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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2011 Chevrolet Cruze Review


The Chevrolet Cruze marks a shift in the thinking of General Motors, Chevrolet's parent company. The Chevy Cruze also stands out for its safety features -- 10 airbags are standard.
The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a new model. Check back often for updates on the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze.

The Cruze trim levels I tested at a Washington, D.C., rollout were the 2LT, LTZ and an LTZ with the RS appearance package. Each of the test cars came with leather, a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Cars.com editor Mike Hanley recently drove prototype Cruzes at GM's proving grounds and reported on the high-mileage Eco model and the six-speed manual transmission.

Sixteen-inch steel wheels are standard on the Cruze LS and 1LT, and the 1LT can upgrade to 16-inch alloys. The LTZ has 18-inch silver alloy rims. In the Cruze, roominess is the word. The Cruze has a comfortable ride, a nice compromise between world-car firmness and the softness of some American-market cars.

The Cruze's drivetrains mark a change in how automakers power their cars, for a couple of reasons. Chevrolet predicts the longest zero-to-60 mph time for the turbo engine at 10 seconds in the manual Eco trim level, which is tuned for efficiency.

The Cruze features 10 standard airbags: two frontal and two knee airbags for the front occupants, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for all four outboard seats, and a pair of curtains that cover the side windows.

The newest compact C-car from Chevrolet is the Cruze – a globally engineered vehicle designed not just to compete in the growing small-car segment, but to win.

Most notably is the launch of a new turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, designed to deliver the power and driving experience of a larger powerplant with class leading fuel economy. In fact, Chevy claims an ECO model (with a 6-speed manual transmission) will get 40-mpg on the highway. Added benefits of the Z-link suspension include light weight, low cost and compact dimensions, allowing the Cruze to deliver a cavernous trunk volume of 15 cubic feet.

We were impressed with the car’s road holding capabilities without the larger 18-inch wheels, complete with wider, lower profile tires – standard on top-trim LTZ models.

And the Cruze looks like it drives, with a design that’s handsome and that speaks to the vehicle’s size. Technically a mid-size car rather than a compact, due to its spacious interior, the Cruze looks even more impressive when next to the narrow track, tall-bodied competitors.

Base models come well-equipped with power windows, locks, remote entry and AC. We can’t say the interior is high quality, because this is a compact car after all. Improved as the Cruze may be, it still doesn’t deliver the Civic’s driver-oriented feel, although the Cruze was nicer on the highway with less wind noise. The Corolla’s engine/transmission combo was much smoother, although it’s interior and exterior design is lacking considerably when compared to the Chevy.

Which brings us to the Cruze’s price point. Chevy has finally built a compact car to rival the Japanese and they’ve priced it accordingly.

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