Detroit rebuts Consumer Reports' turbo results

Ford and GM say their vehicles have better fuel economy than the magazine's tests indicate.

By Benzinga Feb 8, 2013 2:23PM
Los Angeles, Calif., traffic on Interstate 405 copyright VisionsofAmerica, Joe Sohm, Digital Vision, Getty ImagesBy Tim Parker 

In light of Consumer Reports' recent determination that turbocharged vehicles, like those made by Ford (F) and General Motors (GM), "have slower acceleration and no better fuel economy than the models with bigger, conventional engines," investors are left to wonder what, if any, impact this latest finding will have on sales.

If the latest news out of China is any indication, Ford has little to worry about. The Associated Press reports that Ford said sales of Ford-brand vehicles, including imports, rose 135% to 44,439 vehicles there in January.

General Motors said earlier that its sales of GM-brand vehicles in China rose 26% in January to a monthly record of 310,765.

Consumer Reports magazine tested a wide variety of these turbocharged vehicles, and even contests the EPA fuel-economy estimates on the vehicles, saying the cars didn't match up.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Ford released a statement in response to the turbo testing saying that the magazine's "findings are not consistent with our internal and external feedback. It shows EcoBoost vehicles lead in customer satisfaction for fuel economy across segments -- including surveys by J.D. Power."

General Motors also released a statement implying that the testers might have driven more aggressively than the average Cruze owner does. "If you have a heavy foot on a turbocharged engine, you're not necessarily going to see a lot of fuel economy benefits."

Since the middle of 2009, Ford has been aggressively marketing its EcoBoost engines, which feature a turbocharger and promise greater fuel efficiency. The company has sold more than a half million models with EcoBoost engines.

"Our customers are very happy with their EcoBoost vehicles," said Sherwood. Many of those customers paid between $700 and $900 extra to buy a model with an EcoBoost engine.

Stricter government policies are putting pressure on automakers to improve mileage. As standards change over the next seven years, results will reveal which manufacturers make the grade.

Ford hopes the fuel-cell technology it will produce with Nissan (NSANY), Daimler AG (DDAIF), and Renault will ultimately be the answer to its problems. With Toyota (TM) and BMW also working on fuel-cell systems -- not to mention the competition from alternative hybrid technologies and the possibility of poor acceptance of fuel-cells, the road ahead will not be smooth.

Ford finished Thursday down about 1% while GM was down about 0.2%.

More from Benzinga
Feb 8, 2013 2:50PM
It's time someone seriously challenged Consumer Reports.  CR gives every appearance of bias against "American" companies, esp. auto companies.  It's time they had to prove the accuracy of their claims and the absence of bias.
Feb 8, 2013 4:31PM
Consumer Reports USED to be a respected it is like Ralph Nader of yesterday, supposedly proving by manipulation of data and statistics, his point of view.  It appears to me that CR has become foreign owned as all it spews anymore is how good foreign stuff is, and how consistently poor, in their opinion, true American products are.  
Feb 8, 2013 3:10PM

The question for Consumer Reports is why they tested this particular correlation in the first place.  If the reason was based on a preconceived assessment that auto companies are inflating the statistics on their vehicles, then CR testers are obviously going to skew the test towards proving that preconceived assessment.


As such, much heavier foot driving leading to lower MPG.  Even with a turbo-booster, you will not get the same acceleration from a 4-cylinder as a 6 or 8.  Most people buying this type of engine are not looking for the extra power of a turbo so they can speed all over.  They want to extra power to be available if/when they need it.  THEIR MAIN REASON FOR BUYING THE CAR WAS THE MILEAGE!!!


Let one of the buyers conduct the testing.  I think your results will be more in line with the auto maker's results.

Feb 10, 2013 8:40PM
CR is full of it. I've got a 1970 Mustang Mach 1 351ci Cleveland 4bbl that has 335hp and gets 14-15 mpg. I've got a 2004 Mustang Cobra SVT 281ci 32v FI Supercharged that has 460hp and gets 16mpg city, 22mpg highway. The 1970 will do 95mph 1/4 mi while the 2004 will do 120mph 1/4 mi. Supercharged or Turbocharged engines make much more hp per ci due to increased psi of the gas oxygen charge in the cylinder.  At a 7psi boast a supercharged engine could make 50% more hp and thus more acceleration.
Feb 26, 2013 8:29PM
CR has zero credibility.  They draw conclusions from statistically insignificant data samples, and they base their reliability ratings on member surveys, which can be shown not to represent the general population.  They have been caught numerous times rigging tests to support their green social agenda (or just pad their sales).  They consistently show bias toward favored brands (e.g new model from a favored brand gets high"projected" reliability, while a similar new vehicle from a less favored brand gets "insufficient data" - even though both vehicles are relatively untested.

The primary contributors to economy are the weight of the vehicle and the habits of the driver.  Having said that, turbo cars can get better gas mileage than non-turbo cars with similar horsepower, as long as the driver stays out of the boost.  My guess is that CR performs their mileage test using fairly aggressive driving habits - which would negate the benefit of the small engine.  I would hope they aren't purposely driving the boosted cars more aggressively to prove a preconceived notion - but I wouldn't put it past them.  Rigged rollovers, rigged exploding gas tanks, falsified crash data - all part of CRs colorful history.
Feb 11, 2013 10:59AM
Turbo lag has been known about for years.    You guys need to get over it.   CR's findings are yesterday's boring truth.  
Feb 10, 2013 9:48PM
For me, this is just one more example of this rag's bias against American auto manufacturers.  I still remember the "test" that CR performed on the front-wheel drive Chrysler compact that complained about poor handling in a panic stop with the driver's hands off of the steering wheel!  I never owned one of those cars but I saw a lot of them on the roads for decades and saw one pass me a few days ago.  Fortunately for me and for those people that I meet daily on the highway, I've never attempted a panic stop without holding the steering wheel.
Feb 9, 2013 11:52AM

In the old days......We had 2 or 4 bbl carburetors...If you drove on just the 2 bbl part, you would get pretty good mileage 20-25 mpg...Kick in all 4 and maybe 15-16 mpg..?

Think my "first car"only had a single barrel carb and a "flat head engine." 


Some cars if ordered, had 2-3 Carbs...Others could get Fuel Injection...

Needless to say their mileage,MPGs were not as good.


Foot on the Pedal, is the main determining factor of Mpg..?

Unless you are stuck in a traffic jam/backup.

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