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2011 Chevrolet Cruze Review

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze

SEE ALSO: Inside the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze - Video Feature
SEE ALSO: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Unveiling at 2010 Detroit Auto Show -Video Feature
SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyers Guide

Downsize But Keep Up The Comfort.
The All New 2011 Chevrolet Cruze.

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Oakbrook Terrace, IL - June 2010. Already on sale in over 60 countries across Europe and Asia, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze will be coming to North America this Fall for sale throughout the United States and Canada. With the spaciousness and amenities of a midsize car and the fuel economy of a compact, the Cruze will be powered by a new Ecotec 1.4L turbo engine and is expected to deliver 40 mpg on the highway.

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At a presentation to the Midwest Automotive Media Association (M.A.M.A.), Margaret Brooks, the Chevrolet marketing director for small cars, gave members a first look and detailed the features of the Cruze that are designed to give customers what they want regardless of the car’s size.

The Chevrolet Cruze is an important car for General Motors, more important in my opinion than the oft publicized Chevrolet Volt. This car not only has the tasks of keeping repeat compact car buyers…especially GM owners, and attracting those ready to move up in size, but also meet the needs of folks who are downsizing but not willing to give up comfort, convenience and features while at the same time reducing fuel consumption. Ms. Brooks confirmed the need to attract those folks who are “resetting” their vehicle needs. The empty-nesters who are perhaps getting out of a larger midsize or a crossover vehicle or finally retire the minivan.

Good news for the Chevrolet marketing folks this time around is that they are not sharing this platform with any other GM brand. GM’s restructuring has left Chevrolet alone with car models in the compact and sub-compact segments. However, formidable offerings from competitors such as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Nissan Sentra will certainly challenge the Cruze.

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The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze will be offered in three trim levels, LS, LT and LTZ. A new family of efficient four-cylinder engines, including the Ecotec 1.4L turbo and Ecotec 1.8L mated to six-speed automatic and manual transmissions will provide the power. Fuel-saving, rack-mounted electric power steering, 16-, 17- and 18-inch wheels, StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensing, traction control and anti-lock brakes all are available. A driving range of more than 500 miles should be achieved with the Ecotec 1.4L turbo.

Chevy…yes, I’m allowed to say Chevy …claims the Cruze to be the first compact to get 40mpg. This is achieved by using ultra-low rolling resistance tires, lightweight wheels and aerodynamic devices including “aero shutters” behind the grille that close above 35mph and reopen as speed falls below that point. A lower front lip spoiler and rocker trim also aid the aero improvements.

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All models share an interior characterized by premium materials and a lengthy roster of unexpected equipment, including leading infotainment. A stereo system that includes MP3 playback capability, six speakers and an auxiliary jack for personal playback devices is standard. The infotainment display, climate controls and radio controls are all flush-mounted in the integrated center stack that blends harmoniously with the instrument panel.

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Priced starting at $16,995, when compared to Chevy’s previous compact entry, the Cobalt, the Cruze is $1000 lower priced when similarly equipped.

Of course the truth is in the tasting and we haven’t yet had the chance to spend time behind the wheel and getting in seat time to really experience the dynamics of this new car. If it does everything Chevy says it will, I feel pretty good about it achieving its goals and meeting buyers expectations. Judging from the overall design, quality of materials, equipment offered and features and benefits the Cruze appears to be “done right”. In addition, taking into consideration the success this car is already seeing in Asia and Europe, the Cruze may just cruise out of Chevrolet dealers very quickly.

For the folks that are moving down in the market and yet want all the comfort and features the 4-door Cruze certainly has plenty of room for the empty-nester couple to travel in style and have the convenience of an urban or suburban grocery hauler or to go out on the town with another couple. And, the 500 mile driving range makes it great for the road trip to visit the grandkids.

Remember: Small car doesn’t always mean a cheap, basic car.

Larry Nutson

WANT MORE 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Info?: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Story Library