Eco models not worth it - report

2012-06-04 08:43

The special "eco" versions of vehicles such as the Chevrolet Cruze Eco, Ford Focus SFE and Honda Civic HF don't improve fuel economy enough to justify a high price tag, according to an analysis by Consumer Reports.

The vehicles, which come equipped with special low-rolling resistance tyres and aerodynamic features, generally cost  R4310 to R6897 more in the US than fuel-efficient siblings which don't carry the "eco" label.

The Detroit News reports that it could take as long as 38 years for the extra cost to be worthwhile.


Consumer Reports found that the Cruze Eco saves drivers only R172 a year in fuel purchases while the Focus SFE and Civic HF save consumers R1250 and R1163 a year respectively.

The report also said the Cruze Eco and the Focus SFE drove well, ranking "near the top of class among small sedans”.

Consumer Reports said the Civic HF is one of the worst cars in its class: "Braking distances are long, steering feel is vague, the ride is choppy, and cabin finish looks cheap,"

The magazine evaluated the new Toyota Prius C sub-compact hybrid and said the "stellar 6.3 litres/100km (claimed 4.7 litres/100km) in the city is the best of any car".  Great fuel economy and easy to park were its only selling points as Consumer Reports didn't like much else about the vehicle, which retails in the US for R163 800.

Consumer reports said: "Overall, drivers will get what they pay for. This sub-compact hatchback, which is related to the lacklustre Toyota Yaris, suffers from a stiff ride, very noisy cabin, slow acceleration and cheap-looking interior trim."

Do you think Consumer Reports is correct? Tell us your views in the Readers' Views below.

  • erik.p.vanwyk - 2012-06-04 10:16

    I still think small turbo diesel engines are the way to go in terms of fuel and C02 saving.

      kobusn - 2012-06-04 13:18

      Couldn't agree with you more. I live in Oz and own a Fiat Bravo 1.9 TD Multijet Sport. Fuel consumption is around 18km/l in town and 22.5km/l on the open road at 110km/h. Running cost is minimal. Why buy petrol when you can have the best of both worlds? Economy & performance...

  • russell.bennett1 - 2012-06-04 10:58

    I think that report is absolutely spot on. Manufacturers are using the Eco tag to charge consumers more for inferior products with minimal long-run advantages. If the Eco cars cost less as well as saved some fuel, even I a dedicated anti-Greenie would be happy to endorse them.

      chrono.man.7 - 2012-06-04 14:09

      Can't agree with you more. In the motoring world we get charged tens of thousands of rands for every cubic centimeter increase in engine size and the associated additional power. These so-called eco-friendly vehicles are drastically down on power and they want to charge us more this time as well? Doesn't make sense.

  • Thando - 2012-06-04 11:35

    Bit strange , the Pruis C has been getting rave reviews in the American press. Although if you ask me , the best "eco" car to buy is a Ford Figo 1.4. The fuel consumption is good , and while hybrids and diesels are better , this only costs R109k and will be cheap to run AND more fun to drive. Had one as a rental recently and it was very good. Remember the extra you pay for a hybrid you are paying interest on and a diesel is a nightmare out of motor plan.

      Mike - 2012-06-07 22:17

      Agreed abt the Figo. But my diesel Jetta is three years past motorplan and is still an absolute dream.

  • raath - 2012-06-04 12:12

    Easiest way to save fuel: Drive properly and stop racing from robot to robot.

      Ebon - 2012-06-05 11:31

      This argument is as irrelevant as is it true. Yes, you can save 25-30% of your fuel bill by driving carefully between robots. But if you switch to a more fuel efficient car and drive carefully between robots you'll save a lot more!

  • raath - 2012-06-04 12:17

    I also think that because of high import duties which are making the prices of these models (any cars, for that matter) so much more than overseas, and the lack of vision from government giving us rebates for driving these "environmentally friendly/green" cars, we don't really benefit or see any savings per se.

      Ebon - 2012-06-05 11:33

      Agreed, but I think that people should not need governement to tell us to not destroy our environment, live sustainably etc. But that's just me. Most people reckon they can do whatever they like, and to hell with the long term consequences. That is someone else's problem...

  • Ebon - 2012-06-05 11:27

    The huge flaw in this argument is the assumption that the value of buying a more economical vehicle can be measured purely by how much it saves you at the pumps. The fact is that the "true" cost of burning our fossil fuel reserves is unknown. At best it may turn out that we were getting concerned over nothing. At worst though, the consequences could be catastrophic, both in economic terms, and in the cost of human life. But hey, better to pinch those pennies now, and let the chips land where they may later on, rather than think about the future...

      Phoenix - 2012-06-05 11:41

      Unfortunately most people only act if there is direct benefit to them - and it normally revolves around money. There are bigger wins (in the bigger scheme of things) than to worry about the prius vs aventador debate. These bigger wins can only be realised with legislation.

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