When they unveiled their plans to build a 40 mpg “Eco” version of their upcoming Chevy Cruze at the New York Auto Show last April, GM claimed that the Cruze Eco would have the fuel economy of a hybrid at a much lower price. Today GM put an actual number on what a much lower price means: a starting price of $18,995 for the base Cruze Eco when it goes on sale later this year.
Whether that is really a much lower price than the hybrid competition is a whole ‘nother thing entirely.
Even if the Cruze Eco returned 35 mpg in the city (doubtful), that would still be an average of about 4 mpg difference between it and the Insight, or at today’s fuel prices about $150 per year. In light of that, is that extra $800 savings really a coup in the hybrid versus efficient conventional car world?
Certainly a well-built, 40 mpg, 4-door, small family-sized conventional car that doesn’t look like a Prius for less than $20K is nothing to sneeze at. It’s a great accomplishment. I’ve also sat inside the Cruze and can say that it is unquestionably more comfortable than the Insight, and, although I haven’t driven the Cruze yet, it would be hard for it to get worse ride and handling reviews than the Insight — which has been almost universally panned. But in the end, it appears the Cruze Eco’s price tag is right in line with comparable hybrids that get better mileage, so I don’t think that GM can keep up the “lower price” charade for much longer.