Sneak Peek: The Future of Cars

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Car buyers may soon be able to get hybrid-level gas mileage in a vehicle that’s not a hybrid. And we’re not looking too far into the future.  The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco should be on sale later this year.

The compact Cruze Eco will be one of many cars on display at the New York International Auto Show later this week, but it’s expected to garner significant attention from potential car buyers who want to experience the purr and hum of a gas-powered vehicle while still getting mileage comparable to a hybrid.

With improved aerodynamics, lighter aluminum wheels and a new GM Ecotec engine, the Cruze Eco promises a fuel economy rating of 40 miles per gallon on the highway, The New York Times reports.

That’s about 50% more than what you might get in a 2010 Chevy Impala, and just eight miles per gallon less than what you’d get in a Toyota (Stock Quote: TM) Prius on the highway, according to Fueleconomy.gov.

Amid a recession and following record high gas prices, consumers have turned to hybrid and other more fuel-efficient vehicles, not just because they’re green, but simply to save gas money.

And according to the New York International Auto Show exit survey last year, about 75% of show attendees say they’re more likely to purchase or lease a car from companies they’ve been considering as a result of attending the auto show.

Additionally at the auto show, GM’s celebrated hybrid Volt, due out in test markets later this year, will have a presence, and among other hybrids, Honda (Stock Quote: HMC) will also be showing off its new hybrid coupe, the CR-Z, and its zero-emissions vehicle, the FCX Clarity.

Show attendees will also have the chance to ride in several electric vehicles from companies like Mitsubishi, BMW, Think and Amp Electric Vehicles at the show’s EV Pavilion, according to the New York Auto Show Twitter feed.

Apart from electrics, show-goers will also have a chance to ride in new Jeep and Kia vehicles.

Among luxury cars being unveiled at the show, GM’s Cadillac will debut its CTS-V sport wagon and Honda will reveal its 2011 Acura TSX, a sleek wagon that will compete directly with the CTS-V.

Concept cars like the sleek Audi E-tron, the futuristic Subaru Hybrid Tourer and the Mini Beachcomber will make an appearance as well.

MainStreet will be taking a sneak peek at the New York Auto later this week, so check back for more coverage of cool new cars that could be arriving soon at dealerships near you.

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