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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 miles per gallon 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]


PRESS RELEASE
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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  • 27 Comments
      • 4 Months Ago
      I thought Consumer Reports was concerned about reliability and true cost of ownership.

      Pretty ironic that they would put a vw diesel at the top of the list and can't recommend a Honda.
        • 4 Months Ago
        For once, CS is right. TDI all the way.
      • 4 Months Ago
      People with a chip on their shoulder about CR, need to actually visit the site and learn how they test and read some reviews.

      By far they are better than the other car mags, where the reviewers get flown to Monaco to drive a prepped test fleet and write glowing words during their work-cation.

      CR anonymously buys their cars off the lot, and does extremely rigorous testing.

      I'll take CR ahead of any other car mag/site out there. It isn't even a contest. They are simply doing a much better job.

      Now on this test group, bear in mind that this is just the current batch of eco cars added to the database, so they are someone mismatched set. CR deals with the cars as they buy them.

      As for these results no real surprises here.
        • 4 Months Ago
        Snowdog

        And you are disparaging the journalistic integrity of CAR magazine:

        "...and their staff interested in making sure they get invited to the next Monaco junket."

        I was going to let the whole issue drop (because the CR vs specialist debate happens over and over in every imaginable forum), but upon perusing the latest issue of CAR, there was a very interesting article which I think deserves to be shared here (edited for brevity):

        "How DARE you say our new car isn't good enough?.... On the receiving end of this phone conversation is a CAR staffer, and naturally he's standing firm in defense of standards he holds dear, among them professionalism, independence, and accuracy. This is not some vanity, but simply the ongoing defense of a free press - our right to give an honestly held opinion, without duress, hopefully for the benefit of our readers."

        "A recent e-mail from another PR chief began thus: "I just wanted to correct a couple of points..." His problem was that he felt we were "selling the car short." He may be right, but fails to note that it is not our job to "sell his car."

        "Not all press offices behave like this: many respond to our barbs with admirable stiff upper lip."

        "We admit we're demanding. The "many web sites" which praise cars tend to be run by enthusiasts who will say anything to get into new cars, and the "23 regional newspapers" who praised the car got their stories from a handful of freelancers, whose livelihoods depend on being invited back next time. These are, at best, benign commentators."

        "CAR is not in that business. We have nearly 50 years of fierce, enthusiastic independence behind us. We love cars, and always champion great ones, whether they be exotics, or electric city cars. But we exist to serve our readers, not to produce corporate brochures. So I ask the PRs to consider this: without criticism, what value praise?"

        I think CAR (via Greg Fountain) has defended their integrity admirably. You'd do better to give them a little more respect, Snowdog - or at least have the decency admit that your slander regarding their motivations is mistaken.

        I'll repeat my comment regarding CR:

        "I respect what CR does regarding reliability, and content and safety features, and pricing and even fuel economy, but when it comes to how a car feels, then I want to read about it from someone who actually likes cars and has a basis of comparison other than just a numerical basis."

        I respect what they do, but I won't rely only on CR - there are many people (and institutions) with a great deal more experience who have opinions I value more highly.
        • 4 Months Ago
        that's exactly what I'm saying. You just put it together in better words. Honda needs to go back to the drawing board with most of their line except the civic (non hybrid) accord and pilot. Their ima really is behind the times. You can't keep polishing crap and expect it to shine. Added it in to the fit/insight/CR-Z chassis that's been moddified to the point where I think that structural integrity might be compromised.
        • 4 Months Ago
        @"And you are disparaging the journalistic integrity of CAR magazine:"

        Unlike your direct slander of Consumer Reports. I never mentioned CAR magazine. I was speaking in generalities, the same as brought up by CAR magazine in regard to their competition.

        You have done nothing but praise Car, and repeat your slander of CR yet again.

        What evidence do you have that CR staffers don't like cars?

        The simple reality is that no other publication is as independent as CR, and they have much more rigorous testing and reporting, and they also have car enthusiasts, despite your slander.
        Noz
        • 4 Months Ago
        SNOWDOG:

        In the same token, people with a chip on their shoulder about the CRZ need to visit a few CRZ forums and get opinions about this car from real drivers who own the cars and say it like it is day in and day out. No stupid magazine review is going to hold a candle to the thousands of happy owners.

        I said this before and I'll say it again...I've driven this car many many times and none of the complaints I've read about hold any water.

        No car is perfect but the amount of hate in regards to this car is insane and really unnecessary IMO.

        • 4 Months Ago
        @LTAW

        You are making disparaging assumptions about CR car testing staff without actually looking into what they do. The same people don't test toasters and cars, the people who test cars are car enthusiasts.

        They love sport cars, good ones are extremely highly rated. There was a long interview on CR a while back where they were discussing this. It was after this that I went to CR and checked out the car testing they do and watched some of the car test videos. Soon after I signed up for an online subscription. I only signed up for the car reviews, nothing else they do really interests me.

        But their car review database is gold, they have massive test set covering everything about a car, both objective and subjective, along with a written description of the review and often video review as well.

        I let my subscription lapse but since it has, I really miss it, compared the weak alternatives out there, I am discovering just how few full reviews their are otherwise. Mostly it is the trip to Monaco/Spain first drive junket type thing, borderline advertisement really. Almost entirely dependent on a few days in a manufacturer supplied cars, often prepped pre-production models, often from other countries. The amount of complete thorough reviews of actual production models for this country seems rare.

        CR OTOH buys all their cars, anonymously off the lot. The same car you or I would get. And they spend weeks testing and driving them all in the real world and on the track.

        CR has the most thorough testing, the most unbiased sourcing of cars, the largest database of full tests and it is done by car enthusiasts, and they accept no advertising money, no junkets, no free trips Hawaii.

        Anyone who wants some really good information on cars is denying themselves a killer resource if they ignore CR.

        Though some people will hate CR, because CR does rate cars LOW, so often fans of that car will then ignore CR forever at their loss. A lot of Domestic fans disparage it because when Domestic cars sucked, CR said so and lately Honda fans disparage it, because Honda is hit and miss lately and CR says so.

        I am not a fanatic for any brand so I don't get upset with CR points out the truth, so I will stick with what is simply the best source of unbiased car reviews (by a huge margin) out there.
        • 4 Months Ago
        that's exactly what I'm saying. You just put it together in better words. Honda needs to go back to the drawing board with most of their line except the civic (non hybrid) accord and pilot. Their ima really is behind the times. You can't keep polishing crap and expect it to shine. Added it in to the fit/insight/CR-Z chassis that's been moddified to the point where I think that structural integrity might be compromised.
        • 4 Months Ago
        I don't have a chip on my shoulder regarding CR - I simply recognize that their priorities don't always line up with the actual reasons why people buy cars.

        When I want to buy a stereo, I read reviews by people who have exposure to all kinds of stereos, from the best to the worst - not just what they can pick up off the shelf at their local big box. Generally those people also have educational or work backgrounds in the audio industry, so I expect that they can give me insights a journalism school major might not appreciate.

        When I want to buy dinner, I read reviews by people who have eaten at a variety of restaurants, from the best to the worst. Generally, those people also have educational or work experience in the F&B industry, so I expect that they can give me insights into the nuances of what a chef has done that might go unnoticed by someone who is more concerned about the nutrition content of their meal.

        Same with autos. I respect what CR does regarding reliability, and content and safety features, and pricing and even fuel economy, but when it comes to how a car feels, then I want to read about it from someone who actually likes cars and has a basis of comparison other than just a numerical basis.

        Objectivity vs subjectivity is a serious area of debate among people who actually care about things - numbers don't always tell the whole story, and that's where a person's ability to describe how something subjectively feels can make a huge difference.

        Have fun living life based on Consumer Reports!
      • 4 Months Ago
      What does ABG have against the CRZ?
      They've never had one good word to say about it.
      Explanation please..

        • 4 Months Ago
        Honda took out the rear seats, hell even the Porsche 911 has four seats.
        The rear suspension is cost over performance.
        The engine is low revving & low tech; no variable valve timing, no direct injection, 6300 redline. Yes it has 'vtec' which is camshaft profile switch, very 1980's. Small bore and low-ish 10.4:1 compression ratio
        The looks are questionable. Will the C-pillar impinge on visibility? Blacked out A-pillar.
        The steering is imprecise, because the ratio is WAY too fast.
        The brakes are small, are you supposed to rely on regeneration?
        The stock tires are narrow (and since the wheels are only 6" wide, you are stuck with that size. Blessing in disguise because you use this for your winter wheels)
        Turning circle is too large, when you consider how short the wheelbase is & how narrow the track is.

        It does have projector headlight standard and HID with the EX trim, but this car has a bad pitch balance (as do nearly all front wheel drive vehicles) and I have yet to see a Honda product with automatic leveling headlights.
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Mike
        Thanks for the infos..
        • 4 Months Ago
        They are reporting car news. They report both bad and good news on CR-Z.
        See:
        http://green.autoblog.com/2010/11/09/honda-cr-z-wins-2010-japan-car-of-the-year/

        If you are seeing some kind of persecution, I would say that is your issue and not ABGs.

      • 4 Months Ago
      This report will undoubtedly trigger negative feedback from from all of the Honda lovers out there. Last year when itwas time to replace my CRV I searched high and low for a new car that provided a good combination of handling, space, fuel economy and price. After test driving all the Japanese offerings (including Honda) I stumbled upon CRs rating for the Jetta TDI sportwagen. I was totally surprised by the quality, handling, fuel economy and price (especially the $1300 tax rebate). I ended up ordering one last November and took delivery in February. While I have always liked all four of my Hondas I LOVE my Jetta.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Great write up! The VW Jetta TDI is a great car and gets tremendous mileage.

      If you're looking for fuel efficiency tips, check out a blog that I found that provides ways to cut back on the gas tank and on your spending at the pump.
      • 4 Months Ago
      They should have included the Audi A3 TDI ( 42mpg) and the BMW 335 D (36 mpg) or the Mercedes... my point is they were comparing high mileage vehicles all around the same mpg range and all claiming to be mpg misers and fun to drive. From tinny little rattle traps, getting better as the price goes up, to the more refined fuel efficient vehicles. Price is not always a factor and some are willing to pay more for their driving experience and want their gallons to go farther. We need to let everyone know what is available so they know to ask for them when shopping for a new car.
      • 4 Months Ago
      well I will take what CR says over what anyother mag or blog... Why? CR buys it's cars while the others have the car providede free by the car companies... How can that result in unbiased journalism. If the blog or mag gives unfavorable reviews then they don't get anymore cars to drive.

      this is a repeat of the Honda Insight launch. All the car mags were kissing Honda's butt and CR went against the grain from day one... 3 months later all the other mags said the insight is a let down. The CR-Z is the exactly the same. Go Consumer Reports!
        • 4 Months Ago
        @ invisible.

        I guess it is tough being a fanboy. Some organization says the subject of your fanboy worship is mediocre and you have to attack/reject them.

        Soon you will have no car testing mags that are fanboy approved. Who else is off your list?

        Consumers - Rated too low to recommend.
        Edmunds-Inside Line - They reported it is slow and corners like a minivan.
        Motortrend - reported unstable at limit handling, inferior ride and handling compared to Golf TDI (it was a comparo, Golf TDI was clear winner).
        Car & Driver - Said the Fit is better in almost every way and faster too.

        I really don't get the fanboy concept, marry yourself to a brand, and then that brand never has a bad car??

        I really like Mazda, owned more Mazdas than anything else. But I despise their current grinning idiot styling and won't buy anything from them until they fix, even then they have have to produce the best car in segment. I don't care about brands, my next car might even be Honda if they fix their current issues.

        Unthinking fan worship is best left with, pre-teen Justin Bieber fans.
        • 4 Months Ago
        What a stupid article by the Appliance Magazine.

        So the Fun to drive CR-Z has a VSA system that allows more fun to be had by the drive.

        Oh the horror. Of course Consumer's Report is not going to like a car where FUN is a priority.

        OH the horror, the two seater CR-Z only seats two people and doesn't have the cargo capacity of the Odyssey minivan.

        Sorry, if Honda's CR-Z can't haul cargo and people like an Odyssey or a Station Wagon, then it must of course fall into their CAN'T recommend it list.

      • 4 Months Ago
      Brain dead CR does it again. A family station wagon vs. a sports car of sorts vs 2 economy sedans and then makes "meaningful" remarks about them as if anyone would be choosing among them. And would anyone take their "fun to drive" judgment seriously? Something meaningful might have been discovered in a Prius vs CRZ vs. Miata comparison with the CRZ being less of a sports car than the Miata, but more frugal, and more of a sports car than the Prius , but less frugal. A Fit to compare to the Fiesta and Mazda 2.
      • 4 Months Ago
      @Noz

      That is silly. Of course fans of CR-Z are going to like it, Fans of the Smart car like it to despite it being practically one of the worse cars on the road.

      Which complaints don't hold water, the squirly handling at limit? that has been reported in at least three places now. How much at limit testing did you do? The noisy ride, heck that has been every small honda since the dawn of time. Honda doesn't seem to believe in sound insulation in their small cars. Poor visibility? That is obvious.

      • 4 Months Ago
      Consumer Reports, or CAR Magazine? Which do you think is more interested in describing how a car affects the driver, and which do you think is better at advising which toaster to buy?

      "Drove the new Honda CR-Z hybrid coupe this week – and it knocked my socks off."

      "The CR-Z is a pretty little thing, all short wheelbase and pert, distinctive dimensions. The doors open with that well oiled precision we've come to expect of Honda and you swing yourself into a cosy cabin."

      "But the best single thing about the CR-Z is the way it drives."

      "Suffice to say that I was smitten with Honda's little hybrid coupe. Something distinctive, something fun, something chuckable and bursting with character."

      "It's a genuine replacement for the CRX I lusted after as a child. And one of the first mass-market green cars you can genuinely get excited about without breaking the bank (it costs from £16,999). Bravo Honda."

      http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/Community/Car-Magazines-Blogs/Tim-Pollard-Blog2/Hondas-CR-Z-the-first-hybrid-with-sports-appeal/

      So, the CR-Z isn't for everyone. Still, those who give it a chance, seem to love it, even with its apparent shortcomings.

      "The CR-Z is exactly the kind of oddball, flawed, contradictory car that Japan occasionally, inadvertently produces; an impractical hybrid that is out-eco’d by plenty of ‘normal’ cars, yet out-handles most of them too. Most of you just won’t see the point, but a handful will buy it for the looks, or the handling, or even just the hybrid badge, and love it. And long may Honda continue to boldly build cars for that one per cent."
        • 4 Months Ago
        My professor in college had a CRX HF and he would get 60 mpg and he was the type that recorded his mileage every tank. My uncle had the 1986 Civic Si and that was a little screamer! He recorded every tank and he was getting 36 mpg and after 250,000 miles it started to drop into the low 30's when he decided to sell it. That said my dads 1983 Jetta diesel got up to 53 mpg but averaged 50 mpg and was great in snow and ice. My 2000 Beetle TDI gets 40 mpg every tank and mine is lifted 3" with truck tires and a roof rack, and chipped with bigger injectors. 229 ftlbs torque sure is a lot of fun and it is a little work horse pulling my utility trailer. Try pulling a 1/2 cord of wood with (1500lbs) the Honda and still be able to get good mpgs. The TDI Sportwagon has 10 more hp and 10 more ftlbs torque than mine. So my choice is the TDI sport wagon and running it on synth-diesel. It is a much more practical as a family hauler or for a sports minded person who travels to do their sports.
        Noz
        • 4 Months Ago
        CR is a bunch of geriatric idiots...I bet they were pissed about the CRZ simply because they can't get in and out of it.
        • 4 Months Ago
        A case of shooting the messenger. A great many car magazines mention many of the same flaws that CR mentions. CR-Z Handling is actually as weak as acceleration.

        Inside tested that CR-Z Slalom time was actually slower than Hondas mini SUV, the CR-Z (putting the CR-Z in minivan handling territory).

        Motor Trend, did a head to head test vs the The Golf TDI and concluded that the TDI blew the CR-Z away in terms of ride and handling.

        As far as Car vs CR. I will take CR any-day over most of the buff books, and their staff interested in making sure they get invited to the next Monaco junket.
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