With fuel prices remaining elevated and budgets staying static, fleets are continuing to turn to alternative-fuel models as part of their vehicle selectors to help reap the benefits of lower operating costs. Below are a representative sampling 2014-MY’s all-new “green” vehicles.
Compressed Natural Gas Fueling Light-Duty Trucks
For 2014, Ford Motor Company has expanded its alt-fuel vehicle offerings with the all-new Ford F-150 CNG/LPG model. The gaseous-fuel prep option will be available on the F-150 with the 3.7L V-6 and customers interested in the compressed natural gas/liquefied petroleum gas (CNG/LPG) F-150 will first order their truck with the CNG/LPG engine prep which costs approximately $315.
Customers can choose from a list of Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifiers (QVMs) to supply fuel tanks, fuel lines, and the fuel injectors. Depending on the size of the tanks chosen, the upfits range in cost from $7,500 to $9,500. The CNG/LPG-equipped F-150 can travel up to 750 miles on one tank (depending on the tank size selected).
Looking at Clean Diesel
For the 2014 model year, GM is building on the Chevrolet Cruze with an all-new, 2.0L clean turbo-diesel-powered model that achieves an EPA-estimated 46 mpg highway. The Cruze Diesel can travel 717 miles on a single tank — or about 10 hours of highway driving, according to the manufacturer. It delivers 151 hp and 264 lb.-ft. of torque, with an overboost feature capable of increasing torque to an estimated 280 lb.-ft. for stronger acceleration periods of about 10 seconds. The 2.0L clean turbo diesel engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission designed to accommodate the car’s higher torque.
Gasoline Models Growing More Fuel Efficient
For 2014, Chrysler is returning the Jeep Cherokee nameplate to its lineup. It features fuel-economy improvements of more than 45 percent (vs. the outgoing Liberty model, according to Chrysler) and more than 70 advanced safety and security features. Three new 4WD systems have been added, and fuel economy is up to 31 mpg due to the all-new 9-speed transmission, a first for SUVs, according to Chrysler. The 2.4L Tigershark MultiAir I-4 engine is standard, and it’s the first vehicle to offer Chrysler Group’s new 3.2L Pentastar V-6 engine (which offers a V-6 towing capability of 4,500 pounds).
The 2014 Chevrolet Impala will be offered with three engine choices, including two four-cylinder powertrains and a 3.6L V-6 engine available exclusively at its launch. Offered for this time on this vehicle, an EcoTec 2.4L engine with eAssist, available at the end of 2013, will provide an estimated 35 mpg of highway driving. Impala’s EcoTec 2.4L engine with eAssist provides electrical assist in certain conditions to help save fuel and is rated at 182 hp.
Mercedes-Benz USA is offering standard all-new ECO Stop/Start for added fuel economy of 26 mpg city/38 mpg highway on its 2014-MY Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. The four-door coupe achieves 208 hp on its turbocharged four-cylinder engine, mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission and available 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
The all-new Mitsubishi Outlander compact seven-passenger crossover can achieve an EPA-estimated 31 mpg highway (ES and SE FWD models). The Outlander SE model is now available with the automaker’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive system. It is equipped with the automaker’s Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control (MIVEC) variable valve-timing system and electric power steering (EPS) for increased fuel efficiency. Two engines are offered: a 2.4L MIVEC SOHC four-cylinder or a 3.0L MIVEC SOHC V-6. All 2014 Outlander models meet LEV II – ULEV emissions standards). The Outlander PHEV is also destined for the U.S. market in the near future.
The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage five-door subcompact offers an EPA-estimated fuel-economy rating of 44 mpg highway (CVT-equipped models). It is equipped with the automaker’s MIVEC variable valve-timing system and electric power steering (EPS) for increased fuel efficiency. It comes standard with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine with the MIVEC system with continuously variable value lift timing for increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.
For MY-2014, the all-new Toyota Corolla LE Eco features a 1.8L DOHC inline four-cylinder engine with valvematic technology, which produces 140 hp and 126 lb.-ft. of torque. The base engine has an estimated fuel economy of 30 mpg city/42 mpg highway/35 mpg combined.
More Going Hybrid
Infiniti has launched the 2014 Infiniti QX60 Premium Crossover hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV). It is projected to realize 26 mpg (combined city/highway driving) — a 24-percent increase over non-hybrid QX60 models — and is projected to have the best seven-passenger fuel efficiency in the segment, according to the automaker. The QX60 HEV is projected to be priced $3,000 above the non-hybrid models.
The new QX60 Hybrid will be powered by a 2.5L supercharged engine and 15 kW electric motor connected to an advanced continuously variable transmission (CVT). Net system horsepower is estimated at 250 hp. The QX60 Hybrid’s Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid system uses a compact lithium-ion battery and electric motor to provide supplementary power through its one-motor/two-clutch system.
Also new for the 2014-MY is the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid. The Pathfinder’s new Hybrid powertrain option will be available in three fully equipped trim levels — SV, SL, and Platinum. It is expected to be priced at about $3,000 more than Pathfinder 3.5L V-6 models.
For the hybrid version, Pathfinder’s standard 3.5L V-6 will be replaced by a new supercharged 2.5L gasoline engine and an electric motor paired with a compact lithium-ion battery. The 15 kW electric motor and gasoline engine work in tandem to provide performance similar to the conventional Pathfinder. The system is rated at 250 net hp and 243 lb.-ft. of torque. Fuel economy for the FWD model is estimated at 28 mpg combined, a 24-percent increase over the gasoline model, according to the automaker.
The 2014-MY Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid model is Subaru’s first-ever hybrid. It offers all the capability and versatility of the gasoline XV Crosstrek, according to the automaker. The XV Crosstrek Hybrid shares the gasoline model’s symmetrical all-wheel drive and chassis capability. For example, the 8.7 inches of ground clearance is the same as for the gasoline model and is higher than for some dedicated SUVs, while providing a low step-in height, according to Subaru.
The Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid combines a 2.0L Subaru BOXER engine with a 13.4-hp electric motor that’s integrated into the Lineartronic CVT. A 100v, 0.6 kWh nickel-metal hydride battery is located under a revised rear floor area, and the engine uses an integrated starter/generator for the automatic stop/start feature.
‘Electrifying’ New Models
The all-new BMW i3 will be on sale in the second quarter of 2014, with a base MSRP of $41,350 (before any federal or state incentives and before destination and handling fees). The BMW i3 is the first product of the new BMW i sub-brand. A range extender model (E-REV) will also be available. The 170 hp, 184 lb.-ft. hybrid synchronous electric motor can achieve 80-100 miles, and the 22 kWh lithium-ion battery weighs 450 pounds.
It can achieve a top speed of 93 mph, electronically limited to preserve efficiency. The 650cc gasoline-powered range extender is optional. The all-new i3 also features three drive modes: Comfort, Eco-Pro, and Eco-Pro+.
For 2014-MY, General Motors is offering its first all-electric mini car, the Chevrolet Spark EV. It is powered by an advanced electric motor and battery system that give it a top speed of 90 mph and an EPA-estimated 82 miles of driving range, for a 119 combined city/highway MPGe fuel economy equivalent. All Spark EV models feature a single-speed automatic transmission.
There are also two driving modes to choose from: normal mode, which maximizes driving efficiency, and sport mode, which provides a sportier driving experience, but can reduce efficiency.
The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In hybrid-electric vehicle will be first released in New York and California. The vehicle will provide three driving modes — electric only, hybrid, or fuel only. It features a 141 hp, 2.0L 16-valve DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder engine, a 55 hp lithium-ion battery, an electronic continuously variable transmission (E-CVT), and is expected to travel an EPA-estimated 115 miles in full-electric mode and achieve 47 mpg city/47 mpg highway in gasoline-only mode, with a combined gasoline-electric driving range of 570 miles.
Extending Electric Range
The 2014 Cadillac ELR luxury coupe represents the first application of extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV) technology by a full-line luxury automotive brand, according to the automaker. It provides a full driving range exceeding 300 miles.
The pure electric drive is coupled with a 1.4L gasoline-powered electric generator, and a 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Using only the energy stored in the battery, the ELR will deliver a GM-estimated range of about 35 miles (56 km) of pure electric driving, depending on terrain, driving techniques, and temperature.
All-New 2014 Engines
It’s not just vehicles that are all-new for the 2014 model-year, there are several all-new fuel-efficient powerplants or powertrains, debuting as well.
For the 2014 model-year, Audi is now offering its all-new 3.0L TDI six-cylinder powerplant on the A6, A7, A8, and Q5. With the new engine, vehicles can travel more than 650 miles per tank. The EPA-estimated fuel economy for each vehicle is: 24 mpg city/38 mpg highway for the A6/A7; 24 mpg city/36 mpg highway for the A8; and 24 mpg city/31 mpg highway for the Q5. According to Audi, the engine lowers fuel consumption and reduces CO2 emissions compared to equivalent gasoline engines.
General Motors is offering an all-new Chevrolet Cruze 2.0L Clean Turbo Diesel engine with an EPA-estimated 46 mpg highway rating and a range of more than 700 miles per tank. In Cruze’s variable-swirl intake manifold, each cylinder has two separate intake ports, with one of them controlled by a valve. During variable swirl, each throttle valve varies how much it opens to create mixture-motion of air and fuel within each cylinder.
GM is now offering its EcoTec3 engine technology, which combines direct injection, variable valve timing, and active fuel management to enable 2WD Chevrolet Silverados and Sierras to achieve 17 mpg city. EPA highway estimates are 22 mpg for 4x4 versions, and 24 mpg for 2WD models.
The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and 2014 GMC Sierra will now be offered with the all-new 5.3L EcoTec3 V-8. This powerplant has an EPA-estimated highway fuel economy of up to 23 mpg and better than the 22 estimated highway mpg for the Ford EcoBoost turbo V-6.
Available this fall, the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and 2014 GMC Sierra 6.2L EcoTec3 V-8 will be the most powerful engine offered on any light-duty pickup, according to GM, with an estimated 420 hp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque, and a maximum available towing rating of 12,000 pounds.
The variable intake valve actuation on the 2014 Malibu/2014 Impala EcoTec 2.5L enhances efficiency and helps lower emissions, while also enhancing low-rpm torque, for a greater feeling of power at lower speeds, according to GM. When the iVLC system operates in low-lift mode, the engine pumps only the air it needs to meet the driver’s demand. The system switches to high-lift mode at higher speeds or under heavy loads, providing the full output capability of the engine.
Finally, the 2014 Impala is now offered with the all-new EcoTec 2.4L engine with eAssist. The engine provides electrical assist in certain conditions to help save fuel. It is rated at 182 hp and helps achieve estimated highway mileage of 35 mpg. The 2.4L with eAssist will be available at the end of 2013.
For the 2014 model-year, Mazda introduces the SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine, which will be used in its 2014-MY Mazda6 vehicles for the first time. The engine features a new two-stage turbocharger for a smooth and linear response from low to high engine speeds, and greatly increases low- and high-end torque, according to Mazda. It also complies with global emissions regulations without NOx aftertreatment.
Volkswagen is offering an all-new 1.8L turbocharged, direct injection four-cylinder TSI engine on the Jetta, Beetle, and Passat models. This new engine will gradually replace the 2.5L five-cylinder naturally aspirated powerplant, according to the manufacturer. Allowing for a 12-percent increase in average fuel economy over the outgoing 2.5L, the TSI will be fitted to the MY-14 Jetta and Passat model range, followed by the Beetle Coupe and Convertible in January 2014.