2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco – Click above for high-res image gallery

For the past week, we've been hearing all about the latest iteration of the Chevrolet Cruze, the 40-mpg Eco model. While the name is rather uninspired (Eco's the best they got?), the technology that allows the Cruze Eco to hit that lofty number is anything but. Here's the really interesting part: Chevy is claiming that fully 70 percent of Cruzes will feature the 1.4-liter variable-valve timing turbo I-4, including the Eco model. But wait a moment, how does the Cruze Eco achieve such lofty mileage with the same engine (same power, too – 138 horsepower @4,900 rpm, 148 pound-feet of torque @1,850 rpm)? Keep reading.

Starting with the front of the Eco, there's a new, wind tunnel-massaged front fascia complete with a class-first "Aero Shutter." Take a look at the air inlet area below the grill. During low speed driving (say stop and start city type stuff) the aero shutter is open. However, at higher speeds when cooling the turbocharged engine isn't as much of an issue, the shutter shuts, allowing air to more efficiently stream around the vehicle.

There's also a slim lower chin spoiler and "tire blockers," which we typically call spats. Moving on to the rear, there's a new fascia back there that's also been wind tunnel tested for more slippery-ness. Surface area is further decreased by lowering the car by 10 mm compared to other Cruzes. There's a full-body underpanel to keep air from getting hung up on stuff like the exhaust and suspension components, as well as ultra low rolling resistance tires shared with the Volt. Finally, there's an ultra-tall 6th gear (the Cruze Eco is manual-only) that allows the rpms to greatly drop when the vehicle is at cruising speed.

As you may imagine, Chevy has also done its very best to reduce mass as much as possible, going to far as to shave welds down by a millimeter. But here's the thing: while working on the body in white, Chevy discovered that the mass-saving measures they made to the Eco could easily be applied to other Cruze models, which means that the not-quite-yet-on sale Cruze will have across the board improved mileage. Nice, no? The Chevy Cruze should go on sale in the 3rd quarter of 2010 with the Eco (probably) making it out of the gate by the 4th quarter of this year.

As far as the seemingly random "not a stripper" fragment in the title goes, Chevrolet has made the decision not to totally decontent the Eco. According to Chevy, people's tastes are changing (ya think?) and they want high mileage vehicles to have lots of creature comforts. For instance, the Eco ships with 17-inch forged aluminum wheels. Nice. Make the jump to read the press release.

Live photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
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• Cruze Eco delivers an estimated segment-leading 40 mpg on the highway
• Optional RS appearance package for Cruze LT and LTZ trim levels

NEW YORK – At the New York Auto Show, Chevrolet reveals the compact 2011 Cruze Eco. This high-efficiency model is powered by an Ecotec 1.4L turbocharged engine with variable valve timing that achieves an estimated 40 mpg on the highway when combined with a six-speed manual transmission. Cruze Eco is expected to deliver the best fuel economy in the compact segment, while offering midsize car spaciousness.

"The Cruze Eco delivers hybrid-like efficiency without the price tag," said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president Chevrolet marketing. "Along with the Volt electric vehicle, it demonstrates how Chevrolet is working to bring new products to market that range from gas-friendly to gas-free."

Chevrolet also shows an optional sporty RS appearance package for the Cruze LT and LTZ trim levels.

Cruze is the first in a family of all-new Chevrolet small and compact cars designed to offer excellent fuel economy, outstanding quality and top safety ratings. Cruze models for the United States and Canada will be produced at the Lordstown, Ohio assembly complex. In February, Chevrolet announced the addition of a third shift at Lordstown that will add 1,200 workers to support a smooth, fast and flawless ramp-up of Cruze production. More than $350 million has been invested to re-tool the plant and add new, state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment.

"This investment helps secure the best possible manufacturing footprint to react to market demand and deliver vehicles faster to our customers," said Campbell. "We believe Cruze is the right car at the right time for American consumers."

Cruze Eco details

Featuring an Ecotec 1.4L turbocharged engine with variable valve timing, the Cruze Eco is designed to be the most fuel-efficient model in the lineup, delivering an estimated 40 mpg on the highway with the standard six-speed manual transmission. City fuel economy, as well as estimates for the Cruze Eco equipped with an available six-speed automatic transmission, will be finalized closer to launch.

The Eco achieves greater fuel economy using a number of features that enhance its aerodynamics, minimize weight and reduce rolling resistance. Details include:

• A lower front grille air shutter that closes at higher speeds to improve aerodynamics and opens at lower speeds to optimize engine-cooling airflow
• The upper grille has more "closeouts" to improve aerodynamics
• A lower front air dam extension, extensive use of underbody panels and a rear spoiler enhance aerodynamics
• A lowered ride height improves aerodynamics
• Unique 17-inch lightweight aluminum wheels
• Ultra-low rolling resistance 17-inch Goodyear tires.

The axle ratio on the manual-transmission model is also optimized for fuel economy, while helping the car deliver confident performance. Chevrolet estimates the Cruze Eco will deliver 0-60 mph performance of about 10 seconds with the manual transmission and 9 seconds with the six-speed automatic.

The Cruze Eco will be available in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Cruze RS details

Complementing Cruze's sporty proportions is an optional RS appearance package for the LT and LTZ trim levels, which bolsters the car's styling with unique fascias, rocker moldings, rear spoiler and fog lamps. An uplevel instrument cluster is also part of the package and includes chrome accent rings in place of the standard silver finish, as well as opaque cluster bezels that allow the cluster's ice blue backlighting to shine through – providing a sporty nighttime appearance. "For customers who want even more personality and presence in their vehicle, the RS appearance package builds on the already bold face and coupe-like proportions of the Cruze," said Michael Simcoe, executive director, North American Exterior Design.

Midsize presence in the compact segment

All Cruze models offer the spaciousness and amenities of a midsize car, combined with segment-leading features and details that challenge preconceived notions about what a compact car can be in North America.

Along with the Eco, the 2011 Cruze will be offered in LS, LT and LTZ trims. Standard and available equipment includes:

• Ten standard air bags, including frontal, front-seat side-impact air bags, roof rail head curtain, rear-seat side air bags and new front knee air bags
• Bluetooth, USB connectivity, XM Satellite Radio and navigation system
• Standard OnStar with one year of Directions and Connections service
• MacPherson strut front suspension and Z-link rear suspension, with 16-, 17- and 18-inch wheels
• Standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensing, traction control and anti-lock brakes
• Fuel-saving, rack-mounted electric power steering
• Unexpected levels of quietness, smoothness and refinement for the segment.

All models share an interior characterized by upscale materials and a lengthy roster of equipment usually found in larger and more expensive vehicles. Available technologies include Bluetooth and a navigation system.
Cruze's Ecotec 1.4L turbo performs like a larger engine when needed, but retains the efficiency of a small-displacement four-cylinder in most driving conditions; it is standard on Eco, LT and LTZ models. Rated at an estimated at 138 horsepower (103 kW) and 148 lb.-ft. of torque (200 Nm), it enables a cruising range of more than 500 miles (800 km). Cruze will lead the way for Chevrolet in the use of small-displacement, turbocharged Ecotec engines that are highly fuel-efficient and power vehicles that are fun to drive.

Standard on LS models is an Ecotec 1.8L four-cylinder rated at an estimated 136 horsepower (184 kW) and 123 lb.-ft. of torque (166 Nm). Both engines are designed with fuel efficiency in mind, including technology such as variable valve timing that optimizes performance and fuel economy.

Backing the Cruze's engines are six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. Each contributes to excellent fuel economy.
Chevrolet engineers have already logged more than 4 million miles in quality and durability testing worldwide, making Cruze one of the most real world-tested products prior to a U.S. launch. It is backed by Chevrolet's five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty – the best coverage in America.

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