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2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO

2012 Nissan Versa

2012 Hyundai Accent Sedan

2012 Hyundai Accent Hatchback

2012 Mazda3
One hybrid, and two conventional autos aim for 40MPG

New CAFE restrictions are forcing all auto manufacturers to release more fuel efficient vehicles. As a result, it's becoming commonplace to see compact sedans cracking the 40 mpg (highway) barrier and hybrid vehicles are becoming more prevalent. 

At this week's New York Auto Show, three manufactures are showing off new models that come close to (or achieve) the magic 40-mpg mark in highway driving. 

The first model is Chevrolet's new midsize 2013 Malibu ECO. The entire Malibu range got a makeover for the 2012 model year, and the ECO is the most fuel efficient of the bunch. The Malibu ECO uses the same powertrain first seen in the Regal eAssist and LaCrosse eAssist from Buick. This means that a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is paired with GM's mild hybrid system.

When all is said and done, the Malibu ECO is good for 26 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway -- the maximum driving range for the vehicle is 550 miles. The competing Fusion Hybrid offers fuel economy numbers of 41/36, but the Malibu ECO will likely cost much less (official pricing is not yet available) than the Ford's $28,990 price of entry. It may, however, find tougher pricing pressure from the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid (35/40) which is priced from $26,545.

"Malibu ECO exemplifies Chevrolet's drive to use technology that delivers high-value, gas-friendly performance," said Scheidt. "In fact, the Malibu ECO delivers the fuel economy of a compact car in a midsize sedan."

Moving on the to the first of two smaller entries, Nissan is gearing up with its next generation 2012 Versa. This ungainly sedan is all-new and starts at a low, low $10,990. Nissan says that the sculpted body (CD of 0.31), lighter weight (the new model is 150 pounds lighter than the outgoing model), and fuel sipping 1.6-liter, 109hp engine make for impressive fuel economy. 

The Versa is rated at 33 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway (33 mpg combined).

"The new Versa Sedan stands out as the only expensive looking car in the segment – with a lot of eye power," said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager for Nissan North America. "Its sculpted, dynamic proportions are modern without being gimmicky, projecting a much higher sense of design value than you might expect."

The last newcomer is Hyundai's new 2012 Accent. The new Accent features a 1.6-liter engine like the aforementioned Versa, but it generates a healthy -- for a subcompact -- 138hp. Despite the added power, the Accent manages to post up impressive fuel economy numbers as well. The Accent is rate at 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

"Accent's class-leading standard fuel economy is another showcase of Hyundai's dedication to improving fuel efficiency with advancements to traditional gasoline powered vehicles and is the fourth nameplate in Hyundai's lineup delivering 40 mpg on the highway."

The 2012 Accent is priced from $12,445, and will be available in sedan and hatchback models.

Updated 4/20/2011 @ 5:12pm EST

Here's another 40MPG vehicle for you today. Mazda just announced that its 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engine would be made available in the 2012 Mazda3 (both sedan and hatchback models). The Mazda3 may be known for its handling prowess, but it's equally well known for its relatively low fuel efficiency compared to its other compact rivals. 

The new SKYACTIV-G engine (155hp @ 6,000 rpm, 148 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm) solves that problem by improving fuel economy from 24/33 (city/highway) in the previous 2.0-liter engine with a 5-speed automatic to 28/40 with a 5-speed automatic (sedan). Those who opt to row their own gears will see returns of 27/39.

The hatchback (which previously was only available with the 2.5-liter engine) will also now have the SKYACTIV-G option. In hatchback form, the vehicle achieves 28/38 with an automatic transmission and 27/38 with the manual transmission.

In addition to the new engine option, the 2012 Mazda3 models also get an updated front fascia that has less of a "smile" and revamped rear taillights.

"SKYACTIV is not just an engine; it is the next generation of advanced vehicle performance and efficiency," said Jim O'Sullivan, President and CEO, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). "SKYACTIV embodies Mazda's philosophy of engineering only vehicles that are fun to drive, satisfying to own and environmentally responsible; and there is no better vehicle to start with than the Mazda3, one of the most exciting sport compact cars on the road."

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RE: Nice.
By headbox on 4/20/2011 4:51:03 PM , Rating: -1
Look at you, reviewing cars based on the interior plastic. I'm surprised you didn't tell us how Lady GaGa sounds on the stereo. Fact is, Japanese cars like the Honda Accord remain on top where it matters- performance, handling, reliability, and resale value. The Accord is the ONLY car in its class with standard traction/stability control. It leads the skidpad test at the track. It has the highest resale value, far and away better than a Chevy or Korean car. Oh, and the interior is nice too... since that's all you care about.

RE: Nice.
By Nutzo on 4/20/2011 6:04:33 PM , Rating: 3
Don't care much about resell value, as I drive my cars until that are almost falling apart. After 10+ years there is little difference in resell value.

Of course I try to buy cars that will last for 10+ years, which generally means Toyota or Honda.

For people who disagree with me, check out Consumer Reports long-term reliabiity charts. There's little difference between cars the first 2-3 years, but after 5 years the gap starts to widen, and after 7 years there's a huge difference in reliability.

The only cars listed here that get significantly better milage are the hybreds, which turn a $23K car into a $28K car. Not worth the additional $5K unless you do alot of city driving. Of course this might change if gas end up over $6 a gallon.

RE: Nice.
By therealnickdanger on 4/21/2011 1:51:42 PM , Rating: 3
In any event, if someone is really so concerned about gas prices that he buys a new car, something is definitely off. Unless that person is already upside down on a car loan that gets him 8 MPG, it would be very hard to make a financial case for buying a new fuel-friendly car. The savings will most likely never be realized. A used Civic will fetch under 5K, be cheaper than dirt to maintain and fix even with high miles and problems, cheap to insure, and get you from Point A to Point B while getting 40MPG.

Meh, to each his own.

RE: Nice.
By JediJeb on 4/22/2011 10:04:53 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, I did the math the last time gas was this high and with as little as I drive going from 18mpg in my truck to 36mpg in a small car I would need to find one I could purchase with $80/month payments to make the gas saving pay for it. Not even the $10k Versa would fit that bill with less than 10 years of payments.

If you are in need of a new car then these would be some great picks to replace what you have, but if you are just looking to save money, be sure you do the math so that you don't end up paying out more while thinking you are saving, many times you are not saving any money at all.

RE: Nice.
By XSpeedracerX on 4/20/2011 6:42:25 PM , Rating: 2
A) Please take the mixture of tobacco sauce and crushed glass out of your vagina. It appears to be ruining your mood.

B) Paragraph long blurbs =/= car reviews. Also, as totally shocking as this may come to be to you, not everyone's paragraph long blurbs about random ass cars they read about on the internet are going to mirror yours. Not this does not mean the universe is falling apart and it's time to start throwing flames when you find this out. It means that the human race is varied and opinions will vary accordingly to said variance.

C)Pay attention folks. Here's why you should not speak as if the facts are on your side before making sure that is the case. Yay objectivity.

Fact is, Japanese cars like the Honda Accord

The grayest blandest car in the japanease market is going to be your example of glorious nippon superiority? Seriously?

remain on top where it matters- performance

2011 Accord: 271 hp
2011 Charger: 371 hp
2011 VW CC: 300hp

All are within 500lb of eachother, all (except the CC) and hover around $30k. Sorry, but the Accord is demonstratively slower. Even if we restrict ourselves to japan, we still have the Maxima which is faster still.

(Before anyone screams 'evo!' yeah I know, but who cross shops an accord with an evo?)


Here we go with the 'handling' argument, as if every car coming from the land of the rising sun has the poise of a heavily modded s2000. I can tell you've formed your opinion about cars before even doing any real research. The M3 is regarded as the most balanced, poised, well handling road car in it's class. Recently, motor trend handed both this car and a 2011 mustang to a professional driver on a closed track. They both turned in statistically identical lap times.

Can you name one japanease car brand new unmodded that will do this for under $40 grand? I can tell you right now, it certainly isn't the accord nor is it anything honda makes today, what with them axing the NSX and killing off the s2000 in the first place...

reliability, and resale value

Of course. When you make engines that have microscopic torque peaks that arrive way late in the revline, it's hard to break things like trannies and CV joints. Quality control's easy to do on major components like tansaxles and engines when all of it comes in one really small package that fits in one place.

Of course, none of that will help make the car fast and the price of making all that fun power comes in the form of increased wear and tear on the drive train. So it appears you must make a trade-off in power if you want reliablilty - a trade off honda has been comfortable with for much too long.

The Accord is the ONLY car in its class with standard traction/stability control.

Haha. You realize the first thing someone looking to wring the most out of their car on a track does it to reach for the 'TCC off' switch right? The cluelessness here is pretty amazing.

It leads the skidpad test at the track.

Lets see what MT's skid pad says...

2008 Accord V-6: (lateral acceleration) 0.78 g (avg) (Figure eight) 28.0 sec @ 0.60 g (avg)
2011 Dodge Charger R/T: (lateral acceleration) 0.86 g (avg) (Figure eight) 26.0 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)
2009 Volkswagen CC V6: (lateral Acceleration) 0.87 g (avg) (figure eight) 27.1 sec @ 0.64 g (avg)

Sorry. But the Accord handles demonstratively worse than it's competitors, which is honestly shocking to me; The charger is renown for it's crappy handling and with the accord being the lighter car I thought for sure it would pull a larger fraction of G and get through the F8 faster. But no. Not the case.

far and away better than a Chevy or Korean car.

Haha. Looks like someone has a bone to pick with Korea. U mad, bro? You realize that the shameful days of the scope plagued with shoddy build quality and bland boring unappealing cars from there are basically over right? It's not 1997 anymore.

Hyundai, in terms of revenue, is around 4 times smaller than Honda, yet we get RWD, V8 power, and the pure balls (considering their laughable automotive history) on their part to mount a challenge against Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus with the Equus. That's astounding, even if it does end up like the Phaeton did, and beside that we have the strong selling genesis duo which paved the way for the idea that they, hyundai Of all people have the credibility to sell a $60k anything in the first place.

What does honda give us? They don't give; they take. Bye bye S2000, bye bye NSX both current and replacement, bye bye RWD platform that Acura desperately needs so they can finally emerge from near-luxury purgatory and helloooooo gray, beige, boring and stagnate. Acura now is being managed the same way Cadillac was in the 90's after the disastrous switch to FWD brand wide (except for trucks) and they're only just now repairing the damage to their cachet as a luxury car maker. It'll work as awesome for Honda as it did for GM and hopefully the recent management shakeup at the top of Honda will right the ship and steer it back toward the innovative F1 inspired Honda of yesteryear, the Honda that would have produced a competitor to the LF-A and GT-R by now. There are examples in Honda's history of real performance cars. They aren't being made today though, and the accord (lol) was never one of them.

RE: Nice.
By Reclaimer77 on 4/20/11, Rating: -1
RE: Nice.
By YashBudini on 4/20/2011 10:43:16 PM , Rating: 2
Low rolling resistance tires, used to increase mileage, are also low friction tires. Put any high performance tire on a car and watch ABS kick in far less frequently. Who says so? People who buy real tires at Tirerack.

The 87 Integra engine was very undersquare but very smooth, which proves car companies can do as they please when they address the issues. 3300 RPM at 65 mph(appx) was not a headache. 5th to 3rd downshifts were fun.

Stock tires on a Ford Fusion are an abomination.

RE: Nice.
By FITCamaro on 4/20/11, Rating: 0
RE: Nice.
By Spuke on 4/21/2011 12:42:07 AM , Rating: 3
That Mustang vs. M3 comparison was the M3 vs. a 2012 Boss 302.
NOPE!!! It was the regular, fully loaded (except sunroof) Mustang GT. Also, the M3 had the new Competition Package installed too. And the Mustang only lost by .09 second in the hands of Randy Pobst and WON by .55 second in the MT reviewers hands.

RE: Nice.
By Reclaimer77 on 4/21/11, Rating: 0
RE: Nice.
By Spuke on 4/21/2011 5:49:06 PM , Rating: 2
Spend one day in the M3 and I guarantee you won't care what times the Mustang can get on a track.
Not me. I prefer owning cars that aren't supposed to be fast yet are. Besides, my $60k would go on a Cayman S not an M3 if I were buying new and if I were buying used, it would still go on the Cayman S. Did I mention I like the Cayman S? ;)

RE: Nice.
By Noya on 4/21/2011 10:12:11 PM , Rating: 2
I too have dreams of owning a Cayman S. Unfortunately, the pre-09 (911's also) are at risk of engine failure. Look up IMS and RMS issues.

RE: Nice.
By theapparition on 4/21/2011 9:56:50 AM , Rating: 2
They've done wonders with the live axle in the Mustang.

Problem is, driving on tracks doesn't mimic real life. Hit a bump while turning in the Mustang and the rear will let loose. Just can't avoid that and something that skidpads and smooth tracks won't show.

I'll still take a IRS anyday, because even though I track quite frequently, I still have to live with them in the real world.

RE: Nice.
By Spuke on 4/21/2011 5:56:03 PM , Rating: 2
I'll still take a IRS anyday, because even though I track quite frequently, I still have to live with them in the real world.
This is what kills the Mustang although I THINK Car and Driver said the mid-corner bump live axle deal wasn't present in the new Mustang. Their words were that the live axle in the Mustang has been tamed. Pobst did mention in the MT test that he didn't like the shock dampening at high speeds. Most of us probably wouldn't see that problem.

RE: Nice.
By YashBudini on 4/20/2011 10:56:14 PM , Rating: 2
2011 Accord: 271 hp
2011 Charger: 371 hp
2011 VW CC: 300hp

Are you serious? Newsflash, every minute your car is at the shop on a lift is another minute my slower car is ahead of yours. 268,000 miles, try catching that.

Same pattern at the gas pump too.

RE: Nice.
By Targon on 4/21/2011 4:49:10 AM , Rating: 2
The number of miles you have on your car isn't as important as how you put those miles on. Highway miles will be a lot kinder to a car than stop and go city traffic.

RE: Nice.
By JediJeb on 4/22/2011 10:33:55 AM , Rating: 2
Part of the reason I own my truck, 220K miles and almost 15 years old and still going strong. Stop and go driving more than highway and also off road driving mixed in. I have a fuel pump starting to act a little squirrely but an easy fix, overall much better durability than any car I ever owned.

When I do buy a new car it will probably be the Mustang, once I can afford one. Though I must admit for the price that Versa is tempting.

As for all the performance arguments going on, I did own a 99 Trans Am and though it was fun I was glad to be rid of it overall. It just wasn't that exciting when 99% of the time you were just riding around in traffic in an uncomfortable, noisy car that I had to crawl out of when I got were I was going. If it didn't have the premier stereo option in it you would never have been able to hear it over the road noise, my 4x4 has less tire and gear noise than that thing did.

Some people like to think they are driving on the race track every day, some like me don't. Mostly I just want to be able to get where I am going, in something that is highly reliable and doesn't leave me cramping from sitting so long in an uncomfortable position. For me sports cars are ok for a fun weekend drive but terrible for the daily commute to work. Just give me something cheap, reliable and comfortable and I will be happy, though that hardly exists anymore.

RE: Nice.
By Keeir on 4/21/2011 6:33:38 PM , Rating: 2
268,000 miles

7,500-8,000 hours. More than 1 year of awake time (16 hour days).

I don't know. I would trade a few more shop visits and expense if I got a little more fun. Thats a -long- time to be trapped intro driving a boring biege automoble.

Of course, if your the type of person who driving is a chore, then I can understand going with a super reliable or a super low cost option.

RE: Nice.
By YashBudini on 4/21/2011 8:55:53 PM , Rating: 2
Driving fast on the interstate is a waste of effort and money. And it's not really fun.

On twisty backroads I have fun, not by stepping so much on the gas, as not stepping on the brakes. I'm harsh on tires, not drivetrains.

7,500-8,000 hours. More than 1 year of awake time (16 hour days).

Doesn't include red lights, stuck in traffic, etc. But yeah I do a lot of highway driving, I tend to get 90K miles out of my brakes as I cover distances of 60-85 miles without braking, ie I never tailgate.

RE: Nice.
By Keeir on 4/22/2011 4:43:13 PM , Rating: 2
All you are saying is that

"Yes to me, driving is a chore"

If the only valid way to do something was the lowest cost approach, then many many many things shouldn't exist in this world.

RE: Nice.
By YashBudini on 4/25/2011 11:41:57 PM , Rating: 2
Driving fast on local highways is not a chore, it's flat out futile. Between the amount of traffic, the slow vehicles in the left lane, the number of cops, and the insurance hits why bother?

If you want to drive fast find a track. Fewer texting while driving there.

RE: Nice.
By mindless1 on 4/20/2011 10:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
These are road cars not track cars, with an emphasis on high MPG. Even if they could get near the same MPG with a higher torque engine or @ lower RPM, it would simply be a poor design decision to pair it with transmission or suspension components that can't handle the extra stress.

In the end, it doesn't matter why an Accord is more reliable, only that it is. It's not a race car, it's everyday transportation.

RE: Nice.
By Dr of crap on 4/21/2011 8:42:00 AM , Rating: 2
Do you work for some car company??

I wouldn't even read your novel you wrote!

Please stop reviewing cars like it's something we want to read!

RE: Nice.
By headbox on 4/24/2011 9:33:00 PM , Rating: 2
What part of SEDAN don't you understand you illiterate moron?! Charger?!

RE: Nice.
By BZDTemp on 4/20/2011 6:51:29 PM , Rating: 2
Do tell how you know the Honda is better handling than the Mazda?

In fact it's all new cars here so how do you know the Honda is better than any of them?

Not that I dislike the Accord it just your statements seem a little to much "internet expert" like if you get my meaning.

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