While car makers have been touting new higher-efficiency versions of some of their more popular vehicle brands, tests show that it could take years for the average driver to realize enough cost savings on gas to make up for the higher price tag.
Our pals at the Consumer Reports test tracks looked at a handful of these newer vehicles, like the Ford Focus SFE and the Chevrolet Cruze Eco and found that drivers expecting big savings on gas may be disappointed.
For example, CR found that the Cruze Eco will only save most drivers about $20 per year compared to the standard version of the car. The Focus SFE and the Honda Civic HF demonstrated more savings at consumers $145 and $135 per year, respectively.
But even those saving, figured at 12,000 miles/year driven and gas prices of $4/gallon, it would still take more than three years for Focus SFE buyers to recoup the additional $495 cost for the upgrade.
Meanwhile the Cruze Eco costs around $800 more over the Cruze LT, and with an annual gas savings of only around $20, it could take decades to make it worth the price, says CR. People who drive on the highway more frequently will see better savings, but would still need years before seeing a return on that initial investment.
Upgrading from the Civic LX sedan to the Civic HF will also cost you around $800, meaning it would take the average driver around six years to realize a net savings.
You can read more on these cars at ConsumerReports.org.