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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: But mpg at what constant speed?
By nullCRC on 4/21/2011 11:21:52 AM , Rating: 2
Of course I realize that, but on the flipside Crap doc, what speed are they getting those numbers? At what speed do the manu. say the vehicle is getting 40mpg? 40mpg is great, but not if its at 55mph. Most places are 55mph anymore, thus its irrelevant/deceptive advertising practices. If its considerably less at 70mph, then it may be on par with the mpg that other cars are getting that cannot state a 40mpg.

RE: But mpg at what constant speed?
By Dr of crap on 4/21/2011 12:29:24 PM , Rating: 2
Hey thanks,

Maybe you should check with the EPA as to how THEY come up with the numbers, instead of whinning!!

The rest of us will wait.

RE: But mpg at what constant speed?
By nullCRC on 4/21/2011 1:26:32 PM , Rating: 2
You're useless banter helped a lot. Oh that's right, Crap doc...

Those MPG ratings mean crap if you are on the interstate IRL. They get those ratings by AVERAGING 48mph over 8 miles, with a top speed max burst of 80mph.

When's the last time you averaged 48mph on a 70mph interstate?

That's unrealistic. In a real world, no one is doing a max of 60mph on a 70mph interstate. They are most likely doing 75-85mph unless behind a cop. Of which case, advertising to the public of "40mpg", while accurate for those test measurements, mean nothing to John Q. Public because they are never going to do a max of 60. If they do, they would be causing a traffic hazard and be written up.

RE: But mpg at what constant speed?
By Spuke on 4/21/2011 6:00:12 PM , Rating: 2
Anecdotal but in my experience, direct injection cars seem to have no problems meeting the EPA freeway numbers. My car is rated at 28 mpg hwy and I easily get 30 mpg averaging 70 mph even with my crappy .42 CD.

RE: But mpg at what constant speed?
By Keeir on 4/21/2011 6:44:54 PM , Rating: 2
Hello NullCRC

Your arguements seems to boil down to

"The EPA doesn't test the exact way I drive"

This is impossible. There are literally thousands of different ways to drive the same stretch of road and a multitude of different conditions. There is no testing solution the EPA can make that will be acceptable for 100% of the driving public.

EPA numbers are meants as a guide for relative comparisons between two models of car.

EPA tests using the following cycles

The EPA numbers are meant to tell the average consumer that on average he will get ~20% better fuel economy with a 2012 Malibu ECO in comparison to a 2011 Malibu 4-cylinder.

EPA cycles actually place a large load on the car as they constantly chage the speed of travel. Accelerating 3,000lb+ objects takes alot of energy.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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