Consumer Reports error on fuel efficient cars

Consumer Reports in their July 2008 edition ran a story called “Save at the Pump: Most Efficient Cars, Gas-Saving Tips, and Scams to Avoid.” The author, like most Americans, has trouble understanding the relationship between sticker price and long term savings. This is probably similar to our ignorance of the long term environmental consequences of short term decisions.

They report on the “Best Fuel Economy for the Buck” and provide a top 10 list of the cheapest price per MPG cars, and found the Honda Fit Sport manual was #1 with a meager $464 per MPG ($15,765 price/34 mpg). The huge flaw in this type of analysis is it only compared cars that never leave the showroom. I recalculated the Consumer Reports findings to include cost per MPG after 1 month, 1 year, and 10 years using the US FHWA’s National Highway Statistic of 11,766 mi/yr for passenger cars.

The list below gives the ranking (1 -10, best to worst) for price per MPG at 4 times during the life of a car (Consumer Report’s showroom,1 month, 1 yr, 10 yr)

Honda Fit manual (1, 1, 3, 4)
Honda Fit (2, 3, 5, 5)
Toyota Prius (3, 2, 1, 1)
Mazda3 (4 , 6, 7, 7)
Toyota Prius touring (5, 4, 2, 2)
Nissan Versa (6, 8, 8, 8 )
Honda Civid Hybrid (7, 5, 4, 3)
Honda Civic Ex (8 , 7, 6, 6)
Hundai Elantra (9, 9, 9, 9)
Scian tC (10, 10, 10, 10)

The only cars to improve with age were the hybrids (Toyota Prius and Honda Civic) and the standard Honda. After just 1 yr the hybrids were at # 1, 2, and 4 ranking, much different than their initial Consumer Reports ranking of #3, 5, and 7. Honda Fit start as the least price per MPG but slowly drift to the middle of the pack after a few years. Even more pronounced, the Mazda3 starts at #4 and ends up at #7.


3 responses to “Consumer Reports error on fuel efficient cars

  1. Once again, my Pruis wins

  2. It is just a matter of fuel efficiency. Next I’ll compare the gas savings vs the up-front cost.

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