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Hybrid Fuel Economy Comes up Short in Consumer Reports' Testing, Diesels Impress

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee did well in Consumer Reports' testing. (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)

The fuel economy of a couple hybrid vehicles didn’t hit the mark in testing by Consumer Reports, but some diesel models fared much better.

The magazine tested the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid, and it earned a combined 28 mpg overall, which is short of the EPA-estimated 31 mpg city/highway combined. Consumer Reports found that the non-hybrid base XV Crosstrek earned 26 mpg overall in its tests, and points out in a statement that due to the higher price of the hybrid model, “the hybrid is not worth the extra money for most shoppers.”

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid (Subaru of America, Inc.)

Consumer Reports was also disappointed with the XV Crosstrek Hybrid’s performance, saying, “testers found it to be a halfhearted hybrid. When applying the gas pedal gingerly, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid managed to creep up to 20 mph on electric power, but only if the outside temperature was above 50° F and the heat or air conditioner was turned off. Moreover, this hybrid isn’t particularly refined. As with others, a start/stop system shuts off the engine when drivers come to a halt, but it restarts with a shudder when they’re ready to go again.”

The 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid currently ranks sixth in our ranking of Affordable Compact SUVs and third in Hybrid SUVs. Many critics disagree with Consumer Reports in regards to the XV Crosstrek Hybrid’s performance, saying it has plenty of power for highway passing and city driving. They also like the XV Crosstrek Hybrid’s balanced handling and responsive steering.

[Read more about what critics think of the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid’s performance.]  

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid
Honda Accord Hybrid (U.S. News and World Report)

Consumer Reports also tested the Honda Accord Hybrid, and although the magazine says shoppers should be aware that the car likely won’t get the EPA combined estimate of 47 mpg city/highway, it “delivered impressive overall fuel-economy” of 40 mpg combined.

Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports, says in a statement, “We’ve found that the EPA tests often exaggerate the fuel-economy of hybrids.”

The magazine adds, “Testers found the Accord Hybrid has a very impressive hybrid system that smoothly transitions between battery and engine power. To save fuel, even at highway speeds, the engine willingly shuts off as soon as drivers lift their foot off the gas pedal.”

Consumer Reports says it scored the Accord Hybrid lower than the Accord for its “ride comfort, emergency handling, and quietness.” The Accord Hybrid costs $7,200 more than the base non-hybrid Accord sedan.

The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid currently ranks fourth in our Affordable Midsize Car rankings and third in our Hybrid Car rankings. Automotive critics like the Accord Hybrid’s composed handling and strong regenerative brakes, which provide smooth stopping power. Reviewers agree the Accord Hybrid’s four-cylinder engine and electric motor deliver plenty of power, especially from a stop, and they’re impressed with its silent and smooth transitions between gas and electric power.

[Read more about what critics think of the Honda Accord Hybrid’s performance.]

2014 BMW 328d
BMW 328d (BMW of North America, LLC)

Though the fuel economy of these two hybrids wasn’t up to par in testing, Consumer Reports was impressed with the fuel economy of two diesel models: the Jeep Grand Cherokee and BMW 328d. “Compared with their gasoline counterparts, they boosted fuel economy by a significant 6- and 7-mpg overall to 24 and 35 mpg, respectively—without a significant compromise in performance or refinement,” the magazine writes. “With their excellent highway efficiency of 32 and 49 mpg, they provide lengthy cruising ranges of 785 and 735 miles. Both vehicles scored near the top of their classes in Consumer Reports testing.”

The 2014 BMW 3-Series currently ranks third in our Upscale Midsize Car rankings, while the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee ranks second in Affordable Midsize SUVs, Off-Road SUVs and Affordable SUVs with 2 Rows. The Jeep Grand Cherokee also won our 2014 Best 2-Row SUV for Families award.

In the market for a hybrid car? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year’s best cars. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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