POSTED: Monday, March 7, 2011 - 10:17am
UPDATED: Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 7:20pm
Over the years, when you thought of Chevrolet economy cars you thought of names like Chevette, Cavalier and Cobalt. Well, the only thing this new Chevy Cruze has in common is that it starts with a “C.”
A couple of other vehicles start with a C as well…Civic and Corolla. Yes, in my opinion, the Cruze can be mentioned in the same breath, and finally, be considered a real alternative to a Japanese compact.
I know, I know it’s a Chevy, but just look at the clean lines, the narrow body seams, and listen to the smooth thunk of the doors. This is a quality piece of work. And GM already has the numbers to prove it since this car has been on sale around the world for a year and sold 25,000 vehicles.
Inside, the car is simply beautiful. The quality of the plastic from GM is usually the type that’s reserved for the stocks of Daisy BB guns, but now, we’re talking world class. The real stitching and supple leather in our test car belong to something about one size more expensive and two countries over, not American and not a Chevy, surely.
Under the hood, of our LT model was the 1.4-liter turbo Ecotec four cylinder. It cranks out an underwhelming 138-horsepower, the same as the 1.8-liter base engine. Why the same, I don’t know since they are only one mile per gallon apart in economy with the 1.4 producing 24 city / 36 highway.
Our car had 17-inch wheels, power everything, heated power seats, satellite radio, OnStar and 9 airbags all for $20,675. The RS package with some extra doodads added another $700 that I could live without.
On the road, the Cruze is a handler sucking up corves like a 3000 pound Hoover, and providing driving fun that should cost a lot more. It doesn’t, and considering we are all depending on cars like this to pay us back for giving the General a new lease on life, be happy it’s so good. The Volt is a Tour de Force, but this car needs to be class leading. Quite simply, it is.