Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Chevy Cruze Eco and a Honda Civic EX-L Navi: My Driveway Runneth Over With Politically Correct Motorized Conveyences

I am in Green Hell this week.

Well, not really, but I calculated that opening would grab your attention.

What I am in this week are two small economy cars whose makers tout them as eco friendly, or some equally annoying, "I heart the earth" characterization. Man, I am ever getting tired of the color green.

But enough of my whining.

Early this morning, Chevrolet dropped a $20,490 version of its 2012 Cruze Eco in my driveway. A few minutes after noon, Honda delivered a $24,205 2012 Civic EX-L Navi. Both prices include the destination charge. The Cruze price also includes $495 for the Driver Convenience option package with a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat and rear parking assist. Hopefully it will prevent me from backing over the neighbor's cat.

What qualifies these two sedans as eco friendly? According to EPA estimates the Civic gets 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway with a combined mpg of 33; while the Cruze Eco delivers the same 28 mpg city, it does a bit better on the highway with 42 mpg. The EPA still pegs the combined number at 33, but that's with a six-speed manual transmission. Pony up the extra $995 for the six-speed, driver-shiftable auto tranny and those EPA estimates drop to 26 mpg city/39 mpg highway/31 mpg combined.

My test Cruze has the manual transmission.

The Civic EX-L Navi is about as good as a Civic gets; well, at least as good as it gets with the 140-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. There is the somewhat pricier Civic Si with its 201-horsepower 2.4-liter four, but it lops 8 mpg from the smaller engine's combined fuel economy. No self-respecting real greenie worth his weight in carbon credits would hit a Toyota Land Cruiser in the fanny with a gas hog like the Si.

As indicated by the "Navi" in its name, my test Civic has a navigation system with voice recognition. It also has leather seating, 4-wheel disc brakes (the Cruze has discs in front and drums in the rear) and a power sunroof.

The Cruze Eco is basically the entry level LS trim with the 140-horsepower Ecotec engine of the higher Cruze trim levels in place of the LS's 1.8-liter; this in addition to some fuel-saving features like lightweight alloy wheels and low resistance tires outside, and Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port and steering wheel-mounted audio controls inside.

Both cars have very decent audio systems with a USB audio interface, full power accessories and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with redundant audio controls. The Cruze has 8 air bags including knee air bags for both front-seat positions. The Civic has six air bags.

I have to slog the 100 miles to Charlotte tomorrow. Choosing to drive the Civic rather than the Cruze was a no-brainer because of the Civic's navigation system. I've been known to get lost backing out of my driveway. When traveling to unfamiliar locales, I always go with the car with a navigation unit.

I drove the 2011 versions of both these cars, but it will be sort of fun to drive the 2012s back to back all week long.

Let the games begin.

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