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4.4 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 17 reviews
2011 Chevrolet Cruze Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 17 reviews
For years Japanese manufacturers have thrashed American companies in the small-car market. General Motors will finally throw a substantial counterpunch this fall when the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze arrives on U.S. soil. A fuel-efficient four-door with a quality interior and excellent safety features, the all-new Cruze might get you to rethink American compacts.
Unlike previous small-car offerings from GM that varied depending on market, the Cruze will be the same across the globe (it’s already available in Europe). This means GM had to give the Cruze the type of polish, space, and dependability that Asians and Europeans have come to expect in their small cars. This is a boon for Americans, because we tend to treat small cars more like disposable trinkets and thus generally wound up with cheaper versions on our sales lots.
Far from avant garde but hardly boring, the Cruze’s look should appeal to the masses. It has a pleasing mix of sharp angles and creases and smooth curves and, frankly, looks more like a midsize than a compact. If you do want to get funky with the Cruze, an available RS package adds unique fascias, rocker moldings, a rear spoiler, and chrome rings around the instrument panel.
The Cruze is available in three trim levels – LS, LT, and LTZ. The base LS (which is expected to start around $15,000) is powered by a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder (136 horsepower, 123 lb-ft of torque). The LT and LTZ trims get a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder (138 horsepower, 148 lb-ft of torque). Both engines are direct-injected, which increases their fuel economy. The EPA has not yet estimated mileage numbers for the Cruze, although Chevy claims it can get as much as 40 highway mpg with the right setup. That number will probably be closer to 35 when the EPA looks at it, but that’s still competitive with the best non-hybrids in the compact class. All trims come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but each is also available with a six-speed automatic.
GM’s new Delta 2 architecture, also seen in the Chevy Volt and Opel Astra, is put to use for the Cruze’s frame, which means lots of lightweight, high-tensile-strength steel and a surprisingly consistent ride on a variety of surfaces. The Cruze makes decent use of its modest power with the peppy six-speed manual transmission, and its braking is both reliable and consistent. Its steering feel is only average, but other than that, the Cruze challenges all rivals in its price range and some above it.
The Cruze’s cabin is spacious, comfortable, and surprisingly refined, considering Chevrolet’s previous small-car efforts. The instrument cluster is stylish and understandable, the dashboard is appealing, the seats are supportive and appointed impeccably, and exterior noise is held to a minimum. The trunk offers an impressive 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space.
The base LS trim comes standard with air conditioning with rear ducts, an eight-way manual driver’s seat, cloth seat trim, 60/40-split rear seat, two auxiliary outlets, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, power windows with express down in the front, power locks, remote entry, LED backlighting for the silver-painted center stack, a theft-deterrent system with alarm and engine immobilizer, automatic halogen headlamps with a delay feature, and 16-inch steel wheels with P215/60R16 all-season, low-rolling-resistance tires.
The LT upgrades with cruise control, remote start, a six-way power driver’s seat, eight-way manual passenger seat, Meridian leather-appointed seats, polar silver accent rings on the door speaker covers, driver’s express up and down for the power windows, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, power body-color mirrors, and 16-inch five-spoke machine-face chrome alloy wheels.
The high-end LTZ trim upgrades with heated front seats, heated mirrors, chrome door handles, jeweled instrument panel cluster, chrome trim rings and optic check accent trim on the center stack and console, an auxiliary glovebox, and 18-inch double-5-spoke flangeless silver-painted alloy wheels with P225/45R18 all-season tires.
Available technology for the Cruze includes Bluetooth, a navigation system, OnStar, XM satellite radio, and a Pioneer stereo system.
All Cruze trims come with 10 airbags, the most for any car in this class, four-wheel antilock brakes, StabiliTrak with traction control, a tire pressure monitor, and the LATCH system for child safety seats.
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