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Fuel efficient car ads may be misleading

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE/CONSUMER REPORTS) - There are many TV ads touting cars getting "47 miles per gallon", and even more. But a recent Consumer Reports investigation finds that it may cost you more in the long run to get those extra miles per gallon.

Commercials for fuel efficient cars sure do get your attention, but Consumer Reports auto editor Rik Paul says the promises aren't necessarily all they're cracked up to be.

"The numbers in the ads are for highway driving only. The estimate for city driving is below 30 miles per gallon for most of these cars. So unless you drive mainly on the freeways, you're not going to see 40 miles per gallon."

In addition, you often can't get the best mileage with the base model either, something most ads bury in the fleeting fine print. With the Ford Focus, you'll have to get the S-E Sedan for more than $17,000 and add a $500 super fuel economy package. 

As for the Chevy Cruze, you'll need to buy the $18,000 ECO version that only comes with a manual transmission. The Honda Civic H-F advertised goes for more than $20,000. That's $5,000 more than the base model.

Paul says, "people think of these cars as relatively inexpensive. But to get the highest gas mileage, you'll likely have to pay more than you might want for an economy car."

The Hyundai Elantra is a little different. It promises 40 miles per gallon for its base model, which starts at just $15,000 and tested well in Consumer Reports tests getting 39 miles per gallon on the highway and 29 miles per gallon overall.

So the next time you hear a commercial touting 40 miles-per-gallon or more for a vehicle, take it with a grain of salt.

However, in tests, there were several cars that did deliver 40 miles per gallon on the highway or even more. They're the Toyota Yaris and Corolla, a well as the Mazda 3.

Consumers still need to remember that's just for highway driving. Overall mileage is considerably lower.

Copyright 2011 WAVE & Consumer Reports. All rights reserved.

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