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CRUZE LTZ rental drive.....plus old 2011 Chevy Cruze LT1 quick spin - update - LTZ tested - update LS manual and LT2 tested - update ECO manual tested


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tested - red 2011 Cruze LT1 sticker 20,600 +/- 1.4 turbo, 6 sp auto

HIGHS

Fantastic cockpit, dash layout, ergonomics, displays, and controls including yummy leather wrapped steering wheel and dash buttons
Interesting interior design with pretty good material quality all around
Gauges and display in particular are a huge upgrade
Really good visibility (as opposed to bunker mode like so many cars including the Malibu)
Power seat is handy
Great front row space and cabin width
Lots of thoughtful convenience features including remote start
Quiet interior, especially at highway speeds
Frisky little turbo! (except....see below)
Much improved steering feel over the Cobalt I pulled up into the lot with

-------sidebar---------

It's really painful getting back in a Cobalt after driving a Cruze. Seriously.

------back to programming----------

good trunk space
nice engine sounds, decent snarl out of it once the turbo spools up
low cruzing rpm at highways speeds (about 2500 rpm at 65 mph)
power (once on the boil, see below) is quite "sprite" and is "just fine" for what I would consider most drivers on a morning commute.
no real noticeable or glaring NVH issues when studied in the context of the compact competition
Power seat was handy! (except......)
Seats are very supportive, unusual for a GM product in this class
For the most part the car felt 'nicely put together'.
Dare I say, there is a 'slight import feel' about the car yet it still 'has a bit of the Chevy personality'.
To most folks, they would never know this car is a turbo. There is no whine and technically, no 'lag' (see below)
This car has the personality that is 'very competently a mainstream driving partner'

LOWS

Back seat room, seriously, they really should have an extra two inches.
The seat cloth really is not up to par of the rest of the interior. Go for the LEATHER.
The driver's seat shape didn't initially agree with me, perhaps i need adjustment. The seat bottom felt chintzy and lumpy.
The seat recline lever is in a really stupid place. ( we can just simply say its retarded )
It will take you a bit of effort to get the steering wheel where you want it so it doesn't block the gauges.
The trunk trimming is a bit cheap.
The car is a low rider. I'd like it an inch or two higher.
The roof on the car is low so it feels like head room is a bit sparse, especially in back.
The exterior styling, when you see a few of them together on the lot, well, its dull and blends in. Hate to say it, but it already looks old....at the same time it's at least upbeat and tidy. Perhaps if the car has 18" alum wheels we are better off. This one had steel wheels and cheap hubcaps.
Suspension, ok the car was quiet and ride was decent...but I never got the impression the suspension was highly composed and well developed. There seemed to be some bump harshness there.
Steering, at speed was good......a godsend for Chevy but not 'Germanic'. At the same time probably better than a Corolla.

biggest issue

Once on the boil, the car has sufficient pep for whatever you need it to do. I was surprised by the spunk it had in many situations. And, its smooth. There is not really any way to pick on the car for refinement for a compact.

The big problem is in many situations at low speed and from a dead stop the transmission is too slow to react and maybe its taking too long for the turbo, too. Again, you do not know the car is a turbo, its just that it seems like the car is not responding like it should. This ought to be corrected. I don't care if its tranny programming or whatever. It's not herky jerky, or abrupt. Its just like waking up a computer from a screen saver.....it's not immediate. If you can figure out how to drive it to minimize that....then you are fine.

Lastly I will add, the car I drove with the steel wheels felt undertired. With nice 18" alum wheels and some HQ michelins on the car I bet it remakes the car into a really nice ride.

I will finish this later. The car drives fine with the automatic but After experiencing the low speed delay on the shifting I would be curious to know how the 6 sp manual compares. Because I think the miniturbo would be a good match.

Again too, the car would be even better with a 1.6 or 1.8.

SUMMARY

often times its about expectations and meeting them.

It sort of depends how much hype you have been exposed to in regards to the Cruze vs. past GM efforts.

I was a fan of the Saturn Astra that GM brought over from across the pond so I always knew GM had the ability to have an improved small car product and at the same time that there is a lot about GM cars that are universal that are always appreciated.

What that means in the context of the Cruze is that the car will please long time GM owners and traditionally non GM owners alike. Clearly the car has a lot going for it and within the confines of reasonable expectations for a car in the compact class, the Cruze is really an accomplished piece. I do not feel there will be too many people that will have any strong major exceptions towards anything about the car. Compared to previous GM product in this class, its on the next level and in my mind is competitive with nearly if not all in the class it competes in.

The tiny asterisk I throw in here is I think those looking to downsize from a midsize sedan and larger should be cautioned that this is still a compact and as such still does not have the space and comfort and refinement of those ilk. At the same time it means driving a compact is not at all a punishment.

I have driven a few of VW's most recent products (not as of yet an '011 Jetta, but may soon) and I see no reason why someone would need to get a VW to have a esteemed small car. As it stands, the Cruze is competitive, and if they address the powertrain, minor suspension issues, and rear seat space issues, in my mind, they will be in the top group of cars in the class. A little sizzle on the styling steak in an MCE cannot hurt, either.

At the end of the day, unless the bland styling turns you off, I don't think there is anything major that would give you buyer's remorse here. I think a Cruze intender should first determine if a midsize sedan at a slightly higher price is a better decision, but within the compact class, you could enjoy owning a Cruze.

Before I had said I didn't think the visual personality of the car would warrant the investment of a sports model, but after getting a taste of it, I really would welcome a version of this car with the LNF turbo like the Cobalt SS, and suspension, braking, and steering upgrades. I think it would be a hoot for this car.

What is disturbing here is that this car in the context of the world is like 3 years old already. So is it worth the investment? Is a hatchback worth it?

Chevy can really build on the competency of this car, and the user friendliness of it should add esteem to the brand. Even though the target keeps moving, Chevy finally made a car that makes time stand still for a brief moment, and make you take a look.

B+ (A- if they add power and work out the suspension a bit)

Edited by regfootball
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  • 2 weeks later...

One of my buddies texted me today. He's got a Cruze rental on his business trip. A nicely loaded one with leather.

His company car is a Malibu, so it should be interesting to see what he thinks of the Cruze.

His initial thoughts were 'small inside' 'nice dash' 'peppy' 'you gotta wind it up to get the power out of it' (turbo response).

Since he has a Malibu his comparative thoughts will be interesting. I asked him how the leather was and he will likely get back to me.

He thought it drove pretty nice too, so far. He did not call it cheap.

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i have to admit, i was very encouraged by it. the turbo / shifting lag at low speeds was a problem. It's not there once the rig is up and running. That is some incompetence showing itself there after all that market delay. It's not like they got massively superior mpg out of the deal.

Reprogram the car to act better off the line and getting up to speed and take it in the shorts for mpg. At least make it so the power delivery and shifting is more linear.

Of course the reasonable thing to do from the start would have been to use a 1.6 or 1.8 instead of a paltry 1.4.

I would not call it a deal breaker however. My old 500 had a similar thing. Some of the CVT cars have that now, also. Slow to get off to the races, once up to speed and higher on the tach it was quite feisty. You learn to adjust your driving a bit and to be honest, then you won't have to deal with wheelspin in the winter or on wet roads, and you won't have 'the delay'.

I don't mind it so much because if the car has good passing power / behavior to me it makes up for it a bit.

the Cruze's biggest asset is the driver and front passenger coddling and cabin. this is a user friendly car. and it doesn't look like its 25 years old already like the Jetta.

Edited by regfootball
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New Elantra next year. That could be the biggest issue the Cruze faces.

Yes. In every way. Have you seen it? Very mini Sonata, but wow.

The Cruze has steam, but better keep improving. Great review, Reg.

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Yes. In every way. Have you seen it? Very mini Sonata, but wow.

The Cruze has steam, but better keep improving. Great review, Reg.

I've seen the Korean version and the spy photos of the soon to debut American version, it looks good. There is also rumor of a 200 hp turbo Elantra, and some say that the 2011 Elantra will reduce world hunger by 37%.

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my friend who is a Malibu driver (company car) said he liked his cruze rental....said it was way better than corollas which he has rented. said he thought it was a better vehicle (aside from space) than the malibu and said the leather was pretty decent. said he liked the dash, the radio display, said he liked the way it drove. said that the turbo lag and slow reacting transmission kickdown was an issue but not dreadful. Said his neighbors at home just bought a corolla and that they really should have gotten a cruze.

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  • 1 month later...

I took part of a lazy day to go test drive what was a supposedly Cruze Eco manual today, but since the Eco was 'in transit' I took out an automatic equipped LTZ instead. Red, black leather, non RS, sunroof. 24,415 MSRP. I will get a chance to fill in the blanks later and I will be able to go test the Eco when they get it on hand next weekend hopefully. more later.....

so, I figured the most expedient way to write this retest up is to basically go back and compare notes with what I previously wrote, and see what indeed is the same and what may have changed. I was glad to see I don't think there is a lot about what I previously wrote that I would change. Maybe I would add some additional thoughts.

So regarding the HIGHS, what I would note as changed or extra...

Pretty much everything about the cockpit and interior stands. I didn't think the leather was A quality but it was not at all anything that would draw criticism. Perhaps the tan leather would have been nicer. The dash still had the cloth inlays. The interior overall is still very excellent. View out the front is very panoramic and the dash layout is inviting and fantastic. I noted that the rear window to see out the back of is pretty small / mail slottish. I'd like to see a bit more power seat adjustability. I could never really get the angle and position. I really liked the fan switch and auto temp switch but in honesty using the mode button for climate control was a bit annoying although after awhile to see the vent position displayed on the main screen it all started to make sense. The radio is the same way, I think it just takes too many buttons and menus to adjust audio functions and this only adds to driver distraction. Overall sometimes the Cruze conspires to make overly complicated radio and hvac functions that used to be simple. The screen is in a handy spot I am not sure why they don't make a rearview camera to use this screen instead of just reverse sensing. I'm not a fan either of central locking on the dash, but I admit it was located close to the finger when driving. The actual radio buttons and their layout felt great and I did not mind their locations. Plastics while not expensive certainly are low gloss and attractive. Steering feel and quickness I thought was perfect. The turbo motor itself I still classify as frisky (except....)

HIGHS

Fantastic cockpit, dash layout, ergonomics, displays, and controls including yummy leather wrapped steering wheel and dash buttons

Interesting interior design with pretty good material quality all around

Gauges and display in particular are a huge upgrade

Really good visibility (as opposed to bunker mode like so many cars including the Malibu)

Power seat is handy

Great front row space and cabin width

Lots of thoughtful convenience features including remote start

Quiet interior, especially at highway speeds

Frisky little turbo! (except....see below)

Much improved steering feel over the Cobalt I pulled up into the lot with

LOWS additional comments

The backseat leg room is a major problem and I will add ingress and egress for 6 footers like me it all is what is called PROBLEM. Look under the hood and see all the open wasted space and that tells you exactly where all the extra 2-4 inches of legroom ended up. A v6 would probably fit in there. But why, if there is no backseat? I still had problems with the shape of the driver's seat, specifically the too narrow backrest and weird backrest shape. 20 year old college chick may think its fantastic however. Seat recline lever is stupid, in a nutshell. I could not get the steering wheel up high enough, I have this problem on the Lambdas and other GM's too. WTF? But at least I did not feel so much the gauges were blocked this time. Backseat room, still a problem with the head converging on your noggin. Low rider, but that is why it feels sporty. Cheaply lined trunk. Steering this time around felt fantastic, the 18" tires must have helped there. The 18" wheels though and low profile tires added some extra harshness to the ride IMO. Maybe I am getting old but I would dare say the car rode too stiff. The flat cornering is great though. Handling is pretty nice on this car. They just need to get rid of the crash and add some suppleness to the suspension for bumps. The cold weather maybe added to the sensation of that. Note: car was super quiet, although I thought i was feeling too much vibration on hard acceleration. One new low, not sure why but the windows could not stay defrosted, even when assaulted with blasts of air from the supremely powerful HVAC fan. It was like a blow dryer.

LOWS

Back seat room, seriously, they really should have an extra two inches.

The seat cloth really is not up to par of the rest of the interior. Go for the LEATHER.

The driver's seat shape didn't initially agree with me, perhaps i need adjustment. The seat bottom felt chintzy and lumpy.

The seat recline lever is in a really stupid place. ( we can just simply say its retarded )

It will take you a bit of effort to get the steering wheel where you want it so it doesn't block the gauges.

The trunk trimming is a bit cheap.

The car is a low rider. I'd like it an inch or two higher.

The roof on the car is low so it feels like head room is a bit sparse, especially in back.

The exterior styling, when you see a few of them together on the lot, well, its dull and blends in. Hate to say it, but it already looks old....at the same time it's at least upbeat and tidy. Perhaps if the car has 18" alum wheels we are better off. This one had steel wheels and cheap hubcaps.

Suspension, ok the car was quiet and ride was decent...but I never got the impression the suspension was highly composed and well developed. There seemed to be some bump harshness there.

Steering, at speed was good......a godsend for Chevy but not 'Germanic'. At the same time probably better than a Corolla

I think my additional commentary from the initial review is still pretty much intact.

I will comment on powertrain problems in the following post, because I think while probably not a deal breaker for a fair amount of people, I think it just really ruins a bit of the driving experience and really puts a black mark on the car.

Edited by regfootball
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I'm not gonna beat a dead horse on the engine / trans / powertrain thing. While I don't want to say the powertrain issues are a full deal breaker to say 'don't buy the car', I just think considering some of the other competition, I am certain the non-commital nature of the powertrain will indeed weed out some buyers who might like the car but not feel good about the car's indecisiveness. Some buyers will be lost.

Again, at lower speeds and rpm, and from stoplights etc., getting going, there is too much wait and indecision and inconsistency on what the car wants to do and will do. Sometimes it works fine. Sometimes it really does not. It behaves inconsistently. Once the car is going and at speed, there is less erratic behavior, although it still likes to hunt sometimes too.

The shifting itself if it decides to do it when you would expect it to, is quick and smooth. I do not think this behavior is turbo lag. I do not think its entirely about any lack of powerband (although an extra 20-30hp/tq would really help this car and probably the trans programming a lot). The problem here is that the engineering work to mate the trans and engine has failed. A job not done. Taken separately, this is a nice motor (although small). The transmission is no doubt a nice unit. They just simply do not work together. It needs to be fixed. If a flash can do it, then fine, get it done Chevy.

It's like the employee who is qualified, experienced, pedigreed, and sometimes does great work, but they have a constant tendency to always remind you of how hard they work, or what a great service they are doing for you and how much they toil and sacrifice for you.......and you can never depend on them consistently. Or they will just frustrate you with periodic incidents of letting you down. After a while the bosses and coworkers tire of the drama queen aspect of it.

Some folks have a tolerance for it and maybe some never care or notice. For others it just makes them ask 'why can't they just go about their business transparently, without drawing SO MUCH attention to themselves?'.

That's really all else I'll say about it. It spoils what could be an A car. It's there, it just depends on how much it bothers you, but it will go out of its way to remind you that life is such a hardship when instead it should just be easy and uneventful.

Edited by regfootball
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The Cruze is nice but it has just enough annoyances about it to make you want to look at other competitors and not want to buy it unless they fix all the problems, is my opinion. I think just fixing the tranmission thing would be a great start. But on the whole you have to be honest and say despite a couple things it is a really nice car, especially for GM. It's about time.

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The Cruze is nice but it has just enough annoyances about it to make you want to look at other competitors and not want to buy it unless they fix all the problems, is my opinion. I think just fixing the tranmission thing would be a great start. But on the whole you have to be honest and say despite a couple things it is a really nice car, especially for GM. It's about time.

I have to agree with this statement. It was the first car I decided to drive when the Maxx got totaled, and while it is quite nice it just has a few things little things that need to be fixed to be worth the price. Or $1500 or $2000 on the hood or simply a lower price by the same amount. If it was a better deal or didn't have easily fixable annoyances (the seat recline is the worst thing about any car I drove) then I may have decided that it was the car to buy and there was no reason to look elsewhere.

Or even a good lease deal would be okay. The $320 for 39 months we were quoted on a $20,800 model means they anticipate that it will only be worth $8k after 39 months seems pretty bad compared to competitors.

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I just wasn't really impressed with the turbo. It does get going (useful on the freeway), but I do mostly city driving at the moment, sometimes in bumper to bumper. The lag would just get annoying.

For that reason alone, I'd go with the 1.8 in the LS. Then just spruce it up the way I wanted. (A nice set of wheels, for example.)

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I just wasn't really impressed with the turbo. It does get going (useful on the freeway), but I do mostly city driving at the moment, sometimes in bumper to bumper. The lag would just get annoying.

For that reason alone, I'd go with the 1.8 in the LS. Then just spruce it up the way I wanted. (A nice set of wheels, for example.)

Did you drive an LS? The dealer I drove the Cruzes at said the LS is pretty loud compared to the LT. I was interested if anyone agrees with their assessment since I did not drive an LS.

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GM would also be smart to give the Cruze a longer wheelbase. The Civic, despite being 4.3 inches shorter, has .6 inch longer wheelbase, and while the Cruze actually beats the Civic in pretty much every interior dimension, the Civic seems like it has more space. Perhaps that is due to it's longer wheelbase and also due to it's ridiculously short hood. I didn't notice it until it was sitting in the garage next to the GTO, but the engine compartment is just tiny. I believe reg said that the Cruze wastes a lot of space in its engine compartment. Perhaps Chevy should have sacrificed some form for more function. Not many people buy a compact car for style.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Did you drive an LS? The dealer I drove the Cruzes at said the LS is pretty loud compared to the LT. I was interested if anyone agrees with their assessment since I did not drive an LS.

I took an LS manual out last evening. Unfortunately it was a shorter drive than I would have preferred. And, a lot of it was spent in BTB rush hour traffic. At the same time, that is a real world situation and is actually a nice test for that. Also it was at night.

Really just summarize that quickly. I really wanted to compare that to my Cobalt which I drove up in and to the other Cruze with the turbo.

Myself and salesguy loaded into the car (usually I prefer to go on drives alone) and the first thing that is apparent is at least in manual form, the Cruze is quiet/er than the Cobalt. I also felt it was as quiet or less so (will explain that) than the turbo.

And even though I didn't get to ring it out I have to say I was not upset over a lack of grunt in any of the situations I encountered. In fact, coming off the freeway up an incline and flooring the throttle produced quite a bit of go. And the cruising rpm in 6th was a little lower than I expected; in that situation the car is very quiet too. The six speed manual helps, you have 1st as your get going gear, but second is an extremely handy gear for 'acceleration'. 2nd and the torque band of the engine are very well matched to make the car feel spunky. The engine revs nicely and is decently smooth. It's not as frenetic as the little buzz bomb in the turbo. Third and fourth are handy gears too. I thought the ratios were spaced nicely, and also what I liked was that 6th was not a big drop from 5th. Just allowed you to drop the rpm just a little for quieter cruising.

Everything else about the LS seemed to match the positives of an LT. Wide and stable, I still think there are some seat adjustability issues, the dash is great. The ride still feels a bit harsh although a little softer with the base tires. I don't really mind that because the good quick steering and solid handling in corners is still there.

As for the clutch and shifter on the LS. The clutch is lighter than my cobalt by a fair amount. It has a long travel. Feels ok, has a much more definite engagement point. Doesn't glide, not among the best I have encountered. For the LS, its pretty good. The shifter is a nice knob. The location is initially weird, it seems like its back a little far. But that could be just the difference between getting out of my car and into this one. It's weird because the shifter is not tall so you think the throws are short, but the throws are actually longer than you are expecting. The gearbox is not slick like most VW's and some Hondas are. It's way improved over the Cobalt though. It's a decent gearbox, but its got some weirdness locating the gears initially and there is some notchiness and resistance that maybe goes away. Overall, I didn't have objections to the gearbox. The LS overall was very drivable. It surprised me. I'll need to find one for a longer drive.

Non leather steering wheel has molded grips and is thick and feels great too.

Still, after adjusting the front for my 6'1" bod with short legs and moving the seat up as far as I can tolerate with my knees practically up in the dash....there is still inadequate leg room in the back. Yes, one can get into the back. But your knees are on the seatback and your legs are splayed. The Jetta and Elantra have big advantages in leg room. Its embarrassing for a car with this huge of wheelbase to lack that rear seat space. Of course the room was taken away from the back seat and its all in the engine compartment, with twice the room needed for the hamster wheel that is under there.

The LT2 I drove must have been a flashed unit. There was a noticeable improvement in some of the driving behavior. It was not enough of an improvement to give it a gleeful endorsement. It's merely enough to say it won't be a huge headache. It did not seem as determined to keep reaching for and holding a higher gear so much. And it had a fairly reduced amount of indecisiveness. It wasn't hunting as much; and there were no bouts of waiting for what seemed like forever for the car to make up its mind as in my previous tests. It still was shifting too much in some of the situations I was in compared to other cars. If you are just cruising at 70 mph, the car isn't shifting, everything is fine, its a great little FRISKY engine for that. The rest of the time, the car is a bit of a buzzbomb, the little engine that can, but you get tired of it working so hard and revving so much. You seem to have to develop this all on or all off sort of thing with your throttle foot that is annoying. It's zippy and no one should complain about the amount of power if you are always gunning it, and there is no turbo lag. It's just making too much theater about propelling the car. Makes you wonder why a nice 2.0 with about 160hp wouldn't just have been a better decision. Or a 2.4. Or a 1.6 or 1.8 turbo. One where just a partial throttle surge will just quietly downshift and give you a gentle and efficient surge.

Really makes me want to try the Jetta now.

The dealer said cruise can be added aftermarket by a local customizer to the LS for 400 bucks. And, the LS has manual mirrors, which is a headache. Chevy is blatantly telling the customer FU by limiting the LS in this regard. Not good business. At least we didn't get black door handles, should we PTL for that progress in motown?

Advice to Chevy. Please add cruise, power mirrors, sunroof, SWAC, alum wheels, remote start, heated seats to the option sheet on the LS. You'd have a nice little everyday car. Maybe make it a 2.0 too.

Edited by regfootball
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I have to agree with this statement. It was the first car I decided to drive when the Maxx got totaled, and while it is quite nice it just has a few things little things that need to be fixed to be worth the price. Or $1500 or $2000 on the hood or simply a lower price by the same amount. If it was a better deal or didn't have easily fixable annoyances (the seat recline is the worst thing about any car I drove) then I may have decided that it was the car to buy and there was no reason to look elsewhere.

Or even a good lease deal would be okay. The $320 for 39 months we were quoted on a $20,800 model means they anticipate that it will only be worth $8k after 39 months seems pretty bad compared to competitors.

just to note on the lease issue. the LS lease is majorly subsidized. The LT's are not near as attractive. Clearly the current leases are for ad fodder, and that's ok. The LT lease is still not bad per the guesstimate numbers I was given. Something about 2 percent money and a 5% residual advantage for the LS over the LT.

What i was told, a legit question, i asked what the buyout was at the end of the lease. I am not sure if this is an ALLY/GMAC thing but there is a nasty POISON PILL in this lease. You used to have a buyout fee of an additional 500 bucks if you wanted to keep and buy the car. In the instance I asked about i was told that fee got raised to 2500 dollars. This to practically guarantee you would turn in the car, and get a new one, and they would have a lightly used off lease unit to put up for bids to their dealers. With that poison pill, I just think you gotta look at buying the car. Not leasing it.

Edited by regfootball
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new

ECO tested

2011 Cruze Eco. Taupe Grey, black interior, connectivity and cruise pack. MSRP around 20k. 6 speed MANUAL + turbo.

simply.....

THIS ONE GETS IT RIGHT.

Regardless of your evaluation on the outcome of the turbo and automatic, after driving the ECO I just say its a revelation.

The strengths and assets of the turbo engine are extremely well utilized. The benefit of the small zinger are fully realized here.

The turbo engine and manual trans are dance partners that can pull off each step without a misstep, they work beautifully in concert. THis is not a forced marraige of two dancers who each may be individually great dancers, but together, cannot be partners.

This, works well.

At least to this point, this is the way to buy the Cruze.

A few things. One, apparently the Eco is supposed to be louder and have less sound deadener?

THat was not apparent to me. The trunk liner looked thinner, but the interior noise level seemed no different to me. THe unique rear suspension of the Eco manual actually gives you back some trunk space, and an area to keep the milk bottles from flying around without a net.

And of that unique rear suspension, I really did not notice any detrimental effect on handling. The Eco is as sharp as the others as I have tested. Same reflexes, same ride. Of course, I was not driving it on a track like the buff books do. Commuters won't know any difference, nor will they care. If anything the liveliness of the turbo + manual maybe makes you want to quicken the steering a bit to take better advantage of the sporty suspension. The soft Assurance tires seem to help a tiny bit with the suspension harshness, but they are not floppy tires. There is zero penalty in my mind to the suspension 'downgrade' on the Eco manual. I had a big wheelspin event getting going, so perhaps the low resistance tires may be a tad slick on damp or wet. But we definitely know the engine can really break the tires without a lot of gas.

As for the Eco wheels, they are nice to look at. Sort of plain, a nice finish, but they don't look like 'expensive' custom wheels. I sure hope they are not more expensive to fix when your wife does a curb job with the car.

The subtle exterior differences of the Eco are almost not noticeable, but the air dam and spoiler do look good on the car.

Regarding the shifter and clutch, all I can say is similar to the LS but better by some. The clutch is really nice. The shifter knob is wonderful. I typically don't like to fondle the knob but in the Cruze, it's allowed. :) It could just have been because the car was new but finding gears and moving through gears had some stiffness and obstacles the first few times. Once you figured it out, it felt really nice. For a GM car / compact to have this much quality in the shifter and clutch is really a nice change. Its so fun.

The gear spacing is really good. Zero complaints. You can always find a good gear to be in. Only a couple times did i catch the engine flat footed, but only a tiny bit and even then, a simple shift which is easy to do solves the problem. End drama, move on. If anything I am so much liking in particular 5th and 6th gear. 5th is perfect for in town freeway cruising. 6th is very close to 5th, but drops the rpm just that little bit extra to maximize benefit on those long cornfield cruiser state romps on flat interstate. The engine pulls and keeps up just fine in either 5th or 6th. Engine rpm at 75 mph in 6th was a ridiculous 2200 +/- and the car was dead silent while doing that.

Moving through the gears stop to stop was the best part. It is fun having full control and access to the turbo, rather than letting it try to decide for itself. The torque band just works so much better with the stick and the benefits of the turbo motor are just so much more realized. It really is quick and is totally the right amount of power and plenty of it for this type of small front drive car. I can't imagine really wanting more power, although more power is always nice...in no way would i ever have remorse.

Engine is liquid smooth, idle to redline. No drone, not loud, no NVH issues at all. No one would have any idea whatsoever that this is a turbo. Zero lag. NADA. None.

This is like night and day compared to my Cobalt in so many ways, it's like 20 years of progress. Not even the last Jetta and GOlf 5 cyl. I drove have the same total satisfaction of this turbo +manual setup. The Golf dare i say feels junky in comparison.

The LS manual is decently good but this is a serious value added upgrade over that, even. More than worth the difference in price.

There would be no need to wait on the Focus if you wanted to buy this car. The turbo + manual in the Eco package brings out the fun. 33 mpg combined and 28/42 is such a hardship to pay for this. :)

This really is a nice car. Check one out if you have a chance. 99% complete happiness, no complaints.

I wish this car had bluetooth audio media stream (side note) like my Ford does. I know you can plug in your phone, but wireless streaming would be nice as would sunroof option and heated seats on the Eco.

Edited by regfootball
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You can get bluetooth on the Eco model.

for phone, duh, already knew that. i even said the car had the connectivity package. chevy's bluetooth does not stream audio like the ford's and some of the others. audio. not phone. did you not see where i said 'bluetooth audio media stream'?

Edited by regfootball
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  • 3 months later...

I am 5'7" and ingress/egress/space in the rear is a non-issue and more than enough.

A Cobalt on the otherhand, opposite of stated.

Edited by MyerShift
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From what I read (since I was considering an Astra with the same 1.4T-AT6 drivetrain) apprently the transmission is a little slow to downshift in order to put the engine in the boost-building RPM range, so it seems that there is some hesitation or that the car is thinking of what to do next before it gets some punch. But I've also read that once in boost the engine is quite livable with.

I have a question: IIRC it was GM itself that stated when the engine was lauched that it is a 1.4L that delivers 1.8L-like power/performace returning the fuel economy of a 1.6L. What was your fuel economy and what kind of driving did you do: more stop-start traffic, more open road, level or with uphill/downhill stretches?

Edited by ZL-1
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BV and I got 27mpg driving to Detroit and 34mpg driving back in the Cruze LTZ

Thanks for the link!

By fetching a mpg-to-litres online converter I got between 6.92L/100KM and 8.71L/100KM. Also, you mention in the article you linked that you were getting 23mpg in 100% city driving, which translates to 10.23L/100KM. I was doing the math at around 10.5L/100KM combined (around 22.4 US mpg), which is IIRC some 50% higher than the official figures as reported by Opel. Guess I was quite a bit on the pessimistic side...

Edited by ZL-1
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  • 1 month later...

The ECO has proven in testing that it can go beyond 40 mpg. The automatic should get higher in my opinion.

Why?

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Cruze is nice, but just enough discomfort to make you want to watch the other competitors and do not want to buy it, unless you solve all problems, it is my opinion. I think just fixing Transmission what would a good start. But we have to be honest and say a couple of things are very nice cars, especially GM. It 'a matter of time.

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  • 4 years later...

tested - red 2011 Cruze LT1 sticker 20,600 +/- 1.4 turbo, 6 sp auto

HIGHS

Fantastic cockpit, dash layout, ergonomics, displays, and controls including yummy leather wrapped steering wheel and dash buttons

Interesting interior design with pretty good material quality all around

Gauges and display in particular are a huge upgrade

Really good visibility (as opposed to bunker mode like so many cars including the Malibu)

Power seat is handy

Great front row space and cabin width

Lots of thoughtful convenience features including remote start

Quiet interior, especially at highway speeds

Frisky little turbo! (except....see below)

Much improved steering feel over the Cobalt I pulled up into the lot with

-------sidebar---------

It's really painful getting back in a Cobalt after driving a Cruze. Seriously.

------back to programming----------

good trunk space

nice engine sounds, decent snarl out of it once the turbo spools up

low cruzing rpm at highways speeds (about 2500 rpm at 65 mph)

power (once on the boil, see below) is quite "sprite" and is "just fine" for what I would consider most drivers on a morning commute.

no real noticeable or glaring NVH issues when studied in the context of the compact competition

Power seat was handy! (except......)

Seats are very supportive, unusual for a GM product in this class

For the most part the car felt 'nicely put together'.

Dare I say, there is a 'slight import feel' about the car yet it still 'has a bit of the Chevy personality'.

To most folks, they would never know this car is a turbo. There is no whine and technically, no 'lag' (see below)

This car has the personality that is 'very competently a mainstream driving partner'

LOWS

Back seat room, seriously, they really should have an extra two inches.

The seat cloth really is not up to par of the rest of the interior. Go for the LEATHER.

The driver's seat shape didn't initially agree with me, perhaps i need adjustment. The seat bottom felt chintzy and lumpy.

The seat recline lever is in a really stupid place. ( we can just simply say its retarded )

It will take you a bit of effort to get the steering wheel where you want it so it doesn't block the gauges.

The trunk trimming is a bit cheap.

The car is a low rider. I'd like it an inch or two higher.

The roof on the car is low so it feels like head room is a bit sparse, especially in back.

The exterior styling, when you see a few of them together on the lot, well, its dull and blends in. Hate to say it, but it already looks old....at the same time it's at least upbeat and tidy. Perhaps if the car has 18" alum wheels we are better off. This one had steel wheels and cheap hubcaps.

Suspension, ok the car was quiet and ride was decent...but I never got the impression the suspension was highly composed and well developed. There seemed to be some bump harshness there.

Steering, at speed was good......a godsend for Chevy but not 'Germanic'. At the same time probably better than a Corolla.

biggest issue

Once on the boil, the car has sufficient pep for whatever you need it to do. I was surprised by the spunk it had in many situations. And, its smooth. There is not really any way to pick on the car for refinement for a compact.

The big problem is in many situations at low speed and from a dead stop the transmission is too slow to react and maybe its taking too long for the turbo, too. Again, you do not know the car is a turbo, its just that it seems like the car is not responding like it should. This ought to be corrected. I don't care if its tranny programming or whatever. It's not herky jerky, or abrupt. Its just like waking up a computer from a screen saver.....it's not immediate. If you can figure out how to drive it to minimize that....then you are fine.

Lastly I will add, the car I drove with the steel wheels felt undertired. With nice 18" alum wheels and some HQ michelins on the car I bet it remakes the car into a really nice ride.

I will finish this later. The car drives fine with the automatic but After experiencing the low speed delay on the shifting I would be curious to know how the 6 sp manual compares. Because I think the miniturbo would be a good match.

Again too, the car would be even better with a 1.6 or 1.8.

SUMMARY

often times its about expectations and meeting them.

It sort of depends how much hype you have been exposed to in regards to the Cruze vs. past GM efforts.

I was a fan of the Saturn Astra that GM brought over from across the pond so I always knew GM had the ability to have an improved small car product and at the same time that there is a lot about GM cars that are universal that are always appreciated.

What that means in the context of the Cruze is that the car will please long time GM owners and traditionally non GM owners alike. Clearly the car has a lot going for it and within the confines of reasonable expectations for a car in the compact class, the Cruze is really an accomplished piece. I do not feel there will be too many people that will have any strong major exceptions towards anything about the car. Compared to previous GM product in this class, its on the next level and in my mind is competitive with nearly if not all in the class it competes in.

The tiny asterisk I throw in here is I think those looking to downsize from a midsize sedan and larger should be cautioned that this is still a compact and as such still does not have the space and comfort and refinement of those ilk. At the same time it means driving a compact is not at all a punishment.

I have driven a few of VW's most recent products (not as of yet an '011 Jetta, but may soon) and I see no reason why someone would need to get a VW to have a esteemed small car. As it stands, the Cruze is competitive, and if they address the powertrain, minor suspension issues, and rear seat space issues, in my mind, they will be in the top group of cars in the class. A little sizzle on the styling steak in an MCE cannot hurt, either.

At the end of the day, unless the bland styling turns you off, I don't think there is anything major that would give you buyer's remorse here. I think a Cruze intender should first determine if a midsize sedan at a slightly higher price is a better decision, but within the compact class, you could enjoy owning a Cruze.

Before I had said I didn't think the visual personality of the car would warrant the investment of a sports model, but after getting a taste of it, I really would welcome a version of this car with the LNF turbo like the Cobalt SS, and suspension, braking, and steering upgrades. I think it would be a hoot for this car.

What is disturbing here is that this car in the context of the world is like 3 years old already. So is it worth the investment? Is a hatchback worth it?

Chevy can really build on the competency of this car, and the user friendliness of it should add esteem to the brand. Even though the target keeps moving, Chevy finally made a car that makes time stand still for a brief moment, and make you take a look.

B+ (A- if they add power and work out the suspension a bit)

 

I had a Cruze LTZ rental this past weekend that i put about 700 miles on.  I hope to come back here with more detail and compare vs. my old notes.

 

I rented so as to have a break from the tyranny of my 5 speed cobalt, I've done road trips the last three weekends and I couldn't bear the thought of another trip with the Cobalt.

 

It sure is interesting to see how some of my observations changed with a much longer sample drive, and a few years later.

 

Just kind of as a teaser, I came away thinking the car is alright but maybe not my cup of tea.  Something hard to put my finger on, at least the LTZ was sort of immature and too frenetic.  It's like I told myself before I should really want this car, and now I really am not sure i do.  At least not the LTZ.  MOre later. 

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BV and I got 27mpg driving to Detroit and 34mpg driving back in the Cruze LTZ

 

LTZ rental......i pulled 33 mpg on my first run (330 miles in 10 gallons) DIC indicated 35.  This was at probably a mid 50's average speed and nice calm cool night with moderate temps and few traffic jams.

 

The return trip encountered stiff ND flat land winds which stayed for over half the trip home.  Only netted 30 mpg calculated in 330 miles / 11 gallons, bucking massive winds.  Again the DIC was off by like 10%.  Average speed was about 68 mph for this part so I can see why the mileage dropped some.

 

So, probably mpg not too far off what you saw way back yonder when.

 

For such a wound up hamster mill under the hood, and all the buzz and fracas, though, i admit i would have liked to have seen my mpg closer to 40 rather than 30.  Even a calculated 35-36 on the return trip would have been nice.

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