logo for efficient-mileage.com

Chevy Cobalt SS / Civic Hybrid


Chevy Cobalt SS and Honda Civic Hybrid

Now that's a bizarre comparison.

The Cobalt SS is the most efficient affordable new car on the list. It's also reported to be the best held secret in the auto industry. The chassis is relatively light at just under 3000 lbs. Low inertia helps stopping distance, acceleration, cornering and mpg. What puts this light chassis well ahead of its competition is a very efficient engine.

The 2.0L turbo is a well-balanced engine that produces a maximum of 260 horsepower and 260 ft lbs of torque. That's a power to weight ratio of 1:11.5. An efficient engine and a light chassis is a solid combination that will always score well. The Cobalt SS is a well-rounded athlete that performs very well at everything, even price. Its the quickest new car under $25,000.

The only other comparable car on the list is the Honda Civic Hybrid NAVI CVT. For about the same price the Civic Hybrid compromises acceleration for going the distance and does it well. The stopping distance is dangerously long to maximize the effectiveness of the regenerative braking system. The hybrid power plant won't do anything in a hurry. Maintaining a slow rate of acceleration reduces force and energy needed to get the car to cruising speed. These are the typical hybrid compromises that result in such high mpg ratings. The Honda Civic Hybrid also holds the title of being the lightest hybrid of 2008.

Other competing cars hurt by inefficient engines would be the Saturn Astra, Mitsubishi Lancer, Honda Civic, Hyundai Tiburon, and Kia Rondo. The Nissan Sentra SE-R, Volkswagen Jetta TDI, and Dodge Caliber perform admirably.

The Chevy Cobalt SS and Honda Civic Hybrid use fuel with about equal efficiency. Both car owners are getting the same amount of value out of a gallon of gas.

The comparison here has to do with work. Work is what a machine does. A machine must move a mass a distance over some unit of time. A machine does work by using force (mass x acceleration) to move a mass some distance.

Work = mass x acceleration x distance

Both cars weigh the same, can accelerate and travel a distance on a unit of fuel. One car accelerates well at the expense of distance. The other car goes the distance at the expense of acceleration. The net result is that both cars do the same work and provide equal value to the unit of gasoline purchased. The Cobalt SS owner is buying acceleration as economically as possible. The Honda Civic Hybrid owner is buying distance as economically as possible. Both cars make superb use of fuel; which makes them the two greenest new cars under $24,000.

I've driven the Cobalt Sport with a naturally aspirated 2.4L engine mated to an automatic. The car was a blast to drive in both the wet and the dry. In the pouring rain the car maintained excellent traction. The car effortlessly danced through highway traffic in the downpour. On an open wet road off the highway I improvised my own slalom course and the car never hinted at a slip as I reached highway speeds. Despite not having a turbo, the 2.4L produced plenty of torque and never complained about hills. The interior was somewhat forgettable. However it did have an eight inch factory subwoofer in the trunk that would have been a lot of fun if there were something other than talk-radio and country on the airwaves.

2008 Cobalt SS sedan and coupe


2008 Honda Civic Hybrid NAVI CVT


Reprogram the Cobalt Engine for a 20% increase in power:

GM offers a Turbo upgrade kit for the Cobalt, Solstice, Sky Redline, HHR SS for $650. Part number:19212670. Available at any GM dealer.

The upgrade kit was deisgned by GM engineers to get more power and maintain factory warranty. The kit is legal in all 50 states. It is easy to bolt on and does not affect driveability.

2007-08 Solstice/Sky Manual 290 Hp @5200 rpm and 340 ft-lbs @3600
2007-08 Solstice Auto 290 Hp @5200 rpm and 325 ft-lbs @3600
2008 HHR SS Manual and Auto 290 Hp @5200 rpm and 315 ft-lbs @4800
Cobalt Turbo kit available first quarter of 2009.


Copyright 2008 - 2009. Efficient-Mileage.com. All rights reserved.