Typically, when a vehicle offers a super-high efficiency trimline, you can expect it to be grossly watered down compared to the normal models but for the 2011 Cruze Eco that is not the case. General Motors gave the world the first good look at the Cruze Eco at the 2010 New York Auto Show and yesterday they officially announced the details of the 2011 Cruze Eco package.
The Cruze Eco is powered by the same turbocharged EcoTec 1.4L engine offering 138 horsepower as the LT and LTZ models and when mated to the Cruze Eco modifications it yields an impressive 40mpg on the highway. Rather than equip the Cruze Eco with a lower performance engine or an expensive hybrid powerplant, General Motors improved the aerodynamics and cut weight to help the Eco get hybrid-like economy. The only mechanical change to the 2011 Cruze Eco compared to the LT and LTZ is the manual transmission with Eco package-specific gearing to improve mileage without killing the acceleration of the car. (GM has not announced the specifics on the gear ratios.)
Helping to reduce aerodynamic drag, the 2011 Cruze Eco features a special front fascia with speed-controlled flaps in the lower opening that close at highway speeds and open at low speed to allow for proper engine cooling. The upper fascia opening doesn’t offer any moving parts, but instead there are more “closeouts” in the large upper grille opening to channel air over the car – along the bottom of the front fascia GM has added an air dam extension. Even the underbody of the Cruze Eco has been modified to allow for smoother air flow under the car and the aerodynamic alterations to the 2011 Eco are punctuated by a subtle yet functional rear spoiler. All of these features help improve the aerodynamics of the car and the effect of those improvements are noticed more as you increase your speed but GM made some more alterations to help with the economy around town.
The 2011 Cruze Eco comes equipped with unique 17-inch lightweight aluminum wheels wrapped in ultra-low resistance Goodyear tires. These items work together to allow the car to move with less effort, thus using less fuel for initial acceleration. Finally, the Cruze Eco sits slightly lower than the LT and LTZ models, furthering the aerodynamic efforts and giving the car a sporty stance.
General Motors has not yet announced the fuel economy for “around town” nor have they announced the price but Jim Campbell, US VP of Chevrolet Marketing, commented that the Cruze Eco will deliver hybrid-like efficiency without the price tag. GM also commented that they expect the 0-60 times of the Cruze Eco with a manual transmission to be in the 10 second range and surprisingly, they expect the automatic models to break into the 9 second barrier. These are not amazing times but consider the fact that this is a super-efficient trimline of what will likely be one of their least expensive models. Finally, an economy car that doesn’t sacrifice every other aspect of the vehicle and depending on the price, the Cruze Eco could definitely cut offer a low cost alternative to the upcoming Chevy Volt.
Check out the gallery below for a closer look at the 2011 Chevy Cruze Eco and stay tuned to your Detroit Autos Examiner for all of your breaking industry news!