Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chevy Back in the Compact Mix with the Cruze

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is the bow tie marque's latest entry in the compact market, and it is a solid one.
Replacing the Cobalt, which wasn't all that impressive, the Cruze has better styling and a higher quality of materials.

The Cruze features a pair of four-cylinder engines, a 1.8-liter that makes 136 horsepower and a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that makes 138 ponies. The latter offers 148 pounds-feet of torque.
The Cruze comes with a six-speed transmission, both automatic and manual are available.
There are four trim levels from which to choose: LS, LT, LTZ and Eco, which the test drive model was.
The styling of each is better than that found in its predecessor, the Cobalt, with a sleeker exterior and an improved interior.

On the inside, you get eight-way manual adjustable driver seat, 60/40 split rear seat, six-speaker stereo with CD player and satellite radio and OnStar.

Options include remote vehicle start, leather seating, power driver seat, heated front seats, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB/iPod port, 18-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, automatic climate control, navigation system and sunroof.

For safety, the Cruze offers 10 airbags, antilock brakes and an electric stability system with traction control, all standard.

You'll find plenty of storage space - 15 cubic feet - in the Cruze's trunk.
The test drive model had the manual transmission, which probably won't be a big seller because many of today's drivers don't know how to drive a stick, and even those who do often don't want the hassle of doing it.
The tester was an Eco, as mentioned above, which was touted as being extra fuel efficient. Its EPA ratings are 28 mpg city, 42 highway.
In a week of combined driving, though, we were only able to get 26 mpg, which was somewhat disappointing.

The Cruze ranges in price from around $16,500 to around $23,000. The tester had a sticker price of $19,750.

The Cruze is a solid entry in the compact market, with many upgrades from its predecessor vehicle.

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