They call it hypermiling, and it's very nearly a sport these days. It's not a new form of racing, though; hypermilers don't drive to beat each other to the finish. The name of the game is efficiency, and they drive for MPGs.

A couple recently pushed their Chevrolet Cruze Eco to just over 64 MPG in an almost 10,000 mile drive across the United States.

Australian fuel efficiency experts, John and Helen Taylor drove through all of the lower 48 states in their quest for fuel efficiency glory. While on their Shell-sponsored road trip, the Australian pair were able to accomplish nearly 50 percent better fuel mileage than the official EPA estimates for their car.

The Taylors' current vehicle of choice, the Cruze Eco, is a slimmed down, MPG-optimized version of Chevrolet's standard small sedan. The Cruze Eco is rated at 28 MPG on the highway and 42 in the city, a substantial boost over the normal Cruze's respective 26 and 36 MPG.

Chevy achieves this by making small changes to the car. It has been lowered and the bodywork has been smoothed out to reduce wind resistance as much as possible. The aerodynamic work is extensive, and the car even features a moving flap that opens to allow for better engine cooling at slower speeds and better aerodynamics when on the highway.

Chevrolet engineers have also reduced the Cruze Eco's weight by doing things like strategically thinning the car's sheet metal in certain places. In all, the fuel sipping Cruze Eco is about 200 pounds lighter than other models.

The goal of all these changes is to make the engine's work as easy as possible. The less work an engine has to do, the better fuel mileage will be.

The same principle applies to hypermiling strategy. Using the brakes as little as possible and accelerating slowly tend to pay dividends when driving for fuel efficiency.

Shell posted additional great hypermiling tips on its web site for drivers looking to get the most out of their gas budgets.

author photo

J. Mark Sternberg is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day.

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