2011 Chevrolet Cruze Long Term Road Test

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Great World Car, Apparently

October 19, 2011

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The Cruze was GM's best-selling car in the US last month, second only to the Silverado (we love our trucks here in the US of A) in the manufacturer's lineup. This little Chevy is also proving to be a popular world car -- it was the third best-selling vehicle in China (GM's largest market, ahead of the US) last month and is GM's best-selling model globally.

Why do you think the Cruze has been such a worldwide hit?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: The Safer Bet

October 10, 2011

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"Why is it so cheap?" asked a potential buyer of our Chevrolet Cruze. I didn't think our price was that off base. As I started to write a well-thought-out reply in defense of the Cruze, I realized what she was talking about. The ad had an asking price of $19.50, rather than the $19,500 I thought I'd put in. Oops!

I promptly corrected my mistake and let the buyer know the correct price. She never replied. In fact, hers was the only inquiry I received on the car -- until the night before the Carmax offer we'd received was set to expire.

This would-be buyer said he would pay $18,000 cash. That was on par with Carmax's offer. There was a slim chance that I could get him to do better, but I decided to go for the safer bet: Carmax. This person hadn’t even seen the car yet, so there was no guarantee that he'd buy it. And if I would have pursued the sale with him, we would have gone past our Carmax deadline.

Sure, I could have had Carmax re-appraise the Cruze, but we had put about 500 miles on the engine since we last took it in. Carmax doesn’t care how many miles you put on a car in the seven-day period you have for your decision to sell. But once that time had passed, there was a chance that Carmax would have brought the offer down to $17,500, due to the extra miles. (The company only makes its offers in $500 increments.) I didn't want to take the chance on an iffy buyer. As the Carmax representative succinctly put it, "Our checks don't bounce."

So just like that, the "most expensive Cruze there was or ever will be" left our fleet (thanks for the nickname, ed124c). And we walked away with $18,000 in our pocket.

I wonder if the Cruze will be an easy sell for the Carmax folks. It got a few compliments from the employees who were appraising it. But then again, they're not the ones actually buying it.

Selling Price: $18,000
Original MSRP $26,085 (before tax and title)
Final Mileage: 27,816

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Will It Last Forever?

October 07, 2011

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Here's a little factoid for you. General Motors went CSI on the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze and had its corrosion engineer, Christa Cooper, analyze "Cruze test vehicles subjected to extreme durability testing representing 10 years of wear, tear and elements." The tested cars are then disassembled with every piece carefully looked over for any sign of rust.

The point? To come up with ways to prevent rust thus aiding in the longevity of the car's body.

From the General Motors site:

"While Cruze was under development, Cooper and her team uncovered corrosion where the inner panel of the rear door is joined to the safety beam. The team recommended switching out an uncoated steel bracket with a rust-resistant coated steel stamping. The change eliminated corrosion in that area."

I'm not sure how different this is from what other automakers do with their cars but this should make Cruze buyers feel a bit more secure about their purchases, no?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Upcoming Uptown Cousin

October 04, 2011

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In case you haven't heard, at the end of this year Buick's coming out with a fancy version of the Cruze called the Verano. Although it will obviously share many components, it does have rather distinct sheet metal.

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Solid Price

September 30, 2011

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The Chevrolet Cruze and I are back from Carmax and I was surprised by the appraisal. It took longer than usual since we arrived at a busy time, but otherwise the service was great.

Carmax offered us $18,000. Mlowery85 was the closest with his guess of $18,300. I was expecting $17,000. Now that the guessing game is over, here are all the numbers to put things in perspective:

MSRP at the time: $26,085
We paid sticker price.
Our out the door price with tax and title was $29,085
Trade in TMV: $18,144
Carmax offer: $18,000

Edmunds trade-in TMV was once again close to the Carmax price. Edmunds private party TMV is $19,960 so the margin is small if we want to improve on the Carmax price. We can't list it at $20,000 because people will think "I can buy a new one for a couple of grand more." In these situations, you compare how much profit you think you will make versus the amount of effort it will take to sell it.

We're tapering our expectations, but it's still worth throwing up an ad on Craigslist and eBay Classifieds to see what happens. We will list it at $19,500 -- which is likely what Carmax will resell it for. If it doesn't sell within a week, we'll take it back to Carmax.

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 27,335 miles

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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 Chevy Cruze LTZ: One Man's Opinion

September 20, 2011

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You guys are giving Mike Monticello quite a bit of heat over the unflattering post he wrote about our long-term Chevy Cruze yesterday. Which is fine, that's what this blog or any blog is all about.

What I don't understand is why many of you are complaining about inconsistency. This blog is about variety. We have 20+ cars being driven and reviewed by 30+ people for hundreds of thousands of miles. The point is inconsistency. The point is different viewpoints. In our group are youngs, olds, moms, dads, singles, home owners, renters, gearheads, greenies and commuters.

Honestly, if we all agreed about every aspect of every car throughout its 12-month test this would be the most boring blog on Earth. And there would be no reason for it to exist.

I personally don't agree with Mike's assessment of the Cruze, but I've had my personal say about the car many times. Fact is, most of us at Inside Line and Edmunds.com are fans of the Cruze, but not all of us are. Our long-term Cruze has been driven over 26,000 miles by our staff and we've written 132 blog posts about the car. Most of those posts are positive, some are negative and some are somewhere inbetween.

Again, that's the point. And I think it's that variety that makes this blog worth visiting every day. I hope you agree and decide to come back tomorrow.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Sunset Photo Op

September 14, 2011

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It seems whenever Mother Nature provides us with a photo opportunity, we're always driving the Chevy Cruze. This time we caught sunset in the South Bay. The soft pastel sky complemented the white Cruze.

Yes, there are prettier cars in our long-term fleet, but this is the one I happened to be driving. It has a rather nice profile, no? Tonight, I'll be driving our Kia Optima, whose bright blue paint would have clashed with the softness of this sky.

On another note, after spending months in Death Valley for our fuel economy tests, the Cruze has a strong dry, earthy stench. It smells like tumbleweeds and scorpion breath. Not that I know what a scorpion smells like, but you get the point. I tried to let the sea air sweeten its interior last night, but it didn't really help.

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Lazy Temperature Gauge

August 30, 2011

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(Photo by Glenn Paulina)

Our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze never learned to read. Look, we aren't the type to belittle the poor guy by telling him that sign says he can't run the air conditioning anymore. So we keep driving. And the Cruze keeps belting out the cold.

It's 120-degrees outside and we just gained 4,000 feet in elevation. The Chevy doesn't care one bit. It goes about doing its thing. Now the temperature gauge is another story...

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2011 Chevy Cruze: Our Favorite Caption

August 19, 2011

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Thanks to mullysalt for this week's favorite caption. Here are the others that were to our taste.

Shortly after, the donkey was seen kissing a Caliber. (cantdrive92)
The Chevy Cruze is seen with an unidentified test mule. (ergsum)
Less filling! tastes Great! (throwback)
Sorry, Cruze, this still doesn't make you a pony car. (kain77)
Democrats really love reduced emissions (missmymiata)
Autoerotic (blackngold1000)
Evidence in the divorce case of Mr. $ Mrs. Donkey (blackngold1000)
The Cruze gets great ass mileage. (ergsum)
Chevy no longer needs to burro from the government. (ergsum)
Nobody likes a kiss-ass. (technetium99)
Both were driven like a rented mule (noburgers)
Chevy Cruze: It takes a licking and keeps on...selling. (technetium99)
This tastes OK but I prefer my 3-series (aleclance)
In Soviet Russia, ass kisses you! (altimadude05)
Behind the scenes of "Let's Make a Deal" (aleclance)
Spy shots of GM's new mule. (weezedog)
Tastes better than cobalt! (pengwin)
Gas, grass, or ass, nobody rides for free (noburgers)
It's just ass-king for a Cruze. (questionlp)
Hi I'm Johnny Knoxville and this is the Chevy Cruze. (robert4380)
Cruze beats its competition in the mules per gallon category (nullcode)

What was your favorite?

To the winner:
You can select one of these three prizes.

See full article and comment.


2011 Chevy Cruze: You Write the Caption

August 19, 2011

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Here's a picture of our Chevy Cruze getting a little love from a burro. Is that a kiss or does he think it tastes good?

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: 20,000-mile Recap

August 11, 2011

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(Photo by Glenn Paulina)

At the 15,000-mile recap there was some excitement surrounding our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze and its level of activity in the fleet. From the recalls to the oil change mix-up to those issues specific to our vehicle, the Cruze was needy during its first 15k. Well, no more.

There is nothing new to report between 15,000 miles and now. For the past 5k our Cruze has done everything we've asked. And it should be due for its next service any day now.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 20,000 miles

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2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ: Our Favorite Caption

July 29, 2011

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Thanks to ergsum for this week's favorite caption. Here are the others that had us green with envy.

Moonshine runner (ergsum)
Transformers: Light of the Moon (ergsum)
Target is down range. Aim for the transmission. (eidolways)
Looks like this Cruze is a desert-er. (eidolways)
Star light, star bright, Chevy Cruze is the first star from GM that gets it right. (altimadude05)
Chevy Cruze: Road trip to area 51. (technetium99)
Chevy runs deep cover (aleclance)
Shouldn't the moonlight picture be of a *Sonata*? (technetium99)
carmageddon aftermath (distortedlife)
LA Smog is really bad this week (noburgers)
Looked better with my beer goggles on (noburgers)
Cruzin' under the radar. (teampenske3)
Chevy Runs Deep into enemy territory (teampenske3)
The Cruze steering feels a little alien to me (noburgers)
Chevy - "Like Iraq" (cjgt)
Chevrolet, surviving the economy, decepticons, and nuclear war since 1911! (autospadetail)
Hello, this is Skynet, how may we terminate you? (ergsum)

What was your favorite?

To the winner:
You can select one of these three prizes.

See full article and comment.


2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ: You Write the Caption

July 29, 2011

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Here is a "spy" photo of our long-term Chevrolet Cruze in the desert taken by the light of the full moon. Or is it on the moon? I can't tell.

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Photos From the Desert

July 28, 2011

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We have more pictures of our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze from the desert. You seemed to enjoy the lightning photos. How about some taken with night vision? These were lit only by the full moon...

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: 15,000-mile Recap

July 20, 2011

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After 9 months with the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze we finally reached the 15,000-mile mark. Let's recap the notable moments in our test to-date. Take the jump, this is not a short list...

Recalls:
- transmission reflash
- lube strut assembly
- affix new VIN label
- improper steering shaft installation
- detachable steering wheel

Additional problems:
- trunk leak
- radio freakout
- shifter gasket slipping

Routine maintenance:
- service at 5,000 miles
- service at 10,000 miles
- back to the dealer for Dexos oil do-over

Others:
- lost to the Ford Focus in a comparison test

Draw your own conclusions from the lengthy maintenance list. But if nothing else the Cruze is certainly keeping busy.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 15,000 miles

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2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ: Lightning Is Taking Pictures

July 12, 2011

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Photo: Glenn Paulina

Mother Nature can be beautiful and frightening. Here she is toying with our Chevrolet Cruze in Death Valley.

These images have not been altered in PhotoShop. They remind me of the Stephin Merritt song Night Falls Like a Grand Piano, "Thunder sings a requiem. Lightning is taking pictures..."

But the question is: Has GM struck lightning with the Chevy Cruze? They moved 24,869 units of the popular compact car in June, resulting in a 10.9-percent gain for the Chevy brand last month.

See full article and comment.


2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Best-Selling Car in the Land

July 11, 2011

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In May, the Cruze took honors for being the best-selling car in its segment. June sales figures reveal the little car has stepped it up a notch; last month, the Cruze rose to become the best-selling car not just in its segment, but in the nation. With 24,896 units sold, the Cruze was second only to the Ford F-150.

The fuel-efficient Cruze Eco, good for 42 miles per gallon on the highway, comprised 17 percent of the model's sales during the month of June. Retail sales for Chevrolet were up 16 percent, marking the tenth straight month of retail sales increases for the brand.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: My Parents' New Car

June 28, 2011

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My parents are buying a Chevrolet Cruze. They just don't know it yet.

While driving our long-term Cruze this morning, it occured to me its likely to be their next car. That side of my family has a long history with General Motors, and the chances they'll buy outside of GM is slim to none.

The Cruze is well-priced for a couple of Detroit-area retirees, it gets good gas mileage, and it comes with stability and traction control to help them get around during the Midwestern winters. Plus it offers more features than they'll ever use.

Whew, glad that's been decided.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 12,108 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Our Favorite Caption

June 27, 2011

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Thanks to e90_m3 for this week's favorite caption. Here are the others that made us rewind.

Mad Betamax (ergsum)
Big Trouble In Little Chevy (ergsum)
They Rewind By Night (ergsum)
Speed 2: Cruze Control (finn4723)
Smokey and the Banned It (actualsize)
Who Killed the VCR? (finn4723)
Vimeo killed the video store (actualsize)
Apostrophe 2 - Grammar Gone WILD! (felonious)
Apostrophe Fail. (teampenske3)
10,000 videos. Please ask about special financing from GMAC. (sniperruff)
"... and some of them aren't porn!" (felonious)
2011: A Truck Stop Odyssey (ergsum)
Done in 60 Seconds (noburgers)

What was your favorite?

To the winner:
You can select any of the items in my prize drawer:

See full article and comment.


2011 Chevrolet Cruze: You Write the Caption

June 24, 2011

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Vehicle Testing Director Dan Edmunds sent me this photo of our pure white Chevy Cruze at an interesting truck stop.

We're going to do it a little differently this week. You can write a caption as usual. Or you can write movie titles for the 10,000 videos you might find in this store.

You have all weekend on this one. I'll post the winner on Monday.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Sales Leader

June 09, 2011

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Last month the Chevrolet Cruze was the best-selling car in its segment, with 22,711 units sold. That's better than Corolla, Civic, Elantra, et al.

A nifty bar graph follows after the jump.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Why Choose the Cruze?

June 08, 2011

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There is plenty of competition in the compact sedan segment. There are the Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra to name a few. Many players have upped their games in this class. When all of these cars are available, what would make the Cruze stand out to a buyer.

I don't have the answer.

In my early twenties I owned a Chevy Cavalier. The Cruze reminds me of that car. It's a better car than the Cavalier was, (my Cavalier used to shake when it got to 65 mph) but it's not so much better that I would consider it vastly improved. Our Cruze LTZ is a $26,000 car. You could get a Malibu, Camry or Accord for that money.

You can get a base model Chevy Cruze for $16+K. But the new Volkswagen Jetta starts at even less.

Take a look at the Edmunds sedan buying guide. What would you choose?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: 10K Milestone

May 18, 2011

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Our long term Chevrolet Cruze just crossed the 10,000 mile mark. The only major issues since we bought the car have been the watery trunk and the transmission, which needed a reflash. It has been solid ever since. In honor of this milestone, we will be taking the car in for its first service. We'll have more on that later.

The Cruze is currently averaging 25 mpg. The EPA ratings for the Cruze are 24 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined. We're coming up a bit short on the combined rating, but we have another 10,000 miles to lighten our lead feet.

-Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Spare Tire vs Tire Repair Kit

May 17, 2011

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I wrote an article on spare tires recently, and the research I did for it made me more aware of the spare tires -- or the lack thereof-- in cars today. Our long term Chevrolet Cruze came with this temporary spare. But it’s not a standard feature. All Cruzes come with a tire repair kit, unless you opt for the $100 temporary spare (as we did).

We are going to start seeing more of this in the coming years, as automakers seek ways to reduce weight in vehicles. Over the past two years, there has been an increase of 30 vehicles that come standard with tire repair kits. Both the spare and the tire repair kits have their pros and cons, but if it was my car, I'd want the temporary spare.

Would you pay the extra $100 to get a spare? Would you mind using an inflator kit? Or would you just call roadside assistance?

-Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 10,014 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: No. 2 GM Vehicle and Compact Car in U.S. for April

May 03, 2011

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Would it surprise you to know that the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is the second biggest selling vehicle for General Motors? Yup, right behind the Silverado. In fact it's with the Cruze's help that GM led the Detroit automakers in sales in April. Analysts are attributing it to Americans preferring smaller, fuel-efficient cars because gas prices are so high. The compact Cruze gets 24 city/36 highway/28 combined, our average is 25.2 mpg.

And even though the Cruze was just introduced last year it is already selling triple the amount that the Cobalt did. Other recent accolades include its being dubbed by Wards as having one of 10 best interiors. It also is now the No. 2 compact car in the country, moving up from a No. 4 spot in March. Does that make you feel better about the Cruze or can 25,160 Cruze fans (number of folks who bought the car in April) be wrong?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: The Buzz From the Buyers

May 02, 2011

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Just a quick public service announcement for all of you out there who may be in the market for a new car. In addition to checking out our road test(s), long-term blog updates and pricing information, you should also see what folks who've bought the car have to say. As you know, we like to cover all the bases for automotive consumers and as such we also provide consumer comments and ratings. We have 69 comments / ratings for the whole Cruze line thus far, but note that you can also just look at those for a specific trim level.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 9,315 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: GM Finally Designing Some Decent Wheels

April 29, 2011

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GM does not have a good track record when it comes to wheel designs. It's been a pet peeve of mine for years. With all the design talent available to the General, you would think at least some of its cars would have some decent looking rims. But no, it's been one mediocre wheel after another.

Recently, the tide has started to turn. Cars like the Corvette, Camaro and CTS-V Series now have some proper wheel options. The improvements have even trickled down to the Cruze.

The set of 18s on our long-termer aren't going win any awards, but they do look better than most cars in its class. They're simple, have some dish to the lip and a non-chromed finish. It helps that they're wrapped by a meaty set of 215/45 tires. Nice job Chevrolet.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Radio Reboot

April 25, 2011

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In honor of Earth Day weekend, the radio in the Chevy Cruze decided to save some energy and resources by broadcasting static instead of, you know, actual radio programming. Tried restarting the radio as a fix but that didn't do it.

Turns out what was needed was a full system reboot -- the problem happened twice over the weekend and in both cases, turning the engine off and then back on again did the trick. Our Keepers of the Keys have been notified.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 9,051 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Liking It More, But Keep It Quiet

April 21, 2011

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Hadn't been in the Cruze for awhile, and after some recent seat time in the new Civic, Elantra, and Corolla, I wondered what about the Cruze would stand out good, bad or otherwise. These are just some impressions relative to its class, not a comparison.

The doors close with a pleasant, damped thunk, a welcome sound for cars in this segment. It's a head game. A car that closes with a hollow whoosh gets a pass if it's reliable and hassle-free for 100,000+ miles. Many are, so you learn to disassociate a wimpy door sound from the car's proven quality. But the Cruze sounds good, and at least fosters the perception of a solidly-built mass of metal. Our leaky trunk blemishes that perception, but beyond that we're so far, so good.

I also like that the Cruze's horn is a muted staccato mumble, and not the raspy bleat of many low-budget honks. It's not embarrassing to lock the Cruze from the keyfob while walking away from it.

The Cruze also suppresses road, wind and tire noise pretty well - there's obviously something in those door panels and A-pillars - but it pays for it a bit with its 3,232-lb. curb weight. Interior materials feel good, or at least innocuous, to the touch, and the seats are comfortable. I think Chevy interior designers missed with the Transformers-like center stack layout. There's some superfluous designory-nerdness and wasted space, such that there's no good storage for phone and - wait for it - yes, coffee.

Yep, I'm complaining about cupholders. And their awkward placement. That and the pretty useless center console, a small, short cavity that can't hold much of anything except maybe a deck of cards and some smokes.

And now, the deal breaker: the Hydra-Matic auto transmission. The trans and the turbo. They are just not on the same page. It’s like a bad competitive dance show that has paired Pau Gasol and Kathy Bates as tango partners. The Cruze's clumsiness is largely a low-speed affair. Once you've got the converter locked up at around 3,000 rpm at highway speeds, the Cruze is a quick responder and moves easily through traffic.

But for a real walk on the edge, try blasting an uphill on-ramp in manual shift mode. Regardless of when you select an upshift, the real fun is waiting to see where the boost lets loose, and where the trans decides it wants to fall.

It's maddening. The Cruze's competitors also suffer to some degree from fuel-conscious shift strategies. And this isn't the first AT we've driven that feels either lifeless or has a life of its own. We've had the trans in for its TSB, and I know the Cruze has a "learning" feature. Perhaps we've completely scrambled its brains with the staff's individual drive styles?

The answer seems simple: Get the six-speed manual. Haven't driven one yet, so can't compare. Any 6MT Cruze owners care to weigh in?

Oh, and just so we're straight, don't interpret any of this criticism or praise as an indication that I like the car or am saying anything positive about it. It's a nice car that earns its place in the segment, although the auto-trans is a liability. But I can't really say that because, you know, I could get canned. Everyone knows we have it in for the General. Just between us, cool?

Oh, and the cruise control icons are still dumb. Roast away.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Sensible Styling

April 14, 2011

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Sensible has pretty much defined the styling of every compact sedan over the last couple decades or so. It's what buyers in this category expect, so that's what the manufacturers give them. The Cruze fits that mold, but I think it's one of the better interpretations of the breed.

Unlike most of the cars in this class, there's some substance to the Cruze's shape. It has well defined belt line, noticeably flared wheel arches and a strong stance. It's not overdone like the Hyundai Elantra, it's just conservative styling done well. Saw one in Ice Blue the other day and it caught my eye. Not many cars can pull off a color like that, but this particular Cruze looked great.

From what I've seen of the new Malibu, Chevrolet is taking a slightly more aggressive approach with its midsize sedan. I'm not sure if I like it yet, but the Cruze has certainly grown on me.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Family Reunion

April 11, 2011

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Early Friday, I drove our Cruze to Hollywood Park's huge lot to check out GM's Main Street in Motion. The free three-day test-drive event is making 18 stops around the country between now and the fall, and it's worth checking out. This weekend, it's setting up in Phoenix, at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Cruze is among 70 cars that you'll find spruced up, gassed up and ready to drive, without any pressure to buy. It's not all GM vehicles, by the way. In addition to GM, Buick and Chevrolet vehicles (including the Camaro, Corvette and Volt), there are representative competitor cars to check out from such manufacturers as Acura, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota.

Even though the crowd was light on Friday, there was almost always a short line to drive the Cruze. That could be because of high consumer interest in car or because the event's rules require that you drive a Cruze before you drive a Volt.

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2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ: Is This the Best Looking Vehicle GM Makes?

April 08, 2011

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The other day I was "driving" on the 405 North next to a white 2011 Buick Regal. I said, "Oh, look, someone in LA bought a Regal. Neat. Hm, the rear end looks funny. Hmmm. Really funny." And upon further inspection as I sat in horrible traffic, I really started honing in on the trunk area. It's got a sort of double-bustle thing going on like the old 6 series. (Which is one of the ugliest cars according to, well, us.) The back doesn't flow with the side design which still isn't enough to break up the giant slabs of door and it doesn't fit with the front. It wasn't working for me.

Then (a while later) black 2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ rolled up on me. It looked....good. Damn good. The whole package is safe, yes, but well executed, cohesive and stylish. And then I thought, "Except for the Z06 Carbon, is there a better looking vehicle in the GM fleet than the Cruze?"

The Camaro is a gag-gift, like one of those T-Shirts that says "World's Best Lover" or "Federal Bikini Inspector," fun for about 45 seconds and then you realize you can never be seen in public with it and shove it in the back of the garage.

The Regal has bland doors and there's no sense that the front (which is pretty cool) has anything to do with the rear.

Aveo? No and like the current Malibu, has already been shown the door. Impala? You didn't even know that still existed. Volt? Neat, but no.

Terrain? Acadia? Savannah? Nope.

Escalade? God no.

CTS-V sedan / wagon? Oh. Right. Yes. So very close. A little over done, though. The CTS coupe is way over styled and thus falls into the silly category.

The CADILLAC (!) CTS wagon and seadan are the only things that can touch the compact, budget-minded Chevy Cruze for overall style right now. Not sure what that says for GM (currently mid-model range and revising EVERYTHING), but it says a lot for the Cruze.

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Recipe for Success

April 04, 2011

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GM's sales numbers for the first quarter are in and they don't look too shabby, thanks in large part to the Cruze. Despite a decline in incentives, GM's passenger-car retail sales for the first quarter are up by 34 percent relative to Q1 2010. Driving this increase is the plucky little Cruze, whose sales numbers represent a 287-percent gain over those of the Cobalt, the model it replaces.

According to GM, the Cruze is gaining ground in markets that have typically been import-car strongholds -- states like California, New York and Florida, where relative to the Cobalt, Cruze sales have been up 370 percent, 225 percent and 230 percent respectively. Nearly two-thirds of Cruze buyers are new to GM so the manufacturer seems to be winning some new converts.

GM surveyed over 500 Cruze buyers and the results show that their top two reasons for purchasing the Cruze over a competitor are exterior styling and fuel efficiency. Huh -- info like this underscores the fact that though appearance may be subjective, it sure does count for a lot.

What factors do you consider when evaluating a potential new-car purchase?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Make the Rough Places Smooth

March 24, 2011

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When the freeways are clogged with traffic between Edmunds HQ and home, I sometimes take surface streets all the way. Swapping stories of the best routes is a kind of hobby here.

I've been trying out a west-east leg that is, let's say, picturesque. Recent route highlights were a gentleman engaged in some broad-daylight, open-air micturation, a tricked-out, curb-jumped Pontiac hemmed in by a police cruiser and a sheriff's copter making lazy circles over a housing project. I didn't hang around to see what that was all about.

And then there's the road itself: small potholes, gaping potholes, railroad tracks, washboard blacktop -- a veritable smorgasbord for your suspension.

The Cruze handled it all with aplomb, although I did steer around hazards of Mariana Trench proportions. Our review of the Cruze says that the LTZ's sport suspension is firmer than in base models, "but not anything approaching jolting." My impression was that it did an excellent job smoothing a rough ride without canceling out the driver's sense of the road.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @ 7,777 (lucky) miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Made in Lordstown

March 08, 2011

There was a lot of buzz generated last month when Chrysler's Eminem commercial, "Imported from Detroit" aired during the Super Bowl.

Well the Chevrolet Cruze is also Made in America, although not in Detroit. Our long-term 2011 Cruze LTZ is manufactured in Lordstown, OH. The Chevy Cruze is the sole product of the Lordstown plant. On September 8, 2010, the complex officially launched and started shipping the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze.

Some plant stats:

  • 4,500 employees
  • Products: Chevrolet Cruze
  • 2010 CY Production Total: 158,140
  • Plant Size: 6 million square feet/905 acres
  • Facilities: Vehicle Assembly, Paint Shop, Metal Center Stamping/Body Shop

Made in America. Does that matter to you?

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~7,100 miles
(Bonus: Full-length Chrysler 200 Imported from Detroit video after the jump.)

See full article and comment.


2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Big Horn Edition

February 25, 2011

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Last night, it seemed like there was an unusually high amount of idiot drivers on the road. From drivers who were simply not paying attention to the road, to those who thought that blocking traffic is totally acceptable. My recent marathon sessions of playing Xbox games have left my hands in a gnarled mess, so obscene finger gestures were not an option. So in one of those "too close for missiles, go to guns" moments, I laid on the Cruze's horn.

And I was oh so pleasantly surprised.

It's not one of those wimpy little squeaks that are barely louder than a Vespa's. No, it's a good beefy report that screams "GET OUT OF MY WAY!" I used it so many times, I was half expecting it to stop working before I got home.

How I wish I could mount some push bars to the front of the car or give it the "Mean Mazda Deuce" treatment. In the meantime, deep breaths.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Check the Mirror

February 22, 2011

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If you're ever looking for a creative way to check your teeth for broccoli or spy on that Corolla nondescript Camry parked across the street, our Cruze LTZ's super-shiny door handles have got you covered. The chrome on those things is the most reflective I've ever seen -- it looks like it was excised from a mirror ball.

Chrome door handles are standard on the top-of-the-line Cruze LTZ but this subtle little upgrade isn't offered on other trims. Shiny certainly has its place but I'm not so sure I'm feeling it on the Cruze.

What do you think of our Cruze's door handles?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 6,910 miles

See full article and comment.


2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Canada Feels the Love

February 18, 2011

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Well folks, the Canadian car buffs have spoken and it's now official: They're tingly all over for the Chevy Cruze. Chevy's hot seller was named Car of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) from a field of 144 vehicles. The winner of this competition was picked based on back-to-back testing that sadly didn't include fun Canadian things like dog sledding and Timbit eating. Last year's winner was the Volkswagen GTI.

"We are very proud to receive AJAC's 2011 Canadian Car of the Year honors for the all-new Chevrolet Cruze, which reflects a major refocusing of investment on smaller vehicles and fuel efficient technologies," said Kevin Williams, GM of Canada's president and managing director (pictured above looking very happy with his award). "The Cruze represents our line in the sand: We're playing to win -- and delivering the goods -- in the small car business."

Well, alrighty then. The Cruze's runners up were the Ford Fiesta and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI -- for me, it would come down to the Cruze or the Fiesta. Of these three top finishers, which would have gotten your vote?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: World Touring Car Champion

February 14, 2011

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Did you know that about the same time we took delivery of our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ, a UK-based touring car racing team was wrapping up their 2010 racing season with a fleet of Chevrolet Cruzes of their own?

It's true. And they had a pretty good year, too.

In the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), the RML Chevrolet Cruze team won seven races with driver Jason Plato, who also took home the 2010 BTCC drivers' crown. His competition included the Honda Civic Type-R, the BMW 3-series and the Ford Focus, all with 2.0-liter engines.

Barely a month later, the FIA's World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) held its final race of the season in Macau. A different arm of the same team campaigned three Cruzes in the worldwide WTCC series. This time, the Chevrolet Cruze went one better, taking the driver's crown with Yvan Muller while also winning the manufacturer's championship for Chevrolet.

This year, FIA WTCC rules are moving away from 2.0-liter normally aspirated engines to 1.6-liter turbocharged powerplants. BTCC rules are staying put at 2.0-liters.

The 2011 season hasn't started yet, but you may still be able to catch reruns of 2010 events on Speed if you program your DVR to seek them out.

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Stargazing

February 10, 2011

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The Cruze has been on the market for just a few short months but it's making quite the impression. Chevy's ambitious little overachiever cracked the top 10 for the first time last month - with 13,631 units sold, it was the 10th best-selling vehicle in the land for January 2011, in the company of established sales titans like the Honda Civic and Toyota Camry.

Quite an accomplishment. How to explain its rapid rise to the top?

Well, it starts with a quality product, obviously, and on this front, the Cruze certainly delivers - functional and fun, it hits all the required bases and manages to throw in a little something extra. I also think the Cruze has come along at the right moment, presenting a compelling domestic alternative at a time when many people would love to have a reason to buy American.

What's your take as to the factors behind the Cruze's success?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

See full article and comment.


2011 Chevy Cruze: My First Real Drive

February 09, 2011

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I was expecting the Chevy Cruze to be a competent little car that is infinitely better to drive than the dismal Corolla (which Chevy is gunning for in its ad campaign). I knew that those readers who branded it just another Cobalt didn't know what they were talking about. Just sitting in the Cruze's cabin was enough to know that it was nothing like its predecessor -- the last Cobalt I drove was an XFE and it felt like some Mexican-market special they use for taxi service in Cancun.

Yet, I hadn't really driven the Cruze until yesterday. Uh oh, where is this going?

Jiminy Tap-Dancing Christmas, our Cruze is legitimately fun to drive. Out on my top-secret handling course just off PCH beyond Chart House and through Topanga Canyon, I discovered a little car that handles remarkably flat and feels light on its toes. Its electric power steering is pretty much devoid of feel, but it's decently weighted and ultimately responsive in quick transitions.

The turbocharged engine has plenty of low-end torque that makes it feel a lot stronger than its humble power numbers and 9.6-second 0-60 time would suggest, while I was flat-out shocked that our reflashed transmission was able to keep up with me through hills and turns. It hangs onto revs and was quick to downshift -- something that is anathema to modern, fuel-saving transmissions. It felt like some sort of sport mode had been engaged.

Of course, away from that top-secret handling course, our Cruze LTZ has a ride that could be considered harsh and lacks the well-damped sophistication of a certain new Ford competitor. The transmission also hangs onto revs a split-second too long in daily driving and has an odd shift quality -- sometimes CVT smooth, other times automanual abrupt. I don't mind it really, it's just odd. I'm trying to reconcile this observation with Takahashi's highway-bound concerns with the transmission's reluctance to downshift, and all I can say is perhaps it's has just finally adapted to our collective aggressive driving style. If it has, good for the Cruze, but I'll keep my ears open for other editors' observations.

Regardless, I'm very impressed with the Chevy Cruze. I'd be interested to drive it in non-LTZ guise, without the big wheels, sport-tuned suspension and rear disc brakes. It probably won't be as fun, but as such there are certainly more reasons to buy the LTZ than just a lust for leather and navigation.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 4,609 miles

Follow my car-related musings on the Twitter @JRiswick

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2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ: Super Bowl Ads

February 06, 2011

Just in case you're one of those people ignoring the Super Bowl, here's what Chevy is doing with the 2011 Cruze during Super Bowl XLV.

There's still a chance for another car company to come out and take it, but so far, Chevy's killing it with ads this year.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Chevy Cruze: Yes Please!

February 01, 2011

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Now, I'm not saying that I would rule out buying the Chevy Cruze simply because it's a sedan, but if it were a hatchback like this concept soon to be shown at the Geneva Auto Show, I might consider owning one.

That's a nice looking car right there...and with the 2.0-liter diesel and 6MT we've got a Golf TDI fighter that doesn't look like your girlfriend's car. (Sorry, Ron.)

But then again, I really liked the Astra, too.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line

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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.

See full article and comment.


2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Ten Airbags and More

January 21, 2011

With regard to safety, our long-term 2011 Chevy Cruze is well-equipped. It's similar, in fact, to many larger cars.

The Cruze has 10 airbags, including: driver and passenger side, knee on both sides, seat side (front and rear), and curtain, front and rear. The Cruze also has a collapsible brake pedal assembly to relieve crash forces on the lower leg. GM Safety Engineer Ken Bonello will break it down.

If you find this boring, watch the video anyway to see the Cruze get crashed...crashed real good.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~5,200 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Happy 5K

January 18, 2011

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It's not always easy to take a photo at the exact time a test car hits a specific mileage.

So instead of concentrating on the questionable quality of the odometer pic, let's instead celebrate the Chevy Cruze's 5,000-mile accumulation.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: $9,800 of Value?

January 12, 2011

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The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ might be the dumbest long-term test car we've ever bought.

It's a monstrosity that costs $26,085, some $9,800 more in features and options than the base-model $16,285 Cruze LT1.

It's also the smartest thing we've ever done, a reflection of the future.

It's not like you're going to see very many $26,085 examples of the Chevy Cruze on the street this year, but as gas climbs past $4 per gallon, you might see a few next year. Soon we'll all be making smarter choices about fuel economy and suddenly the small car with an inline-4 makes sense.

And while you might be offended by the idea of a cheap and cheerful car overlaid with expensive niceties, we'll all be buying small cars outfitted to resemble the large cars of the past. Two-tone upholstery and soft-touch controls and high-output audio might seem frivolous, but when you read through the comments in our blog for long-term test cars, you find nothing but whining about such things. (If I have to read another comment about the visual quality of interior plastics, I'm going to slap somebody.)

It's true that we could have done without some of these options, but almost all of them are things that you can see and feel and experience. We all like nice cars, not stripped-down bargains.

That's why this Cruze is the car of the future.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 4,852 miles

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Open Thread

January 07, 2011

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I have our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze this weekend and since it's only been in our long-term fleet for less than three months, I'm sure I'll be able to find something to blog about it (macro the interior!). But I wondered if there was anything you wanted to know about it.

I'm looking forward to seeing how it drives (so far it seems like our editors like it), using those seat heaters and checking out its "quality" interior. But, yeah, future bloggers of this car will appreciate your questions.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ: Styling

January 07, 2011

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Though I like the look and feel of the Cruze's handsome cabin, I've mixed feelings on the exterior styling.

LIkes: The distinct Chevy-signature split grille, the tapering roofline, overall proportions and the split-spoke wheels.

Dislikes: The droopy taillights (a design element for many manufacturers that's been in vogue for a few years now). The plastic triangle at the trailing edge of the rear window that's supposed to give the illusion of glass being there. That part reminds me of a Chrysler Sebring But if the Cruze didn't have it, well then the C pillar might too closely resemble a Mazda 3's.

With so many models out and so many styles already done through the years, I feel for car designers as it must be tough coming up with a pleasing yet distinctive look. That said, what do y'all think? Is the Cruze one of the better looking cars in a segment not exactly known for breathtaking styling?

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 4,547miles

See full article and comment.


2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ: Crash Test Vid

December 28, 2010

The 2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ scored an IIHS Top Safety Pick award recently and here's the video to prove it.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Santa Drives One

December 28, 2010

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I saw this t-shirt over the holiday break. Looks like Chevy has a new marketing tactic for the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. I'm just not sure who its aimed towards. What do you think they're up to?

Coming soon to a thrift store near you.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: IIHS's Top Safety Pick 2011

December 22, 2010

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Photo by Kurt Niebuhr

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just announced its Top Safety Pick award winners and the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze topped the list in the Small Cars category. It went up against the likes of the Kia Soul, Nissan Cube and VW GTI four-door.

From IIHS:

"General Motors' new Chevrolet Cruze broadens the number of award-winning options for consumers looking to buy a fuel-efficient small car. GM built the Cruze, which has 10 standard airbags, including ones for the knees, to outperform the government's minimum roof strength requirements and touts the achievement as a selling point."

Do such awards usually influence your car shopping picks?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

See full article and comment.


2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Flashback Drive

December 08, 2010

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My mom is visiting from out of town, and I picked her up at the airport yesterday in the Cruze. On the way home, she asked, "What kind of car is this?" "A Chevrolet Cruze," I replied. "Oh," she said. "I haven't heard of it. It seems nice, though." I told her that, in fact, it is pretty nice.

See full article and comment.


2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: A Face I Could Grow to Love

December 02, 2010

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My first experience behind the wheel of the Cruze was a pretty enjoyable one. The car's sheet metal doesn't do much for me, but its handling is another story.

The Cruze felt tight as a Beverly Hills face lift as it cheerfully tackled the avenues and boulevards of my neighborhood. And the steering was a real pleasure -- exact and not too light. The car might not be an all-star in straight-line acceleration, but there was enough hustle in its turbocharged 1.4 to keep a smirk on my face.

The economy-car segment now has another fun-to-drive choice for shoppers to consider.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Visibility

November 25, 2010

See for yourself:

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Facebook | Twitter

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Talk of the Town

November 24, 2010

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This morning I went outside to find three men standing in my driveway near the back of the Chevy Cruze. Haven't seen a crowd gather like that since I brought home our long-term Audi R8.

"Nice car, eh?," I said conversationally.

They nodded collectively and shuffled away.

At least no one asked to drive the Cruze.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Coco Cruzies

November 23, 2010

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Like our Long Term 2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ? Want to win one? Hate our Chevy Cruze but want to win a free car anyway? Head over to TeamCoco.com where Conan O'Brien's giving away 20 Pine Tree air fresheners in 20 days. Each pine tree air freshener comes with a free 2011 Chevy Cruze to hold it in.

Only 17 left. Hurry. HURRY!

( Team Coco )

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

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