General Motors announced today that the Chevrolet Cruze Eco, which goes on sale in January 2011 for $18,895, delivers an EPA-estimated 42 mpg (5.6 lt/100 km) on the highway and 28 mpg (8.4 lt/100 km) in city, delivering a better fuel efficiency than hybrid models like the Ford Fusion Hybrid or Toyota Camry Hybrid.
The Detroit automaker's engineers achieved this by making the powertrain more efficient, further reducing the car's weight and improving the Cruze's aerodynamic coefficient.
The Cruze Eco is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, delivering 138 hp and 148 lb-ft (200 Nm) of torque. To get the most out of it, GM optimized the torque range and made the peak value constant between 1,850-4,900 rpm. Furthermore, the transmission's gearing has been adjusted for the model's 17-inch wheel and tire combination. Low gears have aggressive ratios, while the sixth is a "tall" gear, better suited for highway driving.
The announced fuel economy concerns the model with the manual transmission , but there's also a 6-speed automatic available, with EPA-estimated fuel ratings of 26 mpg (9.05 lt/100 km) city and 37 mpg (6.53 lt/100 km) highway.
The Cruze Eco underwent a thorough mass-optimization process as well. It tips the scales at 3,009 lbs (1365 kg), meaning it's 214 lbs (97 kg) lighter than the Cruze 1LT. Weight-saving measures include the use of lighter wheels and tires, as well as reduced weld flange length and sheet metal gauge thickness.
Aerodynamic improvements are just as important when aiming for low fuel consumption and the Cruze Eco is a rolling proof of this. According to GM, "aerodynamic improvements over non-Eco manual-transmission models contributed approximately six mpg to the Cruze's EPA-estimated 42 mpg highway fuel economy." Engineers used lower front air dam extensions, rear spoiler and underbody panels that smooth the airflow beneath the car. They also lowered the ride height.
The technical tour de force is completed by the air shutter incorporated in the lower front grille that closes at higher speeds to reduce drag and opens at lower speeds to optimize engine cooling.
Below you can see how the Cruze Eco stacks up to non-hybrid and hybrid competitors
By Csaba Daradics