It's been argued that General Motors' halo vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt, is more or less a bait and switch bit of technology dreamed up by folks at GM for one reason: to draw buyers into showrooms. Once there, loads of potential Volt buyers opt for the Chevy Cruze Eco instead of the pricey plug-in hybrid.

Have these consumers been unknowingly tricked into buying the lesser of the two vehicles? Or is the Cruze Eco the preferable ride in this duo? To find out, Car and Driver put Chevy's fuel-efficient machines to a test: a head-to-head, 1,000-mile showdown. We're quite not ready to reveal the winner, but we will divulge that the margin of victory in this battle was negligible and that only five points separated the fuel-sippers.

First, here's a look at the fuel economy results from C/D's 1,000-mile evaluation: Chevy Volt 43 miles per gallon, Chevy Cruze Eco 39 mpg. It's worth pointing out that C/D charged its Volt on at least three occasions during the 1,000-mile excursion. At times (on two trips of less than 43 miles), the Volt consumed no fuel. But out on the open highway (894 miles at an average speed of 70 miles per hour), the Cruze Eco returned 42 mpg, compared to the Volt's 40 mpg (more fuel economy info here).

Efficiency isn't king. In the end, Car and Driver awarded 190 points to the Cruze Eco (pdf), compared to the 185 points secured by the Volt (pdf). The magazine's staff concluded:
Ultimately, it wasn't gas mileage that convinced us that the Cruze Eco is top dog here. When vital cockpit furnishings such as the clutch pedal and the hand-operated parking brake go missing – as they do in the Volt – we suffer sensory-deprivation anxiety. The electric Chevy is an automatic gas-saving appliance that never hugs its driver. In contrast, the Cruze Eco demands an active partner to reap its high mileage... The lighter Cruze always feels more willing than the Volt.
Price, according to C/D, is the lone category where the Volt ($45,170 as tested) was truly crushed by the Cruze Eco ($20,320 as tested). C/D sums up its evaluation with this quote:
Environmentalists will never give the Cruze the same thumbs-up they give the Volt, but it's quite the little eco-champ.
In Autoblog's recent battle of eco-compact vehicles, the Cruze Eco emerged the victor, too.

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