2011 Chevrolet CruzePosted on July 31st, 2010
Value-priced compact sedan
By Larry Edsall
It wasn’t that long ago that Chevrolet was known as the producer of terrific pickup trucks and capable sport utility vehicles. But of cars that people might be eager to drive? Well, except for the Corvette, not so much.
That all changed with the introduction of the remarkable new Chevrolet Malibu and the stunning new Chevrolet Camaro. Now it continues with the launch of the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze.
The Cruze is Chevrolet’s new compact sedan. With the Cruze, Chevrolet challenges on the likes of the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra with a product that could easily have been labeled Malibu Junior.
At least that’s our first impression after spending several hours and a couple hundred miles in a couple of Cruzes. First, we drove the just-above-base LT version equipped with the sporty-looking but very reasonably priced RS appearance package. Then, we tried the top-of-the-line LTZ edition with full leather interior.
Also available is the base LS, which despite its $16,995 price tag comes with 10 – that’s right, 10 airbags and a six-month subscription to General Motors’ OnStar system with Turn-by-Turn navigation — and the Cruze Eco, which promises to return 40 miles per gallon when cruising on the freeway.
That 40-mpg figure is impressive because the Cruze isn’t a micro machine but a roomy compact that seems almost mid-size in its level of comfort. (Chevrolet engineers note that while 40-mpg is the fuel economy figure for launch, they promise that number will be even better when the 2012 version arrives and better yet for 2013. Imagine: continual improvement instead of having to wait a few years for the next generation to arrive; maybe this is a new General Motors after all.)
While the Chevrolet Cruze is new for North American motorists, it’s been sold in some 60 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. While the new platform launched in 2009, it has been tailored to meet specific driving environments and compact car driver expectations in each country where it’s been launched.
Chevrolet engineers set five goals for the North American version of the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze: an upscale presence in a compact footprint, segment-leading fuel economy, exceptional safety, responsive handling and a quiet and refined interior, and quality and durability.
Safety (as evidenced in those 10 standard airbags) and quality/durability are important in any segment but especially in this one because so many compact car buyers keep their vehicles for a long time, often handing them down to their teenaged children to drive.
By the way, how do you fit 10 airbags into a compact package? Well, in the Cruze, it means the industry-standard front and side-curtain airbags, plus side thorax airbags for all four outboard seating positions, as well as knee-protecting airbags for the driver and front-seat passenger.
To help prevent those airbags from being needed, all Chevrolet Cruzes will be equipped with standard StabiliTrak, GM’s electronic stability control technology with traction control, anti-lock brakes and rollover sensors designed to help the driver keep the car on its intended track, even in wet and wintery weather.
To make the Cruze comfortable as well as safe, it has a roomy interior (and trunk) with extra long tracks so the front seats have lots of fore and aft travel, providing leg room not only for tall drivers but leg room for those sitting in the back seat.
Special acoustic glass, insulation, body sealers, engine mounts and even sound-deadening materials applied in the painting process make the interior almost luxury-car quiet.
By the way, the trunk provides not only 15 cubic feet of cargo capacity, but a large and wide opening to ease loading and unloading of things you might not think would fit into the trunk of a compact car.
With a name such as Cruze, this new Chevrolet promises to be something in which you’d actually want to cruse. Dynamic capabilities are provided by electronic power steering, a MacPherson front suspension, and rear suspension that Chevrolet calls a Z-link or compound crank because it combines a Watts or Z-link tunable control arm with typical torsion beam technology.
Powered by GM’s 1.4-liter, turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder engine – used in all but the base LS version – the Cruze cruises under the spunky output of 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. The LS gets a non-turbo 1.8-liter four that pumps out 136 hp but only 123 pound-feet.
The new Ecotec turbo engine weighs a mere 220 pounds and features a very small turbocharger that’s not bolted on but is very cleverly incorporated and integrated into the exhaust manifold.
Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are available. The Cruze Eco comes only with the manual, which helps boost its fuel economy. Other fuel-saving technologies used on the Eco version include lightweight17-inch forged aluminum wheels, special aerodynamic devices – both on and under the body – low rolling resistance tires and various weight-saving methods, from special welding flanges to powerful but lightweight magnets in the audio system speakers.
The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LT starts at $18,895 and rides on 16-inch wheels. The slightly upscale 2LT version gets leather seating with six-way power for the driver’s position, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a USB port for audio interface, audio controls mounted on the steering wheel and remote vehicle start.
The Cruze Eco is priced at $18,895.
The LTZ model gets all the 2LT features plus standard cruise control, automatic climate controls, auto-dimming interior mirror, ultrasonic rear parking assist and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The RS appearance package is available on all LT and LTZ models. For $695 you get special front and rear fascias with a racecar-style grille insert, rocker panel moldings, front fog lamps and a rear spoiler.
Also available are a navigation system, pause-and-play radio, and 250-watt Pioneer Audio system.
All in all, it should be a great way to cruise, even if we’ll continue to think of this compact not as the Chevrolet Cruze but as the Malibu Junior.
Model: Cruze LS
Base price: $16,995
As tested: N/A
Horsepower: 136 Hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 123 lbs.-ft. @ 3800 rpm
Antilock brakes: Yes
Side curtain airbags: Yes
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: N/A
One response to “2011 Chevrolet Cruze”
Viktor Breeden August 1st, 2010 at 11:32
i think the aveo shud get better then what the mpg it gets
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