When it comes to fuel efficiency, you could say the Chevy Sonic and Chevy Cruze do things the hard way. Yes, they make achieving at least 40 mpg on the highway an easy task for drivers, but the cars rely on piston rings with a diamond-like carbon coating (DLC) to help get the job done. According to Arlington Chevy, the high-strength, low-friction material is more often found in computer hard drives and semiconductors, and its use in the cars’ available 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec engines is a first for Chevrolet.
“Thanks to diamond-like carbon coating, we can use lower tension on the Ecotec’s piston rings to reduce friction, which improves fuel economy,” said Rich Ricchi, a technical specialist for GM Powertrain. “DLC also reduces oil consumption in high-mileage driving, due to the favorable wear properties associated with the DLC coating.”
Sheboygan Chevrolet explained the coating helps the Cruze and Sonic achieve EPA ratings that include:
- Sonic (with automatic transmission)—27 mpg city/37 mpg/31 mpg combined
- Sonic (with manual transmission)—29 mpg city/40 mpg highway/33 mpg combined
- Cruze Eco (with automatic transmission)—26 mpg city/39 mpg highway/31 mpg combined
- Cruze Eco (with manual transmission)—28 mpg city/42 mpg highway/33 mpg combined
According to Washington Chevrolet Dealers, that dynamic powerplant delivers 138 hp and 148 lb.-ft. of torque for surprisingly athletic performance.
“Through years of lab research, we’ve acquired an understanding of how to work with DLC at the atomic level,” said Michael Lukitsch, GM senior researcher. “It holds great promise for future applications, both in advanced manufacturing processes and improved production parts that save our customers money.”