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“Eco” Models Aren’t Worth the Money, Finds Consumer Reports.

The Toyota Prius C “fuel efficient, but not a deal.”

by on May.31, 2012

Despite great mileage, Consumer Reports pans the new Toyota Prius C.

Hoping to squeeze every last mile out of a gallon of gas?  Automakers have been launching a flood of new “eco” models designed to do just that.  But a new report warns that the minimal extra mileage isn’t worth the hefty price tag – which in some cases would require as much as 38 years of driving to recover in terms of lower fuel costs.

The new study by Consumer Reports raises questions about a variety of conventionally powered Eco models, such as Ford Focus SFE, Chevrolet Cruze Eco and Honda Civic HF. But it was also skeptical of the benefits promised by some hybrid models, such as the new Toyota Prius C which, it declares, “is fuel efficient, but not a deal.”

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The problem is that the savings are offset by hefty initial premiums averaging between $500 and $800 above standard models.  But in some cases, the savings on fuel may be as little as $20 per year.  And, in some cases, consumers wind up sacrificing further in terms of cheaper interiors and poor road dynamics.

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Officially official: The 2012 Honda Civic

Six new versions, including all-new HF, but no real surprises.

by on Feb.18, 2011

Honda has unveiled six new Civic models for 2012.

Honda has made it officially official, lifting the covers on the 2012 Civic line, which now covers six different models, including the all-new Honda Civic HF.

But for those who saw the two thinly-disguised Civic concept models at the Detroit Auto Show, last month, there are few surprises.  And that, say some skeptics, could be a big problem for Honda, which is going up against some tough new competition in the compact segment it – and Japanese rival Toyota – have long and overwhelmingly dominated.

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Along with the standard-issue Civic Coupe and Sedan models, the 2012 line-up will include the sporty Civic Si, in both 2- and 4-door configuration, and the Civic Hybrid.  While there’s no word on when the natural gas-powered Civic will be introduced, the compact mix will feature a new entry, the Honda Civic HF, short for high fuel-efficiency.

The HF will be powered by a 140-horsepower 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine, paired with a 5-speed automatic.  It will also get the Honda EcoAssist system, a computer-controlled technology designed to tweak throttle response and shift times to maximize fuel efficiency.  There will also be some body modifications to improve aerodynamic efficiency, with low rolling-resistance tires designed to further improve mileage – which is rated at 41 mpg Highway, or 1 mpg better than the stock 2011 Hyundai Elantra, which Honda will likely promote heavily in the marketing campaign for the new Civic.

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