Toyota is highlighting the much-anticipated Prius C, a smaller, less-expensive version of the Prius.
Ford is promoting its new gas-saving Focus, the SFE version.
Honda is advertising its new Civic fuel-saver, the HF.
Chevrolet is touting its Cruze Eco.
How well can these four vehicles stretch your fuel dollars? Let's start with the Prius C.
"In city driving the Prius C delivers an amazing 37 mpg, which is the highest of any car Consumer Reports has tested," said Rik Paul, Consumer Reports auto editor.
But the Prius C is slow to accelerate. The ride is stiff and the cabin is noisy.
As for the other cars, manufacturers made current models more fuel-efficient with modifications like low-rolling-resistance tires and aerodynamic add-ons. These vehicles are all promising 40 miles per gallon or better on the highway.
Consumer Reports measured highway mileage. Tests showed all three cars do get 40 miles per gallon or better as promised.
"We found an improvement of 1 to 3 mpg overall with these cars," said Paul. "But you pay $500 to $800 extra for those fuel-saving options."
So instead you might want to consider the Mazda3 Skyactiv. It gets 32 miles per gallon in Consumer Reports combined city and highway fuel-economy tests. That's better than either the Cruze Eco or the Focus SFE, and the Skyactiv also costs less.