// Consumer Reports is WRONG!
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  1. #1

    Consumer Reports is WRONG!

    I just received the November 05 issue of Consumer Reports, which rates mid-sized SUVs. It's great that the Highlander Hybrid and the Lexus 400h are their number 1 and 2 picks (respectively), but there is definitely something WRONG with the way they tested the city mileage. They are quoting 16mpg for the Highlander HYBRID! I know that I'm getting at least 28mpg in the city of Chicago, and from another discussion on this site, it seems that most Highlander Hybrid owners are getting at least 24 or 26mpg.

    I think whoever tested these cars at Consumer Reports doesn't know that you have to drive hybrid cars differently. Perhaps they didn't accelerate SLOWLY from a stop, which allows the vehicle to get up to 15mph before the gas engine kicks in? Perhaps they didn't know that when you reach your desired speed of 25 to 40pm that if you take your foot off the accelerator and then gently reapply pressure, you can maintain your speed with just the electric battery? Perhaps they drove too aggressively and used the brakes/accelerator too much?

    Who knows, but 16mpg is what you'd expect from someone who doesn't know how to maximize mileage on ANY car! Or someone who is trying to make Hybrids look bad.

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  3. #2

    Consumer Reports is WRONG!

    I must agree with you. I have a customer that i have shown how to drive his new HiHY that is averaging 32 in the city (charlotte NC).

  4. #3

    Consumer Reports is WRONG!

    Or perhaps they were intentionally driving the hybrids in the same manner that they drove the rest of the vehicles they tested, which is probably your average Joe’s way of driving, not a mpg marathoner. Otherwise it wouldn't be a fair comparison.

  5. #4

    Consumer Reports is WRONG!

    I think the use of cruise control could be considered pretty close the the average joe and not as a MPG marathoner.

    I get upper 40's MPG with my HCH locked in at 60MPH.
    CR rated it in the mid 30's.

    I believe CR rates their cars with performance as their main objective, and efficiency as only an afterthought.

    With gas at $3.00/g many of us have our primary concern as MPG and not so much that it goes 0-60 in 9.8 seconds rather than 10.3.
    Somehow I don't think publications like CR quite get that. They seem to be still at the track.

    They drove their Highlander the same way they did with the HCH.
    They came up with more than 10MPG less than normal, average, real people get with that car too.

  6. #5

    Consumer Reports is WRONG!

    It might depend on how you drive. The CR "test drivers" look at handling, passing, acceleration, etc. In this case, they are putting the car to the max (which rarely-if ever happens in everyday driving). So of course, their results will be low from handling the car. You, on the otherhand, are probably driving efficiently, and even if you weren't, I would not see someone "testing the brakes" or testing the acceleration while driving. Conclusion, I agree that CR does not take proper statistics, I know this because I'm driving a Honda Civic Hybrid, and currently, getting 45.6MPG, when CR said it only got in the mid 30's.

  7. #6

    Consumer Reports is WRONG!

    Just got my CR today and they rank the Highlander and Lexus Hybrid the highest of the midsize SUV's.

    Base on the 26MPG rating they gave the Escape Hybrid and the bad ratings they gave the Honda's and Prius compared to EPA estimates, here's my thoughts.

    All of these hybrids are on the cutting edge of technology. If CR gave a higher MPG rating that was not realistic to the every day driver, they would lose credibility to those who buy their magazine. It would be less damaging to their sales to those that own than those thinking of buying. If I purchased a hybrid on their recommendation and could not get near what they stated, why buy CR.

    I own a FEH and can get up to 40MPG. I think that a 26MPG rating CR gave was for hard driving it also. The bottom line is we could get those kinds of mileages if we drove like some of the fools on the road today. Some of us were those fools till we decided to buy a hybrid.


  8. #7

    Consumer Reports is WRONG!

    Ford is now offering to teach its Escape Hybrid buyers how to drive more efficiently,

    See here....

  9. #8

    Consumer Reports is WRONG!

    Which goes to show that the average Joe is looking for the "magic bullet" that will drastically improve mileage, while making absolutely no demands on one's driving habits or lifestyle.

    This is also called "pie in the sky", which is what most auto-industry trade publications, and manufacturers, have been peddling for years.

    Reading such publications over the years, the only qualities that such editors seem to appreciate is the horsepower per dollar ratio, handling, and luxury. Fuel economy has not only been on the bottom of the list for years, its been purposely derided.

  10. #9

    Consumer Reports is WRONG!

    Consumer Reports does not measure the fuel economy of the car from its acceleration and braking tests; those are done separately. It has a city-driving test, a highway-driving test, and a 150-mile road trip they drive on that's mostly highway.

    I too averaged mid-30s with the first-generation HCH when I rented it for a couple of days, and I drove it actually more gently than I do with my regular car. The car gets good mileage only when driven unconventionally, like going 60mph on the highway, accelerating very gently, coasting often, etc.

    It is possible to meet or exceed the EPA estimates for the HCH but no 'normal' driver does; hence the volume of complaints about the car getting low mileage or less-than-advertised mileage.

    Regarding the original topic, accelerating very gently in a city is extremely rude. When there's a line of cars behind you and they all want to get through the light before it turns red again, you definitely want to move forward when the light turns green... don't drift across.

    Of course there are perfectly valid hybrid-specific driving techniques such as taking one's foot off the gas pedal and then re-applying it gently. That helps FE alot but without making any sacrifices, so it's not "unfair" to do that when comparing hybrid and non-hybrid fuel economy.

  11. #10

    Consumer Reports is WRONG!

    My 05 HCH manual gets 40-42 mpg cruising at 80 mph in 95 degree temperatures with the a/c on. There is no "hybrid-specific" way to drive 80 mph in 95 temps with air conditioning. The worst mileage I've gotten on a tank, one that involved high cruising speeds and pretty aggressive use of the accelerator pedal, was 39+.

    Even my wife, who drives an 03 HCH manual, is completely unable to get as little as 28 mpg. 30 to 33 is definitely in her repertoire, largely because, in cold weather she warms the car up for 15-20 minutes before leaving for work!!!

    Consumer reports does fine work, but my 10,000-mile test loop (46.7 mpg overall) is much more indicative of real-world expectations than one run around a 150-mile route.

    I will confess that I've improved the mileage over the last 2,000 miles or so by altering my driving, mostly by slowing down about 5 mph on my commute. Before that, I was "only" averaging 45.5 mpg over 8,000 miles.

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