2011 Chevrolet Cruze Long Term Road Test - Interior
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2011 Chevrolet Cruze Long Term Road Test

Interior

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Predict the Price

September 30, 2011

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I'm taking our long term Chevrolet Cruze to Carmax today. Any guesses on what they will offer us?

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 27,320 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Knurly

September 28, 2011

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It's a dumb thing to get fired up about, but I like the knurled bowtie in the Cruze's steering wheel. I know it's shared with others across the line (Camaro), but it's a cool touch in the Cruze. Since we've already hit a nerve with the interior discussion, we'll just skirt those waters for now. So just some final impressions as we prepare to bid the Cruze farewell.

We took a drive down to San Diego last weekend, and the Cruze capably ate the miles. As Ed mentioned earlier, the seats still hold up nice. Not too soft, not too firm. Not too anything actually, which is plenty fine for 200-odd miles roundtrip.

Our 6'2 front seat passenger wished for more legroom, even with seat fully extended. It wasn't the distance to the firewall that bothered him, but more the Cruze's tight cockpit feel. We advised him to ease back on the lager next time and stop his belly-aching.

But the transmission. Adaptive learning TCM, recall, gutless 1.4-liter - however the fanboys explain it away, after 27,000 miles, this one still sucks. This was the first time in a Cruze for both passengers along for the ride and, unsolicited, both noted the abrupt shifting. Is it mechanical defect? Power deficiency? GM playing CAFÉ/EPA games? Maybe all of them (the Cruze averaged 28.5 mpg on the San Diego run, by the way).

Eventually, I took over the shifting in manu-matic mode and just learned to time the delay between input and actual shift. It worked, but I wouldn't want to have to live with it. A lot of people eventually will, though. With the pace of current sales, you'll see plenty of used Cruze on the roads in the next three years. Maybe they will hit up shops like these guys looking for redemption and an additional 50 lb-ft torque.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Seats are Still Solid

September 23, 2011

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It's been awhile since I got behind the wheel of our Cruze, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that the seats are holding up well. I remember thinking that the firmly bolstered seats were one of this car's better features when we first got it. They have a good shape to them, you can actually feel the contours and there's plenty of adjustment.

As you can see, after over 26,000 miles they still look pretty good. No obvious signs of wear and even the tan leather is staying fairly clean. Can't really ask for much more than that in a compact sedan.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Fun-Factor Feature

September 19, 2011

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By now we all know the Chevy Cruze isn't exactly the greatest little car ever produced. It's held back by its noisy, turbo-laggy engine and crude automatic transmission, the last which sometimes shifts rather abruptly and other times gets utterly confused if it even wants to downshift at all, in the meantime hanging in limbo while it contemplates its next move. I've taken to calling it the Chevy Crude.

Then there's the interior, which both looks and feels cheap.

On the bright side, the Crude handles pretty well while delivering a decently comfortable ride. You can attack a corner with it and not be utterly disappointed.

And last night as I was about to make a U-turn into a gas station to fill up with fuel, I remembered this:

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Legroom vs. Kneeroom

September 15, 2011

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(Photo by Glenn Paulina)

This is our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. No, that is not a grapefruit resting against the temperature dial. It's a knee. And no, it is not my knee either. Now to the point...

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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: Fahrenheit 126

August 03, 2011

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(Photo by Glenn Paulina)

Even when subjected to extreme exterior temperatures the A/C in our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze blows cold, nice and cold. Whether the engine is breathing easy on flat land or under load on a grade, the air is equally refreshing. GM definitely knows how to do A/C.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 19,000 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Liberated Gasket

July 14, 2011

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Take a look at the shifter on our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. We tried to fix it by tucking the gasket back in. Of course, that was just wishful thinking. We'll add this to the list next time the Cruze visits the dealer.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 13,800 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Fuel Used

June 27, 2011

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...not according to the pump I used to top off the tank this morning.

If we used the "4.6 gal" reported here, the fuel economy computes to 25.6 mpg. If we use what the pump reported, the fuel economy computes to 21.4 mpg.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 12,025 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Seat Squab

June 22, 2011

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Whenever I take a seat in the Chevy Cruze, the phrase “seat squab” comes to mind.

I don’t really know why this is so except maybe this slimmed down seat, so carefully minimized in shape and size to enhance a sense of spaciousness in a very small car, reminds me of a perch in a bird cage.

Actually seat design is a pretty complex business, as well it might be since the seat really is your primary interface with a vehicle. You can read all about it .

Mostly the engineering reminds me that I like seats that are minimalist, the kind that hold you only where you need to be held. And this, it turns out, is the primary difference between the Cruze seat and the seat in a comparably priced utility vehicle, like the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

When you're deciding between two vehicles like this, you might consider the fact that you have to sit in the thing. Lots of people just buy a car from the outside, but it's better to buy it from the inside.

Small car, small seat. (By the way, “squab” defines an overstuffed cushion, and it is technically the part of the seat that supports your lower back.)

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 11,805 miles

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2011 Chevy Cruze: Excellent Pioneer Stereo

June 10, 2011

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Folks have criticized our long-term Chevy Cruze for being too expensive, but I tell you, the $445 that went to the optional Pioneer sound system was worth every penny.

This nine-speaker system sounds excellent, even when utilizing the rather imperfect sound quality of iPod files. Strong bass, sharp treble, etc. I thought the pre-set tone settings (rock, pop, etc.) worked rather well, too, giving me a quick-and-easy way to maximize the sound quality of differing music styles. Both Limelight by Rush and Young Blood by The Naked and Famous sounded superb.

Of course, I'm not an audiophile.

If you are, then Doug Newcomb says that the Cruze's nine-speaker system gets "decent" sound quality with a letter grade of C. He notes such things as "the soundstage was above average, but not as wide as I would have liked. Imaging was also good, although center images tended to waver and weren't stable." Okey dokey.

I'd say this is relative, since you might also be disappointed by the Cruze's handling if you own an M3. The important thing to note is that Newcomb also says you can't get a better aftermarket system for less than $500. You'd also be hard pressed to find a better OEM system in one of the Cruze's competitors.

Therefore, I say this stereo is quite good relatively speaking and a must-have with the Cruze. I also pulled out the infrequently used "Right!" stamp just for the hell of it.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 10,707 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Considerate Climate Control

May 30, 2011

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When you make or receive a Bluetooth-aided phone call, the Cruze not only automatically lowers the radio's volume (which is expected), but also the climate control's fan speed. I had the blower on medium/high speed and when I received a call, it lowered along with the tunes making it easier to converse. Upon completion of the call, the audio volume and fan speed both returned to their pre-call settings. Just another example of how much they sweated the details on the Cruze.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 10,392 miles.

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Seat-Height Adjustment Done Right

May 25, 2011

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It's easy to dwell on the fact that the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze finished 3rd of three in our recent economy sedan comparison test. But both that Imperial Blue Cruze LTZ and our long-term Cruze do plenty of things right. For example, the two-way tilt for the driver seat-bottom cushion.

In most cars in this price range, all this power adjustment switch would do is raise you higher, progressively dumping you forward toward the pedals. But in the Cruze, you can fiddle with the front half of the switch to raise or lower the front part of the seat-bottom cushion, and then separately tweak the back part of the cushion with the rear half of the switch. Sounds like a small thing, but for me, it really improves comfort.

Even more suprising is that Chevy offers the same functionality for the front-passenger seat-bottom cushion -- all but unheard of in a U.S.-market small sedan.

Mind you, you have to use a couple of manual levers -- the front lever works the front half of the cushion, the rear one works the back half -- but the functionality is the same.

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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 Chevy Cruze: Like a Rock

May 03, 2011

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You know what the Chevy Cruze's armrests feel like?

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Thinker's Bump

April 22, 2011

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See that little bump atop the door panel that encases the lock pin? Drives me bananas.

You finally get a little break in traffic and just want to ease back, rest your arm up there and reflect on the day's toil when - poke - you got this little lump of hard plastic and metal (the pin does not retract fully flush) jabbin' ya. So you redistribute and lean on the dinky armrest, which tends to slide back to its default position anytime you shift a little weight on it.

Still like the Cruze. But the little things add up.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Cirque du Soleil Recliner

April 12, 2011

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Most cars that use a pull lever/lean back system to adjust the seat rake have it a little more accessible (typically right where your hand would drop down) than what you see here in the Cruze. This awkward, too far rearward lever placement reminds me of VW's old spin knob recliner which was similarly located back at the seatback/seat cushion intersection.

Maybe it's just me; unfortunately I'm not double jointed. Or maybe the same guy that designed the Camaro's steering wheel drafted this up...

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 8,609 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Already?

March 30, 2011

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Pretty nice console, right? Click on either image to take a closer look at the rubber gasket where the dimpled-metal surround meets the piano-black fascia. Fluke? Anomaly?

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 7,985 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Ergonomic Hits and Misses

March 22, 2011

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Our Cruze has a lot of luxury features -- automatic headlights, automatic climate control, heated seats, navigation system, steering wheel-mounted audio controls. And using them is a mixed bag of no-brainer and head-scratcher.

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Driver Mode

March 15, 2011

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Like this detail: a belt guide for the rear seat belts. Good for shorter passengers or kids in boosters, so that the chest belt doesn't strangle them. Nice little sheath they can slip under when not needed. A small detail, but illustrative of GM's effort to make the Cruze interior feel appointed.

Too bad they didn't extend that effort to the six-speed slushbox.

Other staffers have discussed and written about it, Jordan articulated it, reader/owners have confirmed it: the Cruze automatic just plain sucks. Up, down, up, up, up. Down. The Cruze's constant gear laddering makes it suitable only for the driving which inspires its name. If you mostly travel flowing, freewheeling highways and interstates, you may love it.

Its bones and joints feel taut and substantial, surprisingly so for a compact. Steering feels crisp and direct. Good seats, nice material quality inside. The multimedia interface is clean and intuitive, a snap to scroll through terrestrial and sat radio stations or iPod playlists (although the center stack button layouts for A/V and climate control are a directional jumble).

We've been kicking this idea around the office. With fuel economy and CAFÉ restrictions narrowing the margins for engineers, this is only the beginning of cars built first to satisfy some government weenie, then the prospective owner. So we'll have more of these jumpy, erratic, boggy cogs in the future.

But maybe there's a silver lining. We're already seeing more cars with adjustable modes: Eco, Normal, Sport. Eventually we'll see one mode to earn some regulatory toad's signature, then the rest of the modes for the driver! Power to the Pedal People, man!

And what the automakers don't provide us, the aftermarket will. Already there are caffeinated, sleep-deprived mad code hackers re-calibrating factory powertrain control modules, some of whom are on this very board and contribute to the discussions. In the interim, of course, the Factory will punish you and void your warranty until some clever, lead-blooded attorney spins a variation on the Magnuson-Moss Act.

Until then, we lurch and surge, lurch and surge…

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: All-in-One Childproof Button

March 14, 2011

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Take a look at the rectangular button on our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. It's found underneath the driver's side window switches. You may have seen a variation of this button on our recently departed GMC Terrain, but this one takes it a step further.

In addition to activating the childproof locks, it also locks the windows to prevent kids from rolling them up and down or throwing a juice box at another car. I noticed this button because I had to transport my nephew around for a few hours this weekend, and couldn't find the locks in the usual place on the door. It was nice to see this function consolidated to one button at the driver's fingertips.

After I dropped my nephew off, it was especially convenient to just hit one button and have everything return to normal. This was the first time I had seen a button like this. Do any of your cars have this feature too?

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 7,371 miles

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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: Lukewarm Seat Heater

February 17, 2011

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As an avid seat heater user, I've enjoyed a variety of bun burners but none as lukewarm as those in our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. Even at the highest setting, the seats were merely warm. What? Boo.

Yes, I was wearing jeans but even then there have been cars with seat heaters that singed me through denim. I don't chalk this up to a Chevrolet thing considering the seat heaters in our Chevrolet Traverse actually got up to toasty, while in the Cruze they're just "Is this thing on?" warm. Disappointing for the highest setting. I'm guessing fellow seat heater connoisseur, Ms. Donna DeRosa, won't be pleased.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Chevy Cruze: You Can't Have It All

February 15, 2011

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Buying a car is about priorities, since it's impossible to get absolutely everything you want. The car that's hugely powerful, sips gas, handles like a sports car, rides like a Rolls, has a huge interior, is packed with every feature available and costs a reasonable amount just doesn't exist.

For most American buyers, size and power have reigned supreme forever. More power equals better, bigger means you're not poor. I saw this in the reader reaction to our Chevy Cruze. "Why the hell did you buy a $26,000 compact car that goes from zero to 60 in 9.6 seconds when you could buy a Hyundai Sonata (bigger, more power) for less money?"

For most European buyers, there is more of a willingness to pack on features to smaller cars due to high fuel prices, limited space and just general taste. There is also more of a priority placed on interior quality and handling. In other words, their priorities aren't size and power.

In this way, our particular Cruze certainly seems like more of a European sort of car. It's probably one of the reasons why I like it so much. Back when I bought my 2000 Jetta, I appreciated it for all the reasons I like the Cruze: loads of features, high-quality interior, sporty handling and it was small. Yes, some people like a smaller car even if they can afford something bigger.

There is a main difference, however: my Jetta had the 2.8-liter VR6. It had guts, whereas the Cruze "feels stronger than its power numbers would suggest." On the flip side, the Cruze returns 28 mpg combined while that VR6 got 19.

I'm not sure why I went off on this tangent, because I started writing this blog with the intent of comparing it to a Hyundai Sonata. So here it goes.

Our Cruze LTZ with the optional audio/navigation package, sunroof and Pioneer stereo hit the register at $26,085. If you were to pack a similar amount of stuff onto a Sonata, it would be $28,530. There are certainly unique features here and there, but for the most part, you're looking at spending roughly $2,500 for the Hyundai's extra space and power (And keep in mind that the Sonata is the class value champ).

I know I'd gladly spend some of that $2,500 on more power, but then, I like the Cruze's size. As such, I could get a VW GTI for roughly the same price or wait for a Focus ST, but then I wouldn't get all the Cruze's stuff.

Again, you can't have it all.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 6,775 miles

Follow my (shorter) automotive musings @JRiswick

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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 LTZ: Pain In The Leg

February 04, 2011

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During a two-hour-plus drive home from a photo shoot last night in the Cruze, I noticed the right side of my right leg was throbbing a bit, being irritated by something. At first I thought it must be the seatbelt connector; I knew it couldn't be the seat itself, because the cushion is quite plush, not to mention the seatback's near-perfect lumbar support.

Now I know what you're thinking: Since it's true I've put on a couple extra pounds recently, the problem must be that my fat ass won't slide all the way into the seat. But at 5-foot-8, 155 pounds, I've not quite reached Mr. Lardo status...yet. Plus, it's not my ass, it's my leg.

Upon further inspection, it turns out it's the bolster's very thick and very hard seam that's rubbing my leg the wrong way. This has never happened with any other car I've driven, including ones with far more lateral support. Maybe a thick seam on a bolster isn't such a great idea.

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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: Guess What This Is?

January 24, 2011

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Hey gang, guess what that "AQS" in the climate control section of our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze's dash stands for? Now before you give me a hard time, I'll have you know that editor JayKav didn't know what it was either.

Whoever guesses correctly wins...something...OK nothing but the respect of your peers.

Answer after the jump.

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Closing the Gap

January 20, 2011

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One thing that strikes the single person driving around town in a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is the right-size feel of this sedan. It has ample room for the long of leg and assorted passengers, and it's easy to street-park without feeling like a subcompact rugrat.

From the driver seat, the Cruze feels similar in mass to other "right-size" sedans I've driven and enjoyed -- the 1998-2005 Volkswagen Passat, the 2005-2009 Subaru Legacy. And it turns out that it actually is close dimensionally. It's 181.1 inches long and 70.7 inches wide, and stretched over a 105.7-inch wheelbase and 60.7/61.3-inch track. Compare that to a 2009 Legacy, which was 185 inches long, 68.1 inches wide with a 105.1-inch wheelbase and 58.9/58.5-inch track.

I've given up on hoping that nameplates the Legacy, Passat and Accord will shrink back to reasonable proportions anytime soon. Instead, I'll just wait for compacts like the Cruze and and Mazda 3 to size up to small-family proportions. And the Chevrolet is pretty much already there.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 5,161 miles

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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: A Macro Look at Interior Materials

January 10, 2011

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First off, thanks for all the suggestions on what you'd like to see covered in our blog posts about the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ. Will definitely keep those in mind for the future.

But today I decided to explore the interior of our Cruze. Up close and macro'd. By the way, "macro" is photography lingo for "close-up."

We bought our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ for $26,085. The interior materials feel fine, and don't stand out as particularly cheap or plasticky. But what do you think just by these pictures?

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2011 Chevy Cruze: Interior Features

January 05, 2011

I made you a video of some of the interior features I enjoy in the Chevy Cruze. Seat heaters included :)

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: A Closer Look At the Driver Seat

December 29, 2010

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I sat down in the driver seat of our long-term 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ for the first time last night. The first thing I noticed is the narrowness of the seat-bottom cushion. It's adequately wide for an average-size driver, but there's noticeably less real-world hiproom than in the Mazda 3 or Civic. That may not be good for Americans, I thought.

But then I noticed something really special about this driver seat.

It offers gobs of seat-track travel. Here's the seat all the way back on its track.

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Quick First Impressions

December 25, 2010

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Finally got my butt in the new Cruze and my first thoughts are mostly favorable. My sentiments echo my colleagues' for the most part. The little Chevy feels solid from the way the doors shut to the way the chassis stays planted while tackling a deserted on-ramp (a rare treat here in L.A.). The cabin is handsomely styled, boasts supportive seats and is furnished with quality materials. Cruising at 70-75 the Cruze has a relaxed and fairly quiet demeanor -- actually impressively so for a car in this segment. Lastly, I have to concur with Mr. Romans on the steering wheel - its ideal diameter, rim thickness and spoke placement (with thumb reliefs) make for a pleasing driver-to-car interface.

As others have noticed, the powertrain could be a little quicker to respond as there is a minor delay when the whip is cracked. But after that heartbeat, the 1.4-liter turbocharged four pulls pretty hard and without much vibration and racket. The tranny was usually smooth and cooperative but I noticed a few instances of harsh gearchanges. As we've already noted, there is a TSB on this very issue that we will have addressed soon.

At first blush, the Cruze strikes me as well-rounded entry that finally gives Chevy something strong in the small sedan segment.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 3,937 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Weather Forecasts

December 16, 2010

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A couple years ago, Sirius satellite radio was the only way you could get weather forecasts though the Sirius Travel Link feature. But that type of functionality has now made its way over to XM satellite radio.

Our Chevy Cruze has XM, and pressing the "Info" button on the Cruze's center stack brings up a weather screen with a five-day forecast. You can also see weather forecasts for various points along a route if you've programmed a destination into the navigation system.

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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: Backseat Comfort

December 06, 2010

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I was strapping a child safety seat into the Cruze over the weekend and figured I'd see how comfortable the backseat is for me. Pretty comfortable, actually. I'm 5-foot, 10-inches and didn't have any issues with headroom or legroom; I'd say anyone less than 6-feet tall will be fine. The seat cushioning is firm and there's a respectable amount of thigh support and seatback rake.

As with other small sedans, the center seat is for occasional use only; it's hard and perched high up. Also, the floor isn't flat like it is on a Civic. But overall I was pretty pleased and wouldn't mind riding in back for a short or medium-length trip.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 3,083 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Angling for a Compliment

December 03, 2010

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One of the things that GM gets right in its current crop of contenders is ergonomics, as least as far is it pertains to the center stack.

The photo above doesn't really do it justice, but the Cruze's stack rests at a relatively generous angle. The tilt of the panel is very driver-centric and makes the controls easier to access and friendlier to use. HVAC buttons and knobs are especially well-placed.

Seems like a small thing, but for some reason, I really appreciated this detail during my time with the Cruze.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Interior Look and Feel

December 03, 2010

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First impression of our Cruze's interior: pretty classy. It looks upscale with the two-tone dash, navigation system and metallic trim. For an economy car, the materials used are pretty impressive, with soft-touch in the right places and very little that's shiny plastic. I like the steering wheel, too; it falls right to hand and is ergonomically sound. Chevy would be wise to put this in the Camaro ASAP.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevy Cruze: Navigating the Nav. System

November 26, 2010

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During my recent road trip to Las Vegas and back in our new 2011 Chevy Cruze I put the sedan's navigation system to test, using it more than a dozen times. It never proved to be anything but easy to use and accurate.

First of all it found Las Vegas. But it also made it easy to find food along the way. Once in Vegas I used the Cruze's nav system to find an ATM, several hotels and a few restaurants and bars. Sometimes I chose to input the exact address. Other times I went by the name of the establishment. Either way it worked great, never steering me off into the land of frustration.

The only functional oddity about the Cruze's system is that is shares some buttons with the car's sound system. For instance, it asks you to push the sixth preset button on the sound system to set a destination and start the route guidance. Once you get used that (and the fact that it isn't a touch screen like you'll find in most other GM cars) it works wonderfully.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Visibility

November 25, 2010

See for yourself:

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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