2011 Chevrolet Cruze Auto Review

31 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Auto Review
Chevrolet Cruze

2011 Chevrolet Cruze

Leading the small-car revolution

Gary Witzenburg on 08.22.2010

Chevrolet Cruze American buyers, long addicted to larger-car room, ride, comfort, safety and features at fairly affordable prices, have been unwilling to pay much for small cars, so most available here have been cheap, tinny, slow, boring and poorly equipped. They have competed mostly on price and fuel economy and have never sold well when times were good and gas was cheap.

But look out, America, here they come: a new generation of smoother, roomier, quieter, more comfortable, better looking, better equipped, more fun, more fuel efficient (and, unfortunately, more expensive) small cars. Led this time, for the first time, by U.S. makers. The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is at the front of the pack.

Chevrolet Cruze Overview

As a result, this new 2011 Cruze is amazingly good, because it has to be to succeed. Chevy has worked very hard to ensure that it overcomes every negative perception-and reality-about small cars, and it is selling extremely well in the 60 countries where it has already been launched, including Korea, China, Australia and most of Europe.

Chevrolet Cruze Comfort and Quiet

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is dimensionally large for a compact and brings an impressive list of midsize features and attributes to the class. Its total interior volume is 110.0 cu. ft. which the EPA classifies as midsize, vs. 104.3 and 102.9 cu. ft. for the current Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.

Its front seats have a long range of fore-aft travel, its back seat is surprisingly roomy, and its trunk is a huge 15.4 cu. ft. vs. the Civic’s 12.3 and the Corolla’s 12.0 cu. ft.

Chevy Cruze boasts no fewer than 18 sound-deadening treatments, including an acoustic laminated windshield, nylon baffles filled with sound-absorbing foam in the body structure and door headers, a five-layer thermal fiber acoustic headliner and triple-sealed doors with fiberglass blankets as water, airflow and noise barriers. Chevrolet believes it’s the quietest small car in America, and we wouldn’t disagree.

Chevrolet Cruze

The new Chevrolet Cruze exterior is conservative but handsome and well proportioned, and its interior is beautifully designed and crafted. Drag-reducing aerodynamic features include a lower front fascia extension and a belly pan to smooth undercar airflow, front and rear tire blockers and wheel well liner extensions.

The 40-mpg (EPA highway) Chevrolet Cruze ECO model carries that aero package even further with a lowered suspension, a deeper front air dam, a rear decklid spoiler, mid-body panels that complete the under-car shielding, a blade to deflect air around the fuel tank and suspension and a motorized lower grille shutter that closes at about 37 mph and re-opens at 34 mph.

All 2011 Chevrolet Cruzes, except the base LS model, are powered by a new global 138-hp 1.4-liter DOHC, 16-valve, dual variable-valve-timing (VVT), turbocharged 4-cylinder. Jointly designed and developed in Europe and the U.S. it is a version of the same high-efficiency four that will drive the Chevy Volt’s range-extending generator. That base LS gets a 1.8-liter naturally aspirated four good for the same 138 hp but just 123 lb.-ft. of torque vs. the turbo’s 148 lb.-ft.

The Chevrolet Cruze turbo four delivers low-nine-second zero-to-60 mph acceleration, which is not that quick. Yet it feels surprisingly strong. Driving through the optional 6-speed automatic, it is a bit slow off the mark but once underway quickly gathers steam and outruns the larger non-turbo fours in the Corolla and Civic due to its strong mid-range torque.

It is also pleasingly lively and torquey in the 6-speed-manual ECO model.

The Cruze’s new unibody structure is substantially stiffer than the outgoing Cobalt’s, which is good for ride, handling, safety and noise control. Its front suspension is MacPherson struts with their load paths decoupled to enable separate tuning of each, so crisp handling doesn’t work against quiet or comfortable ride. Its rear suspension is a patented compact, low-mass design combining a torsion beam compound crank rear axle with a Z-link (dual Watts links) for lateral control.

This flexible design allows independent tuning of ride and handling and easy adjustment for different weights, engines, body styles and chassis control systems.

And this new Chevrolet Cruze may be the best ride/handling-balanced small car we have ever driven. Its energy-efficient, dual-pinion, speed-sensitive, electric rack-and-pinion power steering’s rack-mounted motor gives precise response and on-center feel, and the ABS brakes use front-to-rear brake force distribution to tailor their stopping power to conditions. Most impressive was the rear suspension’s calm composure while cornering hard over rough washboard surfaces that set competitors’ rear axles skittering laterally at comparable speeds.

Chevrolet Cruze
Chevrolet Cruze
Chevrolet Cruze
Chevrolet Cruze
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