Comparison Test: 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Energi

Comparison Test: 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Energi

Green and Greener

Ford’s Fusion has taken over a traditional role at Ford—that of the best-selling car. For those who don’t savor driving a crossover or SUV, the midsize sedan segment remains popular and includes such perennial bestsellers as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.

2017 Ford Fusion

For 2017, your shifter’s round

The Fusion remains attractive, so I assume that Ford realized that when they doled out only modest midcycle updates. Outside, the front end gets sharpened while the taillamps become connected by a chrome bar, but otherwise things remain about the same. Inside, the transmission control is transformed into a finely rendered disc, like a small, thick hockey puck, much like the one in Jaguars and Land Rovers, but without the clever rising effect found in those luxury makes.

This American-brand car, built in Mexico, comes in a variety of flavors, but let’s look at the two greenest ones—the Hybrid and the Energi.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid

Ford Fusion

Not a Leaf, but leaves to help you drive more economically

The 2017 Fusion Hybrid combines a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor for a total of 188 horsepower and 129 pounds-feet of torque. Like a good hybrid, the Fusion moves between these two energy sources automatically, depending on driving conditions and driver input. Take it easy on the accelerator and you’ll find the Hybrid remains more in electric mode. Climb a hill and you’ll hear the engine kick in. On downhill descents, the battery charges silently.

This behavior nets you EPA numbers of 43 city/41 highway/42 combined. Compare these with the Toyota Camry Hybrid’s 38 mpg and Honda Accord Hybrid’s 48 combined scores. My Blue Lightning test car averaged 41.0 mpg during its test week.

The Ford Fusion Energi

Choosing the 2017 Ford Energi model adds a major new element into the picture. With its 7.6 kWh battery, this Fusion can run as a pure electric vehicle for an EPA rated 22 miles. That meant that when I took my 18-mile-each-way commute in the Energy, I made it just about door-to-door without using a drop of gas.

2017 Ford Fusion Energi

The plug is the main difference between the Hybrid and the Energi

With the variety in traffic conditions, on a few days I pulled up to the charger at work with a little juice left. The Energi’s EPA ratings, for MPGe this time, are 97 MPGe, or 35 kWh per 100 miles (compare this with other plugin hybrids). The gauge in my Magnetic Metallic (gray) test car read 101.4 MPGe at the end of my test week, and the gas gauge had hardly budged from full.

What’s the Same; What’s Different

Driving the cars feels about the same, except that the Energi is smoother and quieter longer, since an entire trip may not use the gasoline engine at all. The Energi weighs 298 pounds more than the Hybrid (3,913 vs. 3,615 pounds), and its trunk is shortened to accommodate its larger battery (the Hybrid’s smaller battery, without charging ability, has only a 1.4 kWh capacity).

2017 Ford Fusion Energi

An all-electric trip

EPA Green ratings are a very good 8 for Smog and 9 for Greenhouse gas for the Hybrid and 8 and 10 respectively for the Energi. More numbers: the CO2 grams-per-mile output of the Energi runs about half the Hybrid—110 vs. 210.

When you drive the Hybrid, you can set the center screen to show you one of the car’s three driving modes. Under the right conditions, you’re in Electric Drive mode, using no gasoline. When the engine engages, you’re in Hybrid Drive mode, where the engine and motor work together. If you’re generating electricity, you’re in “Recharging High Voltage Battery” mode. These switched back and forth as I drove.

Both cars’ instrument panels provide a bar chart of driving behavior, including acceleration, braking and cruising. Depending on road and traffic conditions, sometimes one or the other metrics dipped into the negative “yellow” condition, but normally they showed the desired blue.

The Levels and Their Costs

Fusions come in different equipment levels, ranging from S to SE to Titanium to Platinum. You can get a regular non-hybrid version, too. My Hybrid wore the Titanium nameplate while the Energi flaunted the top-level Platinum badge on its tail. The Platinum level borders on the luxurious, featuring soft, quilted leather on the seats and doors, among other upgrades.

Ford Fusion

All the tech is here

With $3,760 worth of style and safety options, the Hybrid came to $35,155, including destination and delivery. The Energi, with no extras and with the “Fusion Energi Discount,” rolled in at $39,995.

Interestingly, the annual fuel cost on the window stickers was $900 for the Hybrid and $800 for the Energi. So, your benefits here become less financial and more about environmental impact. There is no pure electric Fusion for sale now, but if industry trends pan out, there could be in the future. For now, if you’re a commuter, you may find the extra cost of the Energi really pays off.

If you want an attractive, comfortable sedan with a little greener perspective, try one of Ford’s two greener Fusions.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Road Test: 2017 Ford Fusion Energi

Road Test: 2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid

First Drive: 2016 Nissan Altima

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

Comparison Test: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq EV and Hybrid

Comparison Test: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq EV and Hybrid

One Model Tackles Two Markets

In the software business (and perhaps any company providing a product or service), there’s something called a “use case.” It helps define what the product or service is used for, and that assists in defining who the customer is. The new 2017 Hyundai Ioniq, then, is for two different personas.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

The badge will cover three iterations of eco-driving

Korean carmaker Hyundai has firmly established itself in the U.S. market by offering high-quality vehicles in many popular segments. With the all-new Ioniq line, the company fields a worthy rival for two of Clean Fleet Report’s favorite vehicle targets—electric cars and hybrids.

The first buyer is someone who has some concern for the environment, but wants to get in and drive with no fuss or limitation. The hybrid is perfect, because the 1.6-liter gas engine and 32 Kw electric motor automatically come on or off as conditions demand—and all the electricity gets regenerated by slowing down and braking. No need to ever plug in. The combined 139 horsepower moves the car along competently without undue drama or excitement.

The Second Use Case

The other use case the Ioniq addresses is the EV buyer. This person is more of an early adopter (although commercial electrics like the Leaf have been around since 2011). An EV is smooth, quiet and requires virtually no maintenance. Its great limitation is range. Although research shows that most people don’t drive near the 124 miles an Ioniq EV can go, we tend to want our cars to be ready for anything. That may relegate an electric car to “commuter” status, with a gas vehicle beside it on the driveway as backup for those longer trips. But this EV does everything you’d want and, with the greater torque inherent to electric motors, delivers a satisfying motoring experience.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

One Ioniq plugs in; the other does not

Creating a new model is an expensive undertaking, so why not give it two purposes? The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq wears its copyright-protected, techy name on a good-looking midsize hatchback that manifests to the eye as a sedan. Perhaps its biggest achievement, besides top-market efficiency ratings, is that it is a more traditional-looking alternative than its targets.

So the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq comes as a hybrid or battery-powered all-electric car. A plug-in hybrid will fill out the line next year. This means that the new model is taking on the legendary Prius hybrid and a crop of EVs, led by the ground-breaking Nissan Leaf. The Ioniq EV, with its EPA-rated 124-mile range, competes directly with the latest model Leaf as well as the latest version of the Volkswagen e-Golf, BMW i3 and others. While it could be seen as an alternative to the new Chevrolet Bolt, the latter’s EPA 238-mile range is really the next-level.

A “Normal” Hybrid/EV

Hyundai has done a superb job of creating a comfortable, quiet, usable vehicle without the oddball proportions or styling excesses of Prius or Leaf. The face features a wide, tall mouth. The hybrid’s is a handsome grille, while the EV is smooth plastic—much like a Tesla minus the pucker. The proportions are somewhat Prius-like, presumably for aerodynamic benefits, and the rear window is split horizontally just like a Prius. The capacious hatchback provides the same level of usability of the Prius and Leaf. I found carrying musical gear around it has the space, although the rear liftover is a bit high.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

The new normal?

Inside, there’s nothing wacky. A traditional instrument panel displays the information you need. Both cars provide a gauge to see if your battery is being charged or used, and you’re encouraged to drive efficiently. The EV also features the essential range indicator.

The seats look and feel fine; materials are high-quality, if just short of luxurious. I preferred the airier beige of my hybrid tester over the black in my EV sample, but both are nicely rendered.

The Numbers

The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid earns a stellar 55 mpg city/54 highway/55 combined. I averaged 46.8 mpg, but that’s still excellent. EPA green numbers are 8 for Smog (there is a gas engine in there, after all), and a perfect 10 for Greenhouse Gas. The 163 grams of CO2 per mile is less than half that of a normal midsize gasoline-only vehicle.

If a hybrid is all about maximizing miles per gallon, the EV goal is efficiency. The Ioniq EV gets a laudable 136 MPGe Combined rating (150 city/122 highway), very big numbers indeed.  The latest Leaf earns 124 MPGe, for comparison. The Green scores for the Ioniq EV are perfect 10s, as expected. The environmental impact of an electric car depends on where and how the electricity was generated and the associated byproducts of its materials (including its expensive lithium-ion battery) and construction.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

Techy inside and out

Both my Black Noir Pearl hybrid and Symphony Air Silver EV were Limited models, and both came with their respective “Ultimate Package.” That makes them top-of-the-line. Here’s where a buyer in the showroom has a decision to make as well. The hybrid listed at $31,460 while the EV came in at $36,835.

If history is a guide, the Hyundai Ioniq should be successful. With its attractive look, feature-packed models, and competitive pricing, Its two targets are not great volume sellers (yet), but these cars are aimed at the future. The plug-in hybrid that arrives soon will offer a third option between the two, with daily all-electric commuting and the freedom to drive anywhere for long trips—in one car. Stay tuned.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Road Test: 2016 Toyota Prius (Larry’s view)

Road Test: 2016 Toyota Prius (Steve’s view)

Road Test: 2016 Nissan Leaf (Michael’s view)

Road Test: 2016 Nissan Leaf (John’s view)

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

Road Test: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Premier Sedan

Road Test: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Premier Sedan

An Impressive Machine at 40 MPG

I want to get right to the point: I found the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Premier sedan to be a most impressive machine.  Nicely rendered inside and out, the Cruze performed flawlessly, whether it was in the urban slog or hustling on the freeway.

On top of that, the 2017 Cruze leads the pack when it comes to standard features. Even the base-model Cruze L packs a seven-inch touch screen, support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a built-in Wi-Fi hot-spot and parental monitors for teen drivers. Starting at just $16,975, neither the top-selling Honda Civic nor Mazda3 are even offered at that sub-$17,000 price point.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze sedan

Fine details and great fuel economy

The sedan is available in L, LS, LT and Premier trim levels. A new hatchback version hit dealer showrooms last fall and a diesel sedan and hatchback follow this spring.

When fuel efficiency rather than performance is the order of the day, the Cruze gasoline powered car shines bright with a prodigious 40 mpg highway and 30 mpg city EPA rating with an automatic transmission. (The manual transmission is one mpg less.)  This, of course, earns the Cruze entry into Clean Fleet Report’s 40 MPG Club, a club we think every car should be striving to join.

Getting That 40 MPG

2017 Chevrolet Cruze sedan,engine

A small, but mighty turbo punch under the hood

The motivating force is a 153-horsepower, intercooled, turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-four-cylinder engine with direct injection. Quite smooth and quiet for the class, the gasoline-fired four churns out a maximum of 177 pounds-feet of torque over a broad range stretching from 2,000 to 4,000 rpm. The six-speed automatic is programmed to keep the revs low, rarely letting the engine extend beyond 5700. The automatic also comes with an automatic engine stop-start feature to save fuel when the car isn’t moving.

The six-speed automatic is optional ($1,000) for the LS and LT, while the Premier gets it as standard.

The turbocharged four-cylinder may imply a dash of performance, but it’s been tuned more for maximum efficiency.  Still, the zero-to-60 mph time of 7.7 seconds is an indicator that freeway merging or passing is accomplished easily and is on par for the class.

Sleek Outside, Handsome Inside

Fully redesigned last year, the Cruze sedan cuts a sleek hole through the air with a 0.28 coefficient of drag, the result of hundreds of hours in the wind tunnel. It’s a modern and attractive shape, but we’ve seen it before—in the similar-looking Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. The dual-grille front end is also familiar having been borrowed from the Impala and Malibu sedans.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze sedan

A few borrowed themes, but a great-looking package

The car is low, lean, and distinctly sporty looking. A fast windshield rake and a faster-sloping rear profile lend to the sporty design, while the rear profile culminates in a standard integral rear spoiler that contributes to the car’s aero efficiency. The sleek profile is complemented by detailed, layered line work in the hood and body-side panels.

Step inside the 2017 Cruze, and you’ll find a handsome cabin that’s chock-full of high-tech features. Chevy’s trademark dual-cowl dash layout offers straightforward instruments in a pod in front of the driver and a seven- or eight-inch touchscreen display in the center of the dash on every model. The dash also features a selection of knobs and buttons for quick and easy access to audio and air-conditioning controls, a welcome sight for buyers not yet ready to move to a future comprised of screens alone. The climate controls feel especially premium, with temperature readouts built into the knobs.

Technically the 2017 Cruze is compact in size, but is close to being a midsize sedan. That means it really is a five-passenger car with a generous amount of room in the front and rear. Front seats are well bolstered and are all-day comfortable. Entry and exit is easy even for six footers. If child car or booster seats are part of your everyday life, they are a relative breeze to install.

For the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze sedans, the 14.8-cubic-foot trunk in the L and LS models is larger than most compact sedans. The Cruze’s position among competitors drops slightly for the LT and Premier models, which have a 13.9-cubic-foot trunk—still above average. The trunk has a good-size opening and is wide at the rear. If you need more space, the 60/40 split rear seats easily fold down.

Compact Car Tech King

If you’re smartphone savvy, you’ll be right at home in the 2017 Cruze. Its standard infotainment system integrates with iOS and Android devices via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze sedan

A high level of standard tech on the low-level Cruzes

That gives access to many of your favorite apps right on the Cruze’s 7.0-inch touch screen. This touch interface, known as Chevrolet MyLink, is responsive and straightforward to use. Standard features also include Bluetooth, a USB port, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a rearview camera and Chevy’s Teen that helps parents monitor their teen’s driving performance. Satellite radio is standard in Cruze LT and Premier models. A larger eight-inch touch screen, a Bose sound system and satellite navigation are optional.

A full array of active safety technology is available in LT and Premier models through add-on packages. The basic package features rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. A second package builds off this, adding automatic high beams, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist and a following distance indicator. A fully-loaded Premier Cruze will top out at close to $29,000—not terribly expensive.

On The Road

Taut and responsive in feel, the Cruze test driver under-promised and over-delivered in almost every aspect and it was fuel efficient, no doubt about that. I was able to easily meet and often times exceeded the car’s EPA-estimated 30-mpg city, 40-mpg highway ratings.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze sedan

Enough power to acquit itself in the real world; enough features to stand out

Acceleration was brisk, but brisk is standard fare for cars in this segment. The six-speed automatic responds eagerly to throttle inputs. The Cruze felt substantial on the road, larger and more stable than its dimensions would suggest. Handling was refined and easy, with steering that was pleasantly hefty. The car tracked straight down the road and responded willingly to inputs.

The Cruze’s soft suspension caused it to feel imprecise when driven aggressively in corners, but the payoff was a smooth ride over bumps and potholes. If you are looking for a sporty driving experience, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Just as the name implies, the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze is built for cruising. I gave the Cruze high praise for its whisper-quiet interior, which isn’t typical of the compact car class. The four-banger largely lived a life of silence, operating quietly in the background. Its supple ride, relaxed handling, comfy seats and impressively quiet interior make it a superb commuter car and the long-distance cruiser of this class.

When Chevy picked up the Cruze, I had driven 197 miles and the fuel mileage readout indicated 37.6 combined mpg, a very pleasing number.

In The Marketplace

Globally, the Cruze is Chevrolet’s top selling model, and in the U.S. it is well-prepared to face competitors with its low price, fuel economy and tech features. The addition of the hatchback version and diesel engine option broaden its appeal. But rivals aren’t sitting still.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze sedan

The Cruze offers fuel economy and tech at a competitive price

There are a number of reasons the Honda Civic is one of the best-selling cars in America. The 2017 Civic offers a balance of features, fun-to-drive personality, safety and fuel economy. But the Cruze can best the Civic with its heavy dose of standard features and approachable price.

For zesty handling the Focus is the clear winner, but for everyday commutes and unrivaled standard features, the Cruze edges ahead. Toyota’s Corolla and the Cruze are both good picks for everyday commuting. Each provides a comfy interior and smooth ride. But the Cruze holds an advantage with convenience features and leads the way in fuel economy.

When it comes to compact cars, the athletic Mazda 3 sets the standard for how compact cars should drive—providing a comfortable ride, nimble handling and zippy engine performance. However, the Cruze has better fuel economy and the Mazda doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The Chevrolet Cruze and each of the above rivals offer warranties that match up closely. On the plus side for the Cruze, it provides something that few others outside of the luxury realm do: two free scheduled-maintenance visits within the first two years or 24,000 miles of purchasing the car.

Obviously, choosing a new compact car will be a tough decision. If the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze wasn’t on your shopping list, take it for a test drive. I think you will find like I did, it under promises and over delivers.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Road Test: 2017 Mazda3

Road Test: 2016 Honda Civic

News: Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Hits 52 MPG

Road Test: 2017 Toyota Corolla

Road Test: 2017Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

Road Test: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback LT

Road Test: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback LT

Stylishly Functional

Disclosure: I am a fan of hatchbacks.

Sure, hot hatches like a Volkswagen GTI, Ford Focus RS or Nissan Juke Nismo RS get all attention for their outstanding performance and thrilling handling. This does not mean a hatchback has to be a road screamer to be interesting. Which is the case for the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback—a versatile, good-looking five-door that is knocking on the door of 40 mpg on the highway. Oh, and if that was not enough to get your attention, the Cruze Hatchback is scheduled in 2018 to come as a turbodiesel model where 50+ mpg should be a possibility.

Driving Experience: On the Road

The front-wheel drive 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatch is powered by a smooth, turbocharged 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine, producing 153 horsepower and 177 pounds-feet of torque. While a six-speed manual transmission is available, Clean Fleet Report’s Cruze Hatch LT, with the optional RS Package, was equipped with a six-speed Hydra-matic automatic. The EPA rates the Cruze Hatch automatic at 29 city/38 highway/32 combined. The sedan version hits 40 mpg highway in the EPA tests. In 286 miles of 75-percent highway/25-percent city driving, Clean Fleet Report averaged 33.2 mpg. However, in a 125 mile highway run, with the cruise control set at 70 mph, we achieved 39.6 mpg. Helping with the fuel economy is the start/stop system, where the engine shuts off when coming to a stop and then restarts when you release the brake pedal. Chevrolet’s system is quiet and barely noticeable when the engine kicks in, offering a near smooth process of saving fuel when idling.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

The business end of the newest Cruze

It is important to note that the fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific. They represent the reviewer’s driving experience, but should be similar to most drivers living in our reviewer’s cities. If you live in cold weather, high in the mountains, spend time in the city or stuck in rush hour traffic, then your numbers may differ.

The Cruze Hatch with the automatic will not be confused with one of the hot hatches mentioned earlier. The acceleration is so-so. At times there was some hesitation at low speeds. Not sure if this is a turbo or transmission gremlin, but it was not severe enough to cast a pall on buying this car. The Cruze Hatch shows its stuff on the open road, where it cruises along at-or-above posted freeway speeds (in California that will be either 65 or 70 mph). Once out of traffic the Cruze Hatch had no issues keeping up with, or being the leader, on the racetracks that are Southern California freeways. Again, the anticipated turbodiesel should make open road runs even more fun and economical.

The Cruze Hatch feels more like a size-up (a midsize car) from its compact class classification. This is most noticeable with the confident and solid feel when driving, especially on long stints of open highway. Starting with stability and traction control, MacPherson struts and electric power steering, coil springs and sway bars, there is nearly no body roll even on the tightest corners or high-speed freeway onramps. Clean Fleet Report’s LT model had 16-inch alloy wheels and 215/60R16 all-season tires. Seventeen and 18-inch wheels and tires are available as options or on other trim levels.

Driving Experience: Exterior

The Cruze Hatch is identical to the Cruze sedan from the rear doors forward. Up front you will find a clean design, starting with the sharp-featured nose where the grille meshes cleanly with the fascia. Sweptback dual-projection LED headlamps sit above deeply set fog lights. The slope from the front “bowtie” Chevrolet emblem rises to a high point at the B pillar, and then drops to the integrated spoiler above the rear solar-absorbing liftgate glass and wiper. A tasteful shark fin antenna on the rear roof and a single, subtle RS logo on the front grille finish off the look of this stylish car. It drew more than a few comments.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

The styling starts here

Driving Experience: Interior

Chevrolet spent a considerable amount of time and thought redesigning the Cruze interior, especially the dash, making it a driver-focused cockpit. The gauges are not overly digital, soft touch materials abound and the restrained use of chrome accents give the dash, door panels and center console a feeling of quality. The overall impression is one of a finished look and feel.

Clean Fleet Report’s 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback included the $1,150 Convenience Package that had heated driver and passenger cloth seats, with the driver getting eight-way power adjustments. The flat-folding 60/40 split rear seat also had a fold down armrest with cup holders, when two were riding out back. The rear USB charger was a convenient touch.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

4G LTE, wireless charging and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are all here

The six-speaker Chevrolet MyLink infotainment (information and entertainment) and audio system controls the seven-inch color touchscreen for the AM/FM/CD/MP3/AUX radio. Features include an USB input, SiriusXM (three-month free subscription), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has controls for Bluetooth that offers hands-free telephone and voice control. General Motor’s handy and helpful OnStar system is included for five years with the basic plan and three months for the automatic accident response and navigation service.

A note regarding OnStar: a simple push of a button connects you with a friendly GM representative to handle emergencies, directions and general assistance to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. This is one area where GM is the industry leader. After the five-year basic and three-month plans expire, it is well worth renewing for the peace of mind you (or maybe your child or spouse) will always have when driving your Cruze Hatch. For faster Internet speeds, the Cruze comes has a 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot, with a limited period subscription. If your kids are sitting in the back gaming, then continuing the subscription is a must-do.

Our Cruze Hatch came equipped with cruise control, power windows with one-touch up and down, rearview camera, keyless start and entry, passive entry system, power and heated side mirrors, remote start, carpeted floor mats, climate control and tilt and telescopic steering column.

Safety

Our test 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback had the optional Driver Confidence Package that included rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, and lane change alert with side blind zone alert. Chevy wants you to be alerted in case another car is getting too close! For $495, this is an excellent package to add when buying a Cruze. Additional safety features are 10 airbags, four-wheel power disc ABS braking system and a tire pressure monitoring system.

In crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the 2017 Cruze received four stars (the highest rating) for overall crash protection, while the Insurance

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

Still includes a spare

Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Cruze its top rating of Good.

Pricing and Warranties

Base MSRP for the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback is $21,240 for the six-speed manual and $21,290 with the automatic transmission. Clean Fleet Report’s 2017 Cruze Hatch, with $2,850 in optional equipment, had a MSRP of $24,770. All prices exclude the $875 destination charge.

The 2017 Cruze comes with these warranties:

Powertrain                      Five years/60,000 miles

Bumper-to-Bumper      Three years/36,000 miles

Roadside Assistance     Three years/36,000 miles

Observations: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

The new for 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback joins its sibling, the Cruze sedan, which was all-new in 2016. As Chevrolet’s best-selling car around the world (with more than 3.5 million units sold since going on sale in 2008), the Cruze is vitally important to Chevrolet and General Motors.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

Chevy adds a new twist to its best-selling car

As noted earlier, I like hatchbacks, and the Chevrolet Cruze Hatch does not disappoint for fans like me. Its versatility for cargo and passengers, exterior and interior design, fit and finish and fuel economy—all packed into a car with a base price hovering around $21,000—creates a car worth your attention. When the turbodiesel hits showrooms, tentatively in the end of 2017, the possibility of 50+ mpg on the highway will set the Cruze apart.

If a sports utility or crossover vehicle might be too much for your lifestyle or needs, the Cruze Hatch just might do you nicely.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

Related Stories You Might Enjoy

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Road Test: 2015 Nissan Juke Nismo

Road Test: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze diesel sedan

First Drive: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

News: Say Goodbye to the Lexus CT 200h

News: Say Goodbye to the Lexus CT 200h

Sales Drop Spells the End of Lexus’ Best-Selling Hybrid

For most of us, six years does not seem all that long. Over the past six years, however, the automotive industry has seen a rapid advancement in hybrid and electric technology. Six years ago the Tesla Model S was still a year away from release, and the second generation Prius was only a year into production.

2017 Lexus CT 200h

This is us leaving

It was at that time that Lexus first released their CT200h; a car that would change the luxury-hybrid segment. Six years later, however, the CT is still very much the same car, and no longer changing the game.

Since its release in 2011, the Lexus CT200h has been the brand’s entry-level offering for anyone looking to dip a toe into the luxury segment. It was recently announced, however, that the hybrid hatchback will not return to the U.S. market for the 2018 model year.

Competition Leaves Lexus in the Dust

Despite its original success, Lexus sold just 8,903 copies of the CT200h in 2016, a fraction of the sales numbers seen by other entry-luxury models. Competitors Mercedes-Benz and Audi sold 25,792 copies of the CLA-class and 31,538 copies of the A3, respectively, during the same time frame.

2017 Lexus CT 200h

2017 Lexus CT 200h drives off scene

Competition from other brands has not been the only problem for the CT200h. Based on the old Prius platform, the CT began to look a bit outdated in recent years; especially when compared to its younger cousin, the third-gen Prius, whose EPA estimated 52 mpg combined far outclassed the CT’s EPA estimated 42 mpg. Sales in the first five months of 2017 were down more than 10 percent from the previous year. Even with that drop, it was the best-selling Lexus hybrid.

For those concerned with the disappearance of the CT200h, fear not. A new subcompact crossover called the UX will arrive soon, and a likely hybrid model will replace the outgoing hatchback.

For now, though, buyers looking for an entry-level Lexus will have to turn to the NX crossover or shop around for the last CTs still on the lot.

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Top 10 Best MPG AWD SUVs/Crossovers

Top 10 Best MPG AWD SUVs/Crossovers

subaru,crosstrek,mpg, awd

Subaru’s latest AWD model ups its MPG

The Wheels You Need with the Fuel Economy You Crave

So the scientists announced this last week (ed note: we originally wrote this three years ago–and updated it since–but the climate change news has not gotten any brighter in the intervening years) that the world has hit another milestone. The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has hit a concentration not seen for millions of years. While many in the environmental community might see this as the point at which personal transportation should be curtailed–starting with SUVs or Crossovers–it is clear the automotive market is not going to make such a quick shift.

Sport utility vehicles and crossovers (crossovers being sport utility vehicles based on a car rather than truck chassis) are more popular than ever in 2017, even as the general trend toward higher MPG vehicles moves forward.  The reason is simple: they are functional. One trip to Costco is enough to convince many families that a Prius won’t cut it. Regular trips up to the mountains in the winter to ski could similarly motivate a car buyer to look for an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle rather than the front-wheel drive found on most high-mileage hybrids. Cars don’t always cut it.

Tesla,Model X,falcon doors,mpg,electic car

Winging it…on electricity

All of which leaves the environmentally conscious consumer with some tough choices. If your lifestyle points you toward an SUV or crossover, you still want to do what you can to minimize your contribution to further CO2 in the atmosphere.  The first electric SUV has appeared (after one short-lived version, the RAV4 EV was on the market for a brief time), but the Tesla Model X is out of most buyers’ price range. Plug-in hybrids are just hitting the market this year and more are promised, but again most are luxury first and SUV second. A few hybrid and clean diesel models are out there, so the key is to check out the most fuel efficient models that fit your needs.  Since one of those needs with this class of vehicles usually entails a good amount of distance travel, we’re use the highway fuel economy as the benchmark for our Top 10 list.

While cars, especially smaller ones, appear to be able to top the 40 mpg mark without much difficulty and are pushing even higher with plug-in models, AWD and 4WD models, with extra hardware and usually a larger size, have historically found 30 mpg on the highway a tough mark. No more. We’ve got an EV and several plug-ins that boast sophisticated technology that offers welcome progress on the MPG front. The downside is all this new hardware comes at a serious premium. But not far down the list are gasoline-powered models delivering mid-30s fuel economy.

The numbers are based on the federal fuel economy tests, so of course your mileage will vary. We’ve updated this list and pruned out some of the two-wheel-drive interlopers. We expect this list to keep growing, offering mpg-conscious car buyers even more options.

The Top 10 SUVs/Crossovers

1. 95 MPGe – Tesla Model X EV – So how does almost 100 mpg sound for an SUV? Is that worth $70 or $80,000? Tesla’s foray into the SUV space is an all-wheel-drive, all-electric crossover with seating for seven adults and their luggage. It is based off of Tesla’s Model S sedan (which it now outsells) and features two electric motors (of varying sizes depending on the model) and a variety battery pack sizes and performance levels. Oh, and it also has gull-wing (falcon in Tesla parlance) doors. And loads of tech features, including fairly sophisticated self-driving capability. The car will deliver about 250 miles of range in the high-end model; 220 in the “entry-level” model. When we did a brief test drive, we were impressed. The Toyota RAV4 EV was the first SUV with a plug, but in two iterations it only had a brief run and totaled about 3,000 vehicles. Tesla passed that mark in its first year on the market and continues crank them out of its Fremont plant.

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

2. 56 MPGe BMW X5 xDrive40e PHEV – BMW took its most popular SUV and added a plug. It seems simple, but the process entailed added technology. Thankfully, BMW has not subtracted any of the positive attributes of its all-wheel-drive SUV. Forget to plug in and you’re back to mid-20s fuel economy. It has 14 miles of all-electric range augmented by more than 300 horsepower of gasoline-fueled power, which is helpful if you’ve carrying a full three rows of passengers. We have a review of this model.

3. 53 MPGe – Volvo XC90 AWD PHEV – The first plug-in Volvo has arrived. We saw it some time ago and are pleased that it has been delivered intact with great fuel economy along with all of the usual Volvo safety equipment and great wagon space. Without plugging in the fuel economy drops to the mid-20s. It’s all-electric range is about 14 miles. A week in the wagon reinforced out initial impression.

4. 50 MPGe – Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e – The latest addition to the plug-in SUV crowd comes from Mercedes-Benz. This five-passenger SUV can shut down its 400+ horsepower V-6 biturbo engine and move on electric power to maximize fuel economy. Its default mode is a hybrid drive that will shift from gas to electric power.

5. 47 MPGe – Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid PHEV – To offset some performance models with less-than-stellar fuel economy, Porsche is leading the way by offering plug-in versions that promise enhanced MPG. The company’s SUV adds an electric motor than can give 16 miles of EV range. On gas alone the car is in the low 20s MPG. 

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

6. Tie 34 MPG – Nissan Rogue Hybrid/Toyota RAV4 Hybrid In case there was any question about the competitive nature of the automotive market, these two models should settle the debate. Locked into a battle for the hearts, minds and wallets of the hot compact class of crossover, both companies have added hybrid systems to their hot-selling small SUVs. Its working as both effortlessly deliver stellar fuel economy a the no-fuss hybrid system that makes most of the decisions for the driver. The market loves them, too, (in hybrid and non-hybrid mode) as in early 2017 both models are among the top-selling models in the U.S. We tested both here, here and here.

8. Tie 33 MPG – Lexus NX 300h – A new entry takes a top spot as Toyota fields a hybrid version of the RAV4 with a Lexus badge. The fuel economy numbers are for city driving. As is typical of hybrids, it gives you more MPG around town than out on the highway (31 highway and 33 combined). These numbers are for the two-wheel-drive version; moving all four wheels knocks off one or two MPG. We tested it when it first came out and found it a competent machine.

2105 Lexus,NX 300h,fuel economy,mpg

Lexus NX 300h

8. Tie 33 MPG – Honda CR-V Honda’s best-selling crossover tops 30 MPG with all-wheel-drive on board. We’ve driven this compact utility several times and find it a real winner in its class, coming in only a shade below hybridized versions of its competition. Since it isn’t a hybrid or plug-in hybrid, it also has an edge in affortability.

8. Tie 33 MPG – Jaguar F-Pace – It’s highly unusual for a Jaguar to show up on the best-MPG list, but the F-Pace is something a little different. Jaguar added an efficient clean diesel engine to bump its fuel economy into the range of usually more efficient but smaller crossovers. We’ve experienced the engine in a sedan and believe it should deliver some solid performance for this new entry.

8. Tie 33 MPG – Subaru XV CrosstrekSubaru continues to test the market with vehicles that depart from its typical cars. The Crosstrek has a 2-liter version of the traditional (for Subaru) horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine producing 148 horsepower when paired with the CVT automatic. It bumps up the MPG of the popular Crosstrek.

Just missing the Top 10 mpg mark are a half-dozen models

Not that long ago 30 mpg for an all-wheel-drive vehicles was unheard of. As you can see above, it is quickly becoming the ticket of entry in this class of vehicles. The variety of models is astounding and the range of features runs the gamut from affordable small crossovers to SUVs capable of carrying more than a family of four and taking the group well off the highway.

We used the federal fuel economy numbers from the EPA at  to rank these models. Lurking just below the Top 10 (which of course is actually 11  models) are a variety of vary capable cars, all of which come in 4WD with a variety of engine options. Ones to check out are the Mazda CX-3, Lexus RX 450h Hybrid, Honda HR-V, Nissan Murano Hybrid, Buick Encore, Subaru Forester, Mercedes-Benz GLA250, Infiniti QX30, Subaru Outback, Audi Q5 Hybrid, Chevrolet Trax, BMW X1 xDrive, Jeep Renegade and Toyota Highlander Hybrid for some other 30+ MPG cars. The variety has never been greater.

And coming soon:

The onslaught of new models focused on fuel efficiency will continue as automakers strive to reach fuel economy and greenhouse gas targets set by governments around the world. Models announced, but not yet introduced include plug-in versions of several more BMW and Mercedes SUVs. We’ve also been waiting for the U.S. introduction of the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid, which is already on the market in Japan and Europe. It’s expected to have 20-25 miles of all-electric range and could turn in mpge (mileage factoring in the electric range) well above 50.

Other similar stories you might enjoy:

First Drive: 2017 Tesla Model X

Road Test: 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e

Road Test: 2016 Volvo XC90 PHEV

Road Test: 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

Road Test: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Road Test: 2015 Lexus NX 300h

Road Test: 2016 Honda CR-V

Road Test: 2013 Subaru Crosstrek