When the new generation of the Honda (NYSE:HMC) Accord Hybrid was revealed on paper, things were looking quite positive for the sedan, which reportedly offered a combined fuel economy rating of 47 miles per gallon, thanks to a stellar 50 mile per gallon city rating from the Environmental Protection Agency.
However, on its recent outing with the new car, Consumer Reports found that the Accord wasn’t able to live up to its promised 47 miles per gallon, instead settling around 40 miles per gallon — still commendable for a car in its class, but well off the mark advertised.
“Testers found the Accord Hybrid has a very impressive hybrid system that smoothly transitions between battery and engine power,” the publication said. “To save fuel, even at highway speeds, the engine willingly shuts off as soon as drivers lift their foot off the gas pedal.” The site, which is well known for its hands-on approach to testing, was careful to emphasize the testing procedure of the EPA over Honda’s own claims for the capabilities of the car. After all, it’s not the first time that the EPA’s methodology has fudged the results.
Somewhat recently, Ford (NYSE:F) was forced to lower the official fuel economy ratings on its C-Max hybrid, from 47 to 43. After playing with the software and employing other tricks to bring fuel economy up, it was determined that the EPA’s policy of allowing vehicles on similar platforms to share statistics was to blame, as the number had been assigned since it shared its underpinnings and guts with the Ford Fusion hybrid — a sleeker, more aerodynamic car that actually does achieve 47 miles per gallon.
“We’ve found that the EPA tests often exaggerate the fuel-economy of hybrids,” said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports. The Honda Accord is one of Consumer Reports’ highest-rated vehicles in its class, but even with fuel economy aside, the hybrid version had trouble besting its gasoline-only sibling in CR’s battery of tests.