In a somewhat surprising move, the entry-level Malibu LS now comes standard with a start-stop system, the first midsize sedan sold in the United States that is so equipped. Combined with refinements of its base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a new six-speed automatic transmission, the LS has a significant fuel economy increase compared with the outgoing model (now 25 city; 36 highway).
The global drive to reduce greenhouse gases and increase vehicle fuel efficiency is pushing automakers to reduce the size of their engines – while trying to keep all of attributes consumers expect from their cars. Engineers from GM, Porsche and VW have pushed the limits of technology to produce engines that are more efficient, meet increasingly stringent pollution standard and yet make better horsepower and torque than previous generations.
The definition of pickup truck utility is changing. Now fuel economy has become as important as towing capacity and the number of tie-downs in the bed. Automakers are scrambling to build trucks with better MPG and are locked in a battle to offer the best package that includes fuel efficiency as well as all-round capability.
n the market for a truck? How about a really nice truck that seats five or six big adults very comfortably, comes ready to act as your office on wheels, can tow pretty much anything you have in mind and if necessary, can get you through the mud and muck over hill and dale? Or maybe you are looking to “feel like a man,” which is what the SoCal Chevrolet dealers radio commercial told me that driving the 2014 Silverado will do. Other commercials note that the Chevy pickup’s V8 gets better fuel economy than rival Ford’s V6. That must be some truck!
Ward’s 10 Best Engines contest hits its 20th anniversary but the field of contestants has changed. Winners this year were led by three diesel engines, an electric motor and a three-cylinder gas engine.
The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) aka the Detroit Auto Show is where the best and brightest, the newest ideas in cars and trucks appear first. It’s the big stage, and the 2014 NAIAS stage had many stories, but the biggest was that of Ford’s reinventing of its best-seller, the F-150 pickup.
If you’ve opted to purchase a 2014 Ford Fusion SE with the EcoBoost engine that ups fuel economy to 25/37/29 mpg, adding an additional $295 for stop-start to gain an additional 3 to 10 percent in fuel economy seems like a no brainer.
These are the 10 or more cars and trucks I’m looking forward to spending some time with in 2014. I hope they all make, but I probably should also have saved a spot or two on the list for some surprises. In 2013 we had a few of those and I’m expecting more in 2014.
The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is rated at 46 Highway/27 City with an average of 33 MPG. Sounds pretty good, but it can get even better because, if you have a light foot on the accelerator, you might even get closer to 50 MPG on the highway. So, what’s not to like about GM’s Mileage King?
These things do take time. Wishful thinking won’t get us there. Government money can help, but ultimately it can only play a minor role if the goal is the transformation of a fleet. Cars and trucks that are better alternatives to gasoline ones in every way will be the only way to make it happen. That’s the way gasoline won out over electricity and steam 100 years ago. That’s why diesel won out over gasoline in Europe 15 years ago. That’s why the Toyota Prius is the 10th best-selling car of 2013.
The 2014 Impala is so completely different from its predecessor that from this point forward let’s agree those previous versions did not even exist. The new Impala carries an air of sophistication, but not snobbiness, with a comfortable modern interior and clean contemporary styling. The 2014 Impala comes in three engine options: 2.5L 4-cylinder, 2.4L 4-cylinder with eAssist (GM’s mild hybrid system) and the 3.6L V6, which is what was powering the car we tested. The eAssist model delivers 35 MPG on the highway and 29 MPG combined, the tops in this class. It even beats the Audi A8 TDI and easily bests the Ford and Chrysler competitors.
No one should doubt that 2013 was a breakthrough year for advanced technology vehicles, whether running on electricity, gasoline, diesel or some combination of the three. The choices expanded, prices dropped and infrastructure exploded (for plug-ins). This year presents an abundance of riches; as I wrote earlier, we (at least we in California) now have 10 pure electric vehicles to choose from–and 2014 promises and expanded roster of choices. I had the opportunity this year to sample more than half of those available. Add in plug-in hybrids and the list of EV choices almost doubles, while traditional hybrids, clean diesels and high-MPG gasoline vehicles ranks keep growing both in number and popularity.
The year 2013 is almost over and the auto industry is moving toward the best sales year in half a decade. High mileage electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and clean diesels are drafting along with the positive sales year and going beyond, with each segment besting the overall market as new models enter and draw attention. The expectation is for aggressive selling to continue through the rest of the year, but it’s a good time to regroup and declare the Top 10 winners for the year.
The 2014 Chevrolet Volt which uses a plug-in battery and gasoline engine technology to deliver a smooth, quiet and comfortable driving experience that will most likely get you to work and back without buying any gasoline, but then can take you across the USA – all while delivering in excess of 40 mpg.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency spends a good portion of its time and manpower compiling a guide that compares like vehicles’ fuel economy, spaciousness (interior space) and engine technology. The result for 2014 vehicles (cars and trucks) is now available on www.fueleconomy.gov and has a new benchmark – the Top 10 cars in fuel economy all feature a plug. Some are pure electrics and others are plug-in hybrids. The fuel economy numbers are astronomical by historical standards, but are setting the new benchmark for what a modern automobile needs to achieve to be considering a state-of-the-art environmental leader.