By on July 31, 2010

I was born in 1971 and started actively reading about cars in 1976, subscribing to Car and Driver and absorbing the work of men such as LJK Setright, Gordon Jennings, and Gordon Baxter. Those men were waiting for America to create a truly outstanding small car, one that could meet the Germans (and, later, the Japanese) on equal ground and beat them in a fair fight. More particularly, since General Motors was the acknowledged leader of the American automotive industry, they were waiting for GM to create the Great American Small Car.

Those men are gone now, as dead as Julius Caesar and not nearly as well-remembered. I am standing here, waiting in their stead, waiting patiently for the Great American Small Car, waiting for General Motors to fulfill the promise they’ve made to us for nearly fifty years now.

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a good car, although at least part of its goodness comes from the fact that it isn’t really that small. It’s well-positioned against the Civic and Corolla. I believe that it beats both of those cars in significant, measurable ways. This is what it is: a good car, a bold car, a car for which no purchaser need make an excuse or feel any concern. This is what it might be: great. That’s for the buyer to decide. This is what it is not: American.

You are looking at the Cruze’s not-so-secret weapon: an interior that represents a Cloverfield-sized leap past the competition. It’s part Cadillac CTS, part Buick LaCrosse, part Chevrolet Malibu, and unmistakably GM in the way the exterior does not quite manage to be. Forget the Civic or Corolla. From the touchable dash panels to the big, comfy seats, the Cruze is fitted-out to compare directly with Accords and Maximas. The interior is spacious. Visibility is outstanding. On the road, the Cruze is genuinely quiet — not from an overabundance of insulation, but from thoughtful design. The harsh, annoying frequencies disappear, allowing the stereo to shine even at low volume. Never before has a car of this size been so relaxing to run down the freeway for four adult passengers.

In this class, iPod integration matters more than raw power, and the Cruze shines here, offering fast, no-excuses access to my 138GB of music. The rest of the “HMI” doesn’t match up to Ford standards; in terms of usability and feature content, it’s closer to what you would expect to find in the Korean competition. Still, it’s at least in the ballpark with the class leaders.

Awww, look at the baby engine! This is the 1.4 Ecotec Turbo. GM is positioning this as the “upscale” engine in the range. It produces about the same horsepower as, but far more “area under the curve” than, the standard-equipment 1.8 normally-aspirated Ecotec. The ostensible reason for delaying the Cruze introduction in the United States was to make sure this engine was ready for prime time, although surely the massive expense of changing Lordstown from Cobalt to Cruze production also factored into that decision.

No matter. If you’d bought a Cruze last year with a 1.8, you would probably wish you had the 1.4 turbo instead. This is a sound, cheerful, strong-enough motor, producing a nice long plateau of torque from 1700rpm on and making it easy to drive on light throttle. In recognition of the fact that TTAC readers don’t necessarily care how quickly the big little Chevy can run down a two-lane, during my drive time I chose to focus on a different aspect of “performance”. Faced with a twisty, elevation-change-laden twenty miles of bad (meaning good) road, I gripped the wheel…

…drove the speed limit, maximized economy and smoothness, and was rewarded with an average of 36.8mpg. This wasn’t a freeway snooze drive; it was chock-full of marked 25mph switchbacks, big climbs, and plenty of descending, decreasing-radius stuff. Never did the Cruze feel out of breath despite the light throttle openings, and never did the engine feel inadequate.

The same cannot be said for the transmission. DSG and Powershift have made this torque-converter box obsolete in the class. While it offers a full six ratios compared to Toyota’s four, this is a transmission that is always in motion, always shifting, and always intruding on the experience. It should be junked, and soon. If you’re considering a Cruze, get the manual transmission. It wasn’t made available for us to drive, but it can’t be worse.

This new GM “world car” platform offers a “Z-link” rear torsion-beam suspension that seems to improve the so-called secondary ride a bit. This is a car that absorbs road imperfections very well, beating both the Civic and Corolla provided for comparison. That’s right: Chevrolet was confident enough to include two of the four heavy-hitters to the party. The Civic was a more enthusiastic vehicle, and far more fun to hustle along the back roads, but it cannot match the Cruze for features, space, fuel mileage, or interior ambiance. The Corolla has simply outlived its competitiveness, period. The Focus, had it been present, would have easily shown-up the Cruze on over-the-road pace and interface design but would have struggled with noise and interior quality perception. The Elantra would have been a tougher nut to crack, given that it is a massive improvement over its precedessor. Still, none of these cars can “waft” like the Cruze… and who would have thought that word would ever apply to a car that traces its spiritual lineage to the Chevette?

For drivers who are not particularly worried about over-the-road sportiness, the Cruze could very well be the current class leader, and it’s likely to hold that position at least until the next “Euro” Ford Focus arrives next year. For the first time in modern history, a Chevrolet compact car is legitimately the class of the field.

Unfortunately, it’s priced like the class of the field, too. The base car starts at $16,995 and features the 1.8 Ecotec coupled with a more-than-healthy dollop of airbags and other safety features. The top-of-the-line LTZ-RS rings the cash register for $23,300 or thereabouts and doesn’t have a navigation system at that price. Will cash have to be laid on the hood to move these cars?

The most interesting of the model variants is the mid-range “Eco”, which pairs the turbo 1.4 with a host of weight-saving and aero mods, including aerodynamic shutters behind the grille that close to optimize freeway fuel economy. Priced at $18,895, it is projected to clock 40mpg with the six-speed manual. I see no reason to disbelieve this claim. It may not be a Prius killer, but it takes the fight directly to the Civic Hybrid and carries the now-mandatory set of green-ish badges.

During the PR event in dreary Washington, DC, home of General Motors’ corrupt government owners and the mendacious lobbyists who pull their strings, we were continually reminded that the Cruze has been successfully sold in “sixty countries” so far. This is correct, and it’s troubling. To some degree, the Cruze is already old news upon its arrival here, the same way the Ford Fiesta has had a nice long run in Europe prior to visiting Ellis Island. Why?

The answer is simple: this is a Daewoo. My direct, repeated questions to GM personnel regarding the Cruze’s Korean ancestry were answered honestly but with perhaps too-scrupulous attention to detail. I was repeatedly told that “the architecture was engineered in Germany”, and I was repeatedly told about the “global nature” of the engineering, but the plain fact of the matter is that the Daewoo Lacetti was largely engineered, styled, and developed by Daewoo in Korea. It was then modified in some detail to become the Chevrolet Cruze. It’s a Korean car, and if it isn’t quite a Korean-market transplant like the Aveo, it’s very far from being a European design like the Ford Focus or VW Jetta.

The issue of American engineering for the Cruze hardly came up. In the modern era, GM seems to source its electronics in China, its major systems in Europe, and its brainpower in Korea. It’s smart business — TTAC readers know about China’s market and the limitless potential there — but for those of us who wanted an all-American small car to draw a line in the sand, there’s only disappointment.

The rest of you can buy a Cruze with a clear conscience. It’s built here, it’s feature-packed, it doesn’t lag behind the competition, and it’s likely to be a reliable, decent vehicle. That’s all this segment asks for. Anything else can be dismissed as the worthless dream of a wandering dreamer like myself, a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floor of silent seas, wishing for the day that General Motors shows us a great American small car.

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154 Comments on “Review: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze – Now With Comments!...”


  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Hey everybody,

    Somehow I “closed” comments for this article when I was editing it in the airport. I apologize. They’re back open. Kick me in the ass a bit, if you’re so inclined.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Well so much for my grand conspiracy about TTAC not allowing comments about an overall positive review of the new bread and butter car from the hated Government Motors.

      Puts tin foil hat back in closet.

    • 0 avatar
      tbp0701

      I just figured you were concerned that human voices wake us, and we drown. I’m a sucker for TSE references.

      I wonder how the Cruze compares to the Mazda3, however. If it wasn’t for the rust problems I’ve spotted, the Mazda would be my most likely candidate if I were shopping in this segment (short of finding a mythical unriced, well-maintained Prelude or Integra).

    • 0 avatar
      Zoom

      65+ comments, and nobody else has mentioned the Mazda3.

    • 0 avatar
      EChid

      As a Mazda 3 owner, the Cruze sounds like a much different car. The Mazda is harsh, and almost entirely tuned for sportiness. There is very little compliance in its ride, and the throttle and steering is very precise. For most people, its a bit too much of an enthusiests car IMO (myself included), keeping it out of the true mainstream market. In other words, I think two very different consumers will be looking at these two cars.

  • avatar
    mythicalprogrammer

    It’s ok looking, maybe it’ll grow on me, then again the Civic sedan is ugly to me but the coupe is good looking. That’s it, make a coupe version!

    The interior looks very very nice, only thing I don’t like is the weird V shape arrow center console thingy. It’s looks funky, clutter, and narrow lol.

    All it needs is Bobby Lee in the trunk, so whenever I shout out DaeWOO boounce, he’ll help it bounce(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5C4kPG2-1Q).

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I’m not a fan of the interior with the color combo in the photos, but it does look good in all balck or the red and black shots on the Chevy webpage.

      My worry about this car is if it is just competitive now, how is it gong to fare next year when we have an all new Focus, new Elantra, and new Civic for it to compete with.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve only been able to sit in both cars so far, but for me the Focus kills the Cruze.

      Cruze advantages: fabric on the IP and door panels

      Focus advantages: everything else, especially how it’s likely to handle

      Then again, the driver’s car doesn’t usually triumph in the marketplace, does it?

      The new Elantra certainly looks better than the current one. Refinement should be there. Handling, probably not.

      With the new Civic we’ll see if Honda has finally gotten its act together.

      Certainly looking forward to providing quick initial reliability stats on all of these cars. Which will suffer from first-year glitches? The Cruze shouldn’t, since it’s actually in its second year.

      The stats, when we have them:

      http://www.truedelta.com/car-reliability.php

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Michael,

      You’re willing to give the Ford the advantage on how it’s “likely” to handle? C’mon, that’s starting to sound like the old TTAC, where anything GM had to be hammered – if not in reality, at least in perception. Just so GM was hammered.

      Trying driving them both, first. Then decide where the handling is.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      Civic sedan is not ugly, but revolutionary. Perfect, if you ask me. (You didn’t, but I own one and must chime in.) Kind of Volvo-esque, and they have some gorgeous bodies. And I heard Honda is waiting until 2012 to release the new model so they can REALLY leapfrog the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Michael…
      I drove the Fiesta…it’s stupid slow.
      Other B&B suggested I not pan it for the horrible vibrating, but still…this was THE Fiesta on the lot.
      They should have tested it themselves before letting the consumer.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      SORRY MICHAEL!!!

      I should have read your reply more closely.
      I thought your said Fiesta, NOT Focus.

      You know I am not right.

      But the Focus has been so succesful in Europe and has such great power, I am surprised you haven’t had a fun day with it.

      Again, sorry.

  • avatar

    “While it offers a full six ratios compared to Toyota’s four, this is a transmission that is always in motion, always shifting, and always intruding on the experience.”

    Well, of course it is. How else you think you got your 36.8 mpg number? Might not do wonders for performance, but at least the fuel economy is there.

    And the interior.

    Looks GOOD.

    Now excuse me while I reminisce about the countless horrible iterations of the Cavalier and Cobalt interior.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    Thanks Bush. Thanks Obama. How stupid of me two years ago when I wanted GM to die the miserable wretched death it deserved. Now, after reading this, I know that it’s all been worth while. Gag! Even the pidgin spelling of this thing underscores our decline into Third World sub-mediocrity.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      If you want to go there, thank Eisenhower, Johnson and particularly Nixon for turning the US (and sadly Canadian) car market into the island it is today.

  • avatar
    stationwagon

    I really like this car, it has huge windows and a big interior but a small footprint, I like that. To me this would be a highway cruiser/ commuter vehicle. I like the interior it looks good. Though to be honest I hate the exterior I’ve always preferred hard-top coupes to cab-forward high belt line sedans. but Those aren’t combing back soon. I like that GM/Daewoo didn’t skimp out on windows, like Ford did on the Taurus, Or Chrysler on the 300.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Sounds like GM has built a compact Buick. That’s not a bad thing and will most likely appeal to the large number of Toyota buyers out there.

    Good to see the return of decent sized windows and good visibility.

  • avatar
    tced2

    A decent enough looking car. Engine good but the tranny? I am still wondering how GM went from being one of the top automatic transmission developers to “has-been”. Somewhere in the 80′s they quit developing trannies and just went on auto-pilot. It took a co-development effort (with Ford) to finally get the 6-speed FWD tranny out.
    I have also noted that every new GM model touts the fabulous overseas engineering. There seem to be very few models that originated domestically (pickups, Corvette).

  • avatar

    “but for those of us who wanted an all-American small car to draw a line in the sand, there’s only disappointment.”

    Well, that’s GLOBALIZATION FOR YA !

    Here’s my question…which car is “more American” the Fiesta or the Cruze? Frankly, If I ever had to choose in this segment I’d rather have the Fiesta due to MICROSOFT’S SYNC (not Ford’s) but, the Fiesta doesn’t have an arm rest for some reason.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Cruze has one-up – it’s made in Ohio. Fiesta is made in Mexico. The rest of the “American-ness” can be argued endlessly.
      Why does “globalization” always mean the work is done everywhere but America? Isn’t America on the “globe”?
      (Arm rest for Fiesta was probably omitted because of the cost-accountants. An arm rest can be obtained in the aftermarket – I suspect Ford dealers will be able to sell you one).

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Ironically the original Fiesta (I had a ’78 Sport) didn’t have a center armrest either – guess they thought it was a tradition or something.

    • 0 avatar

      tced

      THE FIESTA IS BUILT IN MEXICO? How ironic.

      Globalization implies a shrinking of social, economic and political zones into a “single world society” (i.e. One world Government).

      I’m just dissapointed that America’s best companies (apple, Microsoft, GM and Ford) can’t bring those jobs to Americans first, and then outsource the rest…

      Too bad Americans are UNDESIREABLE WORKERS which corporation see as too expensive and too unproductive compared to the SLAVE LABOR they are getting in Asia.

      I’m only 29 and already I’m trying to figure out how to retire cause eventually this countries economy is gonna be so messed up, financil sector employees such as myself will be layed off and not be able to find another job willing to pay as much.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      bigtruckseries,
      The Fiesta isn’t the competitor of the Cruze, the Focus is. The next Aveo will compete with the Fiesta. I am interested in seeing the next Focus and Aveo to see how each compete in their class as well.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      @bigtruck

      A financial services industry worker who not only fails to understand globalization, but equates it with a one world government? Trust me, Mr. Truck – if you get fired, economic sea changes won’t be responsible…

    • 0 avatar
      mythicalprogrammer

      Microsoft and Apple keeps the thinking jobs here actually, well most of it. The only problem is the lesser skill jobs are ship easily like manufacturer and such. It’s just how it is. Kinda like how we were nomadic, so hunter was where the job was, until agriculture come along then the economy was base on farmers which you can’t really out source that, then industrial revolution (manufacturers), now we’re in some sort of technological age. Each revolutions caused outsourcing and such, the only thing that’s keeping USA farm industry up is massive subsidies.

      It suck but if you got a job where some person from another country can do it easily, and get paid dirt cheap, then those companies going to out source.

      If you’re trying to retire you can try living frugal and invest in a nice nest egg. This is actually the best time to invest in stocks, a recession. Just sorta do your homework ^___^.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      tced

      THE FIESTA IS BUILT IN MEXICO? How ironic.

      So is the Fusion and it’s rebadges.

      In fact…even the terrible Flex and mediocre Edge/Lincoln Edge are built OUTSIDE of the US.

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      It’s been awhile since I’ve been to this site. For those who don’t know, I work for GM in the area where we design sheet metal. From that perspective I can say the Cruze is a globally designed car, Korea, Germany, and Warren, MI, USA.

      JB, thanks for taking the time to drive and review the Chevrolet Cruze. You wend your words as I imagine you winding a car down a road.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      @Christy. Hey Christy’s back! I thougth she just got fed up with us.

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      @educatordan No, I don’t get fed up; I do sometimes fall back and regroup! LOL EN’s editorial that was in the NYT might be next on my meanderings if he posted it here too :^>

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    there’s this site that deliberated closes comments on reviews from a particular manufacturer (i guess this is a priviso they have on borrowing press cars)

    i thought GM were getting precious for a second there

    this review is probably one of the few positives ones i’ve seen, moreso surprising because Jack isn’t the target audience

    surprising that the engine transforms the car

    typical that the gearbox ‘ticks the boxes’ for the number of ratios but is patently worthless (or maybe jack is working it too hard?)

    i hear that a new hatchback body will be forthcoming soon?

    i think this is a good car but typical of GM to require one complete model year before the definitive model comes out

    that 1.8 (and even 1.6!) – what were they thinking?

  • avatar
    murphysamber

    Fine review. But its missing that Baruth-esque sizzle. Can you powerslide it through an entire school zone on a rainy day?

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Hmmmm….

    The ‘wafting’ thoughts are what get me. Over 90% of the average driver’s time is spent cruising in an A to B fashion with a glorified living room, radio, and a few plastic doo-hickeys.

    I think this car will appeal to these folks. GM is actually playing a more conservative game style-wise and it should be able to pay off. A lot of folks reject GM designs for simply being ‘different’ even though the look is far better than certain more popular competitors. Observe the Pontiac G8 vs. Acura and Hyundai. With the so-called right badge that vehicle would have been a grand slam.

    Fits are too small for most American tastes.

    Civics look too much like a Star Trek module.

    Corollas look like melted jellybeans.

    Fiestas are going to have some issues early on with folks who just don’t like hatchbacks.

    Elantra will be a strong competitor. But the interior of the Cruze may likely be better.

    Yaris has a more global focus. It’s too small, cheap and boring for most Americans.

    Versa… time will tell. If it can hold the line on pricing all of the vehicles mentioned above will have sales issues. A well outfitted car in the 13k to 14k range is going to wreak havoc on the sales of all these competitors. Given the Sentra’s home in the Corolla/Civic territory, I would be very surprised to see the Versa move up on the pricing ledger. The $9995 halo car for them has paid big dividends and I don’t see that strategy changing in the long run.

    The Cruze has a chance. But the price will need to come down and GM has to follow through on customer issues stat.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Fiesta Yaris and Versa are all smaller than this. They compete with the Aveo’s and Fits. Civic, Collora, Elantra, Sentra and Focus are the competition here.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      The only thing wrong with the Versa that I have observed is that they all seem to lose their hubcaps at some point. Or is that a “look” I’m not getting.

      I loved the Cruze at a customer clinic I was at awhile back, but my current hatred for GM [and I\'ve owned nothing but as my main drive for the past 20 years],precludes my ever buying one, new or otherwise. Recent events,TTAC and personal experience have all combined to sour me on anything from GM for the time being.

      But then again I wasn’t that impressed with Saint Hyundai Elantra when I drove it and found that having just completed a 1400 mile trip in an 02 Focus [34,000 miles on the odo], with the exception of road noise and a sort of wimpy engine, was a solid ride still. And better than the 2010 Hyundai [same odo mileage] I rented in most all areas. Not bad for an 8 year old car.

      The Cobalt was a pretty good effort for GM when it came out. Like others have suggested, let’s see what GM does to keep it current over the next 5 years besides changing color availability.

      I’m still not buying from GM, however

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      Small? Anecdote from two 6′ 7″ GM engineers who work in the body shop in Lordstown: They drove from Lordstown, Ohio to Warren, MI comfortably in their company Chevy Cruze, about 3.5 hours.

  • avatar
    rwb

    Sounds great. Unfortunately, in my experience the folks looking in this segment are those most likely to have a negative knee-jerk reaction to an American badge. Put into the mix the Koreans’ rapidly improving public perception of their quality, and this may become the right car at the wrong time. I’ll be watching to see if it can match pace with a sprinting Hyundai.

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      If they want Korean, call it Korean. If they want a German car, call it German. If they want American, call it American. It truly is a global car, designed on at least three continents and built on at least two that I know of – I don’t keep track of every build location. I haven’t driven it yet, but crawled inside all four seats. IMO, it would be comfortable commuting long distances or running errands.

  • avatar
    shaker

    It’s just too expensive -Hyundai’s new Elantra (Avante?) will eat its lunch.

    That said, at least those who would gladly pay a premium for an American-built car have a more contemporary choice than the rotten Cobalt…

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      The Cruze has a lot of standard equipment, but that does make it pricey. It will be interesting to see the new pricing of the Elantra. I am not sure it will be much less than the Cruze, at least with comparable features are added.

  • avatar
    vww12

    Yeah, closed comments all night. Way to go, Jack.

    Anyway, a very balanced article. Now I know what car to rent at Hertz when a Mazda 626 is not avaiable.

    But how come you didn’t blast them for totally, completely and shamelessly purloining the Jetta tail lights? Used to be the Koreans and Japs aped the US and Euro designs, has it come down to Government Motors does the same cheap thing and no one says anything?

  • avatar
    JimC

    No navigation system? That’s OK, my phone includes that so I wouldn’t want to pay for a second one in a car.

    The 6 speed auto hunts between gears. Am I the only one who wonders if one reason might be that it has too many gears? (Fourth, no, fifth, no, fourth, no, fifth…)

    The formula for this car made me laugh a bit. GM gave up on on engineering their own small cars in-house a long time ago (pragmatic or maybe even a good move), but it seems like this time they’re much less shy to admit that.

    I normally despise GM for their track record in small cars, but I’ll give them that they might have come up with a good one this time. I’m not holding my breath (that track record…) but this one looks promising.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      And the technological horse-race of navigation systems is swift. Built-in navigation systems tend to become “old fashioned” rather quickly – better quality screens, better routing algorithms, better information come along rather quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      I am not sure what you mean by GM gave up on engineering its small cars, because I believe that it was GM that engineered this car. GM is a global company.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      What would the difference be between Honda (et al) designing and engineering cars in the US and GM designing theirs in Korea?

      Besides, with the ascendency of Hyundai/Kia, the market seems to like (or at least doesn’t find it objectionable) Korean engineering. Why GM leverage it’s acquisitions across the globe?

      EDIT: Why wouldn’t GM leverage it’s acquisitions capabilities across the globe?

    • 0 avatar
      JimC

      I meant that historically, GM had three small-car strategies:

      Simply not bothering to properly engineer their own small cars (Vega, Citation-Omega-Skylark-Phoenix, Cavalier-Sunbird-Skyhawk-Firenza-Cimmaron, early Saturns). Hope customers don’t care and keep on buying GMs.

      Mooch other companies’ small cars, tell people they are GM cars (captive imports like the Corolla-Nova, Sprint, Tracker, Aveo). Hope customers don’t care and keep on buying GMs.

      Try to fool the GM hating market segment into buying GM products. Either create either a whole new brick and mortar company (Saturn experiment) or create a fake brand to re-sell somebody else’ cars (Geo). Hope customers don’t care and keep on buying GMs.

      This is a fourth strategy- get somebody else to develop the car (globalization, not necessarily a good or bad thing), call it a GM, but be forthright about the whole story.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @JimC: Granted, GM doesn’t have a good track record with the domestically designed compacts in the last 30 or so years, but I fail to see a difference between this and any other compact who’s engineering is sourced internationally, which would probably be the vast majority of the cars on the road today.

      I would agree that the marketing has been less than stellar, especially the spectacular failure that Saturn became. Additionally, I would say that the cars had been engineered properly, but were cheapened by cost accountants and other factors.

      I remember reading somewhere a while back it was noted by GM that the Cobalt (Delta I) was going to be the last of the US design of small cars. It seems the decision had been made to source that kind of engineering to Daewoo or Opel instead, and leave the trucks up to the US engineering teams.

      Back on point, I haven’t seen anywhere GM is hiding the fact that the car was designed by Daewoo, it has been mentioned constantly in just about every review of the car, including this one. More specifically, GM has owned Daewoo for a number of years now, it is GM, as much as Opel is GM or Holden is GM. I don’t see any subterfuge here.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I can understand GM not wanting to trumpet the fact that this is a rebadged Daewoo in their marketing materials. Most Americans still have a very poor recollection of Daewoo back when they briefly entered the US market as their own brand years back. I seem to remember plenty of ‘buy one get one free’ sales going on towards the end of the brand here. I’m sure that people also associated Daewoo with cheap crappy TVs from Best Buy didn’t help either.

      That being said, I’m sure Daewoo has improved just as Hyundai and Kia have in the intervening years. There is no reason that a good car can’t be made or designed in South Korea.

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      GM designs its vehicles globally, which means that almost every vehicle on the road today will have had at least two continents that had input to the final design. Purchasing started the globalization in the mid 1990′s. Engineering has been collaborating worldwide for over ten years and I and others have personally attended enough 5:30 AM EDT video conferences and 9:00 PM phone conferences that we wonder what shift we are working. I guess if you don’t work here it would seem confusing where a car is designed. Now that I think about, sometimes it gets confusing for us too! LOL

  • avatar
    mcs

    What remains to be seen is how GM will respond when the new Elantra, next generation Civic, and Corolla hit the market. How soon will they update/replace this car, or will they try to keep selling it for the next decade.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Good review. I’m somewhat shocked that a tall guy (like Jack) would complement the interior and controls on a GM small car. Props to GM for sweating the details. The Civic falls far short for tall people.

    If you’d bought a Cruze last year with a 1.8, you would probably wish you had the 1.4 turbo instead.

    GM products are already a warranty risk. I’d steer clear of GM turbos for a long term keeper.

    Say what you want about the Corolla. But I’d wager a paycheck that in 2020 the ratio of the percent of 2010 vehicles still on the road will be 2:1 in favor of the Corolla over the Cruz.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. K

      ihatetrees said:

      “GM products are already a warranty risk. I’d steer clear of GM turbos for a long term keeper.

      Say what you want about the Corolla. But I’d wager a paycheck that in 2020 the ratio of the percent of 2010 vehicles still on the road will be 2:1 in favor of the Corolla over the Cruz.”

      Why do you find GM a warranty risk? You think they will go under again? I think not, China will keep the small US operation going, No Problem!

      Small GM Turbos – yeah might be an issue, but no more then any other small turbo – in this price range I would think many times about a turbo – oil changes, spool down and WOT from a cold start are all foreign concepts for the demographic thise cars are sold to – although the computer might prevent boast when the engine is cold…

      2:1 for corollas in long term life? Different drivers different demographic.

      The same driver, performing manufacturers suggested work on each car would I think make the ratio 90 or 95 Cruzes to 100 Corollas, and as GM gains real world knowledge they will close the gap in the 2013 model.

      Dont forget a GM vehicle will run badly long after others will no longer run

  • avatar
    educatordan

    “Will cash have to be laid on the hood to move these cars?”

    Yes. Remember what you told us Jack about how Ford suffered in the change over from Tempo to Contour?

    Now GM should worry about that fact that based on reviews alone and interiors and value per dollar, I’d take a Cruze over a Regal any day (and I’m a natural fan of Buick.)

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      The Contour was a terrible car. With the right marketing, I think a name change can be over come, but the car has to be there.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @educatordan:

      Really? I’m surprised. The Regal has been growing on me, and I have a feeling that the Epilsons are going to be nicer vehicles than the Deltas.

      Speaking of the Epsilons, it isn’t too hard to get $4K off MSRP on a new Malibu ($3K factory incentives right now). That means the Cruze is probably going to need incentives to avoid slamming into the mid-sizer.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Steven02,

      You’ve obviously never driven a base model (Ztec motor, 5-speed, wind up windows, cruise, and an AM/FM cassette). The car I just described is my sister-in-law’s. It’s a hoot on the back roads. Makes me wonder what it’d be like with sway bars and bigger wheels and tyres.

      Buying the cheap Contour got your a for-real Mondeo. One you started adding in the options, it became a boring American car with too little room in the back seat.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      @ajla et al. I was refering to the way the Contour’s price jumped over the Tempo’s price. It was severe sticker shock for most loyal customers and still did little to lure away import customers. This is what I fear happening with the Cruze.

      I simply think, Ajla, that an extremely nice loaded turbo Cruze is going to infringe on the Regal’s market, especially with a high grade interior. This revew was raving about the get interior room and with leather and all… well you see my point. Now if the Cruze causes GM to up it’s game in regards to everything else, then god bless em, but history does not give me hope for that.

      Re: Epsilon & W-platform: Loaded Cruze is going to bump the price point of a base Impala and infringe on Malibu territory, I know which vehicle I’d rather drive day to day (Cruze or Malibu) but which one is the sales king? (Big old soft Impala.)

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @educatordan:

      I think you are definitely onto something with the “sticker shock” seeing as most Cobalts seem to sell sub $15K.

      GM must be aiming for converts (or betting on high gas prices) with the Cruze because I don’t see many GM traditionalists going for the idea of a high-end small car from Chevrolet. Especially not one that has price overlap with Impala, Equinox, Malibu, Camaro LS, and lower-level Silverados. But maybe I’m just projecting here.

      As far as Cruze versus Regal goes, I do think the Regal is about $3K over-priced, but I’d personally rather spend $27K on the Regal than buy a Cruze for $24K. Of course, I haven’t driven a Cruze yet.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Syke,
      How fun a car is to drive doesn’t really mean success. Almost everything I have read about the Contour is how it fell apart. Honestly, I was just getting my license a little after they came out, but never drove one.

  • avatar
    JMII

    The interior looks GREAT and (to me) this has been GM’s low spot for the last 10 years. The dash and door panels of my father’s Trail Blazer looks like a set of gray Duplo blocks. It has panel gaps large enough to lose a #2 pencil in!

    Along with Ford’s Ecoboost the “eco”-ness of turbo engines is a welcome sign of using current technology to gain mpg without sacrificing performance. I’ve owned two boosted cars: an Eclipse and a Passat – both managed 30 mpg while out accelerating everything in their size/price class. Plus you are a computer chip away from another 40 hp. Once you get a taste for the smooth, flat torque curve a turbo offers everything thing else (especially Honda VTEC) feels like a slug stuck in quick sand.

    Given the standard red-tag sale at your local Chevy tent-event I bet the street prices will be a good $2K less, if so the Cruze becomes a real option. Because we all know that price is what talks in this category of vehicles.

    As for the tranny – too bad they didn’t put paddle shifters on the wheel. American’s have proven they are too lazy to change gears themselves if it requires a third pedal. A six speed slush box combined with a torque-y turbo are bound to create hunting issues in an auto.

  • avatar
    MikeInCanada

    This appears to be the finest rental car GM has ever made. Bravo!

    I look forward to seeing the Avis lot at Laguardia stocked to the brim with this latest model by the end of the year. My rental experience will be more then satisfactory!

    What? Buy one for myself or family? Only if the local Honda or Hyundai dealer does something to really piss me off.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Sounds like another dummy who will still buy the Honda or Hyundai, even if the Chevy turns out to be the better car. Enjoy wasting your money.

    • 0 avatar
      mhadi

      Tone it down Syke, and keep your snide remarks to yourself if you have nothing constructive to say.

      Act like an adult, or get out of here.

    • 0 avatar
      mythicalprogrammer

      Yah, that’s the problem. GM have to rebuild their reputation for this segment from scratch and battle their years of crappy sedan models with bin parts and what not.

      Good luck, GM!

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      mhadi,
      What was so glorious about what MikeInCanada said? Was there anything constructive? Does one snide comment not deserve another?

    • 0 avatar
      MikeInCanada

      Hey Gang –

      It’s a legit point – albeit said in a sarcastic way. Love it or hate it the bottom line is, well, the bottom line – this is going to be a profit challenged car. From past experiences we all know what happens – hello rental fleets – goodbye resale value and positive consumer perceptions.

      Remember the original plan was for the North American Cruze’s to be built in Korea. It was political pressure that forced the change.

      Since when has it been a cost beneficial idea to move heavy industrial production from Asia to Ohio?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Just because it is made in Ohio doesn’t mean that it can’t be profitable. Corollas were made in California (at least were). Where they profitable? But, I can make it an even better comparison. The Honda Civic is made in Ohio. Is it profitable?

    • 0 avatar
      MikeInCanada

      I’m not saying that manufacturing the Cruze in Ohio is inherently unprofitable, rather there must have been a pretty good reason for it not to be GM’s first choice.

      As for the Honda analogy I suspect that it is profitable for them to make cars there. It’s where my Acura TL came from.

      So, with that on mind what might be a significant difference a GM factory in the US and a Honda factory located nearby?

    • 0 avatar
      Wagen

      Regarding seeing these on rental lots, I hope Avis doesn’t jump on the bandwagon of class creep and classify this as a midsize as Hertz has the Corolla. For the current GM lineup, they should be classified as such: econdomy: Aveo, compact: Cruze, mid: Malibu/Regal, full: Lacrosse/Impala(wish it would die or be replaced with the Australian Caprice), premium: Lucerne, luxury: DTS.

  • avatar
    alfred p. sloan

    That interior sure is sweet.

    wait until de-contenting ruins it.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    $16,995 for the base car? With a few thousand on the hood and a better automatic, someone looking at a Yaris or Fit (let alone Corolla or Civic) could easily be swayed to buy a Cruze instead. Otherwise, meh.

    What I’m most curious about is if decent ‘domestic’ small cars like the Cruze and Fiesta are costing this much using ‘cheap’ overseas engineering, how much would they have cost if they’d been designed and engineered domestically?

    Apparently, the Kia Rio/Hyundai Accent bottom-feeder market has been entirely abandoned not only by the Japanese but by the domestic manufacturers, as well.

  • avatar

    I think when the dust clears a hundred years from now the car that will be remembered as the best-ever small American-by-Americans car will be the original Neon. The interior was cheap and you could dent the front quarters by looking at them hard, but it was still a lot of car for the money.

  • avatar
    ott

    BRING ON THE SS VERSION!!!

  • avatar
    jakooo

    Lacetti, the “reasonably priced” car. Top Gear certainly knows this car. Or is it the previous model. If it really gets 36 mpg, bring it on. The problem is US manufacturers don’t bring high mileage cars to this country. The Fiesta can get 50+ in Europe. Same with many other models. They have high mileage diesels and small displacement gas engines. I would go for a 50 or 60 mpg car from Europe, but 30-40 is hardly worth the penalty of price and pickup.

  • avatar
    SomeDude

    “The Elantra would have been a tougher nut to crack, given that it is a massive improvement over its precedessor (sic)…”

    Let’s see, but I think them Hyundai’s ‘new image’ cars are overrated. I drove the new Sonata once and was left completely unimpressed. It felt like it was built with the Camry in mind, if anything. Unless the upcoming Elantra is really a vast improvement over the current generation, I wouldn’t be expecting a big surprise here.

  • avatar

    Jack, per Twitter, I’m glad you got over the dearth of illustrious ladies in DC to scribe this review.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’ve been waiting to see some more independent reviews of the Cruze as it becomes more widely available, so thanks to Jack for his efforts.

    If I suddenly needed to replace our “good car” this style/size of car would be high up on my list as a replacement. Additionally, once my kids get out of college, I would imagine this would be a good first car to recommend to/co-sign with them.

    It sounds like it’s a nice little package, targeted for the mainstream compact car buyer. I have to imagine that there’s going to be something beyond the LTZ/RS level, which I would be interested in, especially once our current “good car” enters it’s dotage. By then we should be true “empty nesters” and I won’t need a huge sedan as much as we did in the past. Additionally, who knows where fuel prices will be in 3 to 5 years…

    Between this and the upcoming Buick “Astra”, it will be a very interesting period of releases in the next couple of years.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Dan Neil’s auto column in today’s Wall Street Journal was entitled “Brand-New and Almost Out of Date”. Basically he liked the Cruze quite a bit, but was bitching like mad that GM was only beating out the current Civic, and not the next generation model.

      Not that he’s had a chance to see, or drive, the next generation Civic. For that matter, I don’t think anyone outside of Honda development engineers have.

      His review has been fairly typical: “A very nice car, but I’m going to pillory the daylights out of the effort because it’s too conservative in my expectations.” Which only goes to show that the average car reviewer, having driven way too many neat toys, has no clue as to the expectations of the clientele for this model.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Given recent Honda history, there is a good chance that the next Civic will be less desirable than the current one is.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Given recent Honda history, there is a good chance that the next Civic will be less desirable than the current one is.

      That’s more to do with enthusiasts’ desires than the market. Most recent Honda has been very good cars, just not the cars that gearheads wish they were.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    So it’s the new Lacetti, huh? Wonder if Top Gear will offer the new version as their “reasonably priced car” for glitterati to thrash on the airport-cum-racetrack??

  • avatar
    don1967

    The old Cavaliers were craptacular in just about every way, but at least they were fixable, and the simplistic power trains reasonably durable. Can we expect the same from a small, turbocharged engine matched to a busy 6-speed automatic?

    Just wondering if the fuel savings and eco-friendliness will turn out to be an illusion, when these cars become expensive boat anchors five years down the road. There is more to the equation than what comes out the tailpipe.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Hunh. Robert Cray, eh? You do know he graduated from high school the year you were born? He was in my class, funny, I used to jam with guys he used to jam with, but of course, ne’er the twain shall meet. I’m not surprised you like him what with the whole guitar collection. Oh well, nice to know Daewoo can make a world class car. I am married to a woman who would never drive anything not built in Germany, so I don’t have to think about it. Hope we (taxpayers) make some money off the thing.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Reality check!

    The Chevrolet Vega and GM X-car introductions were preceded by similar hype. The Vega was produced in the same factory! Disappointed, mistreated owners know how they worked out.

    Daewoo briefly sold cars in Canada, suddenly shut down, and abandoned dealers and customers. Craptastic inadequately characterizes its wares. Owners had wet dreams about Lada and Yugo engineering, craftsmanship and customer care.

    Prudent buyers avoid first year models. The Cruze is an unknown car from two failed companies both infamous for bean counter management, inept engineering, haphazard quality, and shortchanging customers. I would stay far, far away for two or three years. It will take at least that long to see if GM and the Cruze survive.

  • avatar
    drifter

    During the PR event in dreary Washington, DC, home of General Motors’ corrupt government owners…
    Baruth, are you registered teabagger now?

    wishing for the day that General Motors shows us a great American small car
    Hoping things would be better when Palin-Plumber will be elected 2012

  • avatar

    I’m wondering about the cognitive dissonance experienced by New York Times readers brought to TTAC by Ed’s Op-Ed slamming the Volt and GM, now having arrived at the site to find a generally positive review of the Cruze.

    Jack’s positive impression of the Cruze’s interior shouldn’t be surprising.

    I’d say that in the years immediately before Detroit melted down in 2008, GM and Ford had already gotten religion about interior design and features as being a way of leapfrogging over the competition. While exterior styling is sexy, the driving experience takes place inside the car. Make the interior impressive and you go a long way towards creating a positive feeling about the car for the owner. Good design, and quality materials and switchgear create positive feelings that are almost subconscious.

    Switchgear quality cannot be underestimated in terms of perceptions of quality. Tactile things can be very powerful.

    My day job is running a small machine embroidery shop. I just spent the last month troubleshooting a problem with my embroidery machine, which stopped stitching in the middle of a job, and wouldn’t reboot. What my technician thought was a problem with the clock circuit on the CPU board (resulting in about $200 in shipping costs sending the motherboard, program board, and motor control board back and forth from Detroit to Paramus – all working fine for him but not for me), turned out, after some headscratching and basic troubleshooting by me, to be a bad remote start/stop switch. That switch gets a lot of use because it’s often more convenient to use than the main keyboard switch.

    After thousands of uses, the pivot on the rocker switch ovaled out and the switch developed an internal short. As a quick fix I went around the corner to Radio Shack and though they didn’t have a SPDT momentary-off-momentary rocker switch, they did have a DPDT toggle MOM switch that would work.

    The new switch works fine. However, it feels cheap. In fact it feels more spindly than the worn out switch that I replaced. When I get the chance I’ll replace the toggle switch with a proper replacement made by AMP or another quality mfg.

    At GM, Bob Lutz was a big advocate of the improved interior designs in their recent new offerings. One of his pet projects, the Pontiac Solstice, was hamstrung by a poor interior and since then there’s been a steady progression in GM’s interiors: Aura, Malibu, CTS, and now the Cruze.

    At Ford, Alan Mullaly, who had headed the team that designed Boeing’s first all digital flight deck, has been behind Ford’s embrace of human interface engineering.

    At Chrysler, much of their ballyhooed flood of new “product” has to do with refreshening and upgrading interiors that were regarded as cheap looking.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      The quality of Radio Shack electronic hobbyist parts has gotten pretty abysmal (especially switches), and has been relegated to a set of drawers in a corner of the store (instead of a whole wall on one side of the store). Radio Shack is pretty much a phone/gadget store, barely hanging on against the competition.

      I usually order electronics parts online from DigiKey if I have time to wait for shipping.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem with buying individual components from Digikey is that you end up spending as much or more for shipping as you do on the parts. Once upon a time, when most consumer goods were repairable and kids could learn mechanics and electronics, there were electronics hobbyist stores. Now the entire Detroit area has only two, and they’re both at least 25 minutes by car from here.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Good point — I always try to bundle parts orders, or order extras of common parts – not economical at all, but it is what it is.

      I worked part-time at a Radio Shack in the early 70′s; it was like Disneyland for the electronics hobbyist, and partially responsible for my career in electronics. Now, it’s sites like Make and Digi-Key.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Since this is a new name plate and GM has never been good at building compact cars, I will consider a 2021 Cruze, if by that year the review of the 2011 Cruze as a pre-owned car is good.

    To be honest, as is, even without considering the failed past of GM, I would still pick the Civic over this. I just can’t get over the slit above the bow-tie.

    If I want to try something new and other than Honda, the Kia Forte looks much better than this.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    Just my personal preference, I think I would prefer a Versa. I like the idea that I can get a nav system with XM Nav Traffic as an option. There is also a USB port for iPod use. The price is less than the Cruze for these options. I also prefer an auto trans as opposed to a DSG, even though the Versa is only a 4 speed. The Cruze does seem to have a nicer interior!

  • avatar

    About 2 month ago, on a visit to Israel, I rented a car from Avis, segment “d” was full of compacts, all with 1.6 liter engine, so you have to decide on looks if you don’t know some of the cars (not sold in the US).
    When I saw the Cruze, I thought to myself, wow, so much car for a “d” segment?, lets try it.
    And…..for 10 days I was trying to figure out what went wrong, I’m not talking about the anemic engine, the car felt like another Cobalt or any other low price GM rental, why put 6 speed AT if the car can use only 5 unless you are going downhill?
    Why can’t I figure out how to operate the radio and choose to leave it off most of the time?
    This was not a great car, it’s just another GM, when will they learn?
    From Ford maybe?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      The American spec with the 1.4T is a lot different. I also believe the non US Spec versions have a 1.6L as the base engine instead of the 1.8L engine. So, in other countries, these cars perform terribly, like many other cars who pay high gas prices.

  • avatar

    W.T.F? A POSITIVE REVIEW ON A GM CAR??!!!??! -HERE????????????
    Erm,… Jack, you’re gonna have to step into my office here for a sec, ’cause YOU’RE FU*&IN’ FIRED!

    .
    At least you picked 1 or 2 nits, but not nearly as many as I expected. It does feel like you took it a little easy on this Reasonably-Priced car.

    .
    This, though it’s surely upgraded in looks for a GM car, will still get Mullered by the design of the ’12 Focus Sedan, New Kia Optima, and the Hyundai Avante.
    .
    +Still not buying a GM car, much less a Turbo GM car (bets on it grenading faster than a Corrado G60). ‘How will GM recover if we don’t buy them?’, you ask. By force-feeding them to Bulgarians, AIG employees and Investment Bankers, of course.

    .
    @murphysamber: I agree.
    Whither the Kentucky prostitutes, Sunoco 260s and tactical nukes?

  • avatar
    topgun

    The Cruze has already been on sale in India (and a bunch of other markets) for several months now. The main engine option on sale there is the 2.0 liter diesel version which, by the way, has been selling like hot cakes (or samosas!). I drove one there a few months back when I was visiting and found out why. Its so refined, smooth and quiet that only a look at the tacho gives any indication that there is an oilburner inside. The interior was very cosseting with a smartly designed IP. I remember thinking if GM would be bold enough to introduce the diesel version as well in the US. I guess not.. Sigh!

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    It looks good outside, though I’m not a big fan of Chevy’s horizontal split. Now that Pontiac is gone, can’t Chevy have the rights to vertically split grills?

    It looks good inside too – far better than I’d ever have guessed for a GM small car.

    I like the “wafting” comment. I imagine there are many buyers like me who are no longer interested in slaloming. If it feels like a small Buick, so much the better.

    I’d definitely take this for a test drive before buying any car in this segment.

    I’d want to steer clear of the turbo though.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Dear Mr. Baruth,
    Wake up! You’ve missed the last 35 years. GM is no longer a US-based corporation building cars in each country for its own market, as it was in 1976, the last time you apparently checked in. The world has changed significantly. GM is now – and has been for some time – an international corporation whose headquarters are in the USA. Now, it’s true there are some local companies designing, engineering and producing cars primarily in their own market. But these are mostly protected players in Japan and Korea (Mazda, Mitsu, Hyundai, Kia, and even to a large extent Honda and Nissan). It would behoove you to consider how much Ford, VW and Toyota design and engineer in a variety of countries. You’d be shocked, I’m sure. So, welcome to 2010, Mr. Baruth, and watch as GM operates like the other big boys, pulling its international talents together to design, engineer and build a small car for us Americans. Get past that, and you might even feel good about liking the Cruze.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC

      I would feel better about liking any GM car if GM hadn’t extorted billions of dollars, oops, “taken out bridge loans…”

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Jim C,
      Where do you get “extortion” from what happened with the bailout? A beggar really isn’t in a position to extort much from anyone. GM (and Chrysler) made its case and the government decided to step in rather than let either company go C7 with the resulting cataclysm in the supply chain. We can argue the merits of that intervention all day, but if this car and other offerings represent the long overdue turning of a page at GM, then I will feel more positive about it.

      I for one lament the loss of manufacturing in the U.S.. For that reason alone they couldn’t let GM and/or Chrysler go under.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC

      Jimal, we should probably agree to disagree about extortion/bailout. I prefer the former term because the beggar’s justification revolved around being “too big to fail.” However, I do understand your point of view regarding adverse side effects throughout the rest of the economy.

    • 0 avatar

      @Jimal: I think he gets “extortion” from not being a 1-dimensional thinker.

      Because if you Really are likening GM/Chrysler to homeless people in US cities, or one of millions of beggars in ex: India or North Africa, you’ve overlooked just about everything;
      Political Capital for example being one of the chief assets in those “beggars” pockets, not to mention a ton of other things.

      If this site organized by Categories or Tags, I’d point you to the first bailout article, because you Also must be new here. But here’s just one post:
      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/editorial-why-the-gmcerberuschrysler-bailout-is-bad-for-taxpayers-and-doomed-to-fail-without-the-benefits-of-a-chapter-11-filing-for-both-chrysler-and-gm/

      .
      .
      +Also, the First Bush, Next Obama bailout of the automakers was probably in many respects, a Stall-Tactic.

      The Housing Market had crashed, the Financial System was crashing & so frozen it was in danger of no longer working and killing the economy.

      What we didn’t need was a [bigger] 3rd side to the existing collapse, so any bailout of these defective cultures might be nothing more than Punting the ball instead of going for the extra point. I’m sure that guys like Rattner agree.

      More than 1 person here has said, despite all their non-beggar assets, they shouldn’t have been bailed out and that post-bailout-GM will just end up going BK 1x maybe 2x again before they just liquidate in Ch7.

      .
      And the government initially LAUGHED at GM’s going forward plans and told them to redo their homework and hand it in again.
      Since (iirc) Rattner also said, ~”We reviewed their books and this was clearly the worst-run finance department I’ve ever seen in my life.” I’m sure there was no shortage of laughter there, too. -And no such thing as, GM/Chry “making their case” with any actual effect happened.

      .
      If we lose [all] manufacturing here, we can thank stupid management and anti-productive, overstaffed, overpaid/benefitted, entitlement-minded, crappy Unions of the auto sector.
      -(in-part).
      -It’s not some 1-dimensional, whiny liberal soap-opera where you only look at 1 thing and then bemoan that, willfully ignoring all the other ‘whys’; in this case, the manufacturers themselves are the ones who killed manufacturing.
      I have seen the enemy and the enemy is us.

      .
      No. Wait; nobody in Detroit would be honest enough to admit that…

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      @willman. This part of the strand is kind off topic in my book, but your appraisal of the situatation is the best and most concise I’ve seen. None of this is one dimensional. It reminds me of an old one liner from “The Golden Girls” where Sophia comments: “Communists, I hate communists!” Dorthy says, “Of course you do Ma, you were raised Facist.”

    • 0 avatar

      @educatordan: Thank you!
      +Excellent & ironic quote, btw.

      .
      …Just don’t mention The Golden Girls, though. If I start thinking about Bea Arthur, I’m just eventually going to have to change my pants.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      @willman,
      No I am not literally comparing GM or Chrysler to the homeless, but I’m sure you know that. If you search you will also know that I’ve been here a while, which doesn’t mean I subscribe to the perspective here. I read this and the other editorials that Robert posted on behalf of the anonymous bankruptcy lawyer when they were posted. That unnamed lawyer rightfully concluded that GM and Chrysler should file C11, which they ultimately did. Did they get a sweet deal and have their bankruptcies fast tracked? Yes, but even with the sweet deal I’m far more outraged by the bailout of the financial sector, which was done with virtually no controls and without the people most responsible for the economic meltdown feeling an ounce of pain for their ineptitude, than I am with the bailout for the auto sector.

      Back to the subject at hand, do you suggest that GM and/or Chrysler would have survived without the government intervention or are you just upset that they have? In in the worst case scenario that they are going to go belly up a few years down the road, I do subscribe to the idea that if this is merely a stalling tactic for for the inevitable failure of either company that to have it happen when the economy is (hopefully) in a better position to absorb the massive job losses that would occur than if GM or Chrysler had gone C7 in 2008. I think those failures would have cost us far more than what the bailout cost.

      I’m also naive enough to believe that both companies hit rock bottom, had their “come to Jesus” moment and are moving in the right direction.

  • avatar
    Deaks2

    That interior colour combination is atrocious. That being said, I sat in a pre-production model at the 2010 Montreal auto show and it seemed to have some good quality plastics.

    However, my wife and I recently had the pleasure of renting a 1.25l EU Fiesta in Spain, and the interior was just as good in this stripper rental model as in the Cruze. I do believe that the USDM Fiesta and Focus will handily beat the Cruze on interior quality.

    Also, it is important to note that I recognize that this car is not marketed to me. I don’t see a GM product (barring a Corvette) in my future, however, their new products will be a nice upgrade from the Chrysler’s I keep on getting at airport rental locations… There is a special place in hell reserved for the development team of the current Sebring/Avenger…

  • avatar

    Holy cow, I think GM listened to me! Somewhere on the Internet, I commented on the Korean domestic version if the Cruze. I said that it was a good car for a great price and that’s why I didn’t buy it; I wanted a great car at a good price. Based on Jack’s review, it seems like that’s what the Cruze has become. Now I wish I would have pointed out two other glaring faults of the car, maybe GM would have fixed them too.

    First, imagine that you’re going on a roadtrip with your wife. You don’t want to be sitting on your wallet the whole trip so you take it out of your back pocket. Ditto for your celluar phone (but probably front pocket). You jump in your lovely new Cruze with your lovely new wife and look for a place to put your wallet and phone. Your wife looks for a place to put her phone. You both quickly realize that there isn’t one. The Cruze’s interior is gorgeous, but is the very definition of form over function.

    Second, I like to think that I’m of average height (5’10″). From a comfortable seating position, I cannot see the 9 through 12 o’clock positions on the tachometer and the 12 through 3 o’clock positions on the speedometer. Form over function.

    GM will sell lots of these and they should; it’s a great car that seems to have gotten even better over the past couple of years. Let’s hope that it continues this upward ascent during its product life cycle in the US.

  • avatar
    ccttac

    Hooray!! I give GM lots of credit for coming up with this wonderful looking product. Bet it will be just great for many users. Also, several have tried to belittle by comparing to what competition “might” come up with. Lets wait and see. I’ll bet GM has a few upgrades up their sleeve to offer as needed. Lots of people like to bash GM but they do have plenty of smart people, including product planners who understand how to manage a product over it’s life cycle.

    Can’t wait to see and drive one soon.

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    The Cruze judging from this review appears to be a well designed vehicle with a vastly superior interior over previous GM small cars.
    However the fly in the ointment is how well it holds up a couple of years down the road. GM vehicles like the Vega and X-cars opened to favorable reviews only to have the vehicle blow up-conceptually good ideas marred by terrible execution. I’ll wait for a couple of years to see how the Cruze holds up.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. K

      newfdawg said:

      “The Cruze judging from this review appears to be a well designed vehicle with a vastly superior interior over previous GM small cars.
      However the fly in the ointment is how well it holds up a couple of years down the road. GM vehicles like the Vega and X-cars opened to favorable reviews only to have the vehicle blow up-conceptually good ideas marred by terrible execution. I’ll wait for a couple of years to see how the Cruze holds up.”

      Hey, dawg (and everyone else)

      The vega was 1970, the X cars were 1980. How is the ‘bu holding up? How do the last generation g5 and cadaver hold up – I worked in a GM dealer in service till recently and was amazed how well they drove in typical highway use – and they did not break.

      Will the Cruze be Honda quality? No. Will the Ford be a better drivers car? Yes. Will Hyundai be 10 or 20 bucks a month less (the key question for many buyers in this class) I would venture to say yes.

      Is the Cruze going to be built as well with parts as good as Nissan, Suburu, Mitsu, and Hyundai. Yeah. Will Honda and perhaps Toyota with their much longer quality linage beat the Cruze…again I think so…

      OTOH is the 2nd generation CTS much better the the 1st gen? You do not go from 2000 quality GM Chrysler in 1 generation to Honda, but you do it in 2.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Mr.K: Your point is exactly correct. Recent GMs are much better than their past reputation would have you believe. One remaining area of concern is will GM stand behind any design flaw that may rear it’s head? We only have one GM car in our “extended” family and had to eat the intake gasket and rotted brake lines. That fact sticks in the head more than the fact that the car had virtually no other problems…

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    “Anything else can be dismissed as the worthless dream of a wandering dreamer like myself, a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floor of silent seas, wishing for the day that General Motors shows us a great American small car.”

    No shite, Prufrock.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The domestics are trying way too hard. Just take a 2002 Accord, change the parts a little, and done. Why try to reinvent the wheel?
    If you were designing a toilet, would you start from scratch… or would you start by disecting the best one on tbe market, learning from it and down right copying it? No shame in that game. Japan would do it to us in a heart beat.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    JimC. Ah, yes. The infamous Gov’t Motors argument. Sir, it’s time you considered how much the governments and companies in other countries play this game. Manipulating the currency has been raised to a fine art by the Japanese; they’ve practiced it for decades. Meanwhile, we pass ADA rules; workplace safety regs; equal opportunity laws; heck, even sensitivity training requirements, all of which must be honored to the top of the corporation if its GM, Ford or Chrysler. Do you think they’ve installed handicap access facilities in Toyota’s or Hyundai’s home headquarters? All those American rules add expenses onto the American cars. So, now you’re holding it against GM for its loans and grants? How naive, sir, how naive.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC

      I don’t think we can pin the downfall GM on wheelchair ramps and sensitivity training. Let’s not forget “furloughed” UAW employees who are paid to sit in the break room for entire shifts. On the other hand, the domestics aren’t burdened by the line workers wasting time singing the company song and daily calisthenics. On the other other hand, the Japanese weren’t burdened nearly as much by obscene profits from the SUV craze… wait a minute?!?

    • 0 avatar

      @alexandr333: “Ah, yes. The infamous Gov’t Motors argument.”

      [not-sure-whether-to-laugh-or-cry...-going-with-both-pause]

      .
      Erm, you must be new here: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/editorials/gm-death-watch/

  • avatar
    changsta

    GM’s problem always has been that they benchmark existing cars and simply aim to match or slightly surpass that target. Should I be impressed that a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is slightly more refined than a Honda Civic that was released in 2006? Impressed that it is roomier inside despite being larger? It certainly SHOULD be better since it is so much newer, and roomier since it is larger! But what happens when the new Civic comes out in a year? This Cruze will once again leave GM at the back of the class.

    And while I applaud GM’s use of better materials, I find their designs to be a little overdone. The color combinations are horrible! Has anyone seen that rose colored interior in the Malibu? Absolutely disgusting.

    On top of all this, no one is going to pay sticker for a compact GM vehicle, which is going to lead to cash on the hood, which is going to result in the usual poor resale value of GM vehicles. Not to mention the many pissed off previous owners of cavaliers etc. I’m one, and I certainly won’t be giving my money to GM ever again, vastly improved or not.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    This car will lead the class for a long time. The “new” Focus is absolutely hideous…even the Europeans hate the looks…and it will be severely overpriced.

    The Cruze is a honest car…it’s not trying to be something it’s not. The exterior is brilliant, the interior is brilliant (again, far better than the horrid Focus), the mileage is equal to the much smaller tin can Fiesta, and the price is reasonable as well.

    Hopefully, the second model year will see a DSG gear box (maybe one you can shift yourself) and the return of the SS model complete with the Mustang beating handling and performance numbers from the 2.0 turbo 4.

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      Shorter Silvy/Matt/P71_CrownVic on every single post:

      GM CAR GOOD!

      FORD CAR BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!

      I know exactly how he will respond to this, too. Wait for it…

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      Where do you get all of these names?

    • 0 avatar
      BDB

      It’s all the names you post under, infecting every automotive site on the internet with your obsessive blather.

      Every time you talk about Ford and GM in the same predictable way, it’s like holding up a big, flashing neon sign with your many screen names on it.

      If you gave me a wordbank of your buzzwords/phrases (“bland appliances”, “blind cheerleaders”, “boat anchor”, “cursed D3 platform”) I could ad-lib a post of yours, Matt. Ask anybody else here if you don’t believe me:

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/ford-sharpens-its-edge/

      Oh, and your name on LeftLaneNews is “realist” (h/t to Gregg). You’re a sockpuppeting, trolling, Ford-obsessed loser still butthurt about some warranty claim from the 1990s on your ex-cop car. Or, barring that, Cottage Grove MN has about 20 people just like you who just happen to post 24/7 on the internet about how much Ford in North America sucks and how awesome GM is.

      Grow up, get a life, and start contributing something that’s at least vaguely informative/interesting in the comments section you sad, sad little man.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      Interesting stories you have there…

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting investigative work, BDB. Nice job.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    You are really on a roll Mr. Baruth. A fascinating read which leaves a strong impression of the Cruze. Nicely done indeed! I look forward to test driving one myself one of these days.

  • avatar
    ern35

    Let’s see now—about GM’s stable of small cars over the past 50 years: Corvair, Vega, Chevette, X-Cars, Cavalier, Cobalt,—and, weren’t there additional imports from England during the 50′s and 60′s such as the Vauxhall Victor, Epic, and Viva? Just how many of these really are fondly remembered, or possibly acclaimed? Might the much-awaited Cruze finally give GM some credibility in that realm? After all, they have had enough time—–

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Three questions:

    1 – Is this the same car (roughly speaking) as the Daewoo/Chevy Lacetti that Top Gear runs around their track?

    2 – Where the hell is the wagon version? I NO USE for a sedan.

    3 – does the aftermarket offer an alternative to the now universal and ugly GM grille? I despise the body color band dividing the grille into an upper and lower section.

    I think the rest of the car looks GOOD. Still don’t want a sedan General Motors. Are you listening?

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Joeaverage…the problem (for you, at least) is that GM IS paying attention to who actually buys what kind of car here in America…and a wagon variant simply isn’t one of them.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Nice looking except for that awful huge black plastic triangle on the c pillar. Looks just as bad on this as it does on the Sebring and Mazda6. Why couldn’t they just have made it body color?

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      I, too, struggle with that triangle. It seems that GM wants to recapture the magic of the original Calibra arc, but this is a weak homage to that sleek design. Yet, if you take the triangle away, the profile has a remarkable resemblance to the current Honda Accord sedan. That profile is uninteresting, at best.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      You guys struggle with the black plastic on the C pillar but not the big black triangle on the A pillar? This is just a classic styling trick to continue a line (and elongate the car) It is the same reason the B pillars are blacked out. I’m bothered more by the current trend to elongate headlights into this line, to the point of them traveling half way back up the hood…like on the 2011 Elantra.

  • avatar

    I’ll admit upfront to my anti-Government Motors bias here (still think it shoulda been allowed to die) but for the life of me I can’t discern GM’s logic in pricing the Cruze at a premium over its immediate, and far-more established competitors.

    Quick — name one GM product that commands a higher sticker price than others in its segment.

    SRX? Nope, it’s Caddy’s “value leader” luxury offering, and GM is shamefully unashamed by that fact.

    CTS? Sales were stagnant until GM slapped a quickie lease special together.

    Camaro? Maybe early-on to devout Fanboyz, but the market — and more importantly, the Mustang — has since caught up. As have Camaro quality problems.

    Malibu? HA!

    Volt? No one at GM can mention the $41K sticker without adding “tax-credit/lease deal” in the same breath.

    Keep in mind that even the ‘Vette sells on price, over its competitors. It’s truly sad when GM is compelled to offer sweetheart financing on even the flagship ZR-1.

    Nevermind the Daewoo connection. Nevermind GM’s laughable history in this segment, even. Tell me, Grandpa Ed… what makes you think today’s GM can get away with a compact car for $17K base?

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    fairly minor point

    i’m sure you could paint it in or even vinyl sticker it in

    i get the gist that the car looks like kimchee made in San Francisco’s korean district

    doesn’t look quite right but may be acceptable in certain colours

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This is a good sign. This class of vehicle is usually something GM doesn’t try very hard at, and it looks like they did try in this case.

    It’s not class-redefining like the Focus in 1999, but it’s at least competitive. I’d like to see a few more reviews (Jack tends to bias against the Asians) to get a more complete perspective, but it seems pretty good. It would have been good if it were, but “easily better than the Corolla” is a good sign, considering that the Cobalt wasn’t. Not a home run, but a solid double.

    But it is true that the Elantra and Focus are due out soon, as is the Civic. The Cruze won’t have the limelight, but neither will it be relegated, if GM is lucky, to last-chance status. Hopefully they’ll keep trying.

    What’s interesting is that it shows how weak the Corolla is. This is the second half-assed Corolla in fifteen years (the 1995, frankly, sucked; the current car isn’t terrible, but it and the Sentra are why-bother cars). The Corolla has never been great, but it was just redesigned and the redesign didn’t make it appreciably better. This is not good for Toyota; it’s their core product, and it’s demonstrably weak in the middle of it’s design lifetime and just as four of their competitors launch. It’s probably still rock-reliable, but this could cost them in ways pedalgate wouldn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      TG57

      The thing about the Corolla’s shortcomings is that the vast majority of buyers simply don’t care. They don’t care that slamming the driver’s door sounds like a mirror shattering. They don’t care that the steering feels unnatural and non-linear. They don’t care that the brakes have six inches of dead travel before they actually bite down. They don’t care that the panel gaps are huge and uneven, inside and out.

      Most customers probably don’t even notice any of these issues, or that their old 2003 Corolla wasn’t afflicted with any of them. All they care about is the $17K price of admission and the fact the odometer will go well into the six-digit range with less maintenance than a pet rock. That’s it. That’s all.

      In a way, Toyota is genius for de-contenting in areas where most people won’t notice. Hook the customers with reliability and high build quality for 30+ years, then drop the attribute that most people don’t notice (build quality), and keep the attribute that really matters (reliability), profiting wildly from the cost cutting all the while. Brilliant, isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      citizendriver477

      TG57,
      Sadly, you are right about that. Even the Camry’s appointments and touches are subpar compared with others in its class. It is truly the reliability that pulls people in. It seems, however, that the Cruze’s interior appointments are a bit better than Corolla’s. So, if Chevrolet can find a way to combine reliability with more high-hend interior and exterior appointments, the Cruze might just be around for the long-haul.

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I really want the Cruze to do well.

  • avatar
    Ooshley

    A car for the US Market with a woeful Auto box. This will sell how exactly?

    Having driven several Australian rental ‘Crudes’ (as we came to call them) with the 1.8 I can attest to just how woeful they are. That the 1.4T is better is hardly surprising when you’re coming from such a low base. But that doesn’t fix the schizophrenic auto which is so desperate to assist in hitting those economy numbers it doesn’t down-shift until the last-minute (or is forced to) and then does so with a lurch even an inexperienced manual driver would be embarrassed of performing themselves.

    The interior is relatively well appointed for the segment, however, did you ever drive it at night? Because I found that the instrumentation and various other Christmas lights on the dash reflected off the interior of the windscreen in an extremely distracting fashion. Not to mention the seat heaters that no matter the setting treated my arse like a piece of bacon.

    My colleagues and I now routinely beg the rental car attendant put us in anything but one of these, even if it’s from a segment below.

  • avatar
    lawmonkey

    This is going to be tricky without Pontiac or Saturn – remember how the ION acted as the Cobalt Beta? GM changed a bunch of things from the ION to when the Cobalt was brought out, and then rolled those changes back into the ION. I wonder if similar revisions were done, besides the engine, based on feedback from other markets.

    Also, I remember GM (Lutz?) bragging that the Cobalt had some bushings that were reverse engineered from the then-previous generation Jetta. I hope they’re looking toward the future now instead of trying to compete with former rivals. As others have pointed out, we’ll see if they can keep evolving the car as it goes – take a lesson from Subaru and the WRX, and Ford with its powertrains in the Mustang – don’t wait 5-7 years to fix a glaring mistake in an otherwise good car!

  • avatar
    mjz

    Hey GM: How about a Cruze coupe and wagon?

  • avatar
    Nick

    Jack, are you suggesting you can actually see out of this? By God that’s reason for me to like it already. Enough with the bunkers.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Think back – how many small chevys have been P’s O S? The aveo? Vega, I cannot think of one that was not. Maybe this one will be different, but that’s not the way to bet.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    This car has potential with 40 MPG model, more interior room with comfy seats and a dash that flat out embaresses the new Jetta. Too bad the exterior is just as bland and ordinary looking. Time will tell how well it does.

  • avatar

    When it comes to engineering cars the US is now probably more proficient at playing soccer. At least we produce world cup soccer players, and we did beat England in our group.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Actually, the US is pretty adept at soccer (football). While it’s a growing sport for us, it’s starting to become pre-eminent in high school sports in certain areas.
      Even though I’m not an engineer, I will say there are plenty of engineers in the US designing and developing cars and trucks. GM, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, BMW have engineering facilities here. Just because GM decided to have Daewoo do the work on the Cruze, does not mean that the US domestic engineers cannot develop a small car.

    • 0 avatar


      Right now the US is a strong second level soccer power. It would say we are currently at the level of the Scottish and Columbian team.
      By 2015 there will probably be no domestic cars built on an American engineered platform. Even the Corvette may go to a Holden chassis. Heck, even the French and Italian engineer their own cars. We have a sorry industry. It looks like US tax dollars are going to pay foreign engineers their salaries.
      The spirit of innovation that created the original Taurus and Chrysler minivan is long gone. All Detroit does now is import foreign technology like a compliant third world nation.

      Very sad development indeed……………………….

      In short the US is better at soccer than producing cars. Well, we don’t actually engineer them so you might well say we don’t make them.

  • avatar
    citizendriver477

    I currently own a 2005 Toyota Corolla, and I simply love that car. I am 6’2″, and it fits me perfectly (as the driver, of course). HOWEVER, from what I’m reading about the Chevrolet Cruze, my eyes are starting to wander. I think it looks beautiful on the outside and the inside. Naturally, I would have to test-drive it first to make sure that it can fit a man of my stature, but so far, I’m feeling it, as the young people say.

    I hate large cars, and don’t even try to sell me an SUV, and I thought that’s all that Chevrolet could produce well, but now that the Cruze is on the scene, I might have to rethink that.

  • avatar
    Tone

    I looked at Cruze, briefly. I lost interest when I learned that I’d have to settle for the eco model to get stick shift. Would it kill GM to let me have a car with a clutch pedal in LTZ trim? Apparently it would. Cruze isn’t anything like sporty, but a 5 speed would make the best of what’s there.


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