Review and photos by Steven Bochenek
From June 4 to 6, a contingent of writers accredited by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) will take turns driving twenty-one arguably green vehicles between Ottawa and Montreal.
Each day, the most eco-conscious driver who attains the best fuel economy stats will win an Eco Green Jersey. (Most of these writers have taken racing lessons – many have raced. We’re like reformed sinners preaching to the congregation.)
A 200-km journey, you could walk the Eco-Run in as much time, so you’re right in assuming that there will be several stops along the way.
Indeed the route won’t be as the goose flies, or typical Canadian drives. We’ll stay north of the Ottawa River until the Thursday, when we descend from Terrebonne (that means lovely Earth, a good sentiment) to Montreal. The event will stop along the way for press conferences, stunts and rest stops.
The following are the vehicles we’ll be driving. Any that I’ve driven include prior driving impressions. Furthermore, you can read the impressions of each that I sample during Eco-Run each evening, June 2–4.
Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel
Forget what you thought about diesel. Like South Africa, it’s far from the villain it once was and lots of your friends are going there. Clean diesels emit less than 10 percent of the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate as earlier (dirty) diesels. GM inserted a 2.0L turbo-diesel engine in this, their most popular sedan. The result, according to GM, is Canada’s best highway fuel consumption for “any non-hybrid passenger car.”
Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel & Ford C-Max Hybrid. Click image to enlarge
The Volt offers the benefits of an electric vehicle (EV) but has a greater range than most. Its claims to fame include being the world’s bestselling ‘EV’ and the only one that adapts to all of Canada’s climates. Plus last year it outsold all other EVs and plug-ins in Canada combined.
I drove the prototype two years ago and liked it enough. It handles fairly well and there’s plenty of insta-torque, although the price would be a barrier for many of us, starting at $42,000. Hybrids have come down in price much faster than electric vehicles (EVs).
Ford C-Max Hybrid
Ford took a while to get to the hybrid (gasoline engine and battery-driven electric motor) party but didn’t come empty handed. The C-Max Hybrid claims a top speed of 100 km/h in EV mode and 195 net horsepower. The spirit of Eco-Run discourages us from testing such claims, preferring us to economize and glide. At least that way we can test its fuel economy claim of 4.0 L/100 km city, 4.1 L/100 km highway and 4.0 L/100 km combined.
The C- Max was at last year’s AJAC TestFest, which I attended along with several writers here at Autos.ca. TestFest is a four-day suite of half-hour drives – dozens of them – so not all individual tests leave lasting impressions. I kept my score sheets though. It got good marks for drivetrain and comfort, and average for the quality of its materials, though its victory in our Hybrid Car Gridlock Torture Comparison Test shows that it fulfills its purpose admirably.