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Chevy Cruze tries to beat hybrids

Chevrolet launches the Cruze Eco and RS editions at the 2010 New York auto show.

Chevy Cruze RS
The Cruze RS is designed to look sporty.
Sarah Tew/CNET
Chevy Cruze Eco
The Chevy Cruze Eco edition uses aerodynamics and low mass to get 40 mpg. Sarah Tew/CNET

NEW YORK--According to Chevrolet, its new Cruze Eco, at 40 mpg highway, gets as good or better mileage than a hybrid. Chevrolet further showed its contempt for hybrid technology by insisting the Volt is not a hybrid, but an electric car with a range extending gas engine. Semantics aside, Chevrolet optimized the Cruze's fuel economy by including some new aerodynamic elements, using low rolling resistance tires, and cutting its weight.

The Cruze Eco edition was shown at the New York auto show. Like other Cruze models, it uses a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, its 138 horsepower enough to hit 60 mph in just under 10 seconds.

To make the Cruze Eco more aerodynamic, Chevrolet modified the front fascia and covered the underbody. The trunk gets a small lip, while the lower air intake has a shutter, closing off the vent at speed. The company reduced the vehicle's weight by using alloy wheels.

Chevy Cruze RS
The Cruze RS is designed to look sporty. Sarah Tew/CNET

On the other end of the spectrum, Chevrolet also showed off the RS trim for the Cruze. This styling package includes fog lights, unique rocker panels, and a redesigned rear fascia, along with some interior cosmetic elements.

The Cruze can be had with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, the former achieving the high fuel economy figure with the Eco trim and better acceleration.

Bluetooth, iPod integration, and navigation will also be available. OnStar is standard.