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2011 Chevy Cruze - A Hint Of Lavishness To Inexpensive Small Cars

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On: Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 3:14PM | By: Mary McRae

2011 Chevy Cruze - A Hint Of Lavishness To Inexpensive Small Cars

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a completely new model that brings a hint of lavishness to inexpensive small cars. One of the utmost compliments you can give a car is to say it feels more expensive than it is; that is surely the case with the Cruze. In terms of small car competition, Chevrolet has never had a competitive player. The mediocre Cobalt, as well as the generally terrible Cavalier that preceded it, was doomed as its rivals consistently outperformed them in key areas. Having said that, Chevrolet did a lot right here; when compared to this segment's traditional leaders, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, the Cruze is fully competitive (or even better) in terms of design and driving dynamics.

The Cruze is likewise significant because Chevrolet claims it ushers in a new styling technique for the company. We will need to wait to see what this means for future Chevys, but we can easily state that the Cruze definitely looks good from virtually every angle. The front end is aggressive and powerful, and the rear impresses, featuring a wide stance and taillights similar in form to those of the BMW 7-series and Lexus LS. On the streets, the proportions seem perfect. The Cruze manages to look masculine and funky, unlike most of its competitors, which, frankly, can be slightly embarrassing to be seen in.

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a new model that replaces the Cobalt in Chevrolet's vehicle lineup. The Cruze is offered in LS, 1LT, 2LT, LTZ, and Eco trims. The Cruze begins at about $16,600, and reaches about $22,300 for the LTZ trim. The ECO trim, which has better gas mileage ratings of 28/42 with a manual transmission, begins at about $18,500.

Regular features on the base LS trim level consist of the manual transmission, AC, an analog auxiliary input for MP3 players, ninety days of XM Satellite Radio service, and power windows and locks with remote keyless entry.

The 1LT also includes the turbo engine and automatic transmission along with the other standard features. The 2LT upgrades to alloy wheels, a heated power driver's seat, leather upholstery throughout, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth, a USB port for controlling an iPod through the stereo, steering-wheel stereo controls, and remote engine start. While the LTZ comes equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and rear parking assist.

The parking assist can also be had as a possible option. Some other options include a Pioneer premium stereo and a navigation system with a hard drive that can store MP3 files and allows you to stop and resume a radio broadcast. The majority of the upper trims' standard features can be had on lower trims via a la carte options or packages. A hard-drive-based navigation system, a premium audio system, a sunroof along with an RS appearance package (unique front/rear fascias, fog lights, rear spoiler) are all available on the upper trims.

There are minor exterior features that differentiate one trim level from another. They all feature body-colored door handles and side mirrors. Sixteen-inch steel wheels are standard on the Cruze LS and 1LT, and the 1LT can upgrade to 16-inch alloys. The 2LT has 16-inch alloys and can upgrade to 17-inchers. The LTZ features 18-inch silver alloy rims. The Eco will include its own lightweight alloy wheels.

The RS appearance package, offered on both the LT and LTZ models, feature distinctive front and rear bumpers and rocker moldings, fog lamps along with a rear spoiler. It also features an RS emblem low on the front doors. The LT or LTZ trim-level emblem remains on the trunk lid.

The 2011 Cruze has one of the finest quality cabins in its class, fine performance, and a spacious interior that reminds us of bigger, more luxurious vehicles. The interior is where you spend your time, and it appears Chevrolet spent a lot of time about it and the overall quality of materials, and here the Cruze excels with soft-touch materials in the right places and very little that's shiny plastic. Two-tone color schemes deliver an upscale ambience. The upper area of the dashboard is finished in cloth or a leather-type material, along with a twin-cockpit theme tries to evoke classic Corvettes. Even the headliner is constructed of a rich-looking woven material not typically utilized in this segment.

On long trips, the inside of the Cruze shines. There’s ample headroom despite a coupe-like roofline. The overall feel of the Cruze’s cabin is significantly superior to those that it replaces. In the Cruze, roominess is the word. Its passenger volume is 95 cubic feet, beating the Ford Focus at 93, the Honda Civic at 91, and the Toyota Corolla at 92. Similarly, its trunk size measures 15.4 cubic feet, overshadowing the Focus' 13.8, the Civic's 12.0, and the Corolla at 12.3. What the numbers don't reveal is how far back the front seats travel, which gives the front passengers more legroom than the numbers imply—and provides the whole car more flexibility.

All 2011 Chevrolet Cruze models include stability control, anti-lock brakes, full-length side curtain airbags, front knee airbags, and front and rear side impact airbags as standard. All trims, save the LTZ, employ a front-disc/rear-drum brake setup; the LTZ upgrades to four-wheel disc brakes. Chevrolet supplies OnStar as customary equipment with six-months free service, after which a regular membership fee applies. Rear sonar parking assist is a noteworthy safety option. In government crash testing, the Cruze earned a top five-star rating for overall safety performance, with five stars in both frontal- and side-impact categories.

The Cruze LS is powered by a 1.8-liter inline-4 that makes 136 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. The Eco, LT, and LTZ feature a turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-4 that produces 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. The LS and Eco feature a six-speed manual transmission while the other trims feature a six-speed automatic (optional on the LS and Eco). With this efficiency comes respectable power. Chevrolet predicts the Eco will take only 10 seconds to get from 0-to-60 for the turbo, which is tuned for efficiency. Other versions will be quicker by another second or more, which is par for its class. The Cruze feels notably quicker compared to the ultra-efficient Ford Fiesta. One of the most surprising characteristics of the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is its genuinely athletic handling and comfortable, controlled ride quality. The Cruze handles the curves skillfully, with capable suspension and good body control. The electrically assisted power steering is a far cry from GM's early attempts. The experience is much more natural and well tuned for all speeds.

I wouldn't say the Cruze's behavior is extremely sporty, like that of the Mazda3; nevertheless the groundwork for sport tuning is clearly there. The compact rear suspension design is partly responsible for the large trunk and accommodating backseat.

Chevrolet certainly seemed to learn its lesson with the Cobalt, and the Cruze is much more than simply competitive in its class—as any new model must be to bring in buyers until its next redesign. Any time a new model is released, we look at its long-term projection, and our predictions depend on how well the automobile covers the basics. It requires a firm structure, acceptable and universal design, practical interior space, and a competent suspension. These are all things that cannot be changed—at least not easily—until the next redesign, which can be years away.

The Cruze is really a balanced package offering a great deal of everything. This really is where Chevrolet ought to be.

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