Follow this link to read a more thorough take on this story, but be ye alerted: all of a sudden, Chevrolet will sell you a very frugal Cobalt.
Named the XFE (get it? eXtra Fuel Economy), this Cobalt will make use of low-rolling resistance tires - a great trick many hybrids make use of - while also remapping the 2.2L four-cylinder engine. The 36mpg result comes with the manual transmission only. Reserved for former Cobalt's and continuing automatic tranny cars will be 31mpg on the highway.
Five miles per gallon is hardly gradual, but referencing it that way for now help makes the point that subtle, gentle changes can make huge differences in the long-term. If year-over-year, General Motors and its competitors can make gains like this in efficiency, consumers will save money in two different ways. First, fewer fill-ups. That's easy to understand. But equally important is the lack of expensive technology required to make the Cobalt into a 36mpg car on the highway.
The Chevrolet Cobalt XFE leaves the home-market Ford Focus just 1mpg behind, but strong competitors like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are also in arrears. Traveling an extra mile or two on every gallon of gasoline you pump into your car is going to - or already is - going to mean an awful lot.
Smart thinking, GM. More like this and this, please.