2011 Chevrolet Cruze 2LT 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I purchased a 2011 Cruze 2LT as a commuter car and am very impressed so far. My benchmark for comparison is luxury brands like BMW and Volvo and this car measures up surprisingly well for a $20k vehicle. It handles well, steering is nicely weighted (at highway speeds), front leg room is excellent and the seats are very supportive. On-center highway feel is good. Body lean in corners is minimal. GM offers a nice choice of tech goodies for this segment. The vehicle is comparatively quiet at highway speeds. Keep in mind when you read reviews saying that this car is very quiet or "serene," it's all in the context of the compact vehicle segment. Just don't expect a Lexus or BMW for $20k.
Very solid build quality, squeak and rattle free, excellent interior design, relatively quiet on highway. Engine is surprisingly capable; the only time I feel the engine straining is when merging quickly into highway traffic. Onstar provides all the usual goodness. Front seats are supportive and slide back very far to accommodate even big guys like me. Given the environmental damage that mining and refining materials for hybrid batteries is causing, it makes no sense to pay a premium for a Prius when I can get close to 40 mpg in a well-built car without an 80 lb box of toxic chemicals in the back.
Negatives are minimal: under powered head lights. The rear view mirror can't be tilted high enough to properly position it for tall drivers. The engine is a little coarse and raspy under hard acceleration. I drove and opted not to buy the top LTZ model with the RS sport package. While it looks great, the ride was too stiff with constant vibration and too much road noise. Why pay extra for an unpleasant sports car ride without the benefit of sports car performance?