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
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."