Chevy Cruze Eco Joins the 40-MPG Club

Chevrolet will use the 2010 New York Auto Show, kicking off this week, to formally unveil the Cruze Eco—a conventional gas-burning car that could give hybrids a run for the money. When it hits dealerships in late 2010, it will be the only conventional US model to break 40-mpg, either on the highway or in the city. Every other 40-mpg-plus car, with the exception of the ultra-compact Smart ForTwo, is either a hybrid or a clean diesel.

Moreover, the Cruze Eco uses more affordable internal combustion technology—such as turbocharging—to deliver its exceptional fuel economy. Some forecasters believe the race to greater efficiency will be between hybrids that will become cheaper with greater volumes—and small ultra-efficient gas vehicles, using relatively affordable efficiency strategies like better aerodynamics, lighter materials, low-resistance tires and turbocharging. Chevy has not yet announced official mileage or pricing.

The fuel efficiency battle—fueled in part by higher fuel efficiency requirements starting in 2012—will not be an either-or situation. In the coming years, consumers will have a growing number of choices employing a range of technologies—all trying to offer the highest efficiency in the most compelling package at the greatest value. “The Cruze Eco delivers hybrid-like efficiency without the price tag,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president Chevrolet marketing.

It’s Not A Hybrid, But…

The Chevrolet Cruze Eco is propelled by the new turbocharged 1.4-liter Ecotec inline four-cylinder. The 1.4 turbo is rated at 138 horsepower and a healthy 148 pound-feet of torque. Chevrolet estimates the Cruze Eco will deliver 0-60 mph performance of about 10 seconds with the manual transmission, and 9 seconds with the six-speed automatic. (The automatic versions may not break the 40-mpg mark.)

Chevy Cruze Eco
Chevy Cruze Eco

The Cruze Eco uses other innovative strategies to squeeze out more mileage. For example, the compact car reduces drag at higher speeds by closing of shutters in its lower grille. Also contributing to the car’s elevated fuel efficiency are a deep front air dam and under-body panels.

In addition to the Eco model, the Cruze will also be offered in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels. The LS gets a 1.8-liter four, while the two higher trims get the turbo. Drivers wishing for a sportier appearance can opt for the RS package, which adds fog lamps, rocker panel extensions and a rear spoiler. The RS pack also brings an upgraded interior featuring chrome trim and backlit instrument cluster bezels.

The Eco model is getting attention for its efficiency, but it’s also getting notice for decent looks. Motortrend reports that Eco model will ride on a dropped suspension. “Equipped thus, and riding on unique—and not altogether unattractive—multispoke 17-inch wheels, the Eco model [on sale in Europe and Asia since early 2009] actually winds up being one of the nicest-looking Cruze models we’ve yet seen.”


  • Shines

    I must admit I had to read this line 3 times before I got it:
    “When it hits dealerships in late 2010, it will be the only conventional US model to break 40-mpg, either on the highway or in the city.”
    So it is the first conventional US model to get over 40 mpg on the highway. I doubt it will be getting 40 mpg in the city however.
    Now if Chevy could improve the durability of the interior and accessories to last as long as the engine and transmission I would consider buying one.

  • Charles

    Ford has listed 30/40 MPG for the upcoming Fiesta on their web site. The Fiesta should be on sale in the US this summer according to Ford. According to Chevy the Cruze will be on sale in the third quarter of 2010. Summer and the third quarter overlap, so who will be first?

    There are also rumors that the 2012 Focus will also have a 30/40 MPG version. It will be nice to have a choice of high MPG cars.

  • Samie

    Eco, LS, LT and LTZ?????? may be SS or LX?
    Please GM stop this junk! You can make any claim known to man by placing these “options” at the end of each model.

    I still do not know if turbocharge is an option or if it is standard. Same old marketing tricks and hype

  • CTH

    I think Chevy will be even more dangerous than a Hyundai coffin.

  • CTH

    All these tin cans flying around on the roads scare the sh*t out of me…..enuff already

  • veek

    So … here’s the latest version of the General Motors “Cash for Clunkers” Program.
    You give them your cash, and soon enough, you’ll be driving a clunker!

    Yep, Samie, same old stuff.

  • ms

    I never ride in one cruze.

    However in europe the compare this car
    as a low budget car at the same segment
    of bmw3.

    It may have a lot of defects, but for the price – guss it should be a very good buy.

  • Dom

    Quote “(The automatic versions may not break the 40-mpg mark.)”
    “Go manual transmission!” is all I can say. I’m glad to see new American cars coming out still having a manual option. Simple, cheap, durable, and efficient.

  • mls21

    “Eco, LS, LT and LTZ?????? may be SS or LX?
    Please GM stop this junk! You can make any claim known to man by placing these “options” at the end of each model.”

    You’re right, but this is hardly unique to GM. It’s difficult to find a car that doesn’t have a baffling array of options to wade through. Some companies do it via package deals, and good luck finding one on the lot that has just the “package” you want. GM just handles it by bundled packages that have an insignia on the car. Lexus handles it by changing a digit in the model number (BMW does the same).

    If you read it carefully, it says that the LS option (low end) doesn’t have the turbo. The turbo is standard on the LT and LTZ. Apparently the ECO model also has the turbo.

    Turbos are fine and all, but they have always had short comings. Was the turbo integral to achieving the better mileage? I seriously doubt it, since the addition of a turbo to a standard engine rarely results in better mileage. I wonder what mileage GM could have had if they put the other low drag technology from the ECO model on the LS without the turbo?

    I’ve also never seen a turbo that didn’t at least need mid-grade gasoline to preserve turbo life. I seem to recall that most turbos last about 100,000 miles, although I’m sure you can do better depending on how you drive it. They are not cheap to replace.

  • Samie

    Good points mls21

    Who really remembers a car by trim? For GM the marketing should focus on the standard Cruze model. Every car company offers different trims but for GM they are continuing to decline in market share. Focus on building the brand first and reduce the number of trims offered, as this would help reduce overall costs. Also historically GM suffers an identity crisis by offering products that look similar or have options/features that make them look or feel the same. GM can not afford to compete against itself or advertising vehicles that rarely appeal to a mass market like the ECO manual. As the quality of vehicles continue to improve for GM their marketing strategies need to do the same….

  • mls21

    The best indicator of that failed policy to me is the “SS” badge that had previously slapped on cars like the HHR and Cobalt. An SS Cobalt…seriously? At least they did away with that gaffe. I think more than anything they need to remain consistent from year to year. What I don’t like is the “LT” designation. If you want a car with leather interior from GM, you have to upgrade to the “2LT” option, but the badging on the car is still the same. My wife was recently looking at the new Equinox, so I got pretty familiar with what Chevy has for vehicle designations.

    I actually really liked what Toyota did with the 2010 Prius. The Prius 2, 3, 4, or 5 model kept it pretty simple, although they still add on some dumb package at the dealer to prevent it from rusting and provide some “free” oil changes. Of course my problem there was any Prius on the lot that had leather (a 4 or 5) also had a navigation system that I didn’t want to pay for. Why would I drop over a grand for a navigation system that isn’t as good as one I could pick up for a couple hundred and that I get to keep after I sell the car?

    Anyway, we didn’t end up buying anything. I just always like to vent about car buying :)

  • Charles

    mls21,

    I think you will find that GM is using the turbo on a smaller engine. I had a 1999 VW that did the same thing. It can be a good way to go. Ford is also going that way with the ecoboost engines.

  • AP

    mls21, there were some lame Cobalt SS’s a couple of years ago, but that lesson was (thankfully) learned. But before you criticize the current Cobalt SS, drive one. With a 2.0 liter turbo, it is fast. And it handles.

    BTW, the turbo is instrumental in making the Cruze eco get better fuel economy, because it allows the use of a smaller engine w/o being a dog. As with many other things, there are ways to improve fuel economy, and most (but not all) cost money.

  • mls21

    I’ll pass on the Cobalt test drive. If I want to go fast I’ll hop in an SS Camaro:)

    Do any of you know if these new turbocharged models required mid range or premium gas? I have not seen the specs for any low displacement engine with a turbo to know if they require it. Higher displacement cars usually recommend it to protect the turbo. I’d be surprised if these cars were any different.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Go GM !?
    You’re finally doing what you should have done 30 years ago – fixing the ICE. Too bad the train has already left the station.
    The electric drivetrain will render all these desperate measures to preserve the dinosaur (ICE) to be in vain.

  • BgDddy

    40 mpg should’ve been the standard 10-20 years ago. This is not bad but looks a little late. EV, FCV, CNGV need to be the wave of the future as we look to remove our dependency on any oil.

  • Daniel Watkins

    Aptera 2e FTW. Half the emissions of the Toyota Prius after calculating the emissions given off as a result of generating the electricity at a power plant to run it.

  • chris Franks

    Yes, the turbo is integral to the mileage. The 1.4 motor runs without the turbo when you are just driving. The turbo only kicks on when you are passing or accelerating. I’ve never heard of any trouble with turbo motors only lasting 100,000 miles. I’m not sure of the difference but look at trucks with turbo diesels. They last well over 300,000 miles.

  • RCA

    Shines:
    The reason they said it that way is because gas only cars get better mpg on the hwy, hybrids get better in the city. So saying it that way covers both kinds. Got it now?
    They didn’t say it would get 40 in the city. That’s why they used the word “or.”
    Now go back to your Bush memoir.

  • Vantage

    I’m using Chevy Cruze LS 2010 from 7 months aprox.
    The average KPL i’m getting is 8.431
    Is it fine ???
    Please advise…

  • tapra1

    using relatively affordable efficiency strategies like better aerodynamics, lighter materials, low-resistance tires and turbocharging. Chevy has not yet announced official mileage or pricing.Tech Blog

  • johnny R

    i have the 1.4l turbo, and never get better then 30mpg (miles driven / gallons used). i was promised 39!