Focus vs. Elantra exercise proves Ford really wants mpg title

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Hyundai Motors Co. promotes that its redesigned Elantra earns 40 mpg on the highway. This must vex Ford Motor Co.

Ford's redesigned Focus gets 38 mpg highway -- unless a buyer opts for the SFE package (40 mpg).

Since the arrival of CEO Alan Mulally in 2006, Ford has set out to be the fuel economy leader in every segment. That's why Hyundai's claim must be especially irksome.

So by gosh, Ford is going to prove that it is the leader regardless of what window stickers or advertisements say.

During a media drive event at Ford's proving grounds in Romeo, Mich., this week, Ford engineers had each reporter drive the Elantra at 45 mph around a 2.5 mile course. The same reporter was then asked to drive the Focus (not the SFE model) at the same speed around the same course. All conditions with the cars were equal, except for the drivers. An engineer in the backseat of each car monitored the fuel economy each earned.

After dozens of reporters drove the vehicles, the data was calculated and the results were in. The average fuel economy earned by our group driving the Focus was 40.4 mpg versus the Elantra's average of 37.8 mpg.

So Ford proved its point to a group of automotive journalists.

What did it accomplish? Not sure.

But, hey, I'm writing about it.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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