Hybrids Dominate Consumer Reports’ New List of Fuel Economy Leaders

Consumer Reports, the venerable source of independent product info, has once again placed hybrid gas-electric vehicles at the top of its list of fuel-efficient models.

The firm recommends the top gas-sipper and gas-hog in six different categories—judging not only high MPG, but also based on tough requirements for performance, reliability and safety.

The Toyota Prius, providing 44 mpg in CR evaluations, took the prize for efficient family car. The Lexus HS 250h won for upscale/sports sedan. According to CR, the price of the HS 250h jumps to $38,939 from the Prius’s price tag of $24,750—while providing less efficient motoring at 31 mpg. The HS has a larger 2.4-liter engine—a tweaked Atkinson-cycle four cylinder from the Toyota Camry—against the 1.8-liter engine used by the Prius. The complete hybrid system in the Lexus is fully 40 percent more powerful than that of the Prius: 187 horsepower compared to 134.

The Ford Escape Hybrid is listed by CR as the best small SUV for fuel efficiency, delivering 26 mpg.

Consumer Reports also gave a nod to clean diesel technology, by naming the Volkswagen Golf TDI (diesel/manual), in the odd category of “Best Small Wagons and Hatchback.” The Golf TDI—not available as a wagon (as far as we know) apparently beat out the clean diesel Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen. The Golf TDI hatchback scored 38 mpg in CR tests.

Consumer Reports, which stakes its reputation on hyper-rational consumer purchase advice, warned about the cost of alternative fuel-efficient technologies. “Hybrid and diesel vehicles provide better fuel economy than conventional cars, but they usually cost more to buy,” said David Champion, Senior Director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center. But he acknowledged, “As gas prices rise, the pay-back time [on hybrids] gets shorter.”

The Honda Fit and Toyota Corolla are two conventional internal combustion models that offer great fuel economy for a lower price tag—taking CR fuel economy awards for subcompact and small sedan categories respectively.

The organization also gave advice that might be described as no-brainer: If you want to cut your gasoline use, buy a more fuel-efficient car. Also, regardless of whether or not you’re in the market for a car, keep your tires properly inflated, and avoid rapid acceleration and speeding.


  • Prius and TDI Owner

    The VW Jetta Sportwagen is really a stretched Golf. It does not share components with a Jetta at all. In fact, it is sold as a Golf everywhere but the US. That would explain CR’s categorization as a Wagon and Hatchback. Plus, the Sportwagen TDI and the Golf TDI have the same fuel efficiency numbers.

    It is a great car to drive and beats my Prius at mileage on the highway.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    Where did the Volt rank? I wonder why the Prius didn’t get the usual 50 combined MPG rating? How are they testing them?

    MrEnergyCzar

  • Anonymous

    So overall this CR group says that we should not buy a Hybrid. This group is probably controlled by an Oil Company.

    Why are they suggesting Lexus HS when the bigger Lincoln MKZ offers a better Mileage. They have given thumbs up to Corolla which is far behind Focus, Cruze & Elantra in mileage.

    All they say is Wrong.

  • Charles

    MrEnergyCzar, I think the CR city test is really hard. I have 145,000 miles on a Ford Focus and I have never gotten within 4 MPG of CR’s city number. I am usually 6 above. On the highway, I am close to their number. CR’s Gen II Prius city MPG is 35. One time I got a rental Prius down to 36 MPGs. I have never gotten my SO’s down below 42. Has anybody heard of a Gen II Prius getting just 35 MPG?

  • Chuck

    If you are just looking at EPA recording paper/internet info that should just to be used to pick up baby throw up, you don’t know real life mpg of a car. EPA tests are not worth looking at but gives people thinking it’s very good reading because numbers come from government. Organization like CR does their testing.. People disagree even tho they never driven all tested cars and just look at EPA. Imagine testing all cars. Take 2011 Camry for example. 4 cylinders, V6. hybrid and top of that auto or stick to test.. After that, C Class, Corvette, F-150, Odyssey, and list go on.

  • The other Anonymous

    @Anonymous:

    According to CR:

    “To see how far Chevrolet has progressed, we purchased two Cruzes for testing–a base 1.8-liter, four-cylinder and an up-level 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder. They are featured in the May issue of CR.

    It turns out that both versions offer similar fuel economy at 26 mpg overall, which is on the lower end for the class. (Advertisements tout over 40 mpg on the highway, but that’s for a unique Eco model with a manual transmission.) “

    So, in CR’s tests, Cruze got 26 MPG.(Both auto)
    BTW, IIRC, the Toyota Corolla got 32 MPG.

  • The other Anonymous

    Just read this:

    “Over the course of a 161-mile route of mixed city and highway driving, the redesigned 2012 Honda Civic won out with an average 36.8 mpg. This bested the 2011 Hyundai Elantra GLS by 2.3 mpg; the Elantra has a better EPA rating of 33 mpg combined city/highway versus the Civic’s 32 mpg.

    The 2012 Ford Focus, 2011 Chevy Cruze and 2011 Kia Forte followed with observed mileage of 33.5, 33.2 and 30.6 mpg, respectively.”

    http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2011/06/2012-honda-civic-wins-mileage-challenge.html

  • Shines

    Ah… Anonymous1: CR did not say we should not buy a hybrid. In fact hybrids were listed as the most fuel efficient in most categories. In the article above this statement should be changed:
    “The firm recommends the top gas-sipper and gas-hog in six different categories…”
    It should read something like: “The firm recommends the top gas-sippers and identifies the worst gas-hogs to avoid in six different categories…”

  • Anonymous

    Oops. Don’t hold your breath.

    Ford has officially canceled plans for its seven-passenger C-Max for the United States.

    Sigh.

  • Chuck

    EPA rate on cars are like weather report. Even if they are dead wrong, they never seem to get blamed. 29/40 rated car got beaten by 28/39 rated car doing same exact thing? Doesn’t EPA agents have something to say about that? I don’t think EPA even tested Elantra.

  • Kadın

    If you are just looking at EPA recording paper/internet info that should just to be used to pick up baby throw up, you don’t know real life mpg of a car. EPA tests are not worth looking at but gives people thinking it’s very good reading because numbers come from government. Organization like CR does their testing.. People disagree even tho they never driven all tested cars and just look at EPA. Imagine testing all cars. Take 2011 Camry for example. 4 cylinders, V6. hybrid and top of that auto or stick to test.. After that, C Class, Corvette, F-150, Odyssey, and list go on.

  • Chuck

    i wrote that post in another post. any problem? Kadin?

  • Kok

    How is this model compared to other mid size SUVs? Many have third row seating. http:///suvwith3rdrowseating.net

  • Maxy

    I guess only time will see the fuel to get better and better hybrids, and of course prices continue to fall as well.

    Used Bikes

  • tapra1

    The HS has a larger 2.4-liter engine—a tweaked Atkinson-cycle four cylinder from the Toyota Camry—against the 1.8-liter engine used by the Prius. The complete hybrid system in the Lexus is fully 40 percent more powerful than that of the Prius: 187 horsepower compared to 134.Tech Info