same exact thing about the Ford Fusion Hybrid/C-Max Hybrid last year, when testing came up well short of the claimed 47/47/47 MPG rating on the Blue Oval’s hybrids. Ford responded by dropping the MPG rating and refunding customers a few bucks, though sales of the C-Max hybrid have sunk sharply since the revision.
While there haven’t been calls on Honda to do the same for the Accord Hybrid yet, it once again raises questions as to the reliability of the EPA’s testing methods. With reports from Europe of automakers rigging road tests to produce more favorable MPG results, one has to wonder if the American system isn’t also being gamed, or if the system is still too out-of-date to adapt to modern hybrids.
All that said, my time with the Honda Accord Hybrid left me with only a favorable impression, and at least one-third of drivers reporting their MPG on fueleconomy.gov managed to meet or exceed the official rating. What do you think? Is Honda gaming the system, or does the EPA need to rethink the way its rates hybrid?
Source: Consumer Reports