2011 Chevy Cruze: You Can't Have It All
February 15, 2011
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