Ordering Eco Trim: Gas Savings, But No More Resale Value

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco

2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco

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High-mileage option packages have become quite familiar over the last few years, as buyers begin to seek ways to lower their gas bills.

Ford SFE models, Cruze Ecos, HF-spec Civics and more: They're all designed to eke out an extra few MPG, using subtle but effective eco tweaks to largely standard production models.

But do these models save you enough in gas to offset the initial purchase cost? And do the unique trim packages net you better resale value?

Currently, the answer appears to be no. Kicking Tires reveals that some market analysts peg resale value at a percentage point lower than standard equivalents.

That's largely due to the extra cost brand new, while used examples sell for little more than their non-eco equivalents.

While some eco tweaks do save drivers gas--low rolling resistance tires, aerodynamic addenda, longer gear ratios and more are used to boost mpg--the improvements are often negligible.

In the case of a Honda Civic HF, the difference is only around $50 per year at $3.50 per gallon, over 15,000 miles. For the extra $700 or so you pay to get the HF over a standard 1.8 LX auto, the extra 1 mpg doesn't look like great value.

The Chevy Cruze Eco looks a better bet. Comparing the manual Cruze Eco to its non-Eco manual, 1.4 equivalent, official EPA mileage is 3 mpg better. Highway mileage is also higher, at 42 mpg versus 38 mpg.

Drivers on the EPA's fueleconomy.gov site are posting even higher figures. Most drivers seem to be using their cars largely on the highway, and the car's average currently stands at 41 mpg. Driven in such a manner, the extra $500 or so you'll pay for the Eco over a Cruze 1LT doesn't look so bad, and could be recouped fairly quickly.

Of course, this could all change should gas prices rise swiftly above the $4 per gallon mark.

Not only will differences in gas savings between regular and eco models become greater, but more efficient models may also see a spike in demand--boosting used prices.

The message here is to choose your eco model carefully. With some, you'll enjoy gas savings and lose out little when you come to sell.

For others, the extra purchase price may not be worth it--and simply adjusting your driving style in a standard model may prove to be more effective.


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Comments (4)
  1. As is all too common here on "Green" Car Reports, the only "green" being discussed is the kind that goes in your wallet. There is no mention what-so-ever of the "green" environmental benefits of higher fuel economy of these option packages.

    Nor is there any mention of the rather obvious suggestion that these improvement should be incorporated into the cars by default and at a much lower price. High efficiency should not be seen as a "premium" product, but rather what is needed for the country and the planet.

    Frankly I find the whole "eco" option package to be a marketing exercise designed to "prove" that people don't want efficiency. All it proves is the option is over priced.

  2. Yeah, what John said.

    Plus, I think part of the problem is that the differences are too small, so used-car buyers are not going out of their way to seek these differences out.

    If you look where the mpg difference is large - say between a 2006 Jetta, gas vs. TDI - you do find a large resale value difference. People are willing to pay a sizable premium for a TDI, despite the fact that it is a little slower than the gas version.

  3. Well put, I also find myself in this category about pocket change(adds up tho) compared to the environmental impact.. Though just as the last statement about driving style is concerned. It improves regardless what vehicle you drive. Slower speeds and driving sensibly reduces break fade/dust/heat/toxins, reduces emissions by not burning as much fuel. Learning to prioritize and plan trips, utilizing electric modes in city(for some), as well as slower highway driving and proper maintenence/recycling habits.

    Tho I'll add, Newer cars, tend to last longer even if driven more. Resale aside, the quality of vehicle you get these days is much better, period. So using certain materials may be beneficial over the long run over its service life.

  4. I bought a base model, cause it was cheap and got the same "combined" estimates, I over achieve it everytime regardless of habits. Tho i have done DIY mods, to replicate what the "Eco" version options consist of. What others would pay, conpared to what one would spend including the light labor time, you could have the same results for 1:15 the costs from factory.

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