2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Packaging Is Everything
February 21, 2011
Though I am not sold on the drivetrain in our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, I like pretty much everything else about this compact sedan. It rides well. The seating position is great. Materials quality is good. The backseat is usable. And I can actually stand looking at the thing.
However, in listing these items, I'm dancing around the single biggest improvement on the Cruze compared to its Cobalt and Cavalier predecessors: the packaging.
The people who designed this car obviously gave a lot of thought to how owners would actually use it, and spent a lot of time sweating various details. How should the driver seat be shaped? How should the doors be damped when you open and close them? How wide should the door openings be? How should the steering wheel feel? What sort of resistance and detents should all the center stack buttons and dials offer? What kind of sightlines should there be from the driver seat... how do we make them bigger?
I could go on, but you get the idea. The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is an easy car to live with and in, and that is why, as much as it pains me to say this, it is a far better car than the turbocharged 2008 Cobalt SS I drove. I still can't get over how well that Cobalt handled and how fast it felt, but it was also one of the worst-packaged cars I've ever driven -- no one paid attention to the details in that cabin.
Still, I really hope all the knowledge about drivetrain and chassis turning GM gained from that neat little Cobalt can eventually be applied to the Cruze.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor