2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Some Like It Hot, But Maybe Not This Hot
June 15, 2011
Where on earth did our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze encounter 111-degree weather? About 50 miles west of Phoenix, that's where. It was well over 100 for about 250 miles of the trip, and the temperature gauge reached triple digits pretty much as soon as I dropped into the desert near Palm Springs.
I had decided to drive the Cruze on a quick business trip to Phoenix because, the way I figured it, I'd spend less time getting here by car than I would if I drove 50 miles west to LAX, parked someplace and rode a shuttle, timing that to arrive at least 1 hour early. After that I'd go through the TSA line, board my plane, fly the 1 hour to Phoenix, wait for my bag at the other end and then, finally, grab a cab and ride 40 miles west to my hotel. No way, Jose.
So there I was rolling along I-10 on cruise control at 70 to 75 mph with no trouble, listening to podcasts and playing with the fuel economy meter to pass the time. Just before this picture was taken I decided to take a scenic back road and got off the I-10 freeway for a bit. Shortly thereafter I stopped by the side of the road for a few minutes to stretch and take a few pictures.
Through all this the Cruze sat parked on blacktop, about 10 minutes, I'd say, with the engine off. When I got back in and drove away, or tried to, it started normally but then acted as if the parking brake was still on partway -- except it wasn't. Not much acceleration, weak throttle response, and no warning lamps or any overt signs of trouble, either.
JKav isn't back from his LeMans trip, and since I'm not the engine guy around here I can only take a stab at it. I'm thinking the intercooler was heat-soaked because it felt like the turbo was pretty much 100% out of the picture. The acceleration was just about as bad as you'd expect from a normally aspirated 1.4-liter four in a car of this size. If I had had a VBOX on me (sorry, fresh out) I'd bet that the 0-60 time was no better than 13 or 14 seconds, probably more. And it wasn't smooth about it, either.
I repeated the pattern of driving followed by a 5- or 10-minute stop on asphalt a couple of times and it happened over and over. Once up to speed and cruising again, everything was fine and the brisk acceleration this mill is capable of returned.
I'm not sure if this is normal hot-weather behavior for a 1.4T Cruze. I'm here another day and I'll be keeping close tabs on it. Tomorrow morning should be cool and I'm expecting no such behavior unless and until things heat up later on.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 11,212 miles