Model Tested: Chevrolet Cruze LT Turbo
Competition in its class: Honda Civic • Toyota Corolla • Mazda 3 • Nissan Sentra • Ford Focus • Volkswagen Jetta
MSRP for the model tested: $19, 495 for the LT Turbo (Cruze LS starts at $14,995) with an additional $1,570 in optional upgrades.
Even before it was named the 2011 Canadian Car of the Year, the Chevy Cruze burst on to the scene with one thing in mind: wow Canadians. But before Canadians, drivers around the world tested and re-tested this car. Chevy's global organization meticulously planned and re-planned, intent on bringing the best of the world's automakers together in one car.
Details, such as the sound the doors make when closed, or how well the car responds in extreme climate changes, were exhaustively examined throughout some of the most punishing conditions the world has to offer. Hauling a trailer through Death Valley, speeding through harsh winter conditions in the extreme north; Chevy tested every conceivable condition knowing that here, in North America, we have some pretty ridiculous weather sometimes.
It's apparent in this compact car, that Chevy is paying attention to what consumers are looking for: sleek and comfortable with optimum fuel capacity, and they want you to know it, dang it. Coming off one of the largest car campaigns I think I've ever seen, this car has - much to Chevy's delight, I'm sure - lived up to the hype.
The Cruze boasts a lot of the same qualities of its predecessors, the Cavalier and the Cobalt, but more refined, more elegant; more of what you would expect from its competition like the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla.
The dash and seats of my test vehicle were clad in a mesh-like upholstery finish- called Sport Red - which I rather liked, while my husband - completely disliked. I believe he even said it looked like fishnet tights. But, despite their fishnet appearance, the relaxing front bucket seats, complemented by the six-way manual positioning and telescoping steering column, make it very easy for one to find their optimal cruising comfort.
Equipped with a USB port, satellite radio, a high-quality Pioneer® sound system and optional Bluetooth® wireless hands-free connectivity, the Cruze can make a long monotonous commute fun again. The sound system in this car can put a smile on just about anyone's face, while the ability to stay in touch with friends and family - or conduct business calls - on the road with the Bluetooth hands-free connectivity will leave you wondering how you can function without it. Trust me.
The 60/40 split backseat had quite a bit of room for our two oversized car seats, but provided little legroom behind the driver for my six-year-old, whose knees would hit the back of the seat. The LATCH system, for attaching the car seats, was easily accessible making for one of the least stress-inducing installations I can remember.
The trunk capacity - a cool 15-cubic feet (or 425 litres) - made for easy loading and un-loading of all our soccer coaching gear. A 6-person collapsible camping chair-like bench, blankets and soccer balls fit quite comfortably with absolutely no wrestling or cursing required.
The sporty aerodynamic exterior is similar to that of those high-end German-engineered imports. Its sleek, rich-looking body style gives a European vibe that many North American automakers have tried to mimic for years. The Cruze looks and feels a lot richer than the price tag lets on.
As for fuel efficiency, the Cruze breezes by many of its competitors. With an estimated highway fuel consumption rating of 4.6L/100km highway driving, the distance I would normally cover using a full tank of gas was done with just a little less than half a tank. With fuel prices peaking at record highs, fuel consumption is at the forefront of most consumers' minds these days and the Cruze definitely has stepped up.
I was a little disappointed in its acceleration; the test vehicle I had felt sluggish when I hit the gas, but when shifted into the manual overdrive (where you can shift gears but don't have a manual clutch), the Cruze felt as though it engaged a lot faster and with more power.
Overall, the Cruze reminds me of a reincarnated Cavalier but excels with class and style. The comfortable interior is spacious, inviting and very well executed. The exterior is shiny; it's an elegant, expensive-looking car that can definitely muscle its way to the top of the import-dominated compact car class while turning heads with its affordable price tag.
For more images of the Chevy Cruze, feel free to pop by my flickr. If you would like to have a vehicle reviewed at UrbanMoms, please feel free to email me at sam AT urbanmoms DOT ca