I agree about Elantra - I have a 2011 with 29.2 mpg average - I'd say 60% of my 45,000+ have been city (not urban downtown stop/go) but not on the highway. Still it is a bit disappointing. My 2010 Civic got about the same and was smaller, so the roomier and larger car yielded a net positive overall.
P.S. I started driving on highway in sport mode and noticed the elimination of shifting down from 6th to 5th that it does in auto gave me better highway MPG and the torque seems better when staying in 6th at higher speeds (60+).
The only two vehicles for me that maintained their advertised mpg (for the first few years) was my 2006 Honda Odyssey EXL van, and my recently traded-in 2011 Scion TC 6-spd std., which got great mileage (44 mpg) on the highway (105 kmh) and mixed driving constantly around the 39 mpg mark. This is Canadian mpg.
I have found that the EPA estimates for my Camry Hybrid are close to reality but I fined the mileage to be the opposite of what the city and highway figures to be. In the city, it should get 40 mpg, the reality is it gets 30 to 33 mpg. I know that is much lower than the estimate, but on the highway the vehicle makes up for it. Instead of the 38 mpg, it gets 40 and higher most of the time.
The reason why the mpg is so low for us is my wife's normal drive. Its about four miles one way and four miles the way home. The engine barely gets warm, the hybrid drive get to work very little. So our badge says 33.7 mpg. And everyone knows that this winter was one of the worst on record. So, remember that its all just an estimate, your mileage will vary. Mileage is only part of why we drive, some of us drive for the pleasure of going somewhere other than home. Others drive for work, or to deliver. We all have differing drive styles, and some just herd or putter along to get here and there. Whatever the reason, most of us drive what they like, what is cheap or what shows where you are. Just remember, its just an estimate.
The official figures in the UK are often critisized for being over optimistic too. Thing is, ive always got close to the estimates, exceeding them somtimes. Either im a good economical driver, or the roads and conditions are close to the lab conditions!
The figures for my car are 32 City, 52 Highway and 42 average. Not great for a modern car, but it is petrol after all and is marketed as a Hot hatch, not designed to be economical. And yet, without trying tonight on a 50 mile journey, I still averaged over 50 MPG. Go figure...
One of the BIG killers on gas vehicles is cold starts. If you make short trips from a cold start frequently it will utterly destroy your fuel economy; the reason is that gas engines all run very rich when "open loop" (before the emissions system comes up to temperature); this is unavoidable and results in awful fuel economy until the engine warms up.
Diesels suffer far less from this, incidentally, since they always run lean (except at full power.)
With that said gaming FE claimed numbers is a time-honored practice by manufacturers.....
If we've learned anything from the Fuelly forums (or Consumer Reports) over the past 1-2 years, it's that new car buyers need to approach EPA ratings with extreme pessimism, and then do the slightest bit of research to find out if the car they're looking at has any hope of meeting the estimates.
I find that odd as I've always been under the impression that the EPA ratings undershoot the mileage; of course this is only in my own personal experience without the benefit of any research & prior to stumbling upon fuelly.com to see what others are getting. For as long as I've tracked mileage in any car I've driven I've exceeded the EPA ratings stated on the sticker. My most recent purchase was a 2014 Subaru Crosstrek which is rated at 25/33. Granted I've only filled the tank twice so far but tank one (80% city) was about 30mpg and tank two (50% city) was 33mpg. I'm looking forward to getting it out for a full highway run to see what it can do. This follows 10 years in a Honda Accord where I routinely exceeded the EPA ratings by an average of 5-7mpg in both city & highway. I have every confidence that once this vehicle is broken in I will be returning similar numbers over the EPA ratings.
I can only speculate that so many cars fall short of the EPA estimates as a direct result of driving habits. We all see what others are doing on the road 24/7 - I for one find myself surrounded nearly at all times by drivers that are either standing on the gas pedal or the brake pedal, there's rarely any observable coasting or other distinguishable attempt to get good mileage. Why these same people will then complain about how their car is terrible on gas is a mystery to me.
Seems to me if people would simply stop fueling their cars with anger and comprehend that their their cars are fueled with gas they would get better mileage, and they'd certainly do more of this
Biggest thing is to slow down. I routinely exceed EPA ratings on my vehicles by a wide margin. My only trick is to keep the speed no higher than 55 mph. Yes, I do exercise proper road etiquette and keep to the right.
Yes, the "nut behind the steering wheel" can make a significant difference in fuel economy. By EPA's 2008 revised estimates, my 2007 Mustang should get 20 MPG in combined driving; 25 MPG on the highway. I try to limit my freeway speed to 65 MPH (usually, but it's not always easy when on road trips), and otherwise try to drive efficiently at all (well, most) times.
I must be doing something wrong.