Hail Mary: Chevrolet's Cruze, cruising into L.A.

The L.A. Auto Show is this week, and every year manufacturers show the best of their new cars, trucks, SUVs and now crossovers.  This year, GM has two vehicles, and the Cruze is arguably the more important of the two.  The other is the Volt, which we will be reporting on when more information becomes available.

I say that the Cruze is arguably the more important of the two vehicles which GM is releasing in 2010.  It’s quite possibly the most important vehicle GM is prepping for sale.  The compact car segment, where most offerings fall under the $20,000 MSRP mark, is one of the most hotly-contested markets in the US automotive marketplace.  There are well over a dozen entries, with more and more being introduced each year.  A lot can ride on a compact car purchase, as it’s usually a younger buyer, and based on their experience with that first car, each manufacturer hopes they will continue to buy in the brand and move up to the more expensive, and higher-margin vehicles that are offered.

This is where GM has faltered in recent years.  The Cavalier was a decent seller, but quality and reliability concerns stalled sales and led to its replacement by the Cobalt in 2004.  The Cobalt was pretty much a non-starter, and its only popular variant was the SS, offered with upgraded performance for a sticker price in the low $20,000s.  While the recently-redesigned Malibu is garnering great praise and increased sales, the Cobalt just isn’t competitive in its segment.

Enter the Chevrolet Cruze.  Slated for a late-2010 release as a 2011 car, the Cruze will replace the Cobalt, and shares its platform with the upcoming Chevrolet Volt.  This gives both cars a good place to start, and in GM’s post-bankruptcy life, saving money is always a good thing.

GM is aiming squarely at the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, aiming to best them in safety, roominess, and content.  With more size, more airbags, and enough goodies to keep technology-loving drivers happy, the Cruze promises to be GM’s best effort yet to draw in younger or price-conscious buyers.

The big things GM is doing with the Cruze to show its determination to become competitive again include new fuel-efficient engines, including a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine which promises up to 40 MPG highway, modern transmissions, the aforementioned technology options, as well as a modern interior using high-quality materials and design.

  • 2011 Chevrolet Cruze at a Glance:
    • Popular global car refined for America
    • Expected segment-best fuel economy – up to 40 mpg highway – with new family of small-displacement engines, including Ecotec 1.4L I-4 turbo
    • Progressive design with exceptional levels of refinement, quietness and build quality
    • More spacious interior and greater cargo room than Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla
    • Ten standard air bags help make it one of the safest cars in its class
    • Built at Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant
    • On sale in third quarter of 2010
    • Five-year/100,000-mile powertain warranty – the best coverage in America

by John Suit

Source: General Motors


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