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Old 05-26-2010, 02:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Thoughts on Direct Injection (New Camaro, Hyundai Sonata)

It's been a while since I've been around -- but I'm still trying to save fuel when I can. After a bout with back surgery and a robust travel schedule after my return to work, spare time has been minimal; yet life has returned to some sense of normalcy lately, so here we are.

So with work travel, comes the car rental routine. I have found myself selecting a variety of interesting vehicles (at first, comfort for the spine, and later, just something different than the same-old/same-old).

With the Insight creeping towards 50 mpg every tank, I felt confident enough to let loose and rent something fun this time (oddly, it was in the lot to choose for a variety of mid-to-full-sized vehicles for frequent renters. A quick engine comparison should dust off the old laptop and wet the appetite to generate a quality report on the biggest shocker to enter the scene: the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. But first...

It was time to head back to the rental lot and choose from yet another Chrysler or random attempt at a fuel-efficient sedan. Lots of SUVs and a few pickup trucks (among the big Buicks, Caddys, and Impalas) filled the lot like every week. It usually takes a good stroll to find the hidden oddball 4-cylinder in the corner or a familiar selection like a Camry or Ford Fusion. Not this time. In bright "Rally Yellow", there it was: the 2010 Chevy Camaro. I nearly ran to it, hopped-in to secure dibs, and began the ritual of resetting trip, MPG, mirrors, seating position and getting to know the features. I admit, I'm still a "Car Guy" at heart and this was an exciting prospect.

In the old days, it was not uncommon to get a Mustang V-6 -- which early on, was the somewhat sporty, yet offered slow, 6-cylinder representation. The new Camaro is exactly the opposite. The "base" engine is a 304 hp/278 lb-ft torque, direct-injected, 3.6L DOHC VVT V-6. What? No pushrod? I'm going to say it now -- the engine acts and sounds like the Nissan 350Z's VQ engine. Without elaborating too much, the vehicle is a huge leap forward for the General. On all the parts that count (engine, drivetrain, suspension, steering, etc) this was indeed a engineered around a much different (better) mindset. It has 4-wheel independent suspension, for example. Essentially, performance and FE have a tremendous ratio. There IS a replacement for displacement.

My trip average (over about 500 miles of mostly highway, some city, and admitted, "spirited" acceleration), the Avg. FE topped at 27.4 MPG. This is better than the Dodge Avenger 2.4L 4-cylinder on the same route just a week before, and that's with significant A/C on the Camaro! I admit, it's a sports car, nonetheless, and not a good representation of overall FE. But getting thumbs-up, waves, and looks, means it has been a cutting-edge, blast of a car that is still within reach and appreciation of the everyday Joe.

Speaking of "average", there is no segment more highly competitive than the average "Midsize Family Sedan" (read: Camry, Accord, Malibu). A proper review is coming, but the idea of direct injection deserves a preview in this mention of the Camaro's FE with the same technology, and that of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata (specifically: improved FE, low-load lean-burn, high compression ratio, regular 87 Octane fuel, higher maximum power output).

The outward look of the Sonata is stunning. It hearkens to the Mercedes CLS550 4-door coupe, at a fraction of the cost (and perhaps more reliable). Take a look:

2010 Mercedes-Benz C-Class CLS550 @ $83,927

2011 Hyundai Sonata Limited @ $25,295

The rest of the car's experience is equally impressive. The 2.4L direct injection 4-cylinder makes more power and FE than the outgoing 4, and does it at a tested 36 MPG on the same 500 mile loop as the Dodge. DI is perhaps the future -- take a look at the same displacement and FE figures for vehicles on the same circuit:

2010 Dodge Avenger R/T: 2.4L DOHC 4-cyl; 4-speed auto; 173 hp; ~25 MPG
2006 Acura TSX: 2.4L DOHC iVTEC 4-cyl; 5-speed auto; 200 hp; ~29 MPG (premium fuel)
2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS: 2.4L GDI 4-cyl; 198 hp; ~36 MPG

...and a Sonata Hybrid is in the works! Hyundai has really been spending some extra time in the engineering room.

In conclusion, I look forward to seeing more from DI technology. It can only be good to reduce displacement while increasing power and efficiency.


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Old 05-26-2010, 10:17 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Very nice write up!

Good to see Hyundai's engine technology catching up.

I do wish they'd stop ripping off other companies' body styles. It seems like every hyundai I see is like, oh look at that Honda/Toyota/whatever... wait, no, its a Hyundai.
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Old 05-26-2010, 02:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Just wait until the LS V8 motors get direct injection.

Lets see how far it can go

"All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it. [...] But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air. What is evoked in him, then, is of another order, more terrible because it has no words, and triumphant, too, for the same reason. And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours." -Sonny's Blues
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Old 05-27-2010, 10:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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...Toyota's literature indicates +11% HP and MPG and -11% emissions with SIDI and, basically, no other changes to engine.

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