New Chevy Cruze Worthy of Battling Ford's 2012 Focus? Readers Take SidesBy Michelle Krebs October 18, 2010
By Mark Holthoff
General Motors Co. is proud of the all-new 2011 Chevrolet Cruze that's started hitting showrooms in earnest this month - proud enough, in fact, to taunt by name the long-time segment sales leader in a recent television ad called "Dear Corolla."
Chevy has reason to be in a boastful state of mind. The new Cruze impressed Edmunds.com's Inside Line during a recent First Drive; they write the car "should provide comfort and space and build quality never before seen in this segment at this price." Likewise, car shoppers and enthusiasts commenting on Edmunds.com call it a "stylish" and "well-proportioned" car that "looks better than anything in its class."
And Cruze ads also take a poke at the current Ford Focus, touting the Chevy's longer list of standard safety features.
It's not quite a fair fight, though, since a rakish new generation of Ford's perennial compact is coming in the next few months and appears to be a smash hit in the eyes of Edmunds.com and Inside Line readers, who call it "stunning," a "home run" and, in this succinct but enthusiastic review by roar02ram, "IMPRESSIVE!"
"Damn, the new Focus has totally spoiled me," deadviper tells us, continuing, "Compared to that, (the Cruze) just looks like another boring 4-banger." And reader frank908 declares, "I would drive this over a Cruze if I were in the market - and this coming from a GM person, so Ford fanboys rejoice."
After seeing the Cruze at the San Diego Auto Show, where "most people didn't even give it a second glance," jstandefer reports, "It will probably be a decent, solid, competent small car, just like the Cobalt. But competent isn't what GM needs right now. GM needs spectacular. GM needs the kind of technology, styling, and excitement-generation of this new Focus." Or, in the words of 4g63, "GM should be very worried."
The Cruze does have its defenders. Reader jm1212 says, "If the Cruz can really get 40 mpg on the highway in the EPA cycle and beat the Corolla in real-world (fuel economy), GM will have a hit." Someone else argues that "the (Cruze) is doing well in Europe, so no reason why it will not do well in the U.S." However, firstclass quickly counters that revealing Speedo male swim trunks also sell well in Europe.
Several claim they're ready to buy a new Cruze, including mel402, who believes the design stands out among the other "toyish-looking products in this class," and daviddahlstrom, currently stationed in South Korea, who says that seeing the Cruze on the streets there "made me think that when I get back to a base stateside I will be looking at GM for my new vehicle."
Still, despite some worries that Ford "is gonna charge a premium" for the new Focus, it's clear that the common wisdom from our readers is that the "Ford is tops," inspiring comments like "consider me smitten," while the Cruze is considered merely "a contender" that will appeal more to "people who think they should buy American" - though at least one reader does "look forward to trying one out on my next Hertz rental."
And that's the word on the street.
Mark Holthoff is manager of customer support for Edmunds.com
Photos by GM and Ford