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Chevrolet Cruze Eco achieves EPA-rated 42 mpg on highway (updated table)

The non-hybrid 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco delivers an EPA-estimated 42 mpg on the highway (manual transmission models), with city fuel economy of 28 mpg. Cruze Eco’s highway fuel economy beats non-hybrid segment competitors—including 23% greater highway fuel economy than the Honda Civic—as well as the Ford Fiesta subcompact and hybrid models, including the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid. The Cruze Eco carries an MSRP of US$18,895 (including destination charge). It goes on sale in January.

Cruze’s engineers focused on aerodynamic performance (with some improvements derivative of GM’s work with the Volt), mass optimization and powertrain enhancements.

We left no stone unturned or piece of sheet metal un-weighed. Our engineers were comprehensive and thorough when it came to evaluating and modifying the aspects of the car’s performance that contribute to fuel economy.

—Chuck Russell, vehicle line director

Aerodynamics. Aerodynamic improvements over non-Eco manual-transmission models contributed approximately six mpg to the Cruze’s EPA-estimated 42 mpg highway fuel economy. Many were developed and refined in more than 500 hours of wind-tunnel testing of the Chevy Volt, which shares a core architecture with the Cruze. Examples include the upper grille, which has more “closeouts” to improve aerodynamics, a lower front air dam extension, a rear spoiler, a lowered ride height and underbody panels that smooth airflow beneath the car.

The Eco model also features an all-new technology in the compact segment: a lower front grille air shutter that closes at higher speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag and opens at lower speeds to optimize engine-cooling airflow. Another contributor to reduced drag is the use of ultra-low rolling resistance 17-inch Goodyear tires (used with lightweight wheels), which are also used on the Volt.

As a result of the aero enhancements, aerodynamic drag was reduced by 10% over a non-Eco model, with a coefficient of drag of 0.298. That places Cruze at the top of the class for mainstream compact cars, according to GM.

Mass optimization. More than 42 changes were made on the Eco to reduce weight. It weighs in at 3,009 pounds (1,365 kg), compared to the 3,223 pounds (1,462 kg) of the Cruze 1LT. Cruze engineers looked at all aspects of the vehicle’s construction, including hundreds of weld flanges on the vehicle. They were reduced 1 mm to 2 mm in length, which saved several pounds, while the sheet metal gauge thickness was reduced by about 0.1 mm in select components. This saved weight while preserving structural integrity.

Lighter wheels and tires are used on the Eco. They’re 17-inch alloy units with Goodyear tires that weigh 36.5 pounds (16.6 kg) apiece—5.3 pounds (2.4 kg) less than the 16-inch wheel/tires of the Cruze 1LT for a complete savings to the vehicle of 21.2 pounds (9.6 kg).

Efficient powertrain. Cruze Eco is powered by the power-dense Ecotec 1.4L turbocharged engine and a standard six-speed manual transmission. The transmission’s gearing is optimized for the model’s specific 17-inch wheel/tire combination and includes aggressive ratios for first and second gear coupled with a highly efficient, “taller” sixth-gear ratio for highway driving. That means engine rpm is reduced on the highway, which in turn reduces fuel consumption. A six-speed automatic transmission is available, with EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 26 city and 37 highway.

The Ecotec 1.4L turbo’s power ratings are 138 horsepower (103 kW) and 148 lb-ft of torque (200 N·m) between 1,850 rpm and 4,900 rpm. The wide rpm range for the maximum torque—a specific trait of turbocharged engines—helps the engine deliver a better driving experience and performance. The turbocharger is integrated within the exhaust manifold, for reduced weight and greater packaging flexibility.

The engine also features premium design elements that give it smoothness and durability while also contributing to the Cruze Eco’s lower curb weight. They include a cast iron block with a hollow frame structure, hollow-cast camshafts and a plastic intake manifold.

Cruze Eco and segment competitors
ModelEPA city fuel economyEPA highway fuel economy
Chevrolet Cruze Eco 28 mpg 42 mpg
Chevrolet Cruze (1.4L turbo, auto 6) 24 mpg 36 mpg
Toyota Corolla 26 mpg 35 mpg
Honda Civic 26 mpg 34 mpg
Ford Focus 25 mpg 35 mpg
Hyundai Elantra 26 mpg 35 mpg

Cruze Eco and select hybrids
ModelEPA city fuel economyEPA highway fuel economy Price
Chevrolet Cruze Eco 28 mpg 42 mpg $18,895
2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid (FWD) 41 mpg 36 mpg $27,950
2011 Nissan Altima Hybrid 33 mpg 33 mpg $26,780
2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid 31 mpg 35 mpg $26,150

Comments

fsdriver

OOps, meant to type Cruze with 42 mpg under the new system, would have been 45 just a couple of years ago!

Like others though, I would look forward to a Civic Diesel!

the doctor

Having had several GM cars, I have to question whether those numbers are GM estimates or actual EPA test numbers. the EPA tests less than 10% of the cars to create the numbers, allowing the manufacturers to create their own estimates otherwise. GM has rarely disappointed in having high numbers but always disappointed in actual mileage, with the caveat that EPA test data is for comparison only and not representative of actual driving. Their focus on aerodynamic shape may be an issue, since the EPA uses estimates of resistance to make up for the fact they are using a dyno. No matter, I have no intention of buying a GM ever again. I never liked Fords, but I have to admit liking the Fusion hybrid..though a Leaf is in my future.

sd

@Lucas

"The general lack of acceptance of Diesels in the US flows from what GM did in the late 70's, early 80's.

They converted a gasoline (design) engine to a Diesel without beefing up the connecting rods and bearings. They often totally destroyed themselves on trips at high speeds."

This is a common misconception but is completely untrue. Not one part on the GM 5.7 diesel engine was interchangeable with the 5.7 gas engine and the crank, block, connecting rods were considerably stronger. Where the urban myth that the engine was just a modified gas engine came from is that GM modified a block machining line that had been used to manufacture 5.7 liter gas engines to manufacture the 5.7 liter diesel engine. The only similarities were that some of the base dimensions of the engine such as the deck height (dimension from the crank center line to the head interface), the bore spacing and the head bolt patterns were the same.

How do I know this? At the time, I worked in Warren Michigan as an mechanical engineer for the largest manufacturer of these machine tool lines and saw first hand the different parts that went into these engines. The cost of these machining lines could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars and were the most expensive item in developing a new engine.

I also had a 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass with the diesel engine as my company car. Was it a great engine? No, it was not one of GM's finest engines. However having driven a contemporary Mercedes 240D, I would rate it much better than the Mercedes in that it would reliably start at -10 F and had sufficient power to keep up with traffic. It would deliver about 32 MPG at extra legal highway speeds of 70 MPH which was exceptional at that time. Anyway, the major problems were not the crank and rod bearings but the injector pump. The early ones also had cam follower problems but that was fixed by going to roller cam followers.
I did drive it for about 160,000 miles before junking it but I have driven my more recent GM products for at least 250,000 miles and drove my last GM pickup for 326,000 miles without any major repairs. It was driven hard including many miles off road with a camper plus I bought it used and the previous owner had used it for as a work truck and for towing.

The reason why diesel engines are not more common in the US has more to do with our emission standards and the relatively lower cost of fuel in the US. In some European countries, I believe that the tax laws favor diesel fuel while in the US, the current price of diesel fuel is higher than gasoline.


Duncan

Too bad GM doesn't offer a 3 cylinder option for the Aveo but in any event it is obvious that CAFE standards could be 40 or 50% higher today, since the technology is here now. It is pretty amazing that a 3000lb car can achieve 42MPG hwy (61 MPG in the Cdn test cycle)when my 2000lb 1L 3cylinder 1997 Geo Metro was only able to get 65mpg (cdn). If we applied the same technology to much lighter cars, than over 80mpg (cdn) should be possible and I see that the 2 cylinder Fiat 500 is getting 78 MPG in the UK Hwy cycle.

HarveyD

SD: You just about made a perfect demonstration that GM (and probably the other Big-3) should limit their production to small trucks and vans (what they do best) and leave the rest of the market to others who build better higher quality small, mid-size and large cars.

sd

@HarveyD

Get down off your high horse and take a Cruze for a test drive. I did exactly that this past Saturday as I was curious about the engine. Anyway, it is a very nice car and had more leg room than any car or truck that I have been in. I usually get in a vehicle and put the seat all the way back. The seat went too far back to do this. The interior is nice, the car drives well and has a lower comparable price than the Japanese competitors. The auto transmission even had an manual up down shift mode if you want to play boy racer. This is not what GM used to put out for compact cars.

Also, my son has a 2006 Chevy HHR which also drives well, has a lot of inside space for the size of the vehicle and gets better gas mileage than the EPA ratings. Another reasonable recent GM offering.

SJC

GM will have to continue to show they can make fuel efficient vehicles people want to buy and can afford. They are off to a good start. They just have to keep up the good work and develop a reputation that people like.

It is the decades of producing less then competitive products in this category that does more to hold them back. If someone wants one of these types of cars they think of Honda, Mazda, Toyota or others, not GM.

HarveyD

Patrick. The world may be due for an International set of fuel consumption test based on the distance traveled (in Km) with one (1) liter of fuel. That method is already in use in Japan. The Japanese system, with a few adjustments, could be used as the foundation of the new International system.

USA could modify the maths to fit Miles and US gallons for their local use only.

All manufacturers would have to give fuel consumption of their products based of the International system.

So simple a solution.

Patrick

"So simple a solution."

Yes a simple solution, but it is never a simple task to implement anything in an international way.

Account Deleted

According to GM the Chevrolet Cruze Eco will get fourty mpg on the highway. It does that with the assistance of a feature unusual in the compact segment – automatic shutters in the lower front fascia that close when the car reaches a speed of 37 mph, much like an automatic spoiler on sports cars that raises when the specific speed is reached.

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