Amanda Salas: With an estimated 42 miles per gallon on the highway, the Cruze Eco even rivals some hybrids.
Craig: But, with the optional automatic transmission, the Cruze does fall short of Chevy's claim to have the most-fuel efficient gas engine in America. To get that, you're going to need to know how to drive a stick!
Amanda: Still, the Cruze Eco is more efficient than many small cars on the market. To get that 42 miles per gallon, Chevy had to lower the front grille air shutters for better aerodynamics, and use lighter sheetmetal on some of the body panels.
The Eco comes standard with an array of safety features, like four-wheel anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, as well as 10 airbags.
Craig: You know, also standard is a six-speaker AM/FM stereo with CD and MP3 player, plus USB connectivity and Bluetooth. There's an optional audio system upgrade that includes navigation and a touchscreen display.
Amanda: The Eco has OnStar, but it doesn't have a sunroof. So you'll ride safe, but not in style.
Craig: You know, Amanda, I like the way this car drives. The steering is quick and sure, and the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine has lots of performance.
Amanda: Yeah. The inside is so quiet even with those ultra-low-rolling-resistance tires, which usually increase road noise.
Craig: No, you're right. And the manual transmission on this vehicle has got to be one of the easiest-shifting gearboxes on the market. It shifts so smooth, and the pedals are really well placed. As a matter of fact, I think this is a great car to learn how to drive stick on.
Amanda: Oh, definitely. And a great car with a great price. It starts right under $20,000. With all these standard features, it's hard to believe it's a low-priced economy car.
Craig: For the best fuel economy on the market short of a hybrid, AutoTrader recommends the Cruze Eco with the manual transmission.
Amanda: If you're on a budget trying to save at the pump, consider adding the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Eco as your next vehicle purchase.