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Chevrolet Cruze Eco achieves 40 mpg, no hybrid tech necessary

Chevrolet's Cruze Eco is a gasoline-powered sedan that gets better mileage than hybrid versions of competing vehicles.

If hybrid-electric cars are the link between plug-in electric vehicles and their gasoline-powered counterparts, Chevrolet's new Cruze Eco might be the missing link between gas guzzlers and hybrids.

Chevy said it plans to introduce its new fuel-efficient midsize sedan at the New York Auto Show later this week. How fuel-efficient, you ask? The Cruze manages 40 miles per gallon with a traditional internal combustion engine.

The company's wager: you'll go eco without paying the price premium for it.

While it's not much on paper -- another gas-powered car, yippee -- it's not a bad idea to help folks transition to more efficient vehicles. If you're not sold on the Volt, maybe the Cruze will be an easier sell.

(Not so sure about the "Eco" designation, however.)

The Cruze Eco touts a turbocharged 1.4-liter Ecotec engine with variable valve timing that hits those lofty mileage goals when paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Chevy also says improved aerodynamics and lightweight wheels help keep the vehicle light on its feet.

The selling point: At 40 mpg, the gas-only Cruze Eco claims better mileage than hybrid versions of the Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

Chevy says all North American Cruze models will be produced in Ohio, and create some 1,200 new jobs to support a 2011 launch.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com