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Chevrolet Cruze Eco
Cruze Eco gets better fuel economy than many popular hybrids

When most people think about green cars, they usually think of hybrids and EVs that are currently making headlines. The fact of the matter is that while most hybrid cars certainly get good fuel economy there are several subcompacts and compacts on the market that offer great fuel economy with standard powertrains.

Chevrolet earlier this year announced a new variant of its new compact car called the Cruze Eco. The Cruze Eco has been rated for 42mpg on the highway and offers 28mpg fuel economy in the city for 6-speed manual versions. An automatic transmission is also offered on the vehicle and it is rated for 26mpg in the city and 37mpg on the highway.

The Cruze Eco uses an Ecotec 1.4L turbocharged engine that produces 138hp and 148 lb-ft of torque between 1,850 rpm and 4,900 rpm. Chevy claim that that the motor was also designed with an eye towards being smooth and quiet.

Several features contribute to the fuel economy of the Cruze Eco including special low rolling resistance tires. The lightweight 17-inch alloy wheels and special tires helped shave 21.2 pounds total from the Cruze Eco compared to standard models with 16-inch wheels.

Chevy also spent lots of time in the wind tunnel to increase the aerodynamics of the Cruze Eco. Chevy says that over 500 hours of testing in the wind tunnel lead to a reduction in aerodynamic drag of 10% compared to non-Eco models. The Eco version has an underbody tray that guides air under the car and has a special grill with more closeouts to improve aerodynamics. The front air dam of the vehicle is lower and it has a special rear spoiler as well.

The Cruze Eco is the most fuel-efficient small cars around, beating out the fuel-sipping sub-compact Ford Fiesta rated for 40mpg, the Ford Focus rated for 35mpg (although the 2012 Focus is supposed to approach 40mpg), and most of the hybrids on the road including the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, and the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

The Cruze Eco will hit dealers in January at $18,895.

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Why the big gap in highway mpg?
By corduroygt on 11/12/2010 10:17:45 AM , Rating: 2
42 for manual and 37 for auto? With the same gearing and a lockup converter, hwy mpg should be the same, or very close.

RE: Why the big gap in highway mpg?
By bobsmith1492 on 11/12/2010 10:42:40 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps there's more internal friction in the automatic? Maybe it weighs more, too? Probably the gear ratios are different, at least.

RE: Why the big gap in highway mpg?
By Kurz on 11/12/2010 2:49:38 PM , Rating: 2
Weight isn't the issue (Less than 30 pounds for compact cars).

The problem is the damn design of an automatic is whats so bad. Its so complicated.

By Pneumothorax on 11/12/2010 10:55:11 AM , Rating: 2
The automatic engine probably has a slightly different tune on the air/fuel ratios and turbo to increase mid-range torque & drivability.

RE: Why the big gap in highway mpg?
By DerekZ06 on 11/12/2010 1:18:41 PM , Rating: 2
An auto has much more rotating mass and parts which create friction. Also, even with lockup, the torque converter still has trans fluid in it which is still flowing the same way it would be if it was unlocked. It's just that when it is unlocked it can't run 1:1 with the engine so the engine always has more RPM's on it and the fluid is flowing faster because of it. Which all increases friction.

RE: Why the big gap in highway mpg?
By Tabinium on 11/12/2010 1:37:03 PM , Rating: 3
In the past this was true, but there are several vehicles on the road now with higher (Chevy Camaro) or equal (Honda Accord) ratings for automatics. I think manufacturers are just spending more time on Autos due to how much better they sell...but that's just my own speculation.

RE: Why the big gap in highway mpg?
By Keeir on 11/12/2010 5:33:02 PM , Rating: 2
Hello Tabinium

Sadly, most manual cars get worse HWY MPG than they should due to poor final gearing ratio.

City MPG is mainly due to shifting losses. The EPA is not required to test a manual on the EPA City cycle the most efficient way possible. Instead, the EPA forces the car to meet certain speed and acceleration targets... on top of this, the Auto makers don't have the incentive to game the EPA to the same extent with ECU tricks.

Manual driven at steady state will always be several percentage points more efficient than a automatic. But a manual driven by a moron (or someone who doesn't care I guess) will be less efficient than an automatic driven by a moron. So I guess the EPA is showing reality as reflected by a typical US car buyer...

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