“Smooth, silent, and heavy.” That’s what I said when I drove a first-generation Cruze with 55,000 miles on the digital odometer. Another thing I said: “Ready for prime time.” Daewoo’s, excuse me, GM Korea‘s first take on a compact-class world car was, to misuse a phrase from an Eighties Updike novel, “a thick, sweet plaything” that broke all Korean-car stereotypes by being substantially heavier, quieter, and more solid-feeling than any of its competitors.
It was an intelligent, thoughtful decision on General Motors’ part, assuming it was a decision and not simply a side effect of the General’s notorious inability to understand compact-car engineering. And it ensured the Cruze continues to have a reasonable reputation in the used market as a safe choice, marrying some of the J-car’s cockroach durability with vaguely modern over-the-road dynamics.
But there was a price to be paid, and that price was fuel economy. The Cruze was always a heavy drinker, exceeding four-cylinder Camrys and Accords in its fondness for the pumps. Something had to be done, and something was done. The new Cruze is “up to 250 pounds lighter” according to GM’s press releases.
I’m here to tell you that the SlimFast program worked. The Cruze now gets class-competitive fuel economy. Which leads to the question: If that’s what you gain when you “get the lead out”, so to speak, what do you lose?
Leasehackr has a screaming deal on a 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Limited (the old body style) 1LT Automatic if:
1) You can sell it for more than $13,000 after two years;
2) You’re were a Costco Auto member before Sept. 30;
3) You can get $1,800 off of MSRP, or thereabouts;
4) Max incentives;
5) You’re a current lessee of another automaker;
6) You don’t mind driving a Chevrolet Cruze Limited 1LT Automatic for two years.
If you ticked every one of those boxes, congratulations! You can lease a 2016 Chevrolet Cruze for $40 or less*** per month for 24 months.
General Motors used the 2014 Beijing auto show for the world premiere of the next generation Chevrolet Cruze while Shanghai GM launched the Chevrolet Trax, what the brand calls its “new urban SUV”, for the Chinese market. The Trax is Chevy’s version of the Opel Mokka, which is also sold in Buick livery as the Encore. The Encore has done so well in the U.S. market that GM has had to juggle production at its Korean and Spanish plants to keep up with demand. The Trax will eventually come to America, where GM hopes it will repeat the Encore’s success. If it does, some of that success may come at the cost of cannibalizing some Encore sales.
Picture lifted from GM’s website
In addition to my wife’s car, during my recent visit to Omaha, I got the chance to sample my Father in Law’s 2013 Chevy Cruz LT. Contrary to our perceived anti-GM Bias, I have to say it’s really good.
How good? Let’s open with; if you are looking at a Hyundai, Kia and especially the Civic or Corolla, you should reconsider, that good. TTAC liked it in 2010, and TTAC liked it 2011, and 2012. I did not receive a press car or a tank of gas, and like the website promises; the truth is, I like it now.
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.