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June 01, 2021

Are 'fuel-boosting' car packages worth the upgrade? No, no, no

Today, there is nothing more en vogue than a fuel-efficient car.

Though, of course, not everyone can afford $40,000-plus for a Volt, Leaf or Prius. Instead, many drivers buying new cars opt for smaller “fuel-boosting” packages, upgrades that cost between $485 and $800 extra on top of a vehicle’s standard trim.

But are the fuel savings worth the extra bucks?

According to new data from Consumer Reports, it could be years before motorists that purchase fuel economy upgrades recoup their money in gas bills.

Let’s take the Chevy Cruze Eco, as an example.

*Bing: What is the most fuel-efficient car on the road?

The Cruze Eco is the same car as the Cruze LT Turbo, though instead of a few luxury features (a leather-wrapped steering wheel, for example) the trim package comes with a so-called high fuel economy engine tweak.

In Canada, the Eco goes for $20,220, $485 more than the LT Turbo and nearly $5,000 more than the base Cruze Chevy offers.

Consumer Reports crunched the numbers, and found the Eco didn’t increase overall fuel economy much, saving just $20 per year total in gas costs. At that rate, though it should be noted Consumer Reports using U.S. measures, Eco drivers wouldn’t break even on their upgrade purchase for nearly 25 years.

And it isn’t just the Cruze Eco. Consumer Reports found similar fuel-friendly upgrade trims on the Ford Focus and Honda Civic offered minimal fuel savings.

The Focus SFE and Civic HF produce better gas mileage than the Cruze Eco (savings of $145 and $135 per year, respectively), but still each upgrade would take years to pay itself off.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...