2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco delivers an EPA-estimated 42 mpg on the highway

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 11, 2010

GM released the official fuel economy numbers for the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco. So, the new car was rated by EPA to 42 mpg on the highway (manual transmission models) and 28 mpg in the city.

With these numbers, the 2011 Cruze Eco beats the competition, such as the Honda Civic, or the Ford Fiesta subcompact but also many hybrid models like Ford Fusion Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid.

For those who don’t know, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine delivering 138 horsepower (103 kW) and 148 lb.-ft. of torque (200 Nm) between 1,850 rpm and 4,900 rpm, and mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

A six-speed automatic transmission is also available, with EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 26 city and 37 highway. If you want this car, the 2011 Cruze Eco will carry a base price of $18,895 (including destination charge), and it will go on sale in January 2011.

2011 Chevrolet Cruze has an EPA-estimated highway fuel economy of 42 mpg, six mpg of which could be attributed to the aerodynamic improvements done on its non-Eco manual-transmission models. A number of these improvements were developed and then refined resulting from the more than 500 hours of testing the Chevy Volt on wind tunnels.

Volt has similar core architecture with that of the Cruze. Some of these improvements are the upper grille with more "closeouts". Then there is the front air dam extension and ride height, both of which have been lowered.

The underbody panels have been lowered as well ensuring that there is smooth airflow under the car. There is also the rear spoiler. The Eco model also has new technologies for a compact car. Lower as well, the front grille has air shutters that are able to open when at lower speed in order to optimize the airflow and cool the engines while it closes when at higher speeds to reduce drag.

Reducing the drag as well are the lightweight wheels with the 17-inch Goodyear tires which have ultra-low rolling resistance.

Because of these different improvements, the aerodynamic drag was lowered by 10% compared to the non-Eco model leading to a 0.298 coefficient drag. This is why the Cruze is at the top when it comes to mainstream compact cars.

Press Release

New Chevrolet Cruze Eco Achieves Segment-Leading 42 mpg on the Highway

The official fuel economy numbers for the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco are in and they're good. Segment-leading good. It delivers an EPA-estimated 42 mpg on the highway (manual transmission models), with equally impressive city fuel economy of 28 mpg.

Cruze Eco's highway fuel economy beats non-hybrid segment competitors – including 23 percent greater highway fuel economy than the Honda Civic – as well as the Ford Fiesta subcompact and many hybrid models. In fact, it's better than Ford Fusion Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid.

The Cruze Eco carries an MSRP of $18,895 (including destination charge). It goes on sale in January.

To achieve its segment-leading fuel economy, Cruze's engineers focused on aerodynamic performance, mass optimization and powertrain enhancements. The refinements in each area paid big dividends towards the car's overall efficiency, while providing engineers with valuable information to help enhance the efficiency of future Chevrolet models.

"We left no stone unturned or piece of sheet metal un-weighed," said Russell. "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."

Aero enhancements

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 percent 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.

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. The diet program for the Cruze challenged engineers to look 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 stylish, polished 17-inch alloy units with Goodyear tires that weigh only 36.5 pounds (16.6 kg) apiece. That's 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 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 Nm) 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 world-class 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.

Comparing the competitors

As a result of aerodynamic improvements, mass reduction and powertrain optimization, the Cruze Eco offers the best fuel economy in the compact segment, while delivering hybrid-like fuel economy without the hybrid price. The following charts show how it compares with primary competitors and popular hybrids.

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