The Truth About Cars » chevrolet cruze http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:45:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » chevrolet cruze http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com This Is A Rental Chevrolet Cruze With 55,000 Miles On The Clock http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/this-is-a-rental-chevrolet-cruze-with-55000-miles-on-the-clock/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/this-is-a-rental-chevrolet-cruze-with-55000-miles-on-the-clock/#comments Sat, 28 Jun 2014 15:56:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=854809 IMG_6761

Across the vast and majestic gulf of time and space, the jimmies rustled softly when I had the nerve to review a rented FIAT 500L with four thousand miles under its affordable alloy wheels.

“OMG,” I was told, “after that monstrous amount of vicious rental abuse, which probably included everything from ‘sparking’ to ‘mudding’, there is no way any car would be anything but a floor-pissing mess.”

Imagine my terror, therefore, when I arrived at Louisville’s airport three days ago and saw this:

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With nearly fourteen times the mileage of that poor abused FIAT, surely this Cruze would be a complete fright show, right?

A few years ago, I attended the Cruze preview and wrote this:

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.

How right was I? Only the most dedicated of GM PR people and Source Interlink publications continue to maintain the facade that the Cruze is anything other than a warmed-over Daewoo. Nor it is a small car: it weighs within seventy pounds of a Honda Accord and feels more solid than its fellow Ohio-assembled sedan on the roll. The question that I had at the time was how well the materials and assembly would hold up.

So here’s a gallery of detail photos I took. Remember, this car has fifty-five thousand miles of uncaring rental abuse on it:

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What do you see? I’ll you you what I see: materials that last. From the cloth on the airbag cover to the touch points where the steering-wheel leather wraps around the spoke, this car is just flat holding up. The seats have no cracks: I can’t say that about the pampered 46,000-mile examples on my Porsche Boxster Anniversary Edition, which has been Lexoled and garaged its entire life. The cloth, vinyl, and leather are staying colorfast. The shiny plastic hasn’t faded, cracked, or indulged itself in that weird sparkly delamination that a lot of modern aluminum-alike plastic seems to get after a few years.

How did it drive? Well, my initial judgment might have been clouded by the fact that I was getting out of a 1981 Impala, but the next day I drove the newest and most premium-aspirational midsizer on the market and when I returned to the Cruze my opinion hadn’t changed. It drives like a new car. I’m pretty sure the tires were replaced at some point, since the tread was deep and even across the surface of all four, but there weren’t any wrench marks on the suspension under the vehicle so I’m guessing it’s never even been properly aligned.

Smooth, silent, and heavy, just like you always get with a Cruze. Half a lifetime’s worth of hard riding hadn’t changed its fundamental qualities. I never heard a rattle and I never heard a squeak. As always, the gutless normally-aspirated four had to reach for fifth and fourth on even moderate hills in Kentucky and there was a concomitant thrashing from deep beneath the Daewoo-sculpted bonnet, but the transmission was sure and strong in the shifts, never slipping or lurching or betraying any signs of abuse.

As I drove the big little Chevy from Lousiville to Montgomery, AL and back, the usual virtues and faults declared themselves. The audio and Bluetooth system in the 2012 LT model left a lot to be desired. The seats aren’t really that comfortable, even if they are hard-wearing. And a few traffic incidents that called for heavy braking reminded me that I’ve never liked the way this car stops. But it remains a competent highway companion. The difference in noise and fatigue between the Cruze and a Civic, Focus, or Elantra is significant. No wonder the Buick people thought this would make a great Buick; it’s a great Buick even when it wears a Chevrolet emblem.

At the end of the trip, I checked the self-reported economy:

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That’s just a bit better than what I’d expect from my V-6 Accord on a route like this, but the hills really hurt this car on economy because it’s underpowered. What the Cruze needs is sort of a P-51 Mustang thing. That plane needed the Merlin engine to shine; this sedan would truly shine with the Honda 2.4 under the hood. Economy, performance, and enjoyment would all soar.

I have to admit it: when I saw what I’d drawn from the rental fleet, I was excited because I’ve been waiting to see how the Cruze would do with some mileage on it. Would it fall apart, J-car style, or would it retain its construction and quality? It’s reassuring to see that the latter is the case.

At that launch event nearly four years ago, I heard Scott Burgess “interviewing” a few of the GM engineers. “Why don’t you guys take more credit for what you do on these cars?” he asked. At the time, I chuckled loud and long because anybody could see the the contributions of the American team were pretty much limited to the bumpers and the placement of bowtie emblems. But after a few years, I’m inclined to wind that cynicism back a bit. The American team did have responsibility for supplier selection and assembly design here in Ohio. The design may have come from their Korean small-car overlords, but at some point in the process somebody had to look at everything from the piston rings to the shift lever and give it the imperial thumbs up or down.

When they had to, our guys delivered. Years and miles after that delivery and its own delivery, some of them no doubt beneath the whip of the callous or deliberately hateful, the Cruze keeps on keeping on. Would I recommend one as a used car now? Absolutely. Get the ignition fixed; the rest of it’s ready for prime time.

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A Look Inside The Next Chevrolet Cruze http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/a-look-inside-the-next-chevrolet-cruze/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/a-look-inside-the-next-chevrolet-cruze/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 13:38:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850874 chevrolet-cruze-china-interior-001-1

The next Chevrolet Cruze – at least the one sold in China – will be getting a snazzy new interior.

Along with new Ecotec engines and a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, the Cruze will get a heavily revised cabin, which looks miles ahead of the interior in our current Cruze. From the looks of it, this is one Chinese car that would be a welcome addition to the GM lineup in the United States.

chevrolet-cruze-china-interior-003-1 Interior photos of the new Chevrolet Cruze chevrolet-cruze-china-interior-001-1 ]]>
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Beijing 2014: China Gets Its Own Chevrolet Cruze http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-china-gets-its-own-chevrolet-cruze/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-china-gets-its-own-chevrolet-cruze/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:19:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=807946 2015-chevrolet-cruze-china-04

 

While our Chevrolet Cruze gets a re-style to look more like the Malibu, China’s Cruze now looks like a 2015 Subaru WRX in the back, with a Dodge Dart-like front end.

 

Unlike our Cruze, this one get’s GM’s next-generation of turbocharged Ecotec powertrains, and there’s even a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox to go along with the usual manual and automatic transmissions. Perhaps this is a preview of what to expect in 2016, when the Cruze gets a redesign?

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2015 Chevrolet Cruze Gets A New Mug http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2015-chevrolet-cruze-gets-a-new-mug/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2015-chevrolet-cruze-gets-a-new-mug/#comments Sun, 13 Apr 2014 14:31:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=794602 2015 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ

 

The back of the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze is largely unchanged. The front has sadly been messed with to look more like the Malibu. A shame, since the Cruze was a rather handsome car.

The big change is apparently a revised infotainment system, with a 4G LTE hotspot and Siri Eyes Free for iPhone users. Powertrains remain unchanged.

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2016 Chevrolet Cruze Spied http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/2016-chevrolet-cruze-spied/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/2016-chevrolet-cruze-spied/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 16:30:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785313 2016-Chevrolet-Cruze-01

 

In advance of its debut, these pictures from a Chinese website purport to show the Chevrolet Cruze, sans camouflage.

The updated Cruze, which may see a debut as early as the New York Auto Show, gets an updated nose that aligns closer with Chevrolet’s new corporate styling, along with a revamped interior. Power should come from GM’s new modular engine family.

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Next Chevy Cruze Delayed For A Year Due to Engineering Changes and Strong Sales of Current Model http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/next-chevy-cruze-delayed-for-a-year-due-to-engineering-changes-and-strong-sales-of-current-model/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/next-chevy-cruze-delayed-for-a-year-due-to-engineering-changes-and-strong-sales-of-current-model/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2013 14:48:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495776 LOC-Exterior

Reuters is reporting that the next iteration of the Chevy Cruze, originally due at the end of 2014, will not go into production until December 2015, as a 2016 model year car.

The news was revealed when union leaders at a Canadian Auto Workers staffed supplier, Cooper Standard Automotive, told their members. As Chevy is currently rolling out a number of new models, by the end of 2013 the Cruze will be Chevrolet’s oldest model. The next gen Cruze is supposed to be all-new, inside and out, and GM says that it will have more interior and cargo space as well as better fuel economy. June sales figures show that the Cruze is currently the second best selling car in America, behind Toyota’s Camry, and U.S. sales for the first half of 2013 were up 17% to ~134,000 units. Since the Camry is a midsized car, that means the Cruze is the best selling compact car in the U.S. market.

Though General Motors declined comment on the report out of Canada, the CAW local leaders said that “engineering changes” forced the delays. GM doesn’t want to have a repeat of the lukewarm response to the redesigned 2013 Malibu, which itself is getting a rare second year refresh for 2014. According to a supplier, GM is taking the extra time on the Cruze to ensure that it “”does break through the clutter”, unlike the recent Malibu. According to Reuters’ sources “familiar with the company’s plans”, the current model’s strong sales are also a factor in the delay of the new model, with the car company trying to wring as much profit out of the car as possible, before they replace it. The strong sales allow GM to bank money and putting off the new Cruze also allows them to reallocate funds to products currently being or about to be launched.

GM says that the new Cruze will not be assembled in Korea, perhaps an indication that unlike the previous model based on a Korean (read Daewoo, which is now GM Korea) platform, the new Cruze is being designed and engineered a bit closer to the Lordstown, Ohio plant where it will be assembled for the North American market.

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Ok, We Were Wrong: Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Actually Takes 18 Years To Break Even* http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/ok-we-were-wrong-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-actually-takes-18-years-to-break-even/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/ok-we-were-wrong-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-actually-takes-18-years-to-break-even/#comments Thu, 18 Apr 2013 15:25:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=485346

Now that Chevrolet has revised their EPA mileage estimate for the Chevrolet Cruze Diesel, from 42 mpg to 46 mpg, we need to revise our own estimates.

Initially, we called for a break-even period of 115 years, based on TrueCar’s formula for calculating the break-even period on fuel economy packages. For argument’s sake, we used TrueCar’s formula of driving 15,000 miles per year, though we used Chicago, IL as our sample for gas and diesel prices. The lowest prices found on GasBuddy at the time of the original article was $3.50 for regular and $3.80 for diesel respectively. For consistency’s sake, we’ll stick with that, though obviously the break-even point will change along with fuel price fluctuations.

Since city and combined figures haven’t been announced yet for the Cruze diesel, I decided to only use the highway figures for a similarly equipped gasoline 2LT . As the calculations show, the Cruze diesel does use a smaller quantity of fuel annually, but that’s offset by the price premium one is required to pay for diesel. Using the initial 42 mpg highway rating yielded a mere $22 in annual fuel savings and a $2,550 price gap. At that rate, it would take over a century -roughly 115 years – for a potential owner to “break even” on the Cruze diesel. But with the 46 mpg rating, the fuel savings grows to $142 annually. This shortens the break-even time to about 18 years; still fairly long, but much shorter than it would take compared to opting for a Cruze Eco. The reason for this is because at 42 mpg, fuel economy increases roughly 10 percent, while fuel costs rise by about nine percent. It’s a wash. But at 42 mpg, fuel economy improves by nearly 20 percent so you have a fuel-cost adjusted increase that goes from one percent to 11 percent, thus cutting the payback time by a factor of almost ten.

And now, to pre-empt some of the questions/criticisms from last time: yes, this analysis is incomplete due to only having the highway figure. I am aware of that, but I wanted to show that TTAC is not afraid to revise their predictions accordingly, in an open and transparent fashion. When the final numbers are released, we can do a proper comparison with the Jetta TDI (and maybe the Mazda6 diesel as well). I’m also aware that people buy diesels for the driving experience (low-end torque etc), but I’ll leave that one to Alex Dykes or whoever ends up reviewing the car.

Data below, for anyone interested

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2014-Chevy-Cruze-Diesel-46-mpg. Photo courtesy AutoGuide.com cruzedieselrevised ]]>
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The Top 10 Best-Sellers World Wide In 2012 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/the-top-10-best-sellers-world-wide-in-2012/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/the-top-10-best-sellers-world-wide-in-2012/#comments Tue, 16 Apr 2013 11:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484953

Polk released their list of 10 best-selling nameplates in 2012 - and while the list led to a bit of a spat between Toyota and Ford over who won had the race – the rest of the list gives us a picture of what’s popular around the world. While Bertel is claiming that Toyota came out on top, I am merely reporting the Polk data. Any disputes or accusations pro or anti (insert nationality here) bias can be meted out in the comments. I’ll go grab the popcorn.

1. Ford Focus:  1,020,410 units sold

 

 

2. Toyota Corolla: 872,774 units sold

3. Ford F-Series: 785,630 units sold

4. Wuling Zhiguang: 768,870 units sold

5. Toyota Camry: 729,793 units sold

6. Ford Fiesta: 723,130 units sold

7. VW Golf: 699,148 units sold

8. Chevrolet Cruze: 661,325 units sold

9. Honda Civic: 651,159 units sold

10. Honda CR-V: 624,982 units sold

autoblog_cn_img_8770 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Focus-SE-front-quarter-550x412. Photo courtesy TTAC Corolla-Axio-11-450x300 Photo courtesy TTAC 2011f1504-550x307 Photo courtesy TTAC Wuling Sunshine. Photo courtesy vwvortex.com Camry-SE-4-side-550x412 Photo courtesy TTAC Ford_Fiesta_Mk7_seit_2008_front_MJ-450x269 Photo courtesy wikipedia 2015-vw-golf-opt-450x298 Photo courtesy wikipedia side-550x315 Photo courtesy Chevrolet 2013-honda-civic-450x275 Photo courtesy Honda IMG_51901-550x366 Photo courtesy Brendan McAleer ]]>
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If You’ve Got 115 Years To Spare, The Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Makes Sense http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/if-youve-got-115-years-to-spare-the-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-makes-sense/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/if-youve-got-115-years-to-spare-the-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-makes-sense/#comments Thu, 07 Feb 2013 16:11:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=476648  

Some rough, back of the napkin calculations based on available information suggest that the Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel has a break-even point fit for Methuselah

Rather than blindly buy into the “rah-rah Europe” hype that surrounds so much of the diesel discourse, we decided to analyze just what kind of cost savings can be had by picking the diesel over an equivalent Cruze 2LT with the 1.4L Ecotec turbo engine. For argument’s sake, we used TrueCar’s formula of driving 15,000 miles per year, though we used Chicago, IL as our sample for gas and diesel prices. The lowest prices found on GasBuddy was $3.50 for regular and $3.80 for diesel respectively.

Since city and combined figures haven’t been announced yet for the Cruze diesel, I decided to only use the highway figures for a similarly equipped 2LT . As the calculations show, the Cruze diesel does use a smaller quantity of fuel annually, but that’s offset by the price premium one is required to pay for diesel. The significant delta in the MSRP of the two vehicles is another blow against the oil-burning Cruze. With a mere $22 in annual fuel savings and a $2,550 price gap, it would take over a century -roughly 115 years – for a potential owner to “break even” on the Cruze diesel.

GM has only released the highway mpg figure (42 mpg) so far. But even if one repeats the exercise using the Jetta TDI’s fuel economy numbers (30/42/34 mpg) for the Cruze diesel, it would still take roughly a decade to break even and save about $255 annually over a gasoline Cruze. Green cars aren’t necessarily about the financial proposition (see: Toyota Prius for the best example), but the Cruze diesel is attempting to lure away extremely loyal buyers in a niche segment with very low opportunities for “green status signalling” (i.e. letting everyone know you’re saving baby polar bears via your consumption choices, ala the Prius). In light of all this, it seems that the Cruze Diesel is facing a dim future of slow sales and plenty of cash on the hood to help move them.

Edit: The data is in the photo gallery below, but commenter redav created this chart as well showing the cost-per-mile breakdown.

 

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2014-chevrolet-cruze-diesel. Photo courtesy AutoGuide.com cruzetable

 

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Chevrolet Cruze Diesel: Where’s The Value Proposition? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/chevrolet-cruze-diesel-wheres-the-value-proposition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/chevrolet-cruze-diesel-wheres-the-value-proposition/#comments Thu, 07 Feb 2013 05:55:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=476639

In a few hours, we’ll have live shots of the Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel (what a mouthful), but in the mean time, here’s a preview of the long awaited oil-burning Chevy.

The heart of the diesel Cruze is a 2.0L 148 horsepower engine that puts out 258 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is expected to ape the Cruze Eco, at 42 mpg highway, though the diesel Cruze costs $25,685 – $1,845 more than a TDI Jetta and $4,000 more than a base Cruze Eco with an automatic transmission. While the diesel is available in the higher-spec 2LT trim level, it’s hard to justify another $4,000 just to get things like disc brakes and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Apparently, Chevrolet isn’t targeting Cruze buyers, but buyers of Volkswagen TDI cars. But Chevrolet is only offering an automatic gearbox, and TDI drivers are one of the few demographics that tend to buy manuals in any significant numbers. Furthermore, how many Veedub diehards will give up their beloved brand and its Euro-snob appeal for a Bowtie-brand Cruze?

GM will launch the Cruze diesel in select markets first, similar to the Volt, with sales occurring first in markets that are considered to be more diesel friendly.

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South Korean Unions Urging GM To Keep Cruze In Korea http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/south-korean-unions-urging-gm-to-keep-cruze-in-korea/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/south-korean-unions-urging-gm-to-keep-cruze-in-korea/#comments Thu, 15 Nov 2012 17:47:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=467009

Labor leaders in South Korea are scrambling to convince GM to retain production of the Chevrolet Cruze in South Korea, though GM says that the move to 5 global facilities is a done deal.

The Cruze accounts for between 50 and 60 percent of the 260,000 vehicles made at GM Korea’s Gunsan plant. A new Cruze is expected to hit the market in 2014, and the new model is expected to be built in Europe, the United States and other locations across the globe. European production of the Cruze will be an important step for GM to help ease some of its overcapacity problems.

South Korean union workers have used strong rhetoric when discussing the Cruze’s future, stating that it is the “lifeline” of the Gunsan plant (GM has two other plants in Korea) and that “…it [GM] will face enormous resistance…” from workers if Cruze production leaves South Korea.

With an all-new model due at the end of 2014, GM is exploring other options including “…continuing to produce the current Cruze model.” Hmm…

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OnStar Glitch Causes GM To Halt Sales Of Certain Models http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/onstar-glitch-causes-gm-to-halt-sales-of-certain-models/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/onstar-glitch-causes-gm-to-halt-sales-of-certain-models/#comments Sat, 08 Sep 2012 17:18:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=459459

A software glitch in the OnStar system caused GM to halt sales of certain models, including the brand-new Cadillac ATS.

Some 60,000 vehicles were affected by the glitch, which prevents OnStar’s crash notification system from notifying their call center in certain collisions that don’t trigger the airbags. Among the cars affected are the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox, Cruze and Volt, the Cadillac XTS and ATS, the 2012 Cadillac SRX , the Buick Verano and the GMC Terrain.

According to Automotive News, GM sent a memo to dealers telling them to “stop the delivery” of affected vehicles, and that the issue would be cleared by late September. Most vehicles can be fixed via a remote software flash, however some cars require a manual upgrade performed at the dealer.

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Chevrolet Spark Misses The 40 MPG Mark http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/chevrolet-spark-misses-the-40-mpg-mark/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/chevrolet-spark-misses-the-40-mpg-mark/#comments Fri, 20 Jul 2012 17:56:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=453601

Glancing at its diminutive footprint and tiny engine specs, one would expect superlative fuel economy from the Chevrolet Spark, right? Wrong.

According to GM Inside News,

the Spark with manual transmission [is rated] at 32 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, while the four-speed automatic will wear ratings of 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway

This is in a 2,200 lb car with a 1.2L 4-cylinder engine. I’m not one to invoke bygone tin-cans like the Honda CRX HF in the name of fuel efficiency and the pox that modern cars are on our landscape, but GM must be able to do better than this, given what they’re working with. If not, then why bother at all with the Spark? The Cruze and Sonic make this car look like a farce.

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GM Enacts Massive, Fire-Related Recall, And It’s Not Volt Related http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/gm-enacts-massive-fire-related-recall-and-its-not-volt-related/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/gm-enacts-massive-fire-related-recall-and-its-not-volt-related/#comments Sat, 23 Jun 2012 17:09:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450000

GM is recalling 475,418 Chevrolet Cruze models built in the USA as a preventative measure against possible engine fires.

The recall affects all U.S. manufactured Cruzes, which includes all Cruzes sold in the United States, Canada and Israel. The defect is related to an engine heat shield that could cause improperly changed engine oil or hydraulic fluid to heat up via the shield, leading to an engine fire. Recall notices will go out starting July 11th, and should take only 30 minutes at a dealership. A further 61,000 cars will be inspected due to the possibility of improper welds on the fuel tank.

Only two engine fires have been reported so far, but the Cruze has had numerous recalls in its relatively short life. In May 2011, GM recalled all 154,000 Cruzes on the road in the United States and Canada to check for an improperly installed steering shaft, while a recall that same month was issued regarding the shift linkage.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ – RS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/vellum-venom-2012-chevrolet-cruze-ltz-rs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/vellum-venom-2012-chevrolet-cruze-ltz-rs/#comments Mon, 07 May 2012 11:11:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=443027 Here’s the thing about design school, and designers in general: you are taught to fully express your creativity…which sounds like a great idea in theory.  In reality, there’s very little “reality” in the situation.  This is a creative art for profit, by a multinational, publicly traded corporation. Design school students frequently have to un-learn their training if they want to make the nut.

When my freshman year Transportation Design class at CCS was tasked for a third world mode for transport, the teacher chose one country in particular: India.  Luckily, since I’ve regularly visited that nation and know a tad bit more about it than most car designers…well, I thought I’d nail this one.  Because who in India (circa 1998, and still to this day) can afford a car? Rich people, not the masses with no hope of education and/or career advancement…they stick with their feet or perhaps a motorcycle.  Sad, but true.

Would a car maker risk billions in stockholder equity in making a people’s car that ignores the “vehicular reality” of a particular country?  I think not.  And well before the TATA NANO, I tried to do that: super cheap and cute/ugly design sketches designed around an aspirational point: the 4-door sedan.  And sometimes the most formal Three Box Sedan. Because when I think of pushing the envelope in terms of design culture, I think of several other democracies before India.

Unfortunately, my NANO like creations were awful in the eyes of everyone else. I wasn’t trying hard enough at all.  Which is fair, if the teacher never suggested that we research the country…socio-economic conditions make just about every piece of Design School masturbation absolutely irrelevant. And quite possibly, stupid enough to bankrupt a car maker.

You pay a driver to do things for you, would you really want to sit with him?  Absolutely not! This ain’t no damn school, this is Vellum Venom.  Case in point, the Internationally designed and suitably conservative Chevy Cruze sedan.

 

There are elements that work very well here, most notably the headlights’ strong “brow” against the hood and front bumper.  My problem is the corporate branding of the Chevrolet grille onto the Daewoo body: it’s so big that it crosses the natural boundary between grille and hood, giving the nose a top-heavy and tipsy appearance. Chevy’s trademark split grille needs the bowtie lowered about 3″, so the hood can “breathe” and clean up the package.

To make things worse, the grille looks even taller because it’s too narrow.  If the grille extended to the same end points as the lower valance’s grille, we’d have a far more upscale motor.  We’d have a serious threat to all those conservative Corollas. And we do want to beat the Corolla, right?

 

Yup, a tall and clumsy grille.  And even from this angle you see how the grille’s top-tier becomes like eyebrows on one’s face.  In the case of the Cruze, it has eyebrows attached to the top of its forehead.  And that’s just not pretty.

 

The eyebrow analogy not jive with you?  Well, take a gander from here.  Imagine if the grille ended at the same height of the headlights!  Wow, it’d be a beauty!

 

The chrome detailing on this top drawer LTZ model is pretty cool, if a bit corny and obviously tacked on.  But at this price, who cares?  It’s an eye catcher for all the right reasons.

 

ADHD moment: the honeycomb treatment on this signal light is quite appealing. It gets the job done without resorting to cliché over styling, which happens far too often in cars that need to look more expensive than their window sticker suggests.

 

Speaking of, these new Chevy badges have some great material and texture selection going on. While the camera doesn’t do it justice, it makes me more than a little proud of this brand. Ford, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and the others all have pretty junky brand tributes in comparison.

 

From this angle, perhaps the grille is acceptable, but the headlights are too short. One of them needs to match the other, because the more you see of the Cruze’s side profile, the more you see a well designed compact car.

 

Fender. A-pillar. Door. Hood.  They all look horrible butting up to each other in this manner!  While that’s far from ideal, the black plastic triangle is just twisting the knife. I feel more venom oozing out of my wound.

Black triangle in full effect = DLO FAIL!

 

On the plus side, at least the triangle makes sense with the door cut line.  No wait, that’s still not acceptable. The Cruze would look upscale (so to speak) and downright lovely if the plastic side view mirror holder (and door cut line) was shaped to eliminate the triangle of DLO FAIL.

 

The RS appearance package is a little silly, but the stick on body-kit is far, far superior to the awful Tupperware they glue to the Corolla “S” model. Plus, I do like the upscale RS badging, even if the irony of such a boldly American trim designation used on a Daewoo design is a little depressing.

Hey wait…are those Michelins on a compact General Motors product?  Maybe the RenCen is taking the Civic and Corolla seriously this time ’round.

 

I do my best to avoid interior design analysis in this series, but you can see how the greenhouse complements the dashboard from this angle.  It’s very appealing from the outside, and those of us who’ve experienced the Cruze can certainly appreciate it from the inside too. Kudos to the Interior Design folks, they integrated the form very, very well.

 

Oh my (expletive).   The black plastic triangle shows up once again, this time trying way too hard to extend the Cruze’s DLO into the territory of a more upscale vehicle. Once again, it doesn’t work.

What was the right move?  Add a little more “hip” to the straight-edged door cut line, going up to a more hourglass shape as it reached the DLO.  From there, the rear door glass can elegantly continue the hourglass shape. The smooth curve will look good in both glass and the nearby sheet metal of the C-pillar…thus eliminating the hideous FAIL you see here.

 

Oh my damn…son!

They even tried to mask this triangle’s hideousness with a bit of chrome trim extension and a contrast texture in the center.  If you have to add chrome to your DLO FAIL, perhaps you are being penny wise and pound foolish. Redesign the rear door contour to make this thing unnecessary instead!

Trust me, eliminating something instead of adding chrome is far, far cheaper! Or not.

 

This angle normally makes the black plastic triangle look more acceptable.  But this one is so large that any angle is helpless to the cause. Ignore the impossible to close gas cap, this is a rental..and shit happens to rental cars.  Instead notice the clean, unmolested lines separated by only one hard-edged crease.

And while I nailed the CTS-V for its terrible gas cap location, the Cruze’s round door with a hard bend isn’t nearly as offensive as the slimy egg look.  Matter of fact, it’s a cool bit of surface tension.

If it wasn’t for that hideous plastic triangle, this would be an absolutely lovely machine. Of this I am certain.

 

From here I make another case for a shorter deck, more overhang and less of a fastback C-pillar.  This would eliminate the bumper’s “double chin” and the need for, once again, the black plastic triangle.  And I also hope that one day we don’t need chrome license plate mustaches, as they are totally played out and always look tacked-on.

 

The way the tail lights play into the bumper’s hard downward slope and the smart-looking cut line of the trunk is quite appealing. This isn’t an amorphous blob like so many other tail light designs in this class, it actually works very, very well!

 

Seriously folks, the chrome mustache needs to die a quick, yet very painful death. It looks tacky and absolutely ruins a lot of hard work done to the Cruze’s rear surfacing.   I like the extra chrome trim at the bottom, even though it reinforces the fact that this bumper is too tall…because this butt is too tall.

 

And I’ll let you mull over the contrast of Chevy’s somewhat famous LTZ trim level sharing real estate with the very famous RS trim level.  In the Cruze’s case, RS is just as much of an afterthought as the Corolla “S”.  And I think that’s an insult, to a certain extent.

I don’t much care for it, but perhaps someone in the B&B will prove me wrong in the comments section.

 

Make note: this kind of trimming is cheap and cheerful, perfect for a car in this price class. When you see gigantic hunks of plastic and/or afterthought chrome accents on vehicles costing far more than a Cruze, like perhaps a Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, it is absolutely inexcusable.  But here, yes…it should bring a smile to your face.

Because I am smiling, and you should too.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week.

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Review: Buick Verano Take Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/review-buick-verano-take-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/review-buick-verano-take-two/#comments Sun, 15 Apr 2012 18:25:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=440030

What is a Buick? Having saved the brand, GM must now figure out what to do with it. Traditionally Buick occupied the middle ground between Chevrolet and Cadillac, originally closer to the latter but from the 1970s onwards dangerously close to the former, which had expanded upwards in lockstep with archrival Ford. Aesthetically, Buicks have been the yin to Cadillac’s yang, curvier, less aggressive, and potentially more appealing to women. (Or metrosexuals? Did women ever drive a significant number of Rivs and Park Avenues?) Logically, there ought to be a position within this position for a compact car. Some people want a softly styled, upscale car, but don’t need a large car. But successfully fielding a car in this position has been tricky. The Lexus HS finds only a couple hundred takers each month. Jaguar abandoned the segment a few years ago, and Volvo quit it more recently. So does the Buick Verano stand a chance?

Looks

A car needn’t be beautiful to sell—but it doesn’t hurt. Based on spy shots of prototypes I expected the Verano to be downright ugly, with an overly raked windshield and its requisite windowlettes throwing off the proportions. But in production form, with appropriately styled 18-inch alloy wheels (GM has for once made the right size wheel the only size), the Verano is a handsome car. No Jaguar, but certainly more attractive than the HS and more upscale than the Chevrolet Cruze (with which it shares a platform). But it’s not the strikingly attractive car it could have been. Will many people notice the compact Buick on the street? Will any of them have a “gotta have it” reaction? One thing is certain: the Verano won’t step on the Cadillac ATS’s toes.

Luxury

The Verano’s interior isn’t as nice as that of the Lexus, but is a half-step up from that of the Chevrolet Cruze. You’ll find no cheap bits, yet the sense lingers that this isn’t quite a premium car. While intelligent design stylishly inserts a soft-touch face into the hard plastic instrument panel, the overly hard, overly thin door pulls seem pedestrian. The seats, though comfortable and supportive, lack power recline. Even compact Mazdas and Suzukis—hardly makes known for luxury—offer this feature. Can a car be “premium” without it? Rear seat legroom is marginal for adults, though ample space for feet beneath the front seats helps. A non sequitur: the steering wheel is too thick, which could turn off many potential female buyers.

Powah

Luxury car buyers don’t typically make runs for the redline. But this is entirely the point: they don’t want to feel the need to go anywhere near the redline. Instead, they want a car’s acceleration to feel effortless and for its engine to be felt but not heard. The Verano’s 180-horsepower 2.4-liter engine is stronger than the Cruze’s 138-horsepower 1.4 turbo, but it’s also naturally aspirated with a high (4,900 rpm) torque peak. To move 3,300 pounds of compact Buick, the four has to rev. It’s willing and able to do this, and with a modicum of refinement, but like the styling the engine isn’t going to inspire people to reach for their checkbooks. GM plans to also offer the Verano with a 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo, and this engine should be a better fit for the car’s mission.

Economy

So far we have nothing making Buick’s new compact sedan a “must have,” but also nothing that’s likely fatal. But then, as Ed Niedermeyer pointed out in his thorough evaluation of the Verano, there’s fuel economy. EPA ratings of 22 city and 31 highway don’t even compare well to four-cylinder midsize cars, much less other compacts. In suburban driving, the trip computer usually reported between 20 and 25, with high 20s happening only with favorable traffic signals and a feather-light right foot. Even the two-ton, 240-horsepower, all-wheel-drive 528i does a bit better (in my real-world testing as well as on the window sticker). Of course, the Lexus HS has sold poorly despite 35/34 ratings, so fuel economy isn’t everything.

Ride and Handling

The biggest surprise here is how the Verano rides and handles. It’s more tightly damped than a Chevrolet Cruze, with nary a hint of the float that once typified Buicks. Yet the car’s ride is still comfortable, with admirable composure over rough pavement. You’ll feel and hear the bumps and divots, but not overly much (this is a VERY quiet car), and they’re quickly dispatched. Hard cornering flushes out moderate amounts of body roll and front tire scrub, but overall the car is well controlled. The largest killjoys are visibility-impeding A-pillars and numb steering. Fix the last, and they’d about have the chassis where it needs to be—if people can get their heads around the idea of an athletic Buick. (Lexus can’t seem to overcome a similar perceptual challenge.)

Pricing

Some good stuff so far, but nothing outstanding. Sow how is the compact Buick outselling the compact Lexus by nearly an order of magnitude (2,497 in March)? Pricing. A leather-upholstered Verano like the one tested lists for $26,850. For a sunroof add $900, for nav $795. Not cheap, surely. After adjusting for feature differences (with TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool) the compact Buick checks in about $2,000 above a Cruze or Focus. But this leaves it about $5,000 below an Acura TSX and nearly $12,000 below a Lexus HS 250h (details). Even if we allow a generous $4,000 for the HS’s hybrid bits, the reason for the car’s slow sales becomes clear.

The midsize Buick Regal is about $3,000 more. Notably, its sales in March were down about 1,000 from a year ago. The suffering will increase once the Verano is available with a more powerful engine (assuming reasonable pricing). The new car’s sales suddenly seem less impressive.

Verdict

The Buick Verano, like the larger Regal, is positioned a quarter-step above the related Chevrolet. A little more style, slightly upgraded materials, a smattering of additional features, moderately firmer suspension tuning, a two-grand bump on the window sticker. A pleasant car, even surprisingly so in some areas (quietness, suspension tuning), but not an outstanding one. Not enough of an upgrade to directly compete with Acura, Lexus, and the Europeans, but not priced to directly compete with them, either. The upside: no direct competitors. The downside: no direct competitors—potential buyers might have trouble categorizing the cars. In appearance, content, and pricing the Verano (like other Buicks) is much closer to the related Chevrolet than to its alleged competitors. While this minimized the effort required to create it, GM should do what it takes to split the difference more evenly.

Buick provided the car with insurance and a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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Generation Why: Free Product Advice For GM (Or Anyone Else) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/generation-why-free-product-advice-for-gm-or-anyone-else/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/generation-why-free-product-advice-for-gm-or-anyone-else/#comments Thu, 12 Apr 2012 13:07:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=439555

General Motors has often been the focus of criticism at Generation Why – despite what some of the B&B suggest, it’s merely a function of the fact that they put themselves out there the most when it comes to publicizing their youth marketing efforts. But it’s time to reward their efforts with some free, unsolicited advice from a know-it-all keyboard jockey.

The above car isn’t anything Chevy is going to put into production. Instead, it’s a photoshop concocted by my friend Jover according to what I think about be a suitable “halo car” for Generation Why. With Chevrolet’s portfolio full of sensible, fuel-efficient cars like the Spark and Sonic, I figured something a bit flashier and more upscale would be something that young, image-conscious people would actually want to buy, invoking their emotions and desires rather than appealing to largely rational factors like price, fuel efficiency or practicality. If you would be so kind as to indulge me, the output of my thought exercise is below.

The above car would use the Cruze’s Delta architecture. think of this as a re-imagining of the slightly gawky Tru 140S concept, because Chevy got the Code 130R (which would be rear-drive and presumably be based on the Alpha architecture) fairly correct from the start. That means that yes, it’s front wheel drive. Big deal. Most consumers don’t care. If they do, they are going to buy a Camaro or a Scion FR-S.  Front-drive would also allow for better packaging; believe it or not, carting around your friends and throwing “lifestyle accessories” matters more than 50/50 weight distribution.

The base engine would be the 1.4T 4-cylinder engine, with the same 6-speed manual and automatic gearboxes as the Cruze. Hopefully, a power bump could be engineered – acceleration in a Cruze is adequate, but any car with sporting pretensions has to have forward thrust that goes beyond “acceptable”. There could also be an Eco model that employs the active aero shutters and low rolling-resistance tires like the Cruze Eco. Higher trim levels could use the 2.0L LHU turbochagred 4-cylinder from the Buick Regal. With 220 and 270 horsepower trims available, there’s room for a mid-grade and a high-performance version that would echo the Cobalt SS.

Unlike the Cobalt SS, the above concept wouldn’t be a factory tuner special. The whole car is supposed to look upscale and mature, like an Audi A5/S5 for people who don’t make the Audi’s MSRP as their yearly salary. While cars like the Hyundai Veloster and Chevrolet Sonic are literally going after those with youthful sensibilities, this would be a car for young people (or anyone, really) that is looking for something more mature, something that wouldn’t be embarrassing to take clients out to lunch in (or take someone out on a date in). The character lines at the rear may look particularly S5-ish, but they’re actually borrowed from the new Malibu. The goal is to keep Chevrolet design cues while still compelling people to ask “what is that?” if they saw it on the street.

The interior would be the place where a grand bargain would have to be made; to touchscreen, or not to touchscreen? Having not had the chance to use the MyLink touchscreen system in the new Malibu or Spark, I can’t endorse it in good faith. I do know that the conventional buttons-and-knobs layout in the Cruze, Orlando and other vehicles is intuitive and easy to use. That can be standard, along with Bluetooth, a USB port and yes, an auxiliary input jack. Those three, more than any kind of touchscreen, or streaming music app, are the must-have features for a new car today. Base versions could come with cloth seats and monochrome surfaces, but higher grade versions could get leather and the earth-tone leather and dash surfaces seen on the 2013 Malibu and other vehicles.

With a Cruze starting at $16,800 and a Camaro starting at $23,280 (not to mention, the Scion FR-S at $24,930 and the Genesis at $25,125), an appropriate price point for this car becomes tough to nail down. A base version, at $18,995, is still accessible to a fair amount of younger buyers without being too bargain basement. More powerful versions (especially a 270 horsepower version loaded to the gills) could push deeper into Genesis Coupe territory. Even if it didn’t quite have the performance cred, the upscale styling and premium interior would help draw in a buyer more concerned about making the 7:15 movie screening than running a 7:15 on the Nurburgring. That’s not to say that this car has to be a compromised, sloppy-handling poseur-mobile, but think of it as, well, an Audi A5, whereas the Scion FR-S is more focused and driver oriented like a BMW 3-Series. There’s no use in trying to beat Toyota and Subaru at their own game. Instead, this car would focus on a different set of criteria, sacrificing some outright driving engagement for more upscale look and feel. A future vehicle based on the Alpha platform can do that, and be positioned at a higher price point if need be.

The only thing missing is a name.

Thanks to Jover for his Photoshop wizardry

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Review: Chevrolet Orlando http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-chevrolet-orlando/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-chevrolet-orlando/#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2012 19:07:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=436088

It’s not often that automakers go to the trouble of bringing a car to Canada, but refrain from selling it in the United States. With one tenth the population and different homologation laws than the United States, the costs rarely make it worthwhile for automakers to import unique products to the Canadian market.

 Vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz B-Class or Nissan X-Trail are exceptions to the rule – compact utility vehicles that are fuel efficient and priced in the lower end of their segments. General Motors originally intended to sell the Chevrolet Orlando in the United States, but according to GM Canada, American engineers wanted to include features like knee airbags to help the Orlando meet an obscure American crash test regulation, but the cost of this change would have made the venture unprofitable. Since the vehicle already met every other unified North American standard, it was an easy choice to sell it in Canada, where higher fuel prices and a love of smaller vehicles would make it an attractive choice.

Minivans may be considered “uncool” by some, but they’ve yet to lose their luster up here. The Dodge Grand Caravan is one of Canada’s best-selling vehicles, and starts at the bargain basement price of $19,995 – identical to the Orlando. The similarities end there, as the Orlando is more a re-incarnation of the first generation Odyssey than a successor to the dreadful Uplander minivan that most of us have erased from our memories.

Like the old Odyssey, the Korean-built Orlando has conventionally hinged doors, a 4-cylinder engine and a smaller footprint than most traditional minivans. The Orlando, at 183 inches long, is nearly two feet shorter than a Grand Caravan and is 669 lbs lighter. The Orlando’s lack of heft means it feels like a big Cruze behind the wheel, with the same well-weighted but somewhat vague steering and relatively car-like driving dynamics. A 2.4L Ecotec engine and 6-speed automatic transmission are employed here, and while they feel slightly taxed in this application, the Orlando has enough power to get out of its own way. Pity that the GM 6-speed automatic still feels as if it’s on a 5-second delay to catch any instances of vehicular obscenity, as it spoils what could otherwise be a well-matched powertrain. Fuel economy around town was about 23 mpg, or 1 mpg better than GM’s city rating (supposedly it will return 34 mpg on the highway). A manual transmission is available, but the market for this unit is probably smaller than those Canadians who favor privatized healthcare or more lax gun laws.

The cabin of our tester was utilitarian, with all-black fabric and black plastic surfaces throughout our 2LT tester. The dash is basically identical to the Cruze, and all the controls will be familiar to anyone who has been in a recent GM product. One neat feature is a hinged stereo faceplate that can flip upwards to reveal a hidden storage compartment – great for cell phones, iPods and other gadgets. The seat fabric appears to be some kind of easy-to-clean material rather than plush cloth, likely a concession to owners who will want to clean up spilled apple juice rather than luxuriate in some fine imported fabric.

What the Orlando adds on the “car” side of the equation, it lacks on the “utility vehicle” side. There is no fancy stow-and-go seating arrangement like the Caravan, just conventional folding seats in the second row. The third row is very tight and suitable only for small kids. Owners would frankly be better off folding them flat, which opens up a much larger cargo area that would easily swallow up a couple suitcases.

Sales of the Orlando haven’t been that brisk, with the Mazda5 outselling it by over 100 units so far in 2012, and the Caravan comprising 60 percent of the total minivan market. The Caravan’s Stow ‘N Go seats, and the ability to swallow multiple hockey bags (thanks to the Caravan’s larger size) and identical pricing – both base models start at $19,995, and a Caravan with Stow ‘N Go starts at $23,995, while our Orlando 2LT starts at $500 less. The Orlando’s car-like nature made it easy to park and maneuver in the tight confines of downtown Toronto, and was able to haul myself, 4 friends and a dog around with ease on a weekend jaunt to a local park. But with most minivan buyers residing in the suburbs and ferrying multiple kids to school, hockey and all points in between, it’s easy to see why a traditional minivan may suit their needs better than the Orlando, despite the Chevrolet’s merits.

orlandotitle orlandotitle Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC 2012 Chevrolet Orlando. Photo courtesy Chris Blanchette for The Truth About Cars TTAC IMG_0098 IMG_0094 IMG_0093 IMG_0092 IMG_0087 IMG_0085 IMG_0084 IMG_0077 IMG_0071 IMG_0062 IMG_0055 IMG_0051 IMG_0042 IMG_0038 IMG_0035 IMG_0031 IMG_0030 IMG_0021 IMG_0003 IMG_0101

 

 

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High Gas Prices Mean Happy Days For Honda Civic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/high-gas-prices-mean-happy-days-for-honda-civic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/high-gas-prices-mean-happy-days-for-honda-civic/#comments Tue, 13 Mar 2012 21:17:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=434873

Pop quiz; what do increased production, lots of cash on the hood and high gas prices mean for Honda dealers? Lots of Civics moving out the door.

Civic sales are up 45 percent in the first two months of this year, and the model is outselling former top dogs like the Chevrolet Cruze and last year’s compact champion the Toyota Corolla. Honda’s supply chain woes are over (something they were stung by last year) and production is up by 69 percent.

High gas prices are helping the Civic, which is seen as a solid choice in a segment full of fuel-efficient cars. While gas prices may level out this summer, the Civic is set to get a very early refresh in time for the 2013 model year. Add to that strong incentives to help move the 2012 model (one source told us that there was as much as $1,900 per car in incentives for the Civic) and Honda is looking strong in the compact segment – maybe even regaining the small car sales crown, something it hasn’t held since 2002.

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Geneva 2012: Chevrolet Cruze Manual Diesel Station Wagon, What Everyone SHOULD Be Driving http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/geneva-2012-chevrolet-cruze-manual-diesel-station-wagon-what-everyone-should-be-driving/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/geneva-2012-chevrolet-cruze-manual-diesel-station-wagon-what-everyone-should-be-driving/#comments Wed, 07 Mar 2012 17:49:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=434305

This is the Chevrolet Cruze Manual Diesel Wagon. This is what all of us North Americans should be driving. Everyone in Europe drives a manual, diesel wagon, and if we brought them to North America, everyone would drive them. Because they’re more efficient than a hybrid, and more practical than a wasteful, ugly, boring CUV. Just one problem; if everyone drove them,wagon lovers would no longer be able to lord their supposed superiority over the masses – maybe they’d start buying Honda CR-V’s, since they can only define their worth via consumption of consumer goods.

In all seriousness, the Cruze Wagon does look like a nice car, and I’d like to see it come over to North America. In addition to Our Lord Christ The 1.7L And 2.0L Diesel Engines, there’s also a few gasoline options, among them the 1.4T found in the Cruze sedan. The diesel versions do get a start-stop system, a neat addition to an already efficient powerplant. Interestingly, the wagon is only 3.1 inches longer than the sedan.

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The Truth About Ford Focus Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/the-truth-about-ford-focus-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/the-truth-about-ford-focus-sales/#comments Thu, 01 Mar 2012 19:17:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=433348

We’re still waiting to get the final February sales numbers on all automakers, but one emerging story is that the Ford Focus has finally outsold its domestic rival, the Chevrolet Cruze.

Throughout 2011 and January 2012, the Cruze led the Focus, with the Chevy beating the Ford last year by a substantial margin (231, 860 units for the Cruze versus 175,709 for the Focus). Last month the Cruze did 15,049 units versus 14,440 for the Focus. This month, independent analyst Timothy Cain is reporting that the Focus finally bested the Cruze. Chevrolet moved 20,427 Cruzes versus 23,350 for the Blue Oval’s small car.

Ford is touting a 115 percent year-over-year gain for the Focus, having sold 10,879 Foci in February 2011, but their fleet percentage back then, according to TrueCar, was just 1.6 percent.. One year later, it’s closer to 20 percent. February wasn’t even over when Ford started sending out press releases claiming that Focus sales are on pace to double this month compared to February of 2011. With reports of Ford Focus fleet sales hovering around 45 percent, we thought that it would be worthwhile to look at the fleet/retail breakdown for the Focus and Cruze in 2011, as a means of providing a bit of context .

Fleet sales, as we all know, cut into margins and hurt resale value. The Cruze and Focus weren’t that far off in the fleet race, but the big gap was in retail sales.

While Ford was complaining about not having enough Focus models to sell last year, the timing of Ford’s decision to dump Foci into their fleets (Ford wouldn’t give us a breakdown of daily rental sales either, stating that their total mix is around 12 percent) is also curious. Was this an attempt to move cars that were prone to quality issues (the MyFord Touch and dual-clutch gearboxes in particular) away from consumer hands? Even when Ford reached a “sales high” of 22,303 units in May of 2011, they were still sending 41.4 percent of Foci to the fleets. Check out the month-by-month charts below for a better breakdown. The first chart represents total sales in 2011 broken down by fleet and retail, while the second chart represents inventory levels from January 2011 to February 2012.

When Focus inventory was at its lowest points, its fleet sales were relatively high. This trend starts to reverse itself as inventory becomes higher. Focus retail sales, assuming the 20 percent fleet number is correct, would be at 18,880. Of course, the missing links here are the Cruze fleet sales numbers for 2012 and the incentives being doled out on both cars.

Looking at the bigger picture, inventory overall bouncing back and the Japanese automakers finally shrugging off their production woes, numbers for the Civic and Corolla should be even higher – the Civic was far and away the leader last year, and Honda barely moved any of them to fleets – by contrast, in June of 2011, Ford sent 50 percent of its Focus volume went to fleets. We’ll know more as the day progresses, but the compact segment as a whole is looking very strong for this month.

Thanks to TrueCar and Timothy Cain for the sales numbers

 

 

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Chevrolet Cruze Station Wagon Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/chevrolet-cruze-station-wagon-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/chevrolet-cruze-station-wagon-revealed/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2012 15:46:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=430199

Fans of the station wagon rejoice – Chevrolet has a new product for those of you seeking an alternative to the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen, in the form of the Chevrolet Cruze station wagon.

While Europe and Australia will get this vehicle, Americans will be shut out, as Chevrolet has officially denied that we’ll get the Cruze station wagon. The same 1.4 turbo, 1.6 and 1.8L gasoline engines and 1.7 and 2.0L diesel engines will carry over from the sedan and hatchback, as well as Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system. At 184 inches long, the Cruze wagon is about three inches longer than the sedan (and 7 inches longer than the hatchback that we also don’t get) while offering 17.6 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats up and 52 with the seats down. Look for the official real at the Geneva Auto Show in early March.

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Egyptian Sheikh Declares Chevrolet “Haram” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/egyptian-sheikh-declares-chevrolet-haram/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/egyptian-sheikh-declares-chevrolet-haram/#comments Mon, 30 Jan 2012 22:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=428653  

An Egyptian sheikh has declared Chevrolet products “haram” (or forbidden, in Arabic) but the culprit this time isn’t the “Zionists”. It’s Christians.

According to the sheikh, the Chevrolet bowtie logo looks too similar to a cross. Egyptian TV presenter Amr Adeeb railed against the silly fatwa, noting the extreme, delusional narcissism of the sheikh by rhetoricallly asking

“As if the people who came up with the logo were thinking that we want to put this special logo on the car just to piss us [Muslims] off?”

Is it any surprise that the same religious authorities who condone flying jetliners into buildings think like petulant, narcissistic children? Apparently, the Chevrolet Cruze is a pretty bitchin’ car in the Gaza strip, and Saudi Arabia has gotten small-block Chevrolet Caprices (aka Holden Commodores) for years. If there are any Arabic speakers above familiar with the Egyptian dialect, feel free to translate Adeeb’s rant against the fatwa.

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Will GM Bring Us A Diesel, Manual Station Wagon? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/will-gm-bring-us-a-diesel-manual-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/will-gm-bring-us-a-diesel-manual-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 27 Jan 2012 18:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=428309

The Chevrolet Cruze hatchback that’s sold in virtually every market except the United States still won’t be coming to America – but we may have the chance to get a Cruze wagon, if Automotive News has their story straight.

GM is apparently working on a Cruze wagon, essentially a stretched version of the already attractive Cruze hatch. Yes, general wisdom says that Americans don’t buy hatches. But the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra Touring (which debuts next month), Volkswagen Golf, Kia Forte5, Toyota Matrix and Mazda3 all exist – why not something from the bowtie brand? As AN notes, the Cruze did very well in 2011′s sales charts and all of the volume was composed of 4-door sedans. Surely a Cruze 5-door would add something to the mix? Canada, a strong market for the Cruze, and hatches in general, would gobble this thing up. A Cruze Eco hatch with a 6-speed stick would be a fantastic way to get around in my books. Or what about the prospect of a wagon version of the Cruze diesel? Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here…

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Scion xD Scores Last In Euro NCAP Compact Crash Test http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/scion-xd-scores-last-in-euro-ncap-compact-crash-test/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/scion-xd-scores-last-in-euro-ncap-compact-crash-test/#comments Thu, 10 Dec 2009 16:03:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=338811

The Scion xD is known in Europe as the “Urban Cruiser,” and with an AWD option it’s sold as a quasi-SUV. According to a Euro NCAP crash test of comact cars though, the Urban Cruiser offers a lot less safety than you might expect in an SUV. NCAP’s latest round of compact testing saw vehicles from the new Opel Astra and Chevy Cruze to the Peugeot 308 and Mazda3 recording perfect five-star scores, indicating just how safe compact cars have become. And even the video of the Urban Cruiser’s three-star performance lacks the drama of earlier compact crash tests: a failure of side airbags and a weak performance in the new side pole crash caused the poor score. Most embarrassing of all, the Chevrolet Spark (neé Daewoo Matiz Creative) came in second to last, scoring four stars to the Urban Cruiser’s three.

Toyota’s PR has responded to the poor showing, telling What Car?:

In 2009, we received a five-star rating for all three new cars that were evaluated by Euro NCAP (iQ, Avensis and Prius).

We are therefore very surprised that the Urban Cruiser received only a three-star rating from Euro NCAP. As with any other Toyota vehicle, we had submitted the Urban Cruiser to rigorous in-house tests, which indicated that it would secure a five-star rating.

We are currently investigating the Euro NCAP result in detail, in order to understand why there is a difference between our Toyota assessment and Euro NCAP’s rating.

Together with other car makers, we are also discussing with Euro NCAP certain aspects of their evaluation methodology, which might also explain why the rating is lower than we expected.

The three-star rating for the Urban Cruiser has been triggered by the “pole side impact” test. During this assessment, the dummy head area deceleration slightly exceeded the demand value of Euro NCAP.

There is a difference of opinion between us and Euro NCAP on a technical matter, namely peak acceleration of the head area in the Pole Side Impact test.

Our in-house tests, which are designed to meet the highest safety requirements, indicated that the protection provided by the head curtain airbag would be in line with a five-star Euro NCAP rating.

Once again, we remain fully convinced that Urban Cruiser is a safe car.

And compared to past performances in this class, the xD is a relatively safe car. It’s just less safe than… a 1.2 liter Korean minicar. Deal with it, Toyota.

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