I hope you can drive standard though. Otherwise, you are stuck with the six-speed automatic transmission, which gets 26 mpg city and 37 mpg highway, not bad but not class-leading numbers either. GM got a bulk of its mpg-improvements from aerodynamic enhancements, like a lower grille that closes off at highway speed, under-body panels, and a lowered ride height. They also added a baby spoiler, the same low-rolling resistance tires as the Volt, and a few other nips and tucks. A good way to keep costs down, but I have a feeling that lower automatic transmission rating will lose them a few customers.
If you do opt for a manual transmission, the Eco is rated for 28 mpg city and 42 mpg highway. That beats out the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Ford Focus (which is getting replaced next year with a 40 mpg version). Compared to the other two Cruze models (which are only available with automatics), the same turbocharged 1.4 liter engine gets a 24/36 rating, while the base-model 1.8 liter DOHC engine gets a 22/35 rating. With an MSRP of $18,995 for a turbocharged 42 mpg small sedan, that really isn’t too shabby. If you’re somebody who has a long commute on the highway, this car could save you a few bucks.
I also like that the standard engine for the Cruze is turbocharged. Despite being a gas-friendly car, it still makes a healthy 138 horsepower and 148 ft-lbs of torque. The manifold-integrated turbocharger might be a bit difficult to upgrade, but there is a way around everything. I hope to see a few Cruze Eco hot rods on the road too. Those aero enhancements don’t just improve your mpg’s, if you get my drift.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.