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Review: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze 2LT
Words and photos by Andrew Ganz.
http://www.leftlanenews.com/chevrolet-cruze-review.html

As post-bankruptcy General Motors reinvents itself, the automaker formerly known as the world’s largest is finding that it cannot ignore historically less-profitable segments like compact and subcompact cars.

But to compete with rivals like Toyota and Honda, GM knows the facsimile game won’t work. Luring buyers back into Detroit products requires something new. In this case, it is a trip into uncharted waters: A move upscale with the globally-developed Chevrolet Cruze.

To find out if GM’s Korean and German divisions are up to the task, we put nearly 3,000 miles on a nicely-equipped 2011 Cruze LT.

How does it look?
The Cruze doesn’t look all that fresh if you’ve been following the auto industry for the last few years – or if you’ve been to Eastern Europe, where it is proving to be a genuine sales success.

But if it’s new to you, you’ll probably like its conservatively creased and toned body, which starts with a bold tall two-section and culminates in a short and high rear deck lid. The look isn’t as daring and trendy as the upcoming Ford Focus, but it strikes us as the kind of style that will wear extremely well.

And on the inside?
The Cruze’s interior elicited strong emotions the first time we plunked ourselves down into its seats, but its pluses quickly outweighed its negatives. Cruze’s basic design is well executed, with a simple, easy-to-use center stack flanked by the dual-cowl dashboard design GM’s design studios favor...

But we have little reason for concern with the rest of the Cruze’s plastics, which were meticulously screwed together and composed of either the soft touch or the none-too-hollow variety. In terms of fit and finish, design, execution and usability, Cruze sets the high bar extremely high not only for its class, but for far pricier cars.

But does it go?
General Motors has never mastered four-cylinder engines in the way that its Japanese rivals have, so we approached the Cruze’s new 1.4-liter turbo unit with trepidation. Compared to most modern turbos, its power output of slightly under 100 ponies per liter seems a little weak, as does its modest torque.

But once under way, we found that the Cruze manifests its power in a solid and strong way that had us sufficiently satisfied. Only during certain mid-range passing acceleration exercises, like freeway on-ramp merging, did the Cruze feel like it had a mountain of torque available. A fast machine it is not, but the torque piles on with a comforting rush and it generally plods along without little fuss or complaint. Unlike most engines in GM’s Ecotec family, this 1.4-liter is a paragon of smoothness at idle and throughout the rev band.

Why you would buy it:
You want a four-door sedan that makes you feel like you paid more than you did.

Why you wouldn’t:
Fuel economy is your number one priority, or you liked the general crapiness of your old Cavalier.

Leftlane’s bottom line
Fuel economy aside, the Cruze is the most complete compact car we have ever tested. It may not offer quite the sporty feel of a Mazda3, but it counters with a wholly refined feel that belies any lingering negativity we had toward the bowtie badge’s last compact offerings. Cruze blows the Corolla and even the Civic out of the water and its style is more mature than the Focus.

2011 Chevrolet Cruze 2LT base price, $20,675. As tested, $21,890.
17-inch wheels, $395; Compact spare tire, $100; Destination, $720.
 

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Nice review, I just checked out a Cruze the other day at the local dealership and I have to agree, the Cruze looks and feels alot more expensive than it really is, the interior is fantastic... Its also alot better looking in person, looks upscale and mature. I havnt driven one yet but I would like too soon.


The only thing is I wish this car had a little more power... It would be a very hard car to beat if it had a few more horses under the hood.
 

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I loved the "mature styling" line. I am sure it will be popular here in Florida.
Im glad they didnt go the Teenybopper route Ford did in regards to the styling... Lots of people for this class like a more mature and upscale look, it will be interesting to see which formula people move towards... And im not a Focus hater, I just think its too "boy racer" for me..

Like I said, we will see.
 

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Nice review, I just checked out a Cruze the other day at the local dealership and I have to agree, the Cruze looks and feels alot more expensive than it really is, the interior is fantastic... Its also alot better looking in person, looks upscale and mature. I havnt driven one yet but I would like too soon.


The only thing is I wish this car had a little more power... It would be a very hard car to beat if it had a few more horses under the hood.
Let us know when you go for a test drive. All indications are, it's got much more pep that you would think for it's hp/tq rating due to the torque curve being so generous in the low RPM range.
 

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Im glad they didnt go the Teenybopper route Ford did in regards to the styling... Lots of people for this class like a more mature and upscale look, it will be interesting to see which formula people move towards... And im not a Focus hater, I just think its too "boy racer" for me..

Like I said, we will see.
If anything has been proven by the giant beating the Civic has been giving to the Corolla (which admittedly is the benchmark for the Cruze) and by the Cobalt's is that misfortunes, is that conservative styling in an essentially youthful segment like the C-segment is not a guarantee for success. I hope the Cruze has a good head start because the Focus and the Elantra are going to take this segment by storm.
 

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If anything has been proven by the giant beating the Civic has been giving to the Corolla (which admittedly is the benchmark for the Cruze) and by the Cobalt's is that misfortunes, is that conservative styling in an essentially youthful segment like the C-segment is not a guarantee for success. I hope the Cruze has a good head start because the Focus and the Elantra are going to take this segment by storm.
I think the market is big enough for both styles... Ive been reading alot of actual user reviews on the Cruze at Edmunds and alot of them seem to be from people who had a Civic or Corolla before they bought the Cruze, If GM can keep there fanbase in check and steal some Civic and Corolla sales while they are it, the car will be do just fine...

I really think GM should introduce a Cruze Coupe... That would really help them branch into the youth market. I see Cobalt Coupes everywhere and they are mostly being drivin by young people... GM would be dumb not to have a coupe in the works. (IMO)
 

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I think the market is big enough for both styles... Ive been reading alot of actual user reviews on the Cruze at Edmunds and alot of them seem to be from people who had a Civic or Corolla before they bought the Cruze, If GM can keep there fanbase in check and steal some Civic and Corolla sales while they are it, the car will be do just fine...

I really think GM should introduce a Cruze Coupe... That would really help them branch into the youth market. I see Cobalt Coupes everywhere and they are mostly being drivin by young people... GM would be dumb not to have a coupe in the works. (IMO)
I don't like coupes (except the CTS Coupe, so gorgeous) and I would never buy a coupe. That said, it would sure help sales and bring more young-ins into the showroom if they did have one. New GM however isn't going to build it unless it will boost the bottom line and since they don't have a global Cruze coupe planned, I don't think we'll get one in North America (this generation anyway) because of the overhead. Corporate philosophy has shifted in a major way since 2008.
 

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Yes but both of them are aimed at different markets..
Obviously they're aimed at different markets, as they're at different price points, different available engines, different interiors, different styling, etc. Pre-2008 GM would have had the same price points, same engines, same interior materials. That's one thing that is becoming clear about Buick that wasn't about old Saturn/Pontiac.
 

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Yes but both of them are aimed at different markets..
Isn't GM offering the Cruze in western Europe? That puts it in direct competition against the Opel Astra, I think. Especially now that they are going to start selling a Cruze with a hatch . . . . that was a very old GM thing to do.
 

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Obviously they're aimed at different markets, as they're at different price points, different available engines, different interiors, different styling, etc. Pre-2008 GM would have had the same price points, same engines, same interior materials. That's one thing that is becoming clear about Buick that wasn't about old Saturn/Pontiac.
Yep pretty much what I had in mind.
 

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With the Cruze aiming high and the new Focus getting ready to be launched, what do we all think is going to be the better of the two? I am more of a Euro spec or looking vehicle, thus the Fiesta and I love the 5 door Focus, but I recently took a Kia Optima (Yes I know they are in different classes) and looked at the Hyundai Elantra with their great offerings, I wonder if Ford is going to be competing well.

I mentioned the Optima because my roomate is a Kia Salesman and I have ridden and driven numerous Kia's in the last 6 months and am impressed with what they have. The Elnatra has heated rear seat and so does the Optima, but the Optima has cooled. The only reason I am not keenly interested in a Kia, other then being a Ford Fanatic, is the choices for the interior colors. I like Black Leather and they do not offer it in every exterior color choice. I looked at an Optima very reasonably spec'd and it was around 25k, and for that price its a real bargain.
 

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Let's dispense with the fluff - sure the Snuze is a step above the Cobore in appearance and materials. But the problem with the vehicle is that it is dynamically a dud. It is gutless - not one engine offered has any hint of power - endless reviews note that fact and yet, the fluff of the icing on the cake is what is mentioned first in reviews. Consistent with each and every new Government Motors product is a lack of attention to details on the chassis and engines. If you remove the Corvette, Shamaro, and Cadillac V-Series, there isn't a platform in the remaining family that is a great driver or performer. Dynamically you have product development that has no passion - no soul - no inspiration. You get a shell, some stuffing, but you get no fun - no go.

I already have seen the new Focus in the flesh and it is not "mature" - it doesn't look "expensive". It drives expensive - it sits expensive - it has a passion of development that inspires confidence. This isn't a maggot cake frosted in a wonderful icing. Throughout the Focus cake is superior effort and output. Nothing about the Focus is about the appearance of experience - it is about the experience of the total product And Ford's entire lineup is being transformed into a no-excuses lineup of total experience and fun.

The praise heaped upon the Snuze is not only disingenuous, it is dishonest and deceptive. The interior of the Nissan Versa is roomier and just as nice on materials - it is a better product to actually spend time in. But that new Focus is just mind-blowingly good. Nothing about the Snuze is beyond average and in driving, it is fairly mediocre.

Save the fluff pieces for GMI.
 

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With the Cruze aiming high and the new Focus getting ready to be launched, what do we all think is going to be the better of the two? I am more of a Euro spec or looking vehicle, thus the Fiesta and I love the 5 door Focus, but I recently took a Kia Optima (Yes I know they are in different classes) and looked at the Hyundai Elantra with their great offerings, I wonder if Ford is going to be competing well.

I mentioned the Optima because my roomate is a Kia Salesman and I have ridden and driven numerous Kia's in the last 6 months and am impressed with what they have. The Elnatra has heated rear seat and so does the Optima, but the Optima has cooled. The only reason I am not keenly interested in a Kia, other then being a Ford Fanatic, is the choices for the interior colors. I like Black Leather and they do not offer it in every exterior color choice. I looked at an Optima very reasonably spec'd and it was around 25k, and for that price its a real bargain.
The thing that impresses me about the Elantra is the price... I checked one out recently at the dealership and they had $20,000 models that had nav screens... Pretty impressive that Hyunduh can offer models with that much stuff for that cheap... The interior was nice, but nothing that blew me away, I think the Cruze has an edge on it in terms of interior and interior quality. I havnt driven either so I cant comment on that.. As far as FE goes, the Elantra has a big edge, but I think its going to have a big edge on most of the class.
 

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3 things

as someone else said quite recently about GM/Cruze, "Dynamically you have product development that has no passion"
I basically agree -- so far
&
imho it seems that GM with the Cruze AND Verano are going for the (larger?) ToyotaLexus/non-enthusiast market
&
if there's anything to the discussion in the Lincoln, Ford brands will get different design, technology THREAD
Will any of Your comments here get modified IF there's a Focus-based Lincoln C-car???
 

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Will any of Your comments here get modified IF there's a Focus-based Lincoln C-car???
NOt mine. the Focus is a dynamic marvel, no reason to believe that its driving dynamics wont be inherited by the Focus based Lincoln.
 

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imho it seems that GM with the Cruze AND Verano are going for the (larger?) ToyotaLexus/non-enthusiast market
A couple weeks ago, I would have agreed with you. But with the NAIAS behind us, I'd say the Verano will be more than ready to take on quite a bit of the "enthusiast" market as well. The redone 2.0T should have more power than the Focus ST.
 
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