It Could Take Years For Some Fuel-Efficient Cars To Be Worth The Savings On Gas

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.

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  1. josephbloseph says:

    YMMV.

    If you have a short commute and are moving from a fairly efficient car to a slightly more efficient car, you will not see much difference. If you are moving from a gas guzzling SUV to a sipping hybrid, you may be saving hundreds a month if your commute is long enough.

    • josephbloseph says:

      Actually taking a second to read the article, it seems that I missed the point that the comparison is between a new car and the more efficient version of the same new car.

      Well, nuts.

      • who? says:

        But yeah, you’re absolutely right, even if you read the article wrong. Swapping out your 16 MPG Jeep Liberty for a 44 MPG Toyota Prius will save a bundle on gas if you’re driving much at all.

        • hoi-polloi says:

          You just (almost) named the two cars we own – a 1996 Jeep Cherokee and a 2006 Prius. I’m sure you can guess which one we drive almost exclusively.

    • jrwn says:

      Don’t you have to plug in hybrids? How much does your electrical bill go up and where is that power coming from? hint: most likely it’s black and comes from the ground.

      • philpm says:

        Hybrids don’t generally have to be plugged in. The batteries are recharged as they would be in any other car during operation of the gas engine. Full-electrics are usually the only ones that have to be plugged in to recharge.

        • IphtashuFitz says:

          That’s not exactly true.

          The typical car battery, used for starting the engine, the radio, headlights, etc. is recharged any time the engine is running by means of the alternator that’s driven by the gas engine. The alternator simply pumps out 12 volts to the battery.

          Hybrid batteries in regenerative cars like Toyota’s, Honda’s, etc. are recharged not by the gas engine or the alternator but by regenerative systems. Whenever the car is coasting or breaking the hybrid electric motor turns into a generator instead, generating electricity for the hybrid batteries. Most hybrid cars also have regenerative braking systems, so when you put your foot on the brakes that generates additional electricity for recharging the hybrid batteries as well. Hybrid systems typically operate at 200+ volts, so the electrical systems for the hybrid drive are physically isolated from things like the alternator.

      • IphtashuFitz says:

        You should go research hybrids. Most hybrids to this point are referred to as “regenerative” hybrids. They have batteries that are charged whenever the car is in motion but your foot isn’t on the gas. So when you’re going downhill, braking, etc. you’re charging the batteries. Then when you’re accelerating from a stop or typically driving below roughly 30mph you’re using the stored power in those batteries rather than gasoline. As your speed increases the gas engine takes over.

        Some people have taken to hacking their Toyota Prius to make it plug-innable and added batteries in order to prolong the advantage of using electricity instead of gas. Newer models of cars like the Chevy Volt are explicitly designed to be plugged in. But 90% of the hybrids you see on the streets these days are the regenerative type and never need to be plugged in.

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    “It Could Take Years For Some Fuel-Efficient Cars To Be Worth The Savings On Gas”

    Somehow, someway, Big Oil has affected the price of these cars in order for them to maintain their status quo of record profits even during recessions and for the automakers to make it look like they actually care about the environment while appeasing the government.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      Right, it was agenda item #7 at Bilderberg last year.

    • jsweitz says:

      Yep. There’s absolutely no way the energy efficient cars cost more to produce.

      • The Twilight Clone says:

        Geo Metro XFi from the early-90s got over 50 mpg. That was an inexpensive car.

        • Kuri says:

          But it didn’t have a lot of new tech in it.

        • jimbo831 says:

          It also had about 50 HP I’m sure and was so small you couldn’t fit more than 2 people comfortably inside.

        • carsinamerica says:

          Yes, ‘Clone, the Metro XFi was very efficient: 43/52 mpg using the current measurements. Here’s why:

          * Engine: 3-cylinder, 1-liter engine with 49 horsepower.
          * Transmission: 5-speed manual only. No automatic available. Also, imagine — if you will — the frequency of shift changes required to keep a car like that producing any power at all.
          * Air conditioning: optional.
          * Stereo: optional. Certainly no CD player.
          * Passenger-side mirror: optional!
          * Rear window defroster: optional.
          * Airbags: No.
          * Traction/stability control: Don’t be silly.
          * Crash-resistant door beams: Definitely not.
          * Crumple zones: Yes! They’re more frequently referred to as occupants, though.,

          Some people love to hype the Geo Metro, but it’s a relic. It was efficient because it was underpowered (even for its time) — and it’s dangerously slow in an era where compact family sedans offer nearly three times the power — and it was light. A Metro XFI hatchback weighed just 1,621 lbs. The cost of that is that it lacked any sort of modern safety features, active or passive. It used 12-inch wheels, which meant that its tires offered far less of a contact patch, reducing traction in any inclement conditions. As I said, it lacked airbags, and its structure was nowhere near sturdy enough to withstand modern collision tests. I’ve driven 3-cylinder Metros. They’re extremely noisy, cramped, and dog-slow (and this from someone who drives a Corolla, so it’s not like I’m used to 400 hp at my toes). Some people claim that cars like this were better, less “nanny-state”, but the statistics speak for themselves: death rates have dropped because of more modern, safer cars. Metros are frightfully unsafe by comparison.

    • Jawaka says:

      Congrats, you win a tin foil hat.

    • Moniker Preferred says:

      “Somehow, someway, Big Oil has affected the price of these cars…”

      Get out the tin-foil hats. If one does not have the slightest clue about how incredibly much money it costs to engineer more MPG into vehicles without turning them into golf carts, then one should probably reserve one’s comments.

  3. Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

    You know, sometimes it’s not about the money. Sometimes it’s about using less gas.

    • Altman says:

      And about being less sensitive to changes in price at the pump. $4 / gallon gas sucks so much less when you have a vehicle that gets 30 MPG+ around town (of which there are now many options available).

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Whose to say in 3 years gas prices won’t be $6 or more. Then the recoup will come much faster anyway.

        • Altman says:

          Yup thats true. As gas prices go up, the recoup time goes down. Never thought of that!

        • huadpe says:

          If you want to make a bet about future gas prices, do it by buying gasoline futures, not by purchasing a vehicle.

    • jvanbrecht says:

      While that may be true, one thing that is rarely mentioned in these comparisons, is that the eco versions of various models, while only slightly more fuel efficient, do tend to produce significantly less pollutants, which cater to the tree huggers…

      ps.. tree huggers hate me and my gas guzzling car (that gets around 9 to 12mpg but goes really really really fast :) )

      • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

        They hate me just as much I presume. I bought a car that is already a notorious gas guzzler and then modified it to use 60% more gas to produce 40% more power. But !@#$ does it go fast!

        • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

          Have fun with your speeding tickets and fiery crashes. I’ll be the guy in the little car in the right lane with the cruise control set to 65.

          • StarKillerX says:

            ….that he slams into.

          • dangermike says:

            Well, if you insist on not keeping pace with the prevailing rate traffic (which — I won’t lie — I’ll be exceeding), thanks for at least having the courtesy to keep right.

    • shepd says:

      I converted to propane.

      600 kms per tank, $1.88 per gallon (price went down, yay!). ~600 kms in gas as well, for a total range that puts those so-called “never fill it up” diesel cars to shame.

      I would need a vehicle that gets over 48 mpg on gas to beat out what I have at those prices, compared to local gas prices. Plus my vehicle has a clean as a whistle exhaust and I can change the oil rather infrequently (the oil never gets dirty, instead, you only change it because the heat/cold cycles have caused it to become waxy).

      Did I mention I can fill up at 6 different places in my medium sized city, and drive across the country, all on propane, without even a worry? And I can always use gas if I really do get in a pinch.

      The vehicle get 18 mpg on propane (re-did my last math that showed 15 mpg–was a mistake) and 23 mpg on gas. I bet if you converted a boring compact car you could get the equivalent of 80 mpg vs. gas cost on propane.

      Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t let the secret out? The conversion does cost $3,000 or so, after all.

      • Jawaka says:

        Propane cars?

        Christ, I don’t want to get into an accident with you.

        • shepd says:

          Propane is actually safer than gasoline in an accident.

          Gas sticks to things and when it ignites, burns them for quite a while. If your car flips upside down and gas lands on your exhaust pipe (happens all to easily nowadays with gas tanks made of plastic) you now have flaming liquid covering the vehicle. With my car? Well, first of all, it would take a tractor trailer to break open the tank, but even if it did, the exhaust isn’t at the necessary temperature to ignite propane, but lets say I had a plugged cat and it was. Well, then I would get a flame jetting from the broken tank (the propane in the tank cannot ignite due to a lack of oxygen). The car will eventually set on fire, but it will burn slowly from the areas heated by the leak, rather than the areas splashed by gas that remain lit for a while.

          Propane doesn’t stick to things, it just sinks to the ground (a property gas has, too). Propane and gas have a similar stoichiometery, however, propane actively seeks to disperse to a below-flammable concentration (due to it being a gas). Gasoline, instead, seeks to evaporate, which produces levels of flammability for a long time.

          Propane requires a much higher ignition temperature, double that of gasoline. Gasoline can ignite from smoldering paper, propane cannot.

          As far as BLEVEs go, this is the same tank that is is my car (I also happen to have the same car):

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTcLd-CG5Vo

          It is very, very difficult to get the propane to light when it leaks. Much more difficult than gas. It’s also extremely difficult to get it to leak from the bottle, but when you do, still very difficult to get it to light. Mythbusters has also proven this. (All propane tanks that are legal for autogas are required to be this strong, this isn’t a special tank).

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20ZLefQC_oU

          Note that that tank is not legal for use to fuel a vehicle as it is too weak and lacks safety features. Yet it takes an incredible amount of work to get it to blow up. Incendiary rounds is what it took, things exploding didn’t do anything.

          Just FYI, propane is commonly used for vehicular air-conditioning outside of the United States and you never hear of people blowing themselves up due to that (just as you almost never hear of anyone dying from the phosgene gas emitted when R-134a or R-12 burns).

          Basically, what makes my vehicle unsafe is that there is a gasoline tank in it. Fortunately, it has a fire suppression system built in:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KBBW7Dhyxs

          Although that’s not required, it has it. Makes me feel better about the gas tank.

          • dangermike says:

            I would agree that propane tanks are generally well engineered (I have seen a bbq tank take several impacts from a high caliber rifle without rupturing) but I think you might be viewing the risks through rose colored glasses. An impact sufficient to rupture the tank would almost certainly both produce heat and sparks that could ignite the fumes. And I suspect that since you used the term BLEVE, you know how even a seemingly slow burn-off can cause an explosion. You won’t see that with gasoline tanks, generally, because they are not designed with a whole lot of internal pressure handling requirements. The shockwave on this video — http://youtu.be/UM0jtD_OWLU — is a pretty standard bleve, and not something you’d see with a ruptured gasoline tank (although gasoline fires can be extremely nasty and dangerous in their own right).

            I’ll also say it happened once in my neighborhood when a man restoring an old propane fueled panel truck in his garage didn’t realize he had a leak. Vapors met the lit pilot on his water heater and blew the roof off his garage and broke windows on 5 of his neighbors’ houses. Fortunately, that was just the vapors in his garage. Not the whole tank going up, and the man survived due to the help of an old veterinarian whose clinic was just a few hundred yards down the street. It rattled my house like a sonic boom, about half a mile away.

            • shepd says:

              :)

              That can happen with gas, too… …saw it on “COPS” of all places. Although in that guys place, it was a mix of carbeurator work, flammable fuel near the vehicle and so on.

              And yes, it is possible for it to explode violently and dangerously, but the chances are just so low, and the track record of propane vehicles is so much safer than gasoline powered cars (it’s popular enough outside of North America that the statistics prove it) it’s a no-brainer–I worry more about getting into someone else’s car. :)

    • Emerson7 says:

      I prove I’m better than other people in many ways large and small. Paying more for a car is not one of them. My savings go right into human waste composting! For the erf!

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    3 years? That’s actually pretty quick. Decades, not so much.

  5. Actionable Mango says:

    Increased MPG gives you other benefits as well.

    You get greater range per tank of gas, meaning less trips to the gas station and the possibility of skipping that highway-robbery gas station to travel on to one with a better price.

    There are environmental and geopolitical benefits. You pay less gas tax.

    There is, in some cases, more horsepower in the more fuel efficient models. Compare direct-injected models to standard fuel injected models for example, such as the standard Kia 4-cylinder versus the direct injected 4-cylinder. The DI gets better gas mileage AND more power.

    Even if you only cared about the monetary savings, the equation swings into your favor every time the price of gas goes up, and is especially beneficial for long distance drivers or tight-margin businesses.

    • Gambrinus says:

      These are all good points, and there’s also the fact that by purchasing a fuel efficient vehicle, you’re showing the manufacturers that this is a desirable feature and helping to drive down the price on future models.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Well the distance per tankful isn’t really accurate since it appears that automakers target that to certain range so that the higher your mileage the smaller your tank.

      Also it’s worth pointing out that as mpg averages have been increasing there are more and more politicans getting upset that your paying less in gas taxes and more and more they are talking about adding a tax on the miles you drive and it’s likely only a matter of time before one of the leftist tax loving states such as California or NY passes one, and within a few years of the first state I’d expect most states to have added one.

  6. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    If your state has it, use 100% gas, not Ethanol. My Corolla gets 36mpg with 100%, and 32 mpg with 10% ethanol. Now that the federal ethanol subsidies have ended, pure gas is only about 5 cents/gallon more.

    • incident_man says:

      I’ve never understood the idea of mixing ethanol with gasoline for “cleaner-burning” fuel. If you have to burn 15-20% more to get the same amount of energy, where does the “cleaner-burning” part fit into the equation?

      Carbon emissions are carbon emissions, regardless if it’s fossil fuel or plant-based.

      • Craige says:

        The argument for bio-derived fuel is that at the end of the year, the plant from which the fuel is derived would have withered, died, and would have released it’s carbon content into the atmosphere anyway.

        Where as with fossil fuels, we’re digging up long-forgotten about carbon sources and releasing them into the atmosphere rapidly, along with the same plant-based sources that we’re not harnessing; those plants are still dying year after year.

        At least, that’s how I understand it. If somebody with more information would like to weigh in here, please do.

        • crispyduck13 says:

          Not disagreeing with you, but I also assumed that the argument for bio-fuel was to reduce dependence on foreign oil. Since we grow tons of corn (and algae) here in the US.

          Maybe it’s both, not sure.

          • Craige says:

            It’s probably both. I was responding specifically to the “Carbon emissions are carbon emissions” point.

          • StarKillerX says:

            But the reality is that this doesn’t even work on paper.

            Using MrMagoo’s example, which is about what I, and everyone I’ve talked to has experienced, you’ll notice he gets roughly 12% lower gas mileage by using the 10% blended fuel so at the end of the day he not only is using as much, or more gasoline to drive the same distance, so even with the 1-2% extra cost of the pure gas he’s saving money by using it.

            Ethanol was but another scam forced on the country by the tree hugger lobby

      • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

        I don’t think you understand the distinction between a pollutant and a greenhouse gas. Ethanol produces less pollution _per unit of energy output_. Even though you are consuming more fuel, you are still polluting less by using ethanol, you are just paying more.

        That said, ethanol free gas is available in my area (and is actually cheaper than 10% ethanol) and I use it exclusively because I care more about cents per mile than pollutants per mile.

        • incident_man says:

          Ok, well lemme counter with this one:

          If you’re consuming more product to drive the same distance, naturally, your vehicle’s emissions would increase by the same factor, no?

          Net result: You’re not really solving any “problem,” rather you’re substituting one “problem” for another…..quite possibly even several others:

          http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/may2009/bw20090514_058678.htm

          • huadpe says:

            Adjusting per unit output means that you’re still polluting less.

            So, lets say you get 4% less miles per gallon by using ethanol, but produce 7% less emissions per gallon. Then the benefit would be roughly 3% lower total emissions.

        • JonBoy470 says:

          In 1979 they started adding MTBE (Methyl Tetra Butyl Ether) to gasoline as an “oxygenate” In a carbureter car with no (or minimal) computer control (this was the norm in the late 70′s) the MTBE artificially made the engine run leaner than it would on straight gas, which greatly reduced carbon monoxide emissions. Unfortunately, when gas leaked out of station tanks (or was spilled) the MTBE leached into the ground and contaminated groundwater. So they substituted ethanol in its place. Ethanol also had the political benefit of benefitting midwestern farmers.

          The irony is that in cars with electronic fuel injection (which is the norm today) the car’s computer compensates for the effect of the MTBE or ethanol, so you get the same emissions you do on straight gas, and just “benefit” from worse mileage. That effect means that the 10% of your fuel that is ethanol only reduces your net gasoline consumption by 3%.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I wish I had more options for pure gas around me. As of now there is only one rinky-dink little country place and they charge waaaay more per gallon than is reasonable for the market. They also have to use the ratchet gizmo to imprint my credit card for payment.

      The upside down lawn tractor out front with a huge sign that reads: “YOUR MOWER ON ETHANOL” is worth driving past though, hilarous!

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      Does anyone know if this is available in Texas? I’d like to use it in my lawn equipment.

      • MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

        I would think that it would be available there, given Texas’ oil and refineries. Probably 25% of the stations here in Oklahoma have 100% pure gas; OK passed a law a few years ago requiring all gas pumps to have stickers detailing the amount of ethanol in the gas they dispense, so it’s easy to find.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        There are 88 in Texas and none of them are in major cities:

        Pure Gas, Texas

  7. partofme says:

    The lesson as always: YMMV. Do math. Do it before you buy things. There is no constraint forcing facts to fit your emotions.

  8. Andyf says:

    The focus is on the wrong cars here. Yeah, add a few MPG to a car already getting 30+, and you’re not going to save a whole lot of money. How about they work on the SUVs getting sub 20 MPG, where even 4-5 MPG improvement might save 20%+ of fuel costs? I mean, it’s great that they can make these small cars better, but you’d have to do a ton of driving, or make a huge improvement, to make a difference. The bigger difference would be seen on the low end cars, and with a standard that, unlike MPG, makes it clear how much better (such as gallons/100 miles, where:
    10 mpg = 10g/100m
    15 mpg = 6.7g/10m
    20 mpg = 5 g/100m
    25 mpg = 4g/100m
    it makes for quick easy math if you know you commute x00 miles per week to see how much money you can save by getting a more efficient car, and also shows better the diminishing returns of higher mileage.

    Of course, as Evil_Otto says, sometimes it’s about saving the gas.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      How about they work on the SUVs getting sub 20 MPG, where even 4-5 MPG improvement might save 20%+ of fuel costs?

      You believe car companies are not working to make their larger models more fuel efficient already? They’re all ignoring future CAFE standards and putting all of their R&D into compacts and subcompacts?

    • wackydan says:

      They are making larger vehicles more efficient.

      My new F-150 super crew with the 5.0 V8 has actually attained 22 MPG HWY on one trip so far and is averaging 18 MPG around town. That isn’t just the computer in the dash, but my math on the miles and fill ups as well which are dam close to the computer estimate.

      Compare that with my old truck… a mid size Dodge Dakota with the 3.9 V6… which gave me the same mileage, was 6 cylinders, and weighed less than the new F-150.

      So they are making great strides in MPG improvement on larger vehicles.

    • Jimmy60 says:

      Grams per 100 meters?

    • unpolloloco says:

      They already are. The new ford escape gets 33mpg highway with the smallest engine and 2wd or 28 hwy with the larger engine and 4wd. Most of the other manufacturers have similar specs with their small/midsize suvs (really cuvs)

      • StarKillerX says:

        Well to be fair the escape is basically a truck version of a shoebox on wheels.

        I’m 6’8″ so I need a vehicle with head, leg and shoulder room so making a mini-me version of an SUV or pick up does not impress me.

        • unpolloloco says:

          True, but the Explorer is 28mpg – although you could probably make the same argument about it!

    • StarKillerX says:

      Your post reminds of the hyrbid pickup Chevy came out with a few years ago, it got a whopping 1 mpg more then the non-hybrid version all for only about $10k high purchase price.

  9. crispyduck13 says:

    Sky is blue. Story at 11.

  10. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    Well, when you drive 20,000 miles a year like I do, those saving add up faster.
    #CamryHybrid

    • BurtReynolds says:

      Even still, it takes a while.

      #2000HondaCivic190k

    • jvanbrecht says:

      I used to own a Hybrid Camry.. I now own a MB AMG C63.. my commute has not changed.. I drive 40 to 55 miles each way (depending on which route I take due to traffic concerns in the DC Metro area)..

      Sure going from 35 to 40mpg to 9 to 12 (in the city), around 20 on the highway when there is little traffic hurt the pocket book a little.. but hey.. it is alot more fun to drive and be in then the camry.. and sitting in the car for 2 to 4 hours a day.. well those things count :)

      And before you people start yelling to get a job closer, I am a consultant, I go where the contracts are, whether 5 miles from my house, or 50+

      • crispyduck13 says:

        Oh, well, that’s interesting. You’ve successfully let us all know you drive a very expensive luxury car. We also know that you are quite defensive about your driving habits. Seems like you might be overestimating how much people give a shit.

        • jvanbrecht says:

          Luxury my ass, this is the Baby AMG, while yes it is slightly expensive (not much more then a fully loaded Volvo XC60 mind you.. as we were looking at those for my wife before settling on a jeep). However it has bucket seats designed for skinny little children, anything more then 90 pounds and the side bolsters stab you in the ribs, the harmon kardon audio system sucks ass, the AC is loud as hell and you cannot hear anything in the car when it is on full blast, the ride will rattle your teeth out as it is designed for performance not comfort, the interior is cheap plastic..

          But sure, everything else you stated is correct, i don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks, as I expect no one else cares what I think, I was just making a statement, take it for what you will…

        • StarKillerX says:

          Well it appears you give enough of a shit to respond to his post.

      • Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

        This guy. -___-
        At least I’m 21 and can comfortable afford a Camry. Maybe when I’m 22 and rich I’ll get myself an Audi A8. (Screw MB.)

        Yes, you guys, I’m gonna be rich by next year!

    • redhouse387 says:

      Must be a republican to drive such an expensive car.

  11. 2 Replies says:

    It’s naive to expect it NOT to take years.

  12. j2.718ff says:

    Not every person who shops for fuel efficiency does it to save money.

    Fuel efficiency continues to develop. Having those people who are willing to invest in the new technologies, in spite the fact that they won’t make up the difference at the pump today help pay for the continued research to make cars with even higher fuel efficiency.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Yep, many buy them so they can smell the smug!

      I especially like when all the hybrid hype really got going how so many Hollywood types made sure the world knew they had prius hybrids, although they forgot to mention they rarely drive them since their normally in hummers or strech limos (many of the same one flew on private jets to Washington to show up to support fuel conservation. lol!)

  13. maxamus2 says:

    The one thing many people neglect when buying these fuel efficient cars is to see whether they REQUIRE premium gas (like the Smart Car). If they do, you better subtract 10% from your fuel savings as high octane gas runs about 10% more.

  14. ferd says:

    Everyone should already know this. That is if they did the math.

  15. pentium4borg says:

    Switching from driving a car to riding a bicycle paid for itself in about 20 minutes.

    • Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

      But Motorcycles Are Dangerous!

    • Mark702 says:

      How well do you fare on the freeway with a pedal bike?

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Really? Wow, cheap bike. A 30MPG car, figure averaging 30MPH, uses 1 gal of gas an hour. So, 20 minutes, at $4/gal, is $1.33.

      A decent bike (say $300) would break even in about 75 gal of gas, or about 2,250 miles. At 20MPH on a bike (pretty solid) that’s 112.5 hours.

  16. 420greg says:

    What about supply and demand? Yes right now it may take years to get even, but if 50% of the cars on the road were electric, gas prices would come down, and therefore it will takel ess time to break even.

  17. JJFIII says:

    People buy almost everything in the world for things other than financial considerations. People do not buy the cheapest food because they know it will get them their nutrients cheapest. They do not buy cars based on which is cheapest (otherwise the Yugo would have been the hottest selling car of all time). People do not buy stainless steel appliances or pools based on “payback” time. People buy most everything based on how it makes them feel PERIOD. Clothes, cars, houses, food it does not matter. Any person who believes they buy only based on finances is living in a dream world.

    • shepd says:

      Yes, but all those items have a tangible benefit. Better taste, higher luxuries, being cool outside, etc.

      Paying more/less for gas provides nothing at all other than losses/savings.

      Most fuel efficient cars (not all!) tend to have fewer luxuries than less-fuel efficient cars at the same price. So, since you have to give up something to get the fuel efficiency (at the same price) the cost of fuel certainly comes into play.

      • ARP says:

        JJFIII is right that many of our purchasing decisions are not based on pure economics or even real luxury. It’s just another variant of buying designer clothes. Are designed clothes better made? More utilitarian? Oftentimes, no. They’re bought for the status they convey or if they “look” expensive. Stainless appliances are similar. They’re probably harder to care for, but convey status.

        Cars aren’t immune to that at all. Cars are a status symbol as much as anything else. Sure there are some “luxury” items in cars that may justify SOME of the increased price, but a lot of it is just brand name. If you made the exact same car and put a BMW logo and a KIA logo on it, you could easily sell the Bimmer for $10-$20K more and its not questioned.

        Some green cars are a status symbol like anything else and gas mileage to price ration isn’t a significant factor

      • JJFIII says:

        So you see no tangible benefit to driving a car that is better for the environment, saves on gas, or has less pollutants? There is no tangible benefit to paying more for the exact same thing at Macy’s that you could get at Wal Mart, other than the basic fact that I refuse to ever give my money to the Wal Mart klan. It is not a benefit to me personally and I see nothing tangible out of it, other than how I feel internally. The same can be said for every single car on the road including hybrids, electrics and eco.

    • Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

      You, sir, have never met my ex. Cheap bastard! I couldn’t teach him the difference of being cheap and being frugal. So I broke up with him.

  18. JGKojak says:

    morAn… its not about how much you save… its 100 million cars saving 5mpg or more that reduces our use of oil and hopefully our dependence on foreign oil.

  19. JohnDeere says:

    people buying these cars drive more than 12,000 miles per year i would guess. my work commute is just under 20,000 miles per year and i drive a ford ranger 4×4 that roughly gets 18-20 mpg. so if my math is right 20,000 miles divided by 20mpg is 1000 gallons of gas at $4 per gallon that s$4000 per year. im looking into getting a scion iq in a couple of years they get almost 40mpg so it should save me half anyway.

  20. majortom1981 says:

    This article is only compairing a regular civic to its eco version. Not a hyprid to a non hyrbid. Keep that in mind.A 2010 prius compaired to my 2004 corolla would literally double my MPG .

    Just keep in mind this article is only about non eco vs eco not hybrid.

    • Moniker Preferred says:

      Yes, but you’ll pay a heck of a lot more for a hybrid than selecting that most-miserly gas-only version. Payback time for a hybrid is pretty long, even with $4 gas. Today, the sweet spot is gasoline direct injection, or diesel, if you can get it.

      • majortom1981 says:

        Diesel where I live is 50 cents to $1 a gallon more. Also if I buy a used prius at $20k it wouldnt be that much more then a new corolla.

        PLUS here on long island a prius can use the HOV lane during rush hour with 1 person and a diesel or fuel miser gas car cannot.

  21. DrPrepperSC says:

    F=MA is always has. Big gas guzzlers have real benefits… but I can only justify our extreme fuel costs of two GM Suburbans by calculating gas mileage per person as a benchmark. It is a dangerous world and I feel slightly better having my four kids cocooned in 6100 pounds of metal

    • StarKillerX says:

      Yeah, but as more and more people drive pop cans on wheels the louder the cry will be to require you to drive something just as light and fragile so those driving the tinfoil don’t suffer any adverse consequences for their choices.

      • Onesnap says:

        they can cry all they want. I can’t get to my house without a pickup, Jeep, or other SUV.

    • Onesnap says:

      Agreed. Plus, I need my Jeep Liberty to get up to my house in Maine. We have 1 mile of road to maintain on our own (with a tractor) and it’s pretty rough that last mile. I’m one of the few SUV drivers in my area (Boston) that actually uses the vehicle for what it was designed to do. I also have a 20 minute reverse commute so it’s a non-issue.

  22. adrew says:

    I just bought a cheap car that gets good mileage. Yaris = $14k, 38 MPG

  23. The Twilight Clone says:

    We bought a Prius as a hedge against high gas prices. That, and the money went to Toyota, not Exxon.

  24. vicissitude says:

    Electronics cost more when they first come out, the new fleets of electronic / fuel cell / air driven cars will be cheaper and probably a lot sooner than people think.. “Does no – one have vision?” – Alice ‘Breaking Dawn Part I’ ;)

    • StarKillerX says:

      I don’t think electric is the solution, be it plug in or hybrid form.

      Personally I think hydrogen fuel cells are the way to go. A fuel cell powered car refueled at by a hydrogen generator in your garage powered by a couple solar panels or small windmill seems to be not only the most cost effective but it also wont stress the electrical grid anymore either.

      One of the things most often raised to shootdown fuel cells is the needed hydrogen fuel distribution network, but really it’s already there on a regional basis as compressed gases are moved all over the country on a regular basis and even the rural area I’m in have a couple different companies which store and sell compressed hydrogen to various industries. Also as noted above the need for refueling stations would be minimal as most of the cars could be refueled at home for free.

      • gman863 says:

        Does this mean WV will start a new ad campaign called Das Hindenburg?

        • Neil says:

          The problem with car hydrogen is quite the opposite of the Hindenburg – the hindenberg’s goal was to be lighter than air by using hydrogen to displace normal air at the same pressure.

          A car needs to maximize the volume of hydrogen stored in a small area. Traditionally this is done using high pressure canisters, ideally pressurised to the point at which the hydrogen becomes liquid. This adds explosion risks (the Hindenberg burned, it did not explode), and freezing risks (liquid hydrogen is extremely cold). There’s some neat nanotechnology which may yet solve this problem by binding with hydrogen at the molecular level, and releasing it on command. Increased density without increasing pressure.

          As for hybrids. Hybrids are an efficiency improvement, rather than a fundamentally different power source. They just recover a lot of waste energy as electricity instead of dissipating it as heat. Recovering this waste is an even better option with fuel-cell based energy, since the engine is electric already, and doesn’t require a complicated 2-engine system like today’s gas/electric hybrid. It’s just a power management issue of using the battery until it’s spent, then switching over to the fuel cell.

  25. longhairbilly says:

    My Nissan Titan gets 11 mpg. I’d recoup the cost in one afternoon.

  26. parkcityxj says:

    This is a great calculator http://www.edmunds.com/calculators/gas-guzzler.html I see people I know time trade in their paid for cars that get mediocre mpg in exchange for a new car that gets better mpg, but now they have a $400 a month payment! Then they think they’re “saving” tons in gas money.

    • parkcityxj says:

      Edit: I see people trade in their paid for cars that get mediocre mpg in exchange for a new car that gets better mpg, but now they have a $400 a month payment! Then they think they’re “saving” tons in gas money, ugh.

  27. Buzz says:

    You never buy a new vehicle to save money. It will always be better to buy a used vehicle and let someone else take the depreciation. Better yet, keep the older vehicle you have paid off and drive it till it dies. That’s if it was taken care of and still runs good.

  28. ben_marko says:

    I still love my Prius (a 2008). I can get up to 500+ miles out of a single tank on regular unleaded. My Ford F-250 Super Duty diesel runs on biodiesel only and can get up to 28 MPG highway. Plus biodiesel only costs about 50¢ a gallon!

    :D

  29. SteveInConverse says:

    A year ago, I bought a 2012 Hyundai Accent and Ive been extremely happy with it. I bought it strictly for the fuel economy (30 city/40 hwy) after getting rid of my Dodge Dakota gas guzzler that was costing me anywhere from $400-500 a month in gas costs. I have a 40+ round trip commute 5 days a week and my gas costs are around $100 a month now. I would stack the Accent up against any other economical car out there (except Prius of course…that thing just gets crazy mileage). I regularly exceed the EPA stats. Best car decision I ever made.

  30. NumberSix says:

    Yeah, basically you should never buy a new car just because of the fuel saving. Hell, you can barely make out doing that with a scooter (personal experience), let alone a car.

  31. epi117 says:

    Drove to do a presentation 200 miles, work pays me 0.51 per mile, about $204 for round trip, left with full tank on prius, i avg 54.2 mpg for trip, cost me $35.00 to fill up, made it there and back and i can still go for another 100 miles before i need to fill up.

    The way i look at it , paid 23k for sienna many years ago, got if i was lucky 20+ mpg, got a prius for same amount. Getting 52mpg easy. No compliants. Profit from this last trip will pay for two months worth of gas.

  32. wjimi says:

    If the comparison is about money saved for the buyer, don’t forget the added resale value. It will be an easier car to sell if it has good fuel economy.

  33. Neil says:

    This just in: Consumerist thinks investments paying double digit returns are a bad deal.

    Always do math before buying. The Cruze Eco is clearly a bad buy. But at $135 per year, the Focus SFE is a passable investment if you keep the car for four years (3.5% per annum return), rising to 11.32% if you drive it for 5, and 24.13% if you keep it for a decade. If you’re planning to switch cars more frequently than every 4-5 years, your financial planning skills are hopeless.

    The Civic HF is a worse deal, requiring 7 years of ownership to become a passable investment (4.35%), though hitting 10.85% if you keep it for a decade. All returns are annualized internal rates of return, and assume identical resale values and maintenance costs. YMMV, since, you know, you probably actually drive different mileage than the figures used in the article.

  34. glitterpig says:

    I don’t really understand why this keeps being news. If you can afford to buy a new car every three years (or less), you don’t care about $500. If you can’t, then you’re saving money!

    (Also, when I started looking into buying a hybrid, this number was 7-10 years, and only if gas got to the utterly unimaginable price of $4/gallon. Now that I own one… hey, just one more year to go to recoup my investment! Somehow, it doesn’t make me happy about $4 gas.)

  35. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I keep my cars forever, so something like that wouldn’t be an issue. I’ve been driving my current Honda for 13 years with only one minor repair. If you don’t switch cars every few years, you should be fine. I’m not sure I would go out of my way to buy a car that didn’t have significantly better gas mileage than another that I wanted though.