Behind the wheel of an unmodified Chevrolet Cruze Eco an Australian couple set a fuel-efficiency record for the 48 contiguous states. During the 23-day, 9,552 mile trip sponsored by Shell Oil, John and Helen Taylor averaged a remarkable 64.42 miles per gallon.
That is 50 percent better than the EPA estimate of 42 miles per gallon highway for a Cruze Eco manual, already the most fuel-efficient, gasoline-powered car in the United States, excluding hybrids and diesels. To achieve its segment-leading fuel economy, Cruze’s engineers focused on aerodynamic performance, mass optimization and powertrain enhancements
For example, the Cruze Eco was the first in the compact-car segment to offer an active air shutter that closes at higher speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag and opens at lower speeds to optimize engine-cooling airflow. Engineers also made more than 42 changes to reduce weight on the Cruze Eco, such as light-weight 17-inch wheels and tires save 21.2 pounds (9.6 kg) per vehicle.
The Cruze Eco features a standard Ecotec 1.4L turbocharged engine that delivers the fuel efficiency of a smaller engine, as well as the power of a larger engine when needed. The Ecotec 1.4L turbo delivers 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.
With the standard six-speed manual, the Cruze Eco delivers an EPA-estimated 28 mpg city, and 42 mpg highway. With the available six-speed automatic, the 2012 Cruze Eco delivers an EPA-estimated 26 mpg city, and 39 mpg highway.
Shell’s tips for improving fuel economy are available at the Shell Smarter Driving website.