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Consumer Reports tests small eco car models

Focus SFE, Civic HF and Cruze eco(auto).
Focus fuel saved $145/year SFE package costs $495
Civic saved $135/year HF package costs $800
Cruze saved $20/year Eco package costs $770

I read the article and it made me think back fifty to sixty years ago. One feature that was offered on some makes was the Borg-Warner automatic overdrive. This feature added a gear above direct drive (high) on manual transmission cars. However, part of the effect was negated by a higher ratio (lower gearing) in the rear axle. It did allow for better highway mileage, but city driving with the higher axle ratio might be less. At any rate, for most drivers, it would take about 100,000 miles to recoup the $90-$110 for the added initial cost of the feature. Furthermore, sometimes the unit would develop a problem and there would be the cost of the repair to the overdrive.
When I looked at the Eco, HF and SFE packages, they all included radiator grille shutters, a rear spoiler, special wheel covers, and low rolling resistance tires. When the tires have to be replaced, the low rolling resistance are more expensive, cutting into the savings. A problem with the radiator grille shutters might result in added repair costs. If one looses a wheel cover, the mileage effect goes down until the wheel cover is replaced. I’m not certain that these high mileage packages are worth the cost.

In this latest (July 2012) Consumer Reports a test report was also given on the Toyota Prius C. The car was very economical, but criticized by CR as having “Cheap Accomodations”. This reminded me of the Studebaker Scotsman of 1957-58. Much like the present Toyota Prius C, the car had a cheap interior, was slow, but had very good economy. Without a lot of sound insulation, the car was somewhat noisier than other cars in its price class. However, it would economically and reliably transport up to 6 passengers. Did Toyota take a page out of Studebaker’s book from 55 years ago?

I read a different article about the Cruze Eco. The conclusion was that the Eco was only worth buying if it had the manual transmission and achieved a significant mileage improvement.

I was going to mention this in the manual vs. automatic tranny discussion - the Focus and Civic high-fuel-economy models are ONLY available with ATs…the writing is on the wall…

In a few years, you are going to have to buy one of these things whether you like it or not…

It looks to me like the Civic’s HF package would pay for itself in a bit less than six years, making it a borderline barely valid investment, while the Focus’ SFE package would pay for itself in about 3.5 years, making it a very sound investment.

Personally, I hope every car eventually comes with this kind of technology. I like to breathe clean air, and I like seeing our dependence on oil as a nation decline.

This also alludes to another study done awhile back that states that since drivers are getting better and better MPGs, they’re actually driving MORE than they would normally, so it’s a wash.

+1 @bscar2 - say mpgs improve 30%, driving might go up, say, 15%. Still a benefit, but not as much as expected. Just like the a/c commercial I saw: “We got this new efficient a/c, so now we keep it nice and cold!”

That may be true at large on average, but I guess I am the exception. I like to buy cars that I can afford to drive whether fuel costs $3.35/gallon or $4.50/gallon. Although it may work like that in one direction, we’ve seen in recent years that when the price of fuel goes up high enough, people actually drive less.

I love how we can get forty MPG out of these cars with a special option. In 1983 there was this Corolla with no options at all that got 41 on short highway trips. It had a AM FM radio with auto reverse cassette. I had a Dodge Omni, 1987 that got 42 on the highway. The more progress we make, the further back we go.

@pleasedodgevan2

Your 83 Corolla and 87 Omni wouldn’t pass modern safety standards nor would they pass modern emission standards either. I’d also be willing to bet that a 2012/2013 Focus,Civic,or Cruze offers more amenities and superior performance as well.

and about twice the power
and better fuel management
and more cargo room
and…

Kinda surprised they didn’t test the Mazda 3. But then again, the cost of the Skyactive over the base price is about 3 grand(15k vs 18.7k or 19.5k for manual/automatic) for a few MPGs better(25/33 vs 27/39 or 28/40)

Sometimes it does seem that way. I had a 3005 Corolla that got an honest 38 mpg highway. A good friend in days long past had a friend with a new (at the time) 1968 Camaro with a 327 that got an honest 25 mpg on the highway.

I had a 3005 Corolla that got an honest 38 mpg highway.

How were you able to buy that future car??? Is there a dealer in NH that sells cars made 1000 years from now???

My wifes 96 Accord would get about 35mpg highway. Her 07 Lexus easily gets 33mpg highway. I’m lucky to get 21 with my 4runner.

Whoops. I forgot when I travelled back in my time machiine that you wouldn’t be there yet.

Nice catch Mike.

pleasedodgevan2 Junior Grease Monkey
May 31
I love how we can get forty MPG out of these cars with a special option. In 1983 there was this Corolla with no options at all that got 41 on short highway trips

Yeah - the 1983 Toyota Corolla with a 1.8L diesel and a 5 spd manual.

Significantly smaller than a modern Yaris, and with just 58 hp and ~80lb-ft. Keep in mind the 1.6L gasoline powered Corolla had a 0-60 time near 14 seconds, despite having 90-112 hp, Could the diesel even reach 60?

MikeInNH
How were you able to buy that future car??? Is there a dealer in NH that sells cars made 1000 years from now???

And I think we should be ticked off that Toyota must still be “in bed” with the oil companies in 3005 if they’re only getting 38 mpg! :stuck_out_tongue:

And I think we should be ticked off that Toyota must still be "in bed" with the oil companies in 3005 if they're only getting 38 mpg! :P

Agree 100%…more like 380mpg…and 0 pollutants…and…it drives itself.

But you’d also have to praise them for being around 1000 years from now.

The 83 Corolla I mentioned had the 1.6 engine and it seemed to have enough power. I had no problem going up those long California hills. The 5 speed transmission had great gearing and the clutch was really easy to operate. You wouldn’t want to own it in New Mexico without the AC but on the cold coast it was perfect.

I’d love to see what a car like that could do with FWD. You could do an oil change and grease job in 25 minutes without a jack. You could change a headlight for $5. Those were good days. I weighed 30 pounds less too. Good days.