For the money alone, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is hard to beat – proving that you don’t have to build a crossover to please everyone in the car. With the rising cost of gasoline, sedans are turning soccer families’ heads again.
The Cruze is, at once, practical and inexpensive yet still pretty fun to drive. On GM’s site, they gleefully compare the Cruze’s salient stats to those of more expensive Japanese competitors in its class. By those numbers, the Chev seems to hold up against, if not trump, the others. Let’s take a look at the corporate math.
138 horsepower and 148 lb/ft of torque are wrought from a turbocharged 1.4L 4-banger. It’s not quite the output of those competitors it’s compared to, but there is the aforementioned pocket-pleasing price, plus the 8.5 and 5.5 L/100km (city and highway) in fuel consumption. To get even more from that engine, the 6-speed automatic transmission has a sport mode which utterly transforms the sensitivity of the accelerator, turning your feet into fingers, far less of an automatic feel.
Room to move: 4/5
The back seats collapse, providing plenty of extra space in an already roomy trunk. You can see how easily my bicycle fit at DailyXY on Facebook. The vehicle seats 5 comfortably, with more than enough grownup legroom in the back – provided you don’t drop the seats to store bikes.
Electronica: 4/5 (4.5 if you spend a titch more)
So what if the dashboard looks a bit like an ’80s ghettoblaster? The interface is easy to understand. XM satellite radio, a welcome addition, is included for 12 months in the base price, probably just long enough to become utterly addicted.
Still, for a few shekels more, you can add conveniences that immediately become necessities: Bluetooth for your phone and USB port for everything else. Several other goodies are baked into the $1,375 price for preferred equipment, including 16″ alloy wheels, and audio controls built into a steering wheel bound in leather. By my bad math, that’s a little over 5%.
The Cruze bagged the award for the Auto Journalists Association of Canada’s (AJAC) 2011 Canadian Car of the Year. AJAC takes into account mundane details that impress real drivers, like safety, for which the Cruze has also won other awards. More importantly, the AJAC award rates value for money – which the Cruze deserves.
2011 Chevrolet Cruze LT Turbo
Base Price: $19,495
As Driven: $22,420
Chevrolet Cruze microsite
Image courtesy of Steven Bochenek.