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Old 08-30-2009, 02:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
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1 MPG Sells Chevys (apparently)

Editorial

I know that most of us are pretty informed here, but this bears venting.

So, I'm here catching some TV and get the latest ad genius from the General. What really gets me is the 1 more Hwy mPG (in a lower case M to denote the singular) that the all new Chevy Equinox gets over the Honda CR-V and Escape Hybrid. Plus the 600 mile hwy tank! Well, the FE problem is solved -- send home the technicians, let the ice caps re-freeze. It's covered.

They have been pulling this stuff, and to boot, insulting other automakers with this formula for while now... remember the Honda lawn mower and how they couldn't compete with it? Do they engineer this extra mile-per-gallon for the purposes of marketing only? Apparently there's always 1 more mPG to squeeze out. I say keep going and check back later when you have 10-15 more.

I think for a "Domestic" automaker, GM is doomed. Ford took no bail out money, improved quality to Camry standards in the Fusion even before the meltdown, and made cars (not necessarily trucks) that are more appealing to slap down a hard-earned payment. Clunkers program or not, Ford is positioned well.

Counterpoint/Solution: I'm currently driving a rented Impala LT, base engine, land yacht. The LZE 3500, rated at 224hp/220ft-lb has yielded 28.x MPG in mixed driving. Through maximizing torque, you're able to cruise at 950 RPM, 35-40 mph (full TC lockup and lug). That gets you 35 MPG. Where is this tech in smaller cars? It's even low-tech! So apparently, it's OHV stuff.

Looking back at the offerings from GM in the 4-Cylinder OHV department, we had the "Iron Duke" Tech-IV and most recently the 2.2L OHV. We've gotten caught-up in the buzzword "Overhead Cam and DOHC", which the EcoTec offered in '04, and the name "Quad-4", which cost me a bundle when a '90 Beretta blew up due to a failed head gasket at 80K miles.

The old pushrod engines achieved decent mileage, but could use a brush-up on smooth operation, confidence, and reliability. Who's to say we can't resurrect this type of engine, hook-up a 5-speed auto with aggressive torque conversion to run it in a low RPM situation, eliminate the timing belt/chain, and now you have reliable mileage maker -- heck give it a green name. Am I too far off on this one? Or, would a turbo just be easier? But turbos tend fail at 100K if not cooled down properly. Not good for that image of reliability. The parts are in the bin -- just put it together.

OK, I'm done saving GM from itself tonight. Let the debate continue...

RH77

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Old 08-30-2009, 02:34 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Your dream car sounds like a Tempo with a better automatic!
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Old 08-30-2009, 09:21 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I agree with you. Until very recently, I had a 2000 Impala with the Buick 3800 V6 engine. All you had to do was get the thing moving, and then it would loaf at low RPMs getting surprisingly decent mileage considering its size and weight. On the highways, it was no trouble at all to get in excess of 30 MPG. I always felt that if they could simply improve on that design, they would have a huge winner.

The only reason I could imagine that they didn't is because the typical chattering classes who write reviews of automobiles are always enamored of the "refinement" of the high-revving OHC engines, and so would always pan the "outdated" pushrod design, because it doesn't "sound" or "feel" good when you rev it to the redline. (This just begs the questions, though: unless you're doing an "Italian tune-up" why on earth are you running it to the redline when most of the torque is available at 2500 RPM? And the average American driver actually *doesn't* take advantage of a high-revving engine - they want high torque at a low RPM, which is exactly what this engine provided.)

And totally agree with you about the Quad-4 Beretta.... Had a '95 4-cyl, and it always seemed like something new would fall off every month. Head gasket, two transmissions, power steering, alternator, even the door handle and turn signal lever broke off....
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Lee View Post
Your dream car sounds like a Tempo with a better automatic!
You know, you're right! As I look back to the high school days, my good friend inherited a '93 Tempo LX 4-door automatic that I drove a time or two. Plenty of low-end power, but wheezy at at the top (and the high highway revs in the auto). It was virtually indestructible until the unibody rusted and split down the middle. A welder bought it, fixed it up, and it's probably still on the road 9 years later. That got great mileage. He spent a lot less money on gas than my Olds 350 V-8.

Of recent past with Ford, the "Vulcan" 3.0L V-6 in the 1000's (it seems) of Tauruses I've rented, offered similar low-end grunt and improved FE vs. the DOHC 3-liter model. 95% of them had the base OHV plant. It's now gone

The last GM OHV 4, the 2.2L, I recall from a ride in a Cavalier automatic. Being performance minded at the time, I was expecting more (I was a passenger responding to a volunteer fire/EMS call -- at WOT it felt like it shifted at 4000. It seemed we'd never make it to the firehouse!) The guy bragged that he got great mileage. I know now...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkp1187 View Post
I agree with you. Until very recently, I had a 2000 Impala with the Buick 3800 V6 engine. All you had to do was get the thing moving, and then it would loaf at low RPMs getting surprisingly decent mileage considering its size and weight. On the highways, it was no trouble at all to get in excess of 30 MPG. I always felt that if they could simply improve on that design, they would have a huge winner.

The only reason I could imagine that they didn't is because the typical chattering classes who write reviews of automobiles are always enamored of the "refinement" of the high-revving OHC engines, and so would always pan the "outdated" pushrod design, because it doesn't "sound" or "feel" good when you rev it to the redline. (This just begs the questions, though: unless you're doing an "Italian tune-up" why on earth are you running it to the redline when most of the torque is available at 2500 RPM? And the average American driver actually *doesn't* take advantage of a high-revving engine - they want high torque at a low RPM, which is exactly what this engine provided.)

And totally agree with you about the Quad-4 Beretta.... Had a '95 4-cyl, and it always seemed like something new would fall off every month. Head gasket, two transmissions, power steering, alternator, even the door handle and turn signal lever broke off....
I'll that admit that I'm guilty of snubbing the pushrod engine in the past (even the recent past). Influence of friends with import 4's, and some auto mags really gave it a bad rap. Over time, that has been argued with some success.

But you're exactly right -- most drivers are afraid of the gas pedal and rarely see redline. A gasser that acts like a Diesel makes sense if we want better FE. It's a mindset that may not recover.

Back to the Beretta -- I got a new '95 Level-II with the 3100 V-6 to replace a '77 Olds. I liked it, it was fun, and was efficient (if I kept my foot out of it). At 15K miles, the transmission developed a whine. I took it in and it turned out to be a faulty bearing from the factory. Full tear down and 2-weeks out. Then back to the shop for more warranty work later on my new car. I gave up on it just before warranty and found a '90 GTZ. After those miserable experiences, I bought a stripped-down Civic DX Coupe and loved it.

On a similar scale, the same 3100 in the later Buick Century really could pull down some serious FE numbers. I loaded one up with 6 people total and went to a family reunion. 200 miles of pulling hills on secondary rural roads, some city, and a little highway gained over 30 MPG. I couldn't believe it. Yet another argument for the design.

But, I'm afraid they're phasing-out this engine style at GM. Rumor has it that a DOHC direct-injection V-6 will replace the Imp's OHV.

RH77
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Old 08-30-2009, 04:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
But you're exactly right -- most drivers are afraid of the gas pedal and rarely see redline. A gasser that acts like a Diesel makes sense if we want better FE. It's a mindset that may not recover.
it may not recover? at this rate it is never going to. I do not even know how the inline four exists for as long as it has, any version. Is the purr of 136 foot pound at 2800 rpm on a 3 main boxer that scary? are most drivers lesser hearing? they need the revs screaming loud lunatic apparently...while a 23 year boxer is still surpassing the worlds greatest v-tec on an original build...
FI is maxxed at 38, with a singular source of fuel, the average today is lucky for 30 on the 2+ liters, different weight class, and engine, is all the more appealing to get abigger car. I am done with four cylinders after my old carbed sube. The genius revealed to me, no looking back.don't even bother with a sales pitch. I have had 3600 pound cars with v8s within 5mpg nominal of an inline screaming 2+ liter ricer...and to KNOW it is the exact same result today. No more four cylinders for me.
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Old 08-30-2009, 05:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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GM advertising has always (to me) bordered on the "...my FLYSH-T is better than your PEPPER."

...but, isn't that true of ALL americanized commercials (unless SEX is substituted for facts and sensability?)
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Old 08-30-2009, 05:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RH77 View Post

But you're exactly right -- most drivers are afraid of the gas pedal and rarely see redline. A gasser that acts like a Diesel makes sense if we want better FE. It's a mindset that may not recover.
Really, the turbo-diesel is probably one of the best balances of fuel economy and power for the typical American style of driving, at least in the interim. Certainly it is for my driving style (though that's not intended as criticism of the high-revving engine.) Question is: will Americans (and their regulators) ever realize that?

It's disappointing that VW is the only one selling diesels in quantity in the USA, given their reliability and service issues. Hopefully BMW will step up to the plate with some of its 4-cylinders soon.
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkp1187 View Post
Really, the turbo-diesel is probably one of the best balances of fuel economy and power for the typical American style of driving, at least in the interim. Certainly it is for my driving style (though that's not intended as criticism of the high-revving engine.) Question is: will Americans (and their regulators) ever realize that?
Dunno about American buyers, but one American builder has definitely gotten the message: Ford. Check out their Eco-boost lineup. Not diesels, but the fact is that America is still not ready for mainstream diesel motors in their cars. (I personally think diesels still stink way to much -- paraffin stink now, but stink is still stink -- but that's me.)
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Chevy's MPGs

Maybe after owning a Chevy Cobalt, I'm a fanboy of sorts. Well, I sold it in favor of a '92 Honda VX. But I did respect the Cobalt for it's mileage with the 2.2L Ecotec and handling with electric steering. And it runs a timing chain instead of a rubber band and was smooth as glass.

But more on the Equinox. Where are you getting the 1 mpg figure? I'm reading fueleconomy.gov and the Honda CR-V isn't listed for 2010, but for 2009, it's rated at 27mpg. As far as the Escape Hybrid, I wouldn't even put it's 31mpg/battery boosted performance in the same category, as the Equinox is a conventional-based vehicle without any battery stuff to have die and replace. You didn't mention the Toyota RAV 4 which is getting 28 highway. So the Equinox, with it's 6 speed automatic getting 32 really is a big deal for someone who thinks they need a crossover vehicle. It sounds good to me, and I recommended it to my boss for consideration of our company car to replace a 20mpg minivan.

Not to say that GM hasn't made lots of awful stuff, but I believe they are making a real try at MPG in some of their models. Except that Aveo. I'd stay a mile away from that with gas figures lower than Cobalt. But I digress.

OK, I'll go back to my 45 city MPG in my VX. But if I needed a crossover, I'd consider the Equinox.

Scott
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Old 08-30-2009, 11:15 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdb View Post
Dunno about American buyers, but one American builder has definitely gotten the message: Ford. Check out their Eco-boost lineup. Not diesels, but the fact is that America is still not ready for mainstream diesel motors in their cars. (I personally think diesels still stink way to much -- paraffin stink now, but stink is still stink -- but that's me.)
Having spilled gasoline on my shoe and had to smell it the rest of the day, I don't see the difference with the smell of diesel.

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