John and Helen Taylor depart on the Smarter Driving Tour. Image: Shell
You might remember a few weeks ago we brought you news of Australian couple John and Helen Taylor.
Rather than enjoying the usual trappings of tourism, the Taylors wanted to break their own 48-U.S.-state hypermiling record, previously set in a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI at 67 mpg over 9,505 miles.
Their weapon of choice for the new challenge? A 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco. With a 138-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and a six speed manual transmission, the Cruze Eco is rated at 42 mpg highway, so the Taylors would have their work cut out to beat the diesel Jetta.
Nevertheless, after 9,552 miles in the most frugal Cruze, the couple managed an average of 64.42 miles per gallon.
That might be a few mpg off their record in the Jetta, but it's still mightily impressive.
The highest we managed on our first drive review of the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco was 44.1 mpg in light freeway traffic, and beating the quoted figures is never a bad thing. Beating the freeway figure over 9,500 miles of driving by over 20 mpg in a gasoline vehicle is amazing.
The Taylors ensured they used the highest gear wherever possible and whenever safe to do so, picking speed up on downhill sections and carrying the momentum up the next hill, and the manual transmission meant they weren't at the mercy of a slushbox with a mind of its own.
They noted that many drivers across the country travel above the legal speed limit, and suggested that, "If this could be eradicated the States would save billions of gallons of fuel, having a positive effect on the economy.”
The couple stopped four times en route to teach their methods to economy-minded motorists, finally rolling into Las Vegas after 22 days on the road. The reception was positive, leading the Taylors to write “It showed us how hungry motorists are to be educated about fuel efficiency."
Will we see the Taylors attempt the record again once the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze diesel comes to America? Time will tell, but in the meantime they've proved there's still life in the gasoline engine yet.