By on April 16, 2010

The latest Cruze-hyping video from GM shows the forthcoming compact ripping through a test track, as Vehicle Line Director Chuck Russell waxes eloquent about its engineering and reliability. His point is clear: this new Cruze is a truly global product, in contrast to the America-only Cavalier update that was the Cobalt it replaces. And comparing footage of the Cruze ripping through a slalom to that of a Civic negotiating the same obstacles, one is left with the impression that Russell isn’t just blowing smoke. But then, we knew that already. In his review of the European-spec Cruze, TTAC’s Martin Schwoerer notes:

In contrast to the engine, the Cruze’s ride and handling are perfectly acceptable in the grand scheme of things.

The biggest outstanding question about the Cruze remains: how bad will the 1.8 liter engine be, and how much will you have to pay to upgrade to the all-new, and much-ballyhood 1.4 liter turbocharged engine. Oh yes, and about that reliability: The Chosun Ilbo reports that GM has already recalled the Korean-market, 1.8-equipped Cruze (known as the Daewoo Lacetti Premiere) twice in its first six months on sale. The reason: leaky fuel lines that could cause firey disaster in the case of a wreck. So, we’re glad GM has taken its time rolling the Cruze out stateside, but if you’re considering buying one, you might want to wait a good year after it goes on sale to see if these problems persist… even if the initial reviews justify GM’s considerable hype.

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38 Comments on “Chevy Cruze: “Targeted To Overperform In All Areas”...”

  • avatar

    I’m going to do what I can to have initial reliability stats on the Cruze within six months of its intro. TrueDelta has had great participation by owners of the new Equinox, and I hope for the same with the Cruze.

  • avatar

    Good news for future Stars in Reasonably-Priced Cars?

  • avatar

    GM is going to take on the Euro Focus with a bland looking, underpowered Daewoo? Good luck with that.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota’s answer is a bland looking underpowered car as well.

      Bland looks sell. Many cars in Europe are under powered, as long as they aren’t diesel. What’s is your point?

  • avatar

    Good to know that GM is still good at empty talks.

  • avatar

    GM new product launch PR video checklist:
    1. All-area improvement!
    2. European!
    3. Better than Honda/Toyota!
    4. International testing!
    5. Say “quite frankly” or “simply” at least once.
    6. Use a folksy mixed metaphor like “we built a better mouse trap”.

    I will say that I am in the minority that likes the Cruze’s exterior styling more than what Ford has cooked up with the next Focus.

  • avatar

    Let’s see, how many bites at the small car apple has GM taken…

    1. Vega
    2. Monza
    3. Chevette
    4. Nova
    5. Sprint
    6. Spectrum
    7. Nova (redux)
    8. Citation
    9. Cavalier
    10. Metro
    11. Prizm
    12. Aveo
    13. Cobalt
    14. Cruze

    Every one was hailed as the “Import killer” that would finally save GM.

    …and how many of those have ever truly beaten an Accord, Civic, Camry, or Corrola in the marketplace?

    • 0 avatar

      It all started with the Corvair, but don’t forget my personal favorite, the “Lemans” badged Daewoo!

    • 0 avatar

      the Prizm compaired extreamly well with the Corolla of the same year…

      yea, i know, but i could not help it.

    • 0 avatar

      @Chuck: You missed the Corvair. Several of the cars you mention are/were Toyotas in drag and/or marketed by another arm of GM (Geo). And several of the competition’s cars haven’t competed against the smallest domestic GM model in 25 or more years (Accord) or never have at all (Camry).

      But don’t let an injection of facts spoil a good rant.

  • avatar
    Rusted Source

    Anyone else find it a bit funny that the guy is saying “We target this vehicle to over-perform in all areas” and then show a clip of the vehicle over-steering and coming to stop before it does a 180?

  • avatar

    Marketing will hopefully have an upscale SS-like model to lead the model into a bright, glorious Days-of-Thunderish phase by labeling that model the “Tom.”

    A model to sink one’s tooth into. Teeth if not a hereabouts hillbilly.

    Wait a minute.


    It would be the “Nichole” and since that divine essence is no longer a Cruze or Cruise or whatever……

    Oh…. just forget it.

  • avatar

    The fact that none of the reviews of the Cruze in European form have been anything but resoundingly “meh”, does not bode well for it’s competitiveness vs Golf or new Focus or Mazda3. It’s probably no worse/better than a Corolla (which are deadly dull) but that’s not an “overperformance” in my book.

    I’m sure it’s much nicer than a Cobalt and will make the Caliber look even more pathetic (not that that’s hard to do) than it does now, but that’s not a competitive product.

    • 0 avatar

      Rock & Rye or Red Pop?

      My older brother and sister went to James Vernor Elementary School in Detroit. Yeah, the ginger ale guy. When they attended the school, Vernor’s still had their bottling plant on Woodward and the company would send over cases of free ginger ale that the school would serve at assemblies and others school functions.

      Today, the nannies and busybodies would have a fit if a school was named after a soda pop baron, and they’d be positively apoplectic if a school served students soda pop.

  • avatar

    Everything Daewoo has ever built has been complete and utter garbage. But I have to say, the day that Daewoo left the US market was a terrible day. Because now a Daewoo isn’t a Daewoo, but instead it’s a 2007 Suzuki, or a 2009 Pontiac, or a Saturn, or a new Chevrolet. Or, the Daewoo is the 6-speed automatic in your 4cyl Saturn Aura/Chevy Malibu. Basically, it’s just getting that much harder to find the filthy Daewoo, but it’s still just as awful as ever.

    As much as I like the new Malibu, I predict the 6-speed auto 4-cylinder model will have horrendous reliability (Mr. Karesh?). This Cruze will also most likely go down in history as yet another under engineered car made with cheap parts from vendors based solely on cost rather than long term durability. I would so love for GM to prove me wrong, but there isn’t enough inherent engineering culture within management to care about such things, which is why it’s all just outsourced to their lowest-cost provider–the sorry, distressed Daewoo engineers in Korea who weren’t good enough to be hired by Hyundai.

  • avatar

    Okay, so Chevrolet claims to have done a tremendous amount of research and durability testing with this vehicle. Of course they have said virtually the same thing about every small car they have introduced over the years, only to have problems crop up after introduction. The real test will how well the Cruze holds up in reliability and performance a couple of years down the road. If I were GM I would not be making claims that this vehicle is going to chase the imports back to their countries of origin.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    I was astonished when they started selling Daewoos in Europe badged as Chevrolets , but I never imagined they would pull the same stunt in the USA. New Chevrolets/Daewoos only seem to sell to car-rental companies as far as I can see.

  • avatar

    The Cruze looks like a real winner w/the 1.4T, and yes I am serious.

    When is Ford going to field a competitive small car?

  • avatar

    “…so Chevrolet claims to have done a tremendous amount of research and durability testing with this vehicle. Of course they have said virtually the same thing about every small car they have introduced over the years, only to have problems crop up after introduction.”

    Cue flashback to Chevy Citation and the X cars.

  • avatar

    I’m not interested in revealing exactly what sector of the automotive engineering field I’ve made my career in for over three decades, but I will say this: it’s an area that lends itself to reasonably quick, easy, and accurate static judgment by visual inspection. That’s a long way of saying it’s pretty easy for me to take a look at the relevant parts of a parked car and make a pretty good assessment of the level of care, thought, skill, investment, and ambition that went into its engineering, design, and build. It doesn’t necessarily mean the entire vehicle is of that same level, but over the years my component/system-specific inspections have tracked reasonably well with the overall quality, durability, and reliably of the whole vehicle.

    With all that said: I am not especially impressed with the Cruze. It’s a great deal better than the Cavabalt, but it could hardly have been worse, now, could it? GM sold scads of those hideous penalty boxes, with some owners dumb enough to buy more than one, so I’m sure they’ll do well in the market with this car, too.

  • avatar

    GM still has vestiges of the old-guard management in place, so they are bound to continue their mediocrity of excellence when it comes to building small cars.

    If the GM/NUMMI era taught me anything, it taught me this:

    It’s not the auto worker that’s the problem (GM/NUMMI rivaled Toyota in reliability and lack of defects back in the day). It was a combination of the meddlesome corporate GM management and Union management that caused GM/NUMMI to revert towards the GM comfort zone of medicrity.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    I still remember reading some hopa-lálá about dome rear suspension bushings on the departed Cobalt being engineered ‘just like’ the ones used by VW – despite the extra cost – in order to give the Cobalt that ‘German riding’ feeling. Tell me: Does the Cruz come with German inspired rear bushings too? It made SUCH A DIFFERENCE in the Cobalt…

  • avatar

    “I am not especially impressed with the Cruze. It’s a great deal better than the Cavabalt, but it could hardly have been worse, now, could it? GM sold scads of those hideous penalty boxes, with some owners dumb enough to buy more than one, so I’m sure they’ll do well in the market with this car, too.”

    Well said OMG Shoes.

    At the end of the day, despite what the enthusiast wants, GM merely has to sell product profitably. IF, and that’s a big IF, the Cruz is deemed ‘good enough’ by the middle of the bell-curve, then hey, it might be a success.

    Now, I would hasten to add the middle of the bell curve that doesn’t know better than the Cavabalt is a shrinking market, but still…

    The only thing that I would point out though is that only the ill-informed actually paid any real money for the Cavabalt. It always had a pile of cash on the hood to try to maintain GM CAFE numbers.

    • 0 avatar

      Currently at my local Chevrolet dealer a brand spanking new base model 5 speed crank window Cobalt coupe with AC and a spoiler as about the only options will set you back a hair over $13,000 with incentives. List price almost $16,000. Fuel economy 37mpg highway cause now their ALL XFE models.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t been to Gallup in some time, but I would wager the dealer count is still rather low? Yes?

      13K for a Cobalt (and I know you could deal from there in ABQ or another major market). Put that against a slightly better equipped Civic at about 16K.

      If GM can sell them *profitably* at 13K, then it’s a win for GM. I just don’t see it happening. My point was just that the Cavalier (and to a lesser extent) Cobalt were basically subsidized by sales of higher margin SUVs. Even in the early 2000’s a Sunfire was about $9K out the door. Guys would buy them for their teenage daughters to wreck, because they didn’t want them stuffing their nice car.

      Now that the full-tag SUV subsidy has been removed, the Cruze will have to compete at a price point much closer to that Civic. And that may be tough.

    • 0 avatar

      And I was illustrating your point. I remember years when screaming deals could be had on small cars at the end of the year cause Ford and GM would realize that they were not going to meet their CAFE targets and decided that blowing out small cars was somehow cheaper than paying the fine. I don’t think they’re profitable at $13K either.

  • avatar

    I had been lucky enough to never have driven a Cobalt until early last week.

    Oh – my – God.

    Didn’t realize that such absolute rubbish was still available. Now if the Cruze is “targeted” to “overperform” in “all areas”, it won’t be difficult to beat the Cobalt now matter how you slice the turkey.

    By comparison, the Civic is a limousine.

  • avatar

    If the 1.8L is the same unit from the Astra, it’s not a bad engine. Underpowered, yes, but not terribly so. I get get decent gas mileage around town. You really need to rev the snot out of it on the hwy.

  • avatar

    I will give Ford a chance to prove themselves with both the new Focus and even Fiesta – which are coming soon, from what I’ve been hearing (wink, wink).

    Seriously, though, Ford would do well to bring a closely Euro-spec’d, even if not with exactly the same suspension calibrations (but close) in the base model, to deal with our, moon-cratered, crappy U.S. roads.

    The current Focus ain’t nothing to get anymore exited about than the current Cobalt. Trust me, as I drove one for two weeks as a loaner.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with you bud. Let’s see these cars out in the wild first, before we condemn them to junk pile. There are lots of people drooling over this Fiesta and the new Focus, making all kinds of claims, etc. How do they know this? They’re not on sale here.

      Also, Ford will not bring over an Euro-spec version of any of their cars. I waited in vain for versions of their cars to come over, only to be disappointed with either hyped-up versions of US spec cars (Escort), or watered-down versions of European cars (Merkurs) that were hardly any better than the US spec cars. The closest I ever came was the Mustang SVO, and I didn’t bite on that one, either. The 5.0’s would blow it’s doors off.

      Ford won’t bring a Euro-spec car here for the same reason Toyota doesn’t bring anything special here either: They don’t make them money. Why should they? Dull sells more cars, and probably have fewer warranty claims than the hot rod stuff. I don’t blame them.

  • avatar

    If you want to compare the Cruze to something, head to click on tips and tricks, then click compare cars. You can put the Cruze up against any car that might be available in the American market, i.e. the Ford Focus and have a look at the details. Note that the prices are in Aussie Dollars but they will be relevant in the comparision

    • 0 avatar

      except that the Focus available outside the US/Canada market isn’t related to the Focus available in the US/Canada market, so that comparison’s up the pipe.

  • avatar

    I think the Cruze will be considered a success if it’s class competitive. At this point GM doesn’t have to make it class leading, it just has to be a good solid car that will prove to be durable and reliable. If GM can prove that they can make a great small car, and incrementally improve it (rather than giving up and moving onto the next “home-run”) that will be the next step to winning back lost customers. North Americans have bought millions of Cavaliers and Cobalts, and will buy these in the hundreds of thousands; if it’s a really good car it will have a snowball effect, rolling up lots of sales for bigger even better GM products.

    I’m willing to test and judge this car with an open mind as I sense that GM seems to be trying to change course; maybe this is the car that finally delivers on GM’s small car promise.

  • avatar

    Okay GM you have my attention. Since it is a smallish vehicle let’s make some changes so it is even more useful. Make it a five door vehicle. Or a wagon. Then I can haul my family AND/OR some packages. Sell it to me with a stick, no slushbox thank you. Oh, and get rid of that bowtie band across the grille. Or I will. It’s ugly. The rest of it is worth a look. You have my attention.

    I guess since GM is a volume seller and they aim to sell the maximum number of vehicles all the time that there won’t be a five door or a wagon and I’ll be prowling the Euro brands or Subaru for my next purchase.

    Good luck to you GM. I expect I STILL won’t own a GM product. (I don’t buy halo cars, don’t buy large SUVs, I don’t buy pickup trucks, I don’t sedans, I don’t buy muscle cars… I do buy sporty hatchbacks, four cylinders, turbos, manual transmissions, small CUVs, I do buy convertibles, good minivans, vehicles that last 200K+ miles, sporty cars/vans/convertibles, EVs, good hybrids, and convertibles. Looking “tough and mean and in-your-face” is low on my priorities while sporty, athletic and lean are high on my priorities). GM seems to do big and bulky really well.

    Oh well… Good luck to you GM.

  • avatar

    Reviews of this car in Europe have been pretty mediocre.

    Cobalt2 has just arrived folks.

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