The good people at Consumer Reports appear to have a dim view of fuel-economy packages on small cars. The organization recently tested the Ford Focus SFE, Chevrolet Cruze Eco and Honda Civic HF to determine whether the cars' annual fuel savings actually offset the additional cost of opting for the package to begin with. During their mixed city and highway loop testing, the Ford actually fared the best by returning 31 mpg overall. That's three miles per gallon better than the standard Focus SE, and represents an annual fuel cost savings of just $145. The SFE package costs $495.

Likewise, the Honda Civic HF returned 33 mpg, which is also three mpg better than the base Civic LX, The Honda serves up an annual fuel cost savings of $135, though the HF package commands the largest premium over its base model at $800. Then there's our personal favorite of the lot, the Cruze Eco. Surprisingly enough, the Chevrolet compact netted just 27 mpg. That's just one mpg better than the Cruze 1LT in CR's testing, representing a savings of a mere $20 annually. Pretty rough considering Eco trim sets buyers back $770.

It is worth noting Consumer Reports opted for the automatic-equipped Cruze Eco, which is only good for 31 mpg highway. When equipped with a six-speed manual, the model returns a more palatable 33 combined. Still, as CR points out, there are plenty of other vehicles on the market that attain similar fuel economy ratings without the added cost. Check out the video for yourself by scrolling below.



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  • 83 Comments
      zanarditypes
      • 2 Years Ago
      Incredible story! EPA ratings show the Ford and Honda fuel-efficient models to get a combined 2mpg better, and a real-world test shows they get 3mpg better. And then we... complain?
      Rob J
      • 2 Years Ago
      While I still don't see a problem considering most of these packages will pay for themselves over a few years, people just don't seem to realize that cost is not the only concern. Some are willing to do whatever they can to use less fuel, this is can be because they are worried of where the price of gas will be in 5 years, or they want to slow our consumption of a non-renewable resource, or the want to stop giving money to forign oil companies, or finally, they just want to have less of an impact on the environment through emissions or the local impacts of extracting oil. The point is, it's not always about the direc costs.
      11fiveoh
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dont these cars come with more upgrades than just fuel economy? Lower ride hide, different areo bits, ect?
      ack154
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is actually better than I thought they'd do. You'd make your money back on the Focus in just over 3 years and just over 6 years for the Honda. Compare those numbers to some of the hybrid/non-hybrid vehicle comparisons and that's WAY better. Then again if you're goal is simply using less fuel, the $ isn't exactly relevant if you bought the vehicle you wanted.
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 2 Years Ago
      Keep in mind that some people want better mileage because they don't want to support hostile foreign governments, pollution and big oil companies. It's not only about dollars and cents.
      Mark Munoz
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love how our minds work. When you put something on paper and say I can get you 3MPG better but it is going to cost you 500-800 more upfront. We all think well thats not bad. Then when someone does that math of what you would save doing average driving over an average year people get all up in arms. Yet when a car goes from 30 to 33MPG and it's just the cars design and they don't charge for it its a HUGE deal and makes it instantly better. The test is clearly skewed as well because who writes off an addon after only one year of usage on a car? That cost needs to be spread over your life of the car. So if you use it for 10 years then you take that average savings and times it by 10. Granted that isn't accurate either because you aren't accounting for the change in fuel prices. All I am saying is there used to be a day when someone would do 3MPG better then another car and it was a great deal at even thousands more. Sure there will be the budget conscious that will strictly take this at face value and see what they can save versus spending at the pump but I think you will find those that do that will probably keep the car longer than the 3-5 years it would take to break even.
        Tom
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mark Munoz
        Yes, and remember that 3 mpg means a lot less if you're already getting good mileage. Going from 15 mpg to 18 mpg is a huge improvement; from 33 to 36 mpg, not so much.
      Jesus!
      • 2 Years Ago
      When I had my 2012 Focus HB SEL I decided to see what I would get hwy after filling up. The verdict? 43 mpg going about 60-65 mph. In town I normally got 30 if I would drive it correctly, 28-29 if I pushed on it some now and then. I do not know how they tested this, but I do live in the Houston area and it is very flat and normally not too windy, so that could be a factor as well. I am sure where you live is going to make a difference.
        Dump
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jesus!
        That's good to know. Wow, 43 mpg. But that's on basically flat roads. In Ohio or Penn, there's a good mix of flat and very hilly areas where that highway rating might not even come close to CR's test results. And then you have driving habits & yearly weather conditions to factor as well... It's basically a "toss-up", depending on where you live & how much daily highway driving you do, to get the most of the fuel tank. Until a powertrain system is developed to either retain engine heat losses or converts those heat losses into useable energy for propulsion, these are probably the best mainstream products we're going to get. And one of the reasons savings for eco-minded vehicles are so low is due, partially, to more and more increased standards & required standard equipment for safety & accident avoidance. With every new govt imposed standard comes additional costs to include on even the most basic, stripped-down, eco-mobile. You add that with additional costs to add the eco-fuel-saving components & you quickly see any REAL savings diminish fairly quickly.
      IBx27
      • 2 Years Ago
      At that point, stick with the regular car and enjoy the better tires and having a spare in case.
      Kevin Holden
      • 2 Years Ago
      I knew the GM would fall on its face, as they over rate their vehicles often and set their computers to show a better average than actual. This is fact, not fiction. Run through 2 tanks in your GM and compare to what your average is, it will be off by 3-4 mpg.
        kenatgm
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Kevin Holden
        Yeah, sure it's fact. Riiiiggght. Want to show us where you have definitive proof of this fact? Funny, those advertised mileage ratings are usually established by government testing and are not company estimates...as you will see by looking at the stickers on the lot. Actually, my Sonic is rated at 40 mpg highway and 29 city, on a trip last weekend I set the cruise control for 74 mph and averaged 41.9 mpg on the interstate over a distance of 254 miles. I have yet to get anything as low as the 29 mpg in town. They are right, my mileage may well vary depending on the terrain even at the same speeds...but I sure haven't been seeing any indication the numbers are fudged and so far am doing better than the claims.
      Dreez28
      • 2 Years Ago
      How in the hell do you manage 27 mpg in a Cruze ECO? Are you raping these car to death or driving them like normal people? I own an ECO, and in no circumstance have I ever gotten 27 mpg. The worst I've ever recorded is 37 mpg, during the dead of winter, with crappy roads and a ton of stop and go. And you're saying that average or combined fuel economy, meaning there's some city, some highway. You guys must have the pedal pushed through the floor pans everywhere you go. It's a Chevy Cruze you idiots, not a damn Ferrari, quit track testing the damn car, it's an economy car, nobody really gives a **** how fast it laps the damn Nurburgring. Rant done.
        Jonathan Grenier
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dreez28
        I've had a Cruze Eco with the manual for a year now and put 25,000 miles on it. I've averaged 42.9 MPG, so according to my calculations, I've already saved $461 over the cost of a the Cruze LS.
          snap_understeer_ftw
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jonathan Grenier
          is that compared to a Cruze LS YOU'VE driven? or comparing your actual results to the LS's EPA numbers?
      omgcool
      • 2 Years Ago
      Funny how CR still somehow manages to provide the impression that the piece-of-turd Civic is the smart choice of the group. My opinion is that these "high efficiency" models are merely a selling point, and are not meant to be the great choice you'd think. When car shopping based on efficiency, more people will look initially at the potential-EPA numbers than the numbers the model they're trying actually achieves. Having a high potential-EPA draws the consumer in to the dealership. This is good for GM, Ford and Hyundai, as well as the consumer. If the typical Civic owner is drawn into one of those three competitor's lots, the consumer will realize that all three offer a far better product overall.
      Jason Golden
      • 2 Years Ago
      On the Focus, after a couple of years, those cheapo plastic wheel covers will have warped and fallen off...just like on every previous generation Foci with the non-bolt-on wheel covers. Will the added drag of exposed lug nuts and steel wheels alter fuel economy?
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