Chevy (Quietly) Launches Fuel Efficient XFE Trim

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Plug-in Volt, hydrogen fuel cell Equinox, two-mode hybrid Tahoe, belt-assist hybrid Malibu, yada, yada, yada. With all this high mileage hype, how come GM's not making a big deal out of the XFE (eXtra Fuel Efficiency) Cobalt? If it weren't for our good friend at AUTOSAVANT, we would've never known that as of May 17, all Cobalts with the five-speed manual tranny get 36 mpg on the highway. (That's second in its class to the Honda Civic Hybrid AND the Cobalt XFE offers class-leading hp from its 2.2-liter Ecotec engine.) GM squeezed the last few mpgs from the Cobalt by calibrating the engine, decreasing the tires' rolling resistance and (probably) offering a taller fifth gear. These are exactly the kind of common-sense efficiency improvements Chevy (et al) should spread across their lineup. Yes, well, come the '09 model year, the Cobalt sedan will no longer be available with a manual transmission. So if you want best-in-class horsepower and efficiency from a four-door, buy a Cobalt XFE now or you'll be looking at the Civic. Because practical, efficient cars just aren't Chevy's future, are they? Oh wait…

Edward Niedermeyer
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  • Stingray Stingray on Apr 26, 2008

    I don't thinks it's 5th gear alone... I would bet it's a taller FDR. Recallibrate a ECU is not the same as "detuning". It's putting a different fuel/timing map inside for better fuel economy/efficiency/performance. If for example, 5th gear ratio is changed, the ECU will have to be recallibrated... so... All the compact sedans shown above are porky, fat pigs. How come a "small" car weights between 1400-1600 kgs. They should have NEVER gone over 1200 kgs... the weight of a current sub-compact: Yaris, Aveo, et al. It's insane to say the least. A 1991 4 door S-10 Blazer weighted between 1800 and 2000 kgs... and it was a full frame SUV.

  • The Luigiian The Luigiian on Apr 27, 2008

    Chevy Colorado CC and RC XFE w/ 6-sp. manual, Tahoe Hybrid tires and aerodynamics, 4-cyl. engine with 190 hp and 190 lb-ft. I'll bet they could squeeze at least 22 to 24 mpg out of that combo. I mean, if they can go from 33 to 36 mpg with the Cobalt, I'm thinking they can do it with their other models. It would give their Colorado a reason to exist.

  • BrianK299 BrianK299 on Jul 04, 2008

    Being a new owner of a 2008 Cobalt XFE, let me chime in on my first week observations: The car is easily getting between 40 and 42 MPG. I keep my RPM's under 2,000 and anticipate starts and stops. Granted, in rush hour traffic, the mpg drops to the mid 30's. The Cobalt has an in-dash mileage calculator which makes mileage tracking easy. It was tough to get one. Mine was assembled just two weeks ago in Lordstown, Ohio, and if not for a connection at the dealership, I wouldn't have the car! The fit and finish is very nice, and I'm getting a lot of compliments! If you can get one, I highly recommend the Cobalt!

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Feb 12, 2010

    "A GM hybrid bus is far more fuel efficient per passenger mile than a Toyota Prius." Well of course it is. So is an 8 mpg bus from the 1940s retrofitted with a 1970s 454 V-8 and a carburetor. The hybrid bus vs Prius comparison is an apples to oranges comparison. 37ft Flxible Clipper bus getting 8 mpg holding 30 people vs a Prius carrying 4 people getting 45 mpg. The bus carries a bit over seven times more people or seven Prius loads worth of people. That's about 16 gallons of Prius gasoline. 16 gallons would carry the 1940s Flxible Clipper about 130 miles carrying 30 people. Of course the modern hybrid bus better be doing much better. If you wanna dream a little - some of the newer conversions on these old buses get upwards of 14 mpg with a 5.9L Cummins turbo diesel and a patient driver. Then there are the times I've put gas in our GMC 2500 4WD and found the mileage to be 17 mpg. Hmmm, 17 mpg in a lightly driven 5000 lb p/u or potentially 12 mpg in a gasoline powered 14,000 lb vintage bus??? Strange how that adds up... If you want my take (c'mon you wanna read it, you know you do! LOL!) GM does pretty good when they try. The problem is that they are going to have to try much harder than anyone else for longer than anyone else to recover from their shaky reputation starting as far back as the 60s. GM too often puts all their eggs into too few baskets. They have either little attention span or little patience. Or maybe their investors just demand alot of quick returns on their investments. GM gives up and concede markets to the competition rather than fighting harder. See the minivan. See the small car market. Other brands are selling alot of both. I went from an American car to a series of imports and only then did I explore motorcycles. I have little interest in an American motorcycle. Mechanically not my style even if the look is right. Smaller American cars are from time to time interesting but not consistently appealing. Plenty of import smallish cars that gets my attention year after year. Admittedly Honda may be going down the wrong alley with their styling... LOL! It is as if Detroit occasionally puts some effort into a small car and then sits back while they look at other projects while their small cars get long in the tooth or fall behind in quality. See Saturn. Here at the end Saturn has some really nice products but it took GM 15 years to get around to doing that. The initial product was good and at the front of the class and then GM forgot about them until here at the end. I really love the Astra. The Aura and the recent Vue were interesting and possibilities on my shopping lists. The Outlook is good but completely out of step with the rest of the Saturn lineup. It's a schoolbus from a division famous for small sedans. I've driven one and it's a nice vehicle if you want a big SUV. The one I drove had about 30K lightduty miles and was creaking already and rattling. Compare that to my 191K CR-V which isn't nearly as refined but has had no issues since new. As long as it is easy for a customer to make comparisons like that then Gm and Detroit will be playing catch up in consumer's minds. Perhaps by various measures Detroit/GM does well but it the consumer's opinions that matter - even if they are based on emotion rather than fact. Detroit needs to be selling style and price without forgetting to brag a little about some of their longest life products as well. The customers who had 250K miles on their sedan or their 20 year old Ford Tempo or S-10 p/u. It would be a great opportunity to steer people to quality service and parts at the dealers which I think can be an important part of the equation. Joe turning wrenches in the backyard using Chinese rebuilt economy replacement parts does not generally lead to 250K miles on the odometer. Each time I give cheap parts a try I find myself repeating a repair with either best quality aftermarket parts or OEM parts. Squeaky pads, warping rotors, noisy steering pumps, bad bearings, voltage regulators that fail, etc. Sure - I've had successes with average priced aftermarket parts but until my success rates with those parts gets better I'm going to start pricing the OEM parts first and work my way down. I'm glad that GM launched the XFE line with the Cobalt. I wish they would do so with many of their products. Might not be possible with their largest products but they could with their cars and CUVs. A hatchback Cobalt (similar to current body style) might tempt me to take a chance on a GM product.