Finally, a Road-Trip Worthy Chevrolet Small Car - 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ Long-Term Road Test

2011 Chevrolet Cruze Long Term Road Test

2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Finally, a Road-Trip Worthy Chevrolet Small Car

January 26, 2011


I logged just 250 miles and 6 hours of seat time in our 2011 Chevrolet Cruze during a quick trip to San Diego and back this week. It was a pleasant trip overall and I enjoyed being in the car, even in heavy traffic, which is far more than I can say for our old long-term 2005 Cobalt. That car had motor, but the seats were uncomfortable, the cabin was cheap and poorly packaged, and the ride was pretty coarse and unsophisticated.

With our Cruze, it's pretty much the opposite.

Although the driver seat in our Cruze seemed a bit narrow and flat at first, it's actually very supportive and I love sitting in it. The driving position is excellent, too, as the dash and door panels all feel pretty low, so you can easily see out over them -- like you can in a Honda Civic. Materials quality is generally good, although the brown trim on the steering wheel and dash is a bit daring for my pedestrian aesthetic taste, I like that a two-tone color scheme is available in a budget-oriented small sedan. The steering wheel fits comfortably into my hands at 9-and-3, and I like that I can get supplementary nav instruction in the trip computer display.


Ride quality is just excellent in this car. It reminds me a lot of the Regal, in that it errs on the firm side but has just enough compliance to see you over the punishing slab-style pavement used on Southern California freeways.

Unfortunately, the drivetrain in our Cruze also reminds me of the Regal 2.4 I drove. The turbocharged 1.4-liter needs to be revved hard for decisive passing, and it just doesn't sound good doing that (we'll make a video for you at some point... the one I shot yesterday didn't turn out). It's almost as if someone at GM thinks that V8s are the standard for how an engine should sound, and if you're buying a four-cylinder, well, you must be too financially strapped to care what it sounds like. Now, I'm sure that's not actually the case, but I wouldn't put up with an engine this raucous in a $26,000 car.

The transmission still leaves much to be desired, but we're going to have the relevant TSB performed on it this week, so stay tuned.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 5,621 miles

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