CleanMPG Plays Its Hand in Las Vegas with a Pair of (MPG) Kings

Discussion in 'Articles' started by xcel, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG] The 40mpg Gamble - Can Two Family-Size Compacts Meet or Beat Their EPA Highway MPG_Estimates?

    Chris Bernius and Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - April 12, 2012

    At right, a goofy vid of the 40 mpg Gamble on a Vegas or Bust adventure.

    A Pair of MPG Kings - The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze ECO (EPA 39 mpgUS highway) and the 2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS (EPA 40 mpgUS highway), both roomy enough for a Full House, are ready to try their luck in Las Vegas.

    Not shown - A pair of Jokers, who brought the MPG Kings to Las Vegas and back, on an 823 mile loop, with traffic and terrain that was anything but mpg-friendly.

    The Handicap - Both equipped with automatic transmission. Tire pressures set to the recommended (door jamb) pressures of 32psi for Elantra, 35psi for Cruze.

    Both cars to be driven at the posted speed limit with the cruise control engaged on open roads when safe to do so, except for during steep mountain grades (up or down), where neither manufacturer recommends the use of cruise control.

    Temperatures starting and ending in the mid-50F range, with warmer temperatures during mid-day.

    Terrain varied from almost a mile above sea level to over 200 feet below, with dozens of miles of 6 plus % mountain grades logged in between. Sporadic traffic tie-ups on the freeways and traffic congestion along the famous Las Vegas strip.

    The Odds - Starting with the 2008 Model Year, the EPA introduced new offsets or the choice to incorporate the new "5 cycle" testing, including starting from sub-freezing temperatures, air conditioner usage, and a short drive at higher speeds with the promise that the resulting numbers on the Monroney (new car window) sticker would be "more realistic" for the majority of new car buyers.

    These new EPA estimates are an easy target, making the 40mpg Gamble a "safe bet". To add some suspense, and stack the odds against our MPG Kings, we will want to introduce some wildcards - those elements that are unknown to the sterile hypothetical alternate-reality found only in the EPA's test parameters.
    • The tests do not include hills or mountains although some heavy acceleration and deceleration is involved during one of the five test cycles. Our challenge will take us almost a mile above sea level - not once but several times, and down to a depth of almost 230 feet below sea level. For comparison, the Andrea Doria wreck lies 240 feet below the ocean surface.

    • The tests are run in a straight line - the steering wheel is never turned. Our challenge includes some hair-raising mountain curves and plenty of on/off ramps, surface streets, and other deviations from straight ahead. Turning the steering wheel involves a loss of inertia, as momentum is converted to body lean as the car tracks through a corner.

    • The tests are run with straight gasoline and the lower energy content of E10 reduces fuel economy.

    • The tests do not take into account wind from any direction. Our challenge includes flag-snappin' tent-topplin' winds from the southwest between 20 and 40mph.

    • Other than the single higher speed test, the rest incorporate a series of gentle stops. Our challenge takes us to traffic lights whose timing is unknown; with cross traffic able to change a green to red with little warning. Many of these lights were found along high speed secondary roads, where much more energy can be lost when braking from those higher speeds.
    In simplest terms, the EPA test procedure is a sort of "Sim City" game where cars are driven only in climate-controlled laboratories in perfectly straight lines on perfectly flat glass-smooth surfaces, using theoretical fuel that the vast majority of us can't actually buy, thanks to... the EPA.

    With the rules of the game established, and the players vetted, prepped for the tournament, and ready as they'll ever be, we will play the hand we were dealt and let the chips fall where they may.

    Ante Up!

    The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze ECO brings a nice stack of high-dollar chips to the table, and it's ready to play.
    • Safety - Ten standard air bags, ABS and traction control, StabiliTrak, and OnStar with Automatic Crash Response.

    • Fuel Economy - The small 1.4 liter four cylinder engine is turbocharged, offering 138 horsepower and a torque curve so flat it can double as a bowling alley. The strategy of tall gearing and force-feeding a small displacement engine works well in the Cruze, where acceleration is class competitive while offering excellent highway fuel economy.

    • Space - 94.6 cubic feet for passengers, 15.4 cubic feet of cargo volume, total 110.0 cubic feet.

    • Value - The Cruze Eco has an MSRP of $22,895 as tested, including navigation, and driver convenience package.
    The 2012 Hyundai Elantra brings an even more impressive stack of blue chips to toss onto the table.
    • Safety - Six standard air bags, ABS and traction control, and stability control.

    • Fuel Economy - The 1.8 liter four cylinder engine provides 148 horsepower without the need for turbocharging or direct gas injection. Hyundai uses CVVT (continuously variable valve timing) on both cams, diamond-like coating on friction surfaces, a variable intake system with short and long intake runners, and an offset crankshaft to improve the efficiency of the engine. Rather than "bolting on" more horsepower or higher mpg, Hyundai pursues the approach of engineering the powerplant to deliver the best of both along with simplicity and durability.

    • Space - 95.6 cubic feet for passengers, 14.8 cubic feet of cargo volume, total 110.4 cubic feet.

    • Value - The Elantra GLS with Preferred package has an MSRP of $19,065 as tested.
    Ladies and Gentleman, Place Your Bets.

    Placard all around on both vehicles. 35 psi for the Cruze ECO and 32 psi for the Elantra GLS.

    2012 Chevrolet Cruze Eco

    Tire Pressures: RF -- RR top and LF -- LR bottom.

    2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS

    Tire Pressures: RF -- RR top and LF -- LR bottom​

    Initial top off fill at a Valero in National City, just southeast of San Diego, California

    Reset displays. The Cruze ECO had 4,612 miles and the Elantra GLS had 1,331 miles on their respective odometer(s).​

    Cajon Pass Sees Your Bet and Raises It 4,200 Feet

    This is the first of many climbs to well beyond 4,000’ with plenty of traffic to slow us down along the way. Cruise Control speeds are 60 to 70 mph when traffic allows, and the average is 54 mph for the trip as the two Kings head skyward over the Cajon Pass. Wind conditions stacked the deck against our two Kings, but they kept up their poker face and didn't let anyone see them sweat.

    2012 Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze

    Heavy traffic on the I-215.

    Cresting Cajon Pass on I-15.

    59 mph average just a few miles into the US-395 slow down.

    Climbing to the West Entrance of Death Valley National Park.

    The 40mpg Gamble Involved climbing to 4956 feet and then descending to -246 feet in less than an hour.

    Cruze ahead in the sand storm. 30 to 40 mph cross winds. The EPA test procedures only include 25mph cross winds. ... NOT!

    A Pair of MPG Kings Cruisin' The Strip

    The Chevrolet Cruze ECO, with an EPA 26mpgUS city rating, waits patiently at a red light on the Vegas strip.​

    Lay Your Cards On The Table

    Round Trip Route Map

    823 miles per Google Maps

    After stopping for the night, the first fill in Barstow, California

    2012 Chevrolet Cruze ECO

    15.137 gallons consumed after 642.0 miles per Google maps = 42.413 mpgUS.

    2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS

    13.557 gallons consumed after 642.0 miles per Google maps = 47.356 mpgUS.​

    The pumps at this Shell station were fast flowing so the Elantra was possibly short by .25 plus gallons without spilling after another 10 or more top offs with violent shaking between. The slow fill pumps at the Velero in Nations City where we initially filled would give us an accurate final fill and totals once we got there.

    The Cruze ECO with the AT’s odometer/Trip A/B were almost dead on whereas the Elantra was showing the usual -2.2% under report which is good for customers since they earn another 2.2% on their warranties.

    30+ mph headwinds from Barstow to Cajon Pass while heading back to San Diego on the I-15.​

    Final fill in National City, California

    2012 Chevrolet Cruze ECO

    OEM aFCD: 180.3 miles - 47.4 mpg - 57.1 mph avg. speed.
    181 actual miles on 4.116 gallons = 43.975 mpgUS.

    2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS

    OEM aFCD/Trip A: 176.7 miles - 42.8 mpg.
    181 actual miles on 4.486 gallons = 40.348 mpg and making up for the .25 to 0.35 gallon short fill in Barstow, CA.

    The Final Fill at the same Velero in National City, CA some 32 hours and 823 miles later.

    2012 Chevrolet Cruze ECO vs. 2012 Hyundai Elantra - Final Results

    VehicleVehicle Avg SpeedOdometer (miles)Actual milesFuel (gal)Actual MPGaFCD (mpg)aFCD offset (%)Over/Under EPA Highway
    Elantra GLS54.9804.882318.04345.61344.0-3.54%+14.0%
    Cruze ECO54.9821.582319.25342.74745.8+7.14%+9.6%

    [​IMG]You Got To Know When To Hold Em, Know When To Fold Em

    Both players were evenly matched with one taking home the lion's share.

    Elantra - 40mpg highway rating, 45.613mpg actual, 114.0% of EPA

    Cruze Eco - 39mpg highway rating, 42.747mpg actual, 109.6% of EPA

    The Elantra GLS proved to be the stronger contender by breaking the EPA bank by an almost 15% margin with the Cruze Eco taking home more chips than it started. Anytime you leave Vegas with more than you started, you’ve beat the odds and this pair of Kings did just that.

    This challenge was anything but an easy highway drive.

    These are two MPG Kings that fall under the "Hold Em" category. As the cost of a gallon of regular passes $4/gal and may be heading for $5/gal, either one of these two MPG Kings will definitely be an "ace up your sleeve".
  2. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    It was good to see that both turned out so close to each other and at only a small margin above EPA estimates but in REAL WORLD driving conditions. Driving with turns, wind, and mountains certainly leave room for a far lower number than EPA. Congrats!
  3. bestmapman

    bestmapman Fighting untruth and misinformation

    Great comparison.
  4. rfruth

    rfruth Well-Known Member

    Makes me want to Cruze !
  5. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Congratulations guys!

    Next time you drive around Death Valley try a higher octane gasoline.
  6. thunderstruck

    thunderstruck Super Moderator

    Any way you'd be able to get a Cruze diesel to repeat the test? Would love to see now what we have to look forward to in 2013.
  7. bullwinkle428

    bullwinkle428 Well-Known Member

    Is there a significant difference in the RPMs at that constant 60 mph if one were to make the same run with the manual transmission versions of Cruze and Elantra, to the point where the final numbers would be affected either negatively or positively?
  8. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    Anyone who doubts we were maintaining the posted speed limit of 65mph should know that I picked up a "food-borne illness" at some point over the prior 36 hours, and by early Sunday morning, it was at category-three. From Barstow to National City, I ate nothing and drank no water, because I didn't want the two players in the game to have to pause for a Royal Flush. It was definitely not an appropriate time for a hundred miles of P&G'ing close to the posted minimum limits.

    The lesson learned from The 40mpg Gamble is that both cars offered more than their EPA highway ratings, even with traffic, terrain, and trying headwinds that do not exist within the HWFET or any other EPA test.
  9. philmcneal

    philmcneal Has it been 10 years? Wow

    nice hand wayne! love the test do more with different cars in the future!
  10. ALS

    ALS Super Moderator Staff Member

    This proves if your looking for gas mileage the Cruze and the Elantra are both equally qualified to handle the job.
  11. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    Thanks, Wayne & Chris. I enjoyed reading about your comparison when you were doing it. Now I'm seeing the design parameters for your drive. It's nice to see what the Cruze & Elantra do in real world conditions.
  12. priusCpilot

    priusCpilot George

    Just did a similar trip from LA To Vegas and back and got 54mpg actual in the Prius C. I had one passenger and some luggage. I went 70mph most of the time on CC. Went a little slower on the larger hills. Im surprised the Elantra and Cruze were not to far off my car on the test being no Hyrbids. I think though my Avg speed was more as well so it may have gotten a bit higher MPG if it was closer to this Kings test.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2012
  13. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi priusCpilot:

    Yeah, the Prius c is a highway and city eating animal and would break either the Elantra or the Cruze in half when it comes to measurement at the pump.

    The Cruze and Elantra however have other redeeming features including larger driver/front passenger size, higher quality interior materials, better handling and their get up and go go was not too bad either.

    Here are two shots that did not make it into the Shootout...

    Cruze ECO F&R seating positions - A little tight in the back.

    A bit more room and my head was almost touching the headliner.​

    The c was a bit tighter as expected given it is a smaller car....

    Tight and my head was touching the headliner in back.​

    As you know, trunks can hold a lot of stuff but hatches are so much more versatile, convenient and larger :)

  14. southerncannuck

    southerncannuck Well-Known Member

    An incredible report Wayne. Looks like GM and the other domestics are real contenders.
  15. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    While a bit OT, "The Kiss" is back and reminded me of this epic shootout from last spring.

    'The people love it as the kissing statue' arrives back in San Diego!


    Another recent iconic Seward Johnson piece we have all been exposed to was the 25-foot tall sculpture "Unconditional Surrender” celebrating the “triumphant moments” of the Greatest Generation. The iconic image of the sailor kissing the young nurse in Times Square, New York City on August, 14, 1945 captured the joy and euphoria with the public announcement of the end of World War II. It is currently on loan from the Sculpture Foundation while posed in front of the USS Midway in San Diego’s beautiful downtown overlooking the harbor.

    Its back on permanent display where it truly belongs... Next to the USS Midway.
  16. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

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