Ford 3, Chevy 0


2011 Focus: 40 mpg ... with an automatic.

Chevy threw down the 40 mpg gauntlet earlier this year when they announced that the Chevy Cruze ECO model would deliver up to 40 mpg city and 43 mpg highway … which has, over time, turned into “Coming late 2010, Cruze ECO is expected to offer up to 40 mpg highway.” on the company’s Chevy Cruze website.

SO, to recap:  before anyone can even test the cars, GM’s already backing down from their initial Cruze’s mpg claims, much as they’re backing down from claims that their upcoming Jesus Car Volt will be motivated by purely electric power …

… what does it all mean?

In case you hadn’t noticed, that’s a picture of a 2011 Ford Focus up there, not a 2011 Chevy Cruze ECO – and that has to have the marketing guys at GM shaking in their boots because, as Jack Baruth points out over on the Truth About Cars blog, the new 2011 Ford Focus is offering 40 mpg from their new Focus compact – which would seem like a direct competitor to Chevy’s Cruze ECO if not but for one very important fact:  the Chevy Cruze ECO wants buyers to row their own gears.

Last time I cruised a dealer’s lot, it seemed to me that the vast majority of cars actually being sold were automatics.  The official numbers read 91% automatics for 2009 MY cars.  I think that figure is probably higher, by now – and if you start comparing the Ford to the Chevy in a more apples-to-apples (or, “automatics-to-automatics”) sort of way, you’ll find that the automatic Cruze gets about 36 mpg.  To put it another way:  less.

Adding insult to injury, the new Focus offers buyers 160 hp (vs. the ECO’s 138 hp) and is fully E85 capable, for those of you who (as Jack puts it) “take particular joy in helping America’s trade balance by running up the price of foodstuffs.”

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s:

  • 2011 Ford Focus auto:  40 mpg, 160 hp, E85
  • 2011 Chevy Cruze ECO manual:  40 mpg, 138 hp, not E85

SOURCE:  The Truth About Cars.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • I dunno… I prefer manual to automatic any day. but then again i don’t consider myself a “normal” person let alone a normal american by any stretch.

    …And i have not and never will ever buy a chevy or chrysler. as far as i am concerned they should have been liquidated to nothing a long time ago when they hired crappy management and literally drove the company to fincancial disaster.

  • Agreed, re: GM/Chryco.

  • I’ve always been a GM guy (there’s a GM plant about 20 miles from where I grew up…in fact, it’s the plant where they’re currently making the Cruze, but I digress…).

    I still can’t help liking them, but more and more, I’m starting to like Ford. In the past, I’ve never liked the looks of Fords (with a few exceptions… e.g. the Escape/Mariner has always been the best looking small SUV out there), but they’re really starting to liven up their designs (the new Taurus is awesome looking!).

    As an aside, I’ll go on record as preferring manual to auto as well. I’ve never met a manual-trannied car for which I couldn’t beat the EPA estimated highway mpg by at least 25% even with mixed driving. My guess is, in my hands, I could get at least 50 mpg out of a Cruze Eco and probably somewhere near that in a manual Focus.

  • I have a 2009 Chevy Cobalt XFE [manual, 5 speed], it is the “older brother” to the Cruze Eco [the “XFE” means “extra fuel economy”]. It is rated at 37 MPG highway, but the range says “30-44 MPG highway”. On the NY Thruway at 75-80 MPH, it gets 31 MPG. If I go 65 MPH, I can get about 35 MPG. It appears the 37 MPG is a reward for going about 50 MPH. To me, that’s just not “highway speed”. Plus, the car’s computer LIES about the fuel economy, often saying it is 2 MPG higher than actual. I recall hearing that the Cruze Eco will have a 6 speed manual transmission, so it will be interesting to see how much better than my Cobalt XFE the Cruze does. Since I consider my Cobalt’s MPG rating to be a lie, I would recommend any potential buyer of the Cruze Eco to get REAL WORLD MPG numbers before buying. Final comment: My Cobalt XFE is rated 25 MPG city [20-30 MPG range]. That doesn’t sound outstanding at all to me. I would not give my Cobalt any awards. It’s just an “OK” car.

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