2011 Chevrolet Cruze Long Term Road Test

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Compact Love

August 31, 2011

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For me, compacts like the Cruze strike exactly the right balance when it comes to size. Compacts are small enough to offer certain benefits regarding fuel efficiency and maneuverability; unlike many subcompacts, they're also big enough to offer a reasonable amount of utility.

The Cruze is diminutive enough to slide into most parking spaces, but it's also roomy enough to easily accommodate a couple of friends.

Not surprisingly, more and more drivers are feeling the love for small cars like the Cruze in these tough economic times. So far (through July), sales of compacts are up 12.8 percent for 2011, over the same period last year. And the Cruze has been a top seller in this growing segment.

GM's racing to keep up with demand. Associated Press reports that at current sales rates, Cruze dealers have only enough models on the lot to last 27 days, far lower than the 60 days that's considered ideal. To boost supply, the manufacturer plans to add Saturday shifts at an Ohio Cruze factory, starting in September.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Big Small Car

May 09, 2011

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Spent the weekend in our longterm 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, my first good long seat time in the car. And you know what? I'm liking it.

It's small, but does not feel flimsy. From a chassis dynamics perspective it's spot-on, with firm but compliant damping, sharp steering and a general sense of substance. That goes for its well-tamed road and wind noise, too. I'm not crazy about the autobox that often feels one step behind where it needs to be, or the sometimes-hesitant throttle response. Still, this is an entry-level-ish car that doesn't feel cost-cut to death in the way it goes down the road.

And talk about a utility sedan -- in addition to the four mounted tires you see here (yes, there are towels to protect the seats, and no, nothing got marred in any way), there were also four take-off tires in the trunk. Who the heck needs a truck?

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Packaging Is Everything

February 21, 2011

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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

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Cramming It In

February 07, 2011

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Actually, there isn't need to do much in the way of cramming to get a mountain bike into the little Chevy. It slides in nice and easy, thanks to the Cruze's amply-sized trunk, folding rear seat and a legitimate trunk pass-through; meaning, one that allows for more than just a pair of skis.

The latter two are welcome features not found in a lot of sedans, and they're even more important here because of the Cruze's compact size.

Although I admit I have occasionally stuffed a bike into the back seat of a car over the years, I much prefer to flop the rear seat down and make use of the trunk and pass-through whenever possible (far less chance of dirtying up the interior), and I appreciate that Chevy made the Cruze handy in this regard.

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Can Fit a One-Man Camera Crew

January 25, 2011

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I know I've mentioned this many times before but my brother, a film editor/videographer, is in the market for a new car, *still*. And he needed help this weekend transporting his video equipment which included lights, sandbags, camera, etc. and had asked that I borrow a big car for the occasion. Problem is I totally forgot about this request and had already signed out our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. Oops. In any case I figured that since he's looking for a new car that's affordable, midsize, has decent mpg and is quick-ish, he might want to take a look at our Cruze.

"But will all this fit in your car?" he asked me, gesturing to all his video equipment. With the Chevy's fold-down seats, I knew it would. The long bags of lights fit through the folded-down second-row into the cabin. But that blue cart, although placed in the trunk for the picture, would have been crushed had we tried to slam the trunk shut so we just put it in the second row. No biggie.

"Well that's a good selling point...that all my stuff can fit in here," bro said. "Yeah, especially if it's usually just going to be you in this car and you don't have more than one passenger," I replied.

Bro was also impressed by the way the car sounded as I drove as well as its interior materials. "It's surprisingly nice. This is a Chevy?" he asked. Yup.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Thanks for the Lift

January 11, 2011

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As Vincent Vega said in "Pulp Fiction" (while riding in a 1974 Chevy Nova, by the way), it's the little differences that can make you appreciate that things don't have to be done a certain way. You can get a beer in a movie theater. Some people eat their fries with mayo. Your car can give you a snappy trunk-lid salute.

I was weighed down by an overfilled, unwieldy basket of dry cleaning last night when I discovered that the Chevy Cruze's trunk lid opens not just a little, but a lot. This is nothing like the trunk on my older model Acura TL, which opens just a hair and has to be lifted thereafter. It's far superior to the trunk of my husband's sporty-sport car, which clicks open, but then requires that you do exploratory surgery to locate the latch for full release.

Just a little difference with the Cruze, but a thoughtful one when your hands aren't free.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @ 4,790 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Like The Trunk

December 15, 2010

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"I hope you've got a big trunk ... because I'm puttin' my bike in it."Andy Stitzer, Steve Carell's character, in The 40 Year Old Virgin.

I haven't put a bike in the Cruze's trunk, but I've loaded up a bunch of reusable grocery bags and some luggage recently and come away impressed. If you go by official capacity, the Cruze fares quite well against the competition with 15.4 cubic feet of space. Most of the usual suspects in the small car segment, such as the Civic, Corolla and Mazda 3, are right around 12 cubic feet.

Beyond just capacity, though, I happen to like the flat-sided style of the Cruze's trunk that enhances utility. It's annoying to come across a vehicle that has a high luggage capacity on paper only to find that the number's inflated by various nooks or crannies that aren't really usable for loading luggage.

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Interior Storage

December 13, 2010

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I thought you might find it interesting to see what kind of interior storage you get in the Chevrolet Cruze. I did similar posts for the Sonata and Mazdaspeed 3 earlier this year. Comparatively, the Sonata's the best of the three, with more cubbies and storage options. The Cruze is about equal to the Mazda overall I'd say. Detailed pictures of everywhere you can store stuff follows after the jump.

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Camping in the Trunk

November 29, 2010

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On the day after Thanksgiving, our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze and I braved the mall to pick up a very special gift for a very special girl.

The box needed to come from the stock room, and the saleswoman said it was big and weighed 50 pounds. (I could say it contained a doll camper, but you wouldn't believe me, and it sounds ridiculous even as I type the words myself.)

Anyway, she said the stockboy would be out in a minute to discuss the pickup.

"I hear you bought Lanie's camper," he said on the approach. "What kinda car do you have? Hope it's a truck or SUV."

"No," I said. "I have a Chevy Cruze. And the rear seats fold down."

"Hope it's bigger than a Mercedes C-Class," he said. "Won't fit in one of those. Haven't tried the Chevy yet," he said shrugging.

"I'm feeling lucky," I said.

"Drive it 'round back," he responded, shrugging again. "We'll give it a go."

The heavy brown box tucked neatly into the Cruze's 15.4-cubic-foot trunk.

Only then did I fully realize that I had just bought a camper for a doll.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 2,763 miles

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2011 Chevy Cruze: L.A. to Vegas and Back

November 23, 2010

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Okay, enough about the leaky trunk. Lets talk road trip.

I've driven our new long-term 2011 Chevy Cruze to Las Vegas and back and the news is good. This is an excellent road trip machine. Comfortable. Quiet. Roomy. And the word solid comes to mind. The Cruze feels solid.

After nearly 600 miles of highway travel, I would honestly never hesitate to hit the interstate (hey that rhymes) in this sedan. I enjoyed it that much.

But a little more power would be nice. Especially on those steep grades between Tinsel Town and Sin City. I had her floored more than I would have liked.

And that, of course, hurt my fuel economy. Well, that and a hardly broken in engine (I left L.A. with only 471 miles showing on the Cruze's odometer.) Anyway, I averaged 27.4 on the first tank. This included about 30 miles of city driving in Vegas. But on the way home I averaged 30.1 on the next tank, which also included about 30 miles of L.A. city driving and traffic.

Remember, the EPA rates the Cruze at 24 city and 36 hwy.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: All Dry

November 22, 2010

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So, as you know by now, our Chevy Cruze was kinda damp when we picked it up. We took it back to the dealer and had them fix it up.

I had the Cruze this weekend when we got hit with heavy rains and wind. I live on top of a hill that gets a constant sea breeze. In storms the winds get pretty intense. The Cruze was parked in my driveway. Rain was blowing sideways up my street and lashing out at the little Cruze.

I crossed my fingers and my toes. When the skies cleared I ran out and checked the trunk and underneath the liner. All was well.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 2,550 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Trunk Snafu Fix

November 22, 2010

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I helped arrange the purchase of our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ and after it was delivered to our offices I breathed my normal sigh of relief at having secured yet another long term test car. But over the weekend I got an alarming email that the trunk was leaking. On Monday morning, I called the dealership and told them we wanted to return the Cruze. We had signed contracts and I knew that, short of us suing them, they weren't legally bound to exchange the car. Still, the dealer could, at his discretion, take the car back and make us happy.

I called Ara Mikailian, our salesman at Allen Gwynn Chevrolet, in Glendale, CA, where we had purchased the Cruze. He returned my call quickly and said he would discuss our request for an exchange with his boss. In the mean time, he said to bring the car into their service department. Glendale is a long way from our Santa Monica offices, so I wanted to see for myself the extent of the trunk leak.

I ran the car through the car wash, parked it on a side street, and opened the trunk. At first, nothing. But then I saw little streams of water trickling down the inside of the spare tire well. After a short time, a small puddle of water gathered in a low area. Now I had the motivation I needed and headed for Glendale and Allen Gwynn Chevrolet.

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2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ: Leaky Trunk

November 21, 2010

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Please note that this took place a couple of weeks back. Before the track tested, before the photoshoot, before anyone had sat it in even.

Every new car entering our fleet gets a thorough check-in. This consists of a visual inspection, fluid checks, noting the break-in period, torquing down the lug nuts (you'd be surprised how often these are loose) and checking tire pressures. This includes checking that the spare tire is present, inflated and that all of the tools are supplied.

Everything was checking in just fine on our 2011 Chevy Cruze -- although the tires had been set 6 psi high from the dealer -- until I got to the trunk.

Pulling back the trunk liner, I grabbed the satchel of tools to find that it was damp at the top and sopping wet on the bottom. Same went for the liner over the actual spare tire and the spare itself. When everything was out there was, +/- half an inch of water standing in the bottom of the trunk. The top layer was dry, but everything else had water in/on it.

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze in NJ is:

$231 per month*
* Explanation
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