2011 Chevrolet Cruze Long Term Road Test - Comfort

2011 Chevrolet Cruze Long Term Road Test

2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Predict the Price

September 30, 2011


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: Seats are Still Solid

September 23, 2011


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: Legroom vs. Kneeroom

September 15, 2011


(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: Fahrenheit 126

August 03, 2011


(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 LTZ: Seat Squab

June 22, 2011


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 Chevrolet Cruze: A Most Appropriate Moniker

May 31, 2011

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I spent a lot of time on the freeway with the Cruze this past weekend and was thankful a) that I had the little Chevy and b) that the freeways were actually moving freely, a rarity in greater L.A.. Here are a few random observations.

Once you realize you have to really lean into the throttle it to get the Cruze's transmission to downshift, there's perfectly adequate merging/passing performance here. And the tranny swaps gears smoothly whether dealing with city traffic or when grabbing that downshift to get up to freeway speed. As we've stated before, the nav system's interface is a bit clunky (looks like a touchscreen but isn't and selecting letters/numbers is done via up/down/left/right arrow buttons or by the radio's tuning knob). But it's easy to understand and no big deal after you've used it a few times.

The aptly-named Cruze settles in nicely at higher cruising speeds (70-75) where it provides a hushed cabin that allowed me to enjoy the (admittedly just average) audio system and use the Bluetooth phone feature. The Cruze's front seats were very comfortable during the long-weekend's various couple-hour driving stints -- no complaints from my sometimes finicky lower back -- and of course having them heated is a bonus. Just an easy car to live with in the real world of city traffic and long highway stints.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 10, 591 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


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 Chevy Cruze: Like a Rock

May 03, 2011


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

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ: Thinker's Bump

April 22, 2011

Cruze-door lock pin-web.jpg

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: Liking It More, But Keep It Quiet

April 21, 2011


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 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: 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: Lukewarm Seat Heater

February 17, 2011


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

Chevy Cruze in the backyard.jpg

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: 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 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.

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze: Closing the Gap

January 20, 2011


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: A Closer Look At the Driver Seat

December 29, 2010


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: Backseat Comfort

December 06, 2010


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: Interior Look and Feel

December 03, 2010


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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