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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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nice job
By Argon18 on 4/20/2011 10:46:13 PM , Rating: 1
well done guys, you're finally approaching 40 mpg in a mid-size car. something that most mid-size cars in europe have been delivering for two decades now, using 4 cylinder turbo diesel engines. the only difference, is now that you've reached 40 mpg's, if you look at today's turbo diesel offerings in europe, 50, 60, 70, and even 80 miles per gallon is readily available today. time to catch up again guys.

RE: nice job
By ARoyalF on 4/21/2011 4:24:15 AM , Rating: 2
Dont be so smug. Get our fuel refineries to make that low sulphur diesel we always hear about.

Right now diesel is 10ยข above premium 91oct here. The payoff is obvious. However, a couple years ago, I remember it being over a dollar more. Its not as cut and dried as you Europeans make it out to be for diesel here. When its really clear which version of a car (diesel/Otto cycle) is more economical ( cost Delta vs fuel cost Delta) to operate, people will flock to it.

What is your fuel cost? 87oct is $4.38 here in So Cal.

RE: nice job
By Targon on 4/21/2011 4:51:27 AM , Rating: 2
You forgot to mention that they use the Imperial Gallon in Europe, which is 20 percent larger than the gallon we use here in the USA.

RE: nice job
By ARoyalF on 4/21/2011 5:24:28 AM , Rating: 2
Thank you Targon, I missed that completely.

RE: nice job
By Noya on 4/21/2011 10:16:07 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention your EU fuel is of much higher octane and not watered down with corn ethanol. Go corporate America!

RE: nice job
By chick0n on 4/21/2011 12:52:41 PM , Rating: 1
You failed math in school didn't you?

You need to get your facts straight before you spill your next bullshit out.

RE: nice job
By Keeir on 4/21/2011 6:59:32 PM , Rating: 2

My brain hurts.

European Numbers are higher for a variety of reasons

#1. They are typically based on Imperial Gallons. Imperial Gallons are significantly larger than US Gallons.

#2. European Test Driving cycles typically require 20%+ less energy per mile due to less varied speed conditions and lower overall speeds.

#3. For manual cars, the shift sequences in Europe are designed for economy while the US shift sequence is significantly less efficient.

If we go look at the United Kingdom VW site, we can look at the Passat CC, a Midsized Flashy car in the US.

The 2.0L TSI DSG gets 36.2 miles per Imperial Gallon and the very best 2.0L TDI DSG gets 53.3 miles per Imperial Gallon.

The 2.0L TSI DSG gets 23.5 miles per US Gallon. Thats right, the SAME car. At best, the Passat CC with 2.0L TDI DSG Bluemotion would get 34.6 MPG combined in the US. Like a 30/40 MPG spread. IE, pretty similiar to the Malibu ECO at 26/38. And isn't these Bluemotion type cars relatively recent?

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