Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Eco with manual transmission delivers an exceptional 42 miles per gallon on the highway. City mileage is 28 mpg. That means this not-a-diesel, uses-no-hydrogen and doesn’t-have-a-hybrid-battery-pack Chevy gets better fuel highway economy than the current Ford Fusion Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid

The entire Cruze line looks and feels rich and well finished. Especially because the Cruze Eco version rides on a slightly lowered suspension (for aerodynamics) and has unique lightweight 17-inch aluminum wheels (for low rolling resistance), the highest-mileage Cruze is also one of the best-looking small Chevys.

The engine is a modern 138-horsepower Ecotec 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Don’t let the turbo scare you, or the fact that the engine is only 85 cubic inches. Modern turbochargers are exponentially more reliable and durable than those of the 1980s and 1990s. More importantly, small engines are becoming mainstream. Thankfully, turbos help them deliver the power of larger engines

The Cruze Eco easily scoots from zero to 60 mph in around 10 seconds, which – when compared to most hyper-efficient cars – isn’t too shabby. While there is some minor turbo lag, it isn’t significant, and it’s certainly nothing like it used to be in the old days when you could count to “two-Mississippi” before anything would happen after you floored the accelerator.

The six-speed manual also does its part in the mileage equation. The top three gears (fourth through sixth) are all special gas-saving ratios.

Improved aerodynamics also enhance the Cruze’s mileage. While you can’t see them from the outside of the car, the Cruze Eco has shutters that open and close behind the grille. Sensors know when to shut them to reduce aerodynamic drag and add as much as one-quarter mpg. While that doesn’t sound like much, every little bit helps.

The fact that weight-saving efforts pulled 125 pounds out of the Cruze Eco (compared to a similarly equipped non-Eco mode) helps efficiency and the Cruze’s handling.

Designed to go head to head with the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus, when it comes to cabin and cargo space the Eco is the clear leader. A seeming small amount of extra space makes a noticeable difference in compact cars. Passenger volume for the Cruze is 95 cubic feet, besting the Honda Civic’s 91 cubic feet, the Toyota Corolla’s 92 cubic feet and the 93 cubic feet in the Ford Focus. Trunk volume, at 15.4 cubic feet, also bests the competition

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