2011 Chevy Cruze Review: Cruze is what Chevrolet calls its newest compact car, and it makes sense that they're starting with a totally different name.
That's because the Cruze breaks ranks with the small Chevy cars that have preceded it, most of which are easily forgettable, and competes directly with the Japanese stalwarts that have been eating away at American-brand car sales for decades. How so?
For starters, there's the driving feel. It's a hard thing to describe but easy to feel when you're in the driver's seat on a country road, when you're wrapped up in the nuances of the vehicle.
The ride is firmer than American cars have traditionally employed, although still not as rock-hard as the Honda Civic. It's enough to give you confidence in corners, and actually makes it enjoyable by economy-car standards.
That good driving feel is helped by the modern-sounding whir of a turbocharged engine. It's a small engine designed more for efficiency than power, particularly in the fuel-sipping Cruze Eco model that is rated for 40 mpg on the highway, but it's also surprisingly smooth for a turbo. It's the kind of silky powerplant you would normally expect to find in something more expensive. Another big plus is the way the Cruze looks on the outside and feels on the inside.
In older compact Chevy cars, you got the impression that General Motors wasn't giving its best effort. The bodies were blocky and uninspired, and the interiors were made of brittle plastic with crude holes for the gauges and radio equipment to reside.
The Cruze is a good example of how the New GM is making cars that leave a much nicer impression than the Old GM. This actually started before the bankruptcy, most notably with the latest generation Malibu, but it's continuing even on more affordable new models like this one.
The Cruze's body has nice creases and subtle bulges, showing the kind of thought that typically goes into more expensive cars. At the same time, smart styling is becoming de rigueur for compact cars, just look at the gorgeous new models at Hyundai if you need proof, so in that context it doesn't seem as impressive.
One thing that sets the Cruze apart is the number of air bags crammed into the cabin. There are the typical dual-stage air bags in front, but there are also front and rear side-impact bags, head curtain air bags mounted on the roof rail, and even air bags in front to protect the passengers' knees.
Pricing starts at $16,995 with a 1.8-liter Ecotec engine, but the
1.4-liter turbocharged engine is much better. It starts at $18,895 in the Cruze LT, and pricing reaches the max in the LTZ model for $22,695, with features like leather seats, a remote-control starter and ultrasonic parking assist.
Granted, the Cruze is just the latest in a long line of GM compacts that have claimed to be taking aim at European and Japanese cars. It has a bunch of ancestors that were experts at puffery.
But the Cruze is GM's closest attempt yet at matching, and in some cases beating, the quality and features in its overseas rivals. It's an encouraging sign that GM is making cars that should be on the cross-shopping list for anyone considering a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.
What was tested? The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze 2LT with a base price of $20,675. Options on the test car are: The compact spare tire for $100. Total MSRP price as tested including the $720 delivery fee came to $21,395.
Why avoid it? To get it with the best engine, you've got to pay nearly $19,000.
Why buy it? It has a surprisingly high-quality feel at a reasonable price. Its sharp looks and driving dynamics let it compete head-to-head with compact Japanese cars. By Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
The Bottom Line: This compact car ups Chevy's game. The new 2011 Cruze has a handsome body and surprisingly refined driving feel, helping it redefine what a compact car from Chevrolet can be. General Motors did a great job with the Cruze's interior too, where soft materials and solid construction make it feel like a smaller version of the excellent Malibu sedan. “Drive one, Buy one, Today ©”
Bottom Line Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Bottom Line Review provided by:
Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
“Tony the Car Guy” is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to TonyLeo@pacbell.net or visit AutoWire.Net at www.autowire.net - And remember: “ You Are What You Drive © ”
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Column Name: New Cruze competes directly with Japanese models
Topic: The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze
Word Count: 828
Photo Caption: The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze
Photo Credits: Chevrolet Cruze Internet Media
Series #: 2011- 01
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