First launched in Europe, the 2011 Cruze is more than a fitting replacement for the compact Cobalt. After selling more than 300,000 units globally, the front-wheel drive sedan debuts in the United States with two power trains: 1.8-liter (136 horsepower @ 6300 rpm) or 1.4-liter turbocharged (138 hp @ 4900 rpm) inline-4 cylinder engines. Getting power to the ground is a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
Available in four trims, the gas-sipping car offers a lively, fun-to-drive and well-composed ride with impressive handling and steering feel. And if you can wait till later in the year, Chevrolet claims the Eco model should earn 40 mpg on the highway.
Suspension is handled by an independent front MacPerson strut and a rear Z-link torsion beam, which isolate occupants from rough surfaces. Boosting the quiet ride are 30 acoustical treatments.
That safety is paramount is evident in 10 standard airbags, stability control with rollover sensor and traction control, antilock brakes, collapsible pedal system, three-point safety belts for all positions, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.
With noticeable wraparound headlights housings sweeping into the fenders and the sculpted hood, the Cruze stands out in a crowd. And props to Chevy for its interior packaging, especially the cool-looking ice-blue illuminated analog instrument panel and a clear-cut center stack for radio, climate and infotainment controls.
Standard cabin amenities include air-conditioning, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, power door locks and windows, trip computer, remote keyless entry, height-adjustable front seats, center console and a 60/40-split rear seat.
With generous midsize interior for a compact car price, the coupe-like Cruze should do wonders for General Motors. The upcoming electric Volt, a redesigned Aveo subcompact and an all-new Spark minicar are further evidence that the Chevy revolution has just begun.
Wheelbase: 105.7 inches
Length: 181 inches
Weight: 3,102 pounds
Fuel capacity: 15.6 gallons
City: 26 mpg
Highway: 36 mpg
Base price: $16,995Website: www.chevrolet.com/cruze