Track Tested: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ

Track Tested: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ

Edmunds tests hundreds of vehicles a year. Cars, trucks, SUVs, we run them all, and the numbers always tell a story. With that in mind we present "Track Tested," a quick rundown of all the data we collect at the track, along with comments direct from the test-drivers. Enjoy.

It wasn't going to take a lot for the all-new 2011 Chevrolet Cruze to dethrone the Chevy Cobalt, and the word "Cavalier" is something GM probably hopes never to hear again. With the way the automotive industry is these days, with the engineering, care and dedication involved, the Cruze HAD to be a leap ahead of the car it replaced.

Beating them, however, was never the goal. The 2011 Chevy Cruze had to be better everything. Everything. From America, from Japan, from Korea, from the moon...everything in this class had to be outshone by the new small Chevy with the big angry face. This means it needed a quality interior (this car has leather, heated seats, nav, sat radio) cutting edge looks (see above), and excellent fuel economy. Handling the business on that end is a 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 that makes 138 horsepower, and 148 pound-feet of torque at only 1,850 rpm.

Yep, a 1.4-liter motor in a modern GM car made for the U.S. It's a new world. This engine in the 2011 Cruze with a six-speed automatic (as we've got here) returns 24 mpg city, 36 highway and 28 combined according to the EPA.

But this is Inside Line, not SubcompactAdvisor, so we wanted to know what that turbocharged 1.4-liter would do on the track. What would the Cruze do in the quarter-mile? Zero to 60?


Vehicle: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ
Odometer: 1,482
Date: 11/09/10
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $26,085

Drive Type: Front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged, port-injected, inline-4 with variable intake and exhaust-valve timing
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,364 / 83.2
Redline (rpm): 6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 138 @ 4,900
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 148 @ 1,850
Brake Type (front): 11.8-inch ventilated disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Brake Type (rear): 11.5-inch ventilated disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Steering System: Electric-assist rack-and-pinion power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Torsion beam, control arm
Tire Size (front): P225/45R 18 91W M+S
Tire Size (rear): P225/45R 18 91W M+S
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: Pilot HX MXM4
Tire Type: All-season
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,236 (60.6% front)

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 3.3
0-45 (sec): 6.1
0-60 (sec): 9.6
0-75 (sec): 14.9
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 17.1 @ 80.4
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 9.3

30-0 (ft): 31
60-0 (ft): 122

Slalom (mph): 66.6
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.83

Db @ Idle: 35.3
Db @ Full Throttle: 67.4
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 67.1

Acceleration Comments: Rewards pedal overlap, yet it still cannot scratch the tires with traction control off. Acceleration is characterized by surging turbo and wonky torque converter behavior. There are multiple dead spots on the way to the finish line. Upshifts are pretty lazy and gear spacing is fine (3rd is taller than the rest, though). Absolutely punishing rev limiter that produces shockingly harsh driveline lash. Also, manual shifting is too slow to be of any use for accel runs.

Braking Comments: Some squirm and a light rear end with good fade resistance. Pedal effort is good with aggressive jump-in that became more so with heat in the system.

Handling Comments: Surprising grip and poise that's muddied only a little by spring like steering that offers good buildup but little feel. With ESC on, the throttle breathes off just as the rear gets light and begins to rotate. Light but precise steering, narrow car with plenty of grip and a propensity to rotate predictably off throttle all add up to a spirited and exhilarating slalom. Classic well-sorted FWD behavior like a Mazda 3 and far more capable than a Fiesta or Mazda 2 with ESC off. Well-sorted ESC matches my best efforts.

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