• Dec 7, 2010

Fuel efficiency is rapidly becoming one of the most influential determining factors when new car shoppers go looking for their next vehicle. And, as our friends at Consumer Reports correctly point out, earning top fuel efficiency marks generally means shopping in one of three categories: diesels, hybrids or subcompacts.

As such, the consumer-oriented magazine has pitted four fuel-sippers against each other in their upcoming January, 2011 issue: the 2011 Ford Fiesta, Honda CR-Z, Mazda2 and Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI. Of these four models, the Jetta is the only one that's currently Recommended – the Fiesta and Mazda2 are too new to have adequate reliability data and, though expected to be reliable, the last-place CR-Z scored too low in CR's own road testing to recommend.

CR tested two versions each of the Mazda and Ford subcompacts, one with a manual transmission and the other with an automatic. The Fiesta was ranked slightly higher than the Mazda2 overall, though the magazine seems to like both vehicles. Of the Honda, CR writes that "the ride is choppy, noise levels are high, and on-limit handling can be tricky." Couple those unfavorable traits with lower-than-expected fuel mileage of 35 mpg and limited utility, and it's understandable why CR wasn't particularly impressed with the CR-Z.

Though somewhat pricey at $27,204, the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI performed admirably, delivering 36 mpg overall and a superb 49 mpg on the highway in the hands of CR's testers. As an aside, CR also took a look at the Fuel Doctor FD-47 fuel-saving device, and rather predictably, found that it basically did nothing at all. Check out the full press release after the break, check out CR's thoughts about the CR-Z, or just wait until the January 2011 issue hits the newsstands for the complete results.

[Source: Consumer Reports]
Show full PR text
CONSUMER REPORTS:NEW FORD FIESTA AND MAZDA2 SAVE ON TRIPS TO THE PUMP IN TESTS OF FUEL-EFFICIENT CARS

Honda CR-Z rated too low for Consumer Reports to Recommend

Fuel Doctor FD-47 fuel saving device rated "Don't Buy: Performance Problem"

YONKERS, NY - The new Ford Fiesta and Mazda2 subcompacts posted "Very Good" ratings in Consumer Reports' ratings, are both fun to drive and deliver impressive fuel economy. The vehicles are part of a test in the January issue that featured four different types of fuel-efficient cars.

The new two-seat Honda CR-Z hybrid hatchback scored too low for CR to Recommend it. Despite getting 35 mpg overall and having a crisp manual transmission, its ride was stiff, visibility is lacking, and it isn't very sporty to drive. It was the lowest ranked of the four fuel-efficient cars that CR tested this month.

The Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI posted an "Excellent" score, delivering impressive, comfort, convenience and room.

The issue also features a claim check on the Fuel doctor FD-47 device whose packaging says it increases power and improves mpg. CR's engineers put it through extensive testing on a number of vehicles and found that it made no significant difference in any evaluation and rated the product a
"Don't Buy: Performance Problem."

"The Fiesta and Mazda2 are both fun to drive and provide excellent fuel economy, but there are trade-offs, like sluggish acceleration in the Fiesta and choppiness in the Mazda2's ride," said Rik Paul, Automotive Editor, Consumer Reports. "The CR-Z tries to sporty hybrid and it's not outstanding in either category. It's not fun to drive and the fuel economy is not what you'd expect from a hybrid."

Full tests and ratings for all the vehicles appear in the January issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale December 7. The reports are also available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org.Updated daily,ConsumerReports.org is the go-to site for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information.

Prices ranged from $14,770 for the Mazda2 Sport with manual transmission to $27,204 for the Vokswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI.

Vehicles were selected for this grouping because The CR-Z, Fiesta, and Mazda2 are all recent introductions. CR previously tested a Jetta TDI diesel sedan with a manual transmission and had not tested the diesel engine in a Jetta SportWagen with a manual transmission.

While the Jetta is Recommended, the Ford Fiesta and Mazda2 are too new for CR to have reliability data and the CR-Z scored too low in CR's road tests to be Recommended. CR only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

The Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen is a premium compact wagon whose ride has an underlying firmness, especially at low speeds, but is supple and well controlled. The Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI ($27,204 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 140-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that that delivers leisurely acceleration and gets 36 mpg overall and a superb 49 mpg on the highway in CR's own fuel economy tests. The six-speed manual transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished. Folding the 60/40-split rear seatbacks creates a spacious cargo area, which has a spacious cargo area.

Ford's subcompact Fiesta is enjoyable to drive. Its agile handling, relatively quiet cabin and composed ride are high points. The Ford Fiesta SE sedan ($16,595 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 120-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers adequate acceleration and gets 33 mpg overall. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts responsively. Braking is Good. The interior is well-finished. The trunk will hold three large upright suitcases and one large duffel bag.

The Mazda2 is fun to drive, with excellent fuel economy, responsive steering and a usable rear seat despite the car's modest dimensions. The Mazda2 Touring $17,075 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 100-hp 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that accelerates modestly and gets a very good 30mpg with the automatic transmission. The four-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is Good. The interior is well-finished. The cargo area can hold one large upright suitcase and two duffel bags with the rear seats in place.

The Honda CR-Z is a sporty-looking, two-seat hybrid that handles nimbly but it not very sporty otherwise. The ride is choppy, noise levels are high, and on-limit handling can be tricky. The Honda CR-Z EX ($21,510 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 122-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with hybrid assist that is mild and gets 35 mpg overall. The six-speed manual transmission shifts effortlessly. Braking is Very Good. The interior materials look nice and most panels fit together nicely. A divider between the cabin and trunk folds down to reveal a large cargo area, but the 400-pound payload capacity is restrictive.

With more than 7 million print and online subscribers, Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Web site and owns and operates a 327-acre Auto Test Center in Connecticut. The organization's auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe, consumers can call 1-800-234-1645 or visit www.ConsumerReports.org.


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  • 38 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't listen to Consumer Reports for ANYTHING automotive related, aside from their reliability studies which are very useful and I've found them to be fairly accurate.

      If I want to buy a good washing machine and dryer, then I take them seriously.

      Regardless, this outcome was predictable.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Predictable? I thought the gripe against Consumer Reports here was always that the liked Japanese cars too much, and they thought this Honda wasn't very good. Meanwhile until the last few years VWs had always been downgraded for being unreliable, you they recommend the VW this time.

        I'd have thought the CR haters would have taken time report as a step in the right direction. Instead you say their results were predictable, which baffles me.

      • 4 Years Ago
      This is a point I've made to prius owners I know who wonder why I bought a TDI Sportwagen instead of their hybrid thingy. Reason #1 I always argue is the interior. Sit in a Prius and then inside a Sportwagen and try and tell me you'd rather be in the Toyota. It would be a lie. The Sportwagen's interior is MASSIVE compared to the Prius and it's MUCH nicer too. Reason #2, it looks like a car, not a science experiment. My Sportwagen has 17", 5 spoke wheels (17" Anthracite Goals for those dubbers on here), a functional roof rack, loads of storage space, and is made of steel and proper car parts vs. the Fish paper and superglue that toyota seems to use these days.

      Reason #3? It's German. Yeah, I went there.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "The stability control intervenes too late when it's needed, so the CR-Z's tail can swing out mid-corner."

      Cool. This sounds like a recommendation to me. I'm now considering this car!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Totally. Heaven forbid a car is fun to drive and allows the owner to induce some sliding in curves in their two seater "sporty" car.

        I'm sure the geeks at Consumers Report were all a twitter when the Honda allowed some FUN.

        Who is really surprised that the appliance magazine picked a midsized station wagon over a two seater sporty sub-compact.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If you want to be mislead, just listen to Consumer Reports.Consumer Reports is the epitome of misinformation.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Praise be, more car advice from the be-all and end-all source of automotive knowledge!
        • 4 Years Ago
        I have thought the same thing... What a joke.... What kind of corn-ball listens to that magazine? I have known this since 1985 when they didn't recommend my VW Golf; It went on to 200k plus miles without any major problems....

        They also in the past recommended Toyota or Honda cars that were not yet introduced... They are being paid by someone (CR is that is).... But the Mazda and Ford are 'too new'.. Big BS... They (CS) fear their checks from Toyota and Honda are going to bounce...
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Dane

        Dane, I'm not sure why everyone has ranked you down to a half star, but you're absolutely right. I'm guessing all the fan boys jumped on you because you're speaking truth and that's not what they want.

        I have noticed that the average IQ of car knowledge for commenters on this blog has dropped massively over the past year. It's starting to feel like the audience that reads Consumer Reports and treat it like an automotive bible.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Kudos VW.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Utility is probably quite important too. You could almost fit a Fiesta or CR-Z inside of the Jetta Sportwagen, and it still gets the same if not better mileage.
        • 4 Years Ago
        See, that is a turn off to me. Not all people are looking for big fuel efficient cars, some want small fuel efficient cars. It really depends on what you are using the vehicle for. Regardless, if the Jetta is that much larger than the other vehicles, I am not sure what this test is using it for.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @JKooL - quite right, I'm guessing they just had one lying around, else the Golf TDI would have worked a lot better here.
      • 4 Years Ago
      For people that say the TDI is "doesnt get as good of gas mileage and diesel is more expensive" I say, "Yes, this is true" But with an addendum. The Jetta TDI doesnt have a body specifically tailored to being as aerodynamic as the Prius, or the skinny LRR tires etc etc. Stick a Prius body and wheels/tires on a Jetta TDI and I bet you would be surprised how much these aerodynamics will increase the fuel economy. Of course, thats not how it is, but I just wanted to make a point about the Prius' fuel efficiency not being soley attributed to the hybrid drivetrain.
      • 4 Years Ago
      While diesels do indeed deliver better MPG, the cost of a gallon of diesel is typically somewhere between 20-30 cents above 87 octane and it does eat up some of the cost advantage between gasoline and diesel.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not to mention the premium you pay for the car itself, it's kind of like paying a few thousand extra for the hybrid and not saving money on gas till year eight.

        If they offered the diesel in an entry level package it might be competitive, but IIRC they generally only make the diesel available for top dollar with a lot of extras.

        But it's probably the most accessible diesel, since the next rung up the ladder are the euro luxury brands. Or a pickup truck.

        • 4 Years Ago
        VW maintenance eats up the rest.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have a 2009 TDI sportwagon. I took the car in for it's 20,000 mile service (@19,879). When I dropped it off I mentioned a slight surge at idle only occuring occasionally & only when the motor was cold. After 2 days I needed the car. The dealership told me that the 20,000 mile service was done but they had not addressed the othe issue. I told them I would return the vehicle after the weekend & drove to work. After work the car took several seconds cranking befor it would start & the following morning almost wouldn't start. Once the motor was hot it started right up. The running was normal once it started. I returned the vehicle to the dealership. A week later they tell me there was a problem with the glow plugs, which they fixed. The dealership kept the vehicle to investigate the surging issue. After another week they gave me a loaner. Another week & they want to drain the tank, no issues. Another week & they change the wiring harness , still not it, after 2 and a half months I'm told it's contaminated fuel, not covered & parts alone are over 7,400. I told them not to do the repairs & to put it back together. Two weeks later I'm told the car is ready. I return the loaner & take my car, but when I drive the car it won't go over 30 miles an hour. I open the hood & the entire motor is covered with diesel fuel. The dealership maintains that it's all part of the contaminated fuel & I need to take the car. Any advise?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Speaking as a former owner of a 2010 Jetta TDI sportwagen, I can honestly say it WOULD BE the best car I'd ever owned, if it ever worked properly for more than 2 weeks straight. I've never gone from loving a car to hating it so quickly in my life. What a miserable and complete piece of junk, from the glitchy touch-screen radio, the sometimes functional and always noisy sunroof, the poorly installed wind seals on the doors, the Rube Goldberg designed emissions system, the ENGINE SUBFRAME BOLTS that would not stay tightened, and the cursed electical system. That car was a nightmare from day 4 when the first check engine light came on.

      I will say that it got great milage and (if it wasn't a piece of junk) outshone my father in law's Prius handily in all other aspects of performance. I sold that car after 10 months of agony and degredation at the hands of VW's legendary lack of customer service. I could myself lucky, as I was not one of the few who had a fuel pump detonate on thecar, which destroys the entire $9k fuel system from tank to injectors when it goes. Good luck getting VW to cover it under warranty, they like to play the "contaminated fuel" card. I constantly advise against these cars. they are garbage.

        • 4 Years Ago
        You aren't the only one who has had problems.

        FOUR VW products have been LEMONED where I work, all of which were late model (2006+). Our HQ isn't that big either, less than 600 employees.

        My best friend had a 2008 GTI that he owned for a year and a half. In the year and a half he owned it, it was in the shop for a month and a half. He experienced the piss poor VW customer service as well from multiple dealerships (Lindsay, Fairfax, etc.).

        I had a friend with a 2007 Jetta that was an absolute nightmare, but another friends wife had a 2007 Jetta Wolfsburg that has only had a few electrical problems.

        When I was looking for a new car, I test drove the MK6 GTI and I loved the interior but I wasn't going to take a gamble on whether or not it would hold up after four years.

        There is a reason why VW is at the very bottom of the dependability and reliability studies from JD Power, Consumer Reports, and TrueDelta.
      • 4 Years Ago
      but... they're incredibly unreliable...
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