It sounds too good to be true: hybrid-like fuel economy without paying a hybrid-like price. 

Yet that is just what Chevrolet believes it can deliver in the new Cruze Eco introduced at the New York International Auto Show.  

The high-efficiency 2011 version of Chevy’s upcoming compact car is powered by a 1.4-liter Ecotec turbocharged engine that achieves an estimated 40 miles per gallon on the highway. Variable valve timing, a six-speed manual transmission with an ultrahigh sixth gear and many other tweaks help the model achieve that impressive mileage rating. Chevy expects the Eco to deliver the best fuel economy in the compact-sedan segment, despite the fact the upcoming model is larger than most vehicles in the class. 

Instead of an expensive hybrid powertrain, the added fuel economy comes from attention to detail. For example, the car is equipped with a lower front grille air shutter that closes at higher speeds to improve aerodynamics and opens at lower speeds to optimize engine-cooling airflow.  Building on the same theme, the upper grille has more “closeouts” to improve aerodynamics, and an extension has been added to the lower front air dam. Lowered ride height, extensive use of underbody panels and a rear spoiler enhance aerodynamics as well. The Cruze Eco also benefits from ultralow rolling resistance 17-inch tires on forged aluminum wheels.

Performance doesn’t suffer nearly as much as one might guess. Chevrolet estimates the Cruze Eco will deliver 0 to 60 mph performance of about 10 seconds with the manual transmission and nine seconds with the six-speed automatic, but the automatic will offer poorer highway fuel economy.

At the New York Auto Show, Chevrolet showed the Cruze Eco and Cruze RS. The RS is an available package on the LT and LTZ trim models and is designed for customers who want more personality and presence in their vehicles. The Eco has a number of design and engineering components that help it achieve up to 40 mpg on the highway. Learn more about the features of these two new Cruzes.



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