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2017 Cruze Hatchback Premier (1.4T/6A)
Odo - 8051 mi
We just took the Cruze on a 1,000 mile road trip (from Baltimore to Myrtle Beach and back) and this was my first extended, in-depth experience driving and living with the car for a week. I'll break down the review into sections if you want to skip around.
Fuel Economy (EPA rated 28 city/37 highway):
*Premium gas/mobil 1 oil used. Manual recommends regular gas, dexos approved synthetic oil.
On our trip, we achieved 39.3 mpg leaving Baltimore and 41.0 mpg coming back, based on the gauge cluster. My wife reports that it's fairly accurate, if optimistic by an mpg. Hand calculation is pretty much out the window because we have to hit 3 different gas stations with wildly different pump shut-offs and then we burn half a tank around town for the week. Sorry, I'm just not that invested when I know we can trust the gauge cluster.
We did not hypermile whatsoever, just used cruise control as much as possible. We passed slow traffic and drove aggressively when the situation called for it. No sitting behind slow traffic or drafting large trucks to fluff the numbers. We drove 7-10 over the speed limit, with most of the journey being 65 and 70 mph zones.
- From what I can tell, 75 mph seems to be the 40 mpg cutoff.
- 60 to 70 mph is the sweet spot for crushing the EPA highway rating.
- The gauge cluster's "Best 50 mile average mpg" indicated we set a new high score of 49 mpg.
1.4T DI VVT is rated 153 hp/177 tq
C&D test numbers for the premier hatchback auto: 0-60 in 7.7 sec, 1/4 mile in 16 @ 84 mph.
In my experience, the direct-injected 1.4T provides more than adequate acceleration and feels peppy. The tires will peel out a bit when floored from a stop, and the engine offers strong torque for low-stress highway merging or passing even with 2 people and probably 150 lbs of luggage. I also drove with 4 adult occupants and acceleration remained adequate around town without revving hard. At full throttle, the engine starts getting out of breath above 5500 rpm.
The transmission is more eco-tuned than I'd like, but the logic is a far cry from the mess of GM's first 6-speeds. Downshifting to accelerate takes a bit of prodding, but the downshift is drama free with a progressive surge of turbo torque that follows. After 6 hours on the road, we hit stop and go traffic briefly and under 25 mph the transmission tripped over itself a few times noticeably enough for my wife to point it out. Can't really be replicated on demand.
The electric power system in the Cruze has good heft to it, and the predictable turn-in seems to mask the electric numbness.
It's easy to drive, which is a comment I found myself coming back to frequently in my thoughts behind the wheel. It's not sporty, but it nails easy driving and commuting. The tires are all-season performance firestone firehawk GTs in 225/45R17 size. They handle securely, but make a lot of road noise in an otherwise quiet car. Michelins or Continentals will make a world of difference.
One of the weak points of the car is the brake pedal. It sits an inch further forward than the gas pedal, which is very awkward in use. There's also too much play between gentle slowing and heavy braking. It feels like you're pushing through the floor to stop quickly.
Mechanically, the car has 4-wheel disk brakes, and they stop the car with authority. Pedal placement and feel is really the problem.
My wife and I really like the car. I keep coming back to the "easy to drive" sentiment, fun wasn't the goal here and I already have a car for that. It's very happy commuting and eating up highway miles at 40 mpg. I was comfortable in the seats for 8 hours of driving, which is very rare. The acceleration power straddles base versus optional engines of other cars like the Civic and Mazda 3 without sacrifice to maximum fuel economy, which is a good balance that hasn't left us wanting.
With a set of good tires and perhaps a tune in the far future, this car will be hanging around well beyond the last payment.
My wife's Cobalt Sport is at 140,000 miles and it's starting to nickle and dime her. It's been efficient (29 mpg average mostly highway) with a bulletproof powertrain (2.4L/4A), but it's loud, it's ugly inside, and it's run its course. Besides, it's not fitting of a young woman with a doctorate in pharmacy making good money.
Her requirements for her next car were:
-more efficient with longer range between fill-ups
-peppy acceleration (Cobalt had a reasonable 173 hp)
-good for highway commuting
-decent tech features like good stereo, heated seats, remote start
-reasonably nice inside and out
-light color interior (tired of burning her ass on cheap black leather seats)
She already liked the looks of the new Cruze, but she initially was only considering sedans. Thinking pragmatically, since I already drive a sedan, I suggested she consider a different body style for versatility sake. Memories of dowdy hatchbacks from growing up in the 90s and soccer mom CUVs made her recoil in fear, but I sent her pics of the Cruze hatch when it was unveiled and she made an instant 180 on her preconception.
Given her highway commute, I sent her pics of the new Encore and said she had to give it a try. I knew the Buick's quiet tuning and interior would be really appealing in person. She wasn't in love with the tall styling, but admitted it was good looking for a crossover, and the compact size was nice.
Chevy Cruze Hatchback Premier
Buick Encore Essence Trim
G. David Felt - Staff Writer Alternative Energy - www.cheersandgears.com
Tesla Officially in Trouble, Business Insider Says!
To quote Business Insider final comments on Tesla and the Chevy Bolt:
"Clearly, Tesla would be in less trouble if the Chevy Bolt were a bad car. But it isn't. Teslas have always blown me away. The Bolt blew me away for different reasons. I just hope Tesla is prepared to take this into account."
Matthew is a Business Insider senior correspondent who covers transportation and as a fan of Tesla was excited to check out a Chevy BOLT as comparison to the Tesla. On a recent trip to california he took time to visit the closet Chevrolet Dealer to his hotel and this is what he found.
He states that to borrow Barkley's line, "Tesla is in trouble." You have one of the world's biggest auto companies that is known for killing the electric auto stepping off the sidelines and actually committing considerable resources to building a long range EV where it can afford to lose money on it long term till the market changes. Tesla has 400,000 plus pre-orders, but is burning through cash by the billions and while the launch of the Tesla 3 is near and Tesla still has Sexy much like Apple to an iPhone. Tesla does not have the depth of customer auto experience to pull from and as the author points out, Tesla balance sheet is precarious as it is based on raising funds on a growth story. The author goes onto say that no one will cross shop a Tesla S or X with the Chevy BOLT. They will due to limited options cross shop the Tesla 3 to the Bolt.
To pull some interesting statements from the story, the author had the following to say:
"I found it more fun to drive than both the Tesla Model S and the Model X, but not the original Roadster, a much smaller vehicle."
"The Bolt is plenty fast for most people."
"GM isn't going to overwhelm Tesla with Bolt sales. I actually think the Model 3 will greatly outsell the Bolt once Tesla's car arrives. However, it's also possible that if the Model 3 is delayed or is slow to ramp up, Chevy will be preparing a mid-cycle refresh of the Bolt before Model 3 sales start to achieve some major momentum. In other words, GM will always be ahead, and the company — barring another massive financial meltdown — will never stop putting the Bolt up against the Model 3."
BI covered the BOLT in follow stories with the next one being more of an official review that starts off with covering the auto with the following statement: "A platform, not business as usual!"
From ride-hailing to ride-sharing, self driving Chevy has delivered an auto for the future that gives GM options on how they build and expand their EV lineup. BI took delivery of their white Premier BOLT just before the blizzard that hit NY. Clearly a compact-crossover-hatchback look, design is what the magazine employees felt it was and is. Surprising the BI reviewers was the amount of cargo the auto can hold and how well it handled 4 people and grocery getting. BI states that GM has told them the next addition to the BOLT lineup will be a larger auto that can accommodate 5 or more people. An exceptionally well executed minimalist design that comes with an interior that feels more premium in comparison to auto's this size in the past from GM that felt clearly parts bin cheap. The review goes on to talk about how setting the front seat for a 6'4" tall driver and getting in the back with room ahead of the knees for the same size person is a nice welcome addition to such a compact auto. Heated steering wheel was welcomed by all. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto kept everyone happily connected to their phone while driving.
The final statement to quote from the review is as follows:
"We were impressed with the Bolt, as a car, as an electric car, and as a mobility concept. In many ways, it is GM's post-bankruptcy masterpiece, a real feather in the cap of CEO Mary Barra and her executive team, who took what the company had achieved with its ill-fated EV-1 back in the 1990s and turned it up to 11.
I also flat-out loved driving it. I blasted in and out of New York City twice, rocketed around the streets of Gotham, darting through traffic, and cruised along the highways of New Jersey. I also enjoyed just driving it around the quiet streets of the suburb where I live.
The steering is quick and responsive, and the handling is sharp enough to provide the confidence you need when surfing that sweet EV torque.
The single-pedal mode is also very cool — I dug not using the brakes at all for extended excursions in my town. After a bit of practice, you get into a kind of Zen state with it.
Not a single person asked me about the car, and that can be chalked up to the ho-hum design. But I didn't care. I was lovin' it. Plain and simple, the Bolt is fun."
Here is where we have overlap between story #2 and Story #3 which covers the 7 Killer Features:
Dual Screens- 10.2" touch screen infotainment center & an 8" drivers console display which are totally customizable. Auto's wireless charging console. BOLT App allowing you to be connected to your auto at all times. Five cameras: front, rear, side mirrors and their 360 camera. 9hr full charge time from a 240 volt charger. 25 miles per hour, faster with Level 3 DC charging. Lane Keep assist feature. Modern Seat design allowing for maximum space inside. Over all these writeups show that GM has delivered a superior auto to the Prius, Leaf, 500e, etc. The future will be bright for the BOLT as GM move the platform forward.
BI Story #1
BI Story #2
BI Story #3
G. David Felt
Staff Writer Alternative Energy - www.CheersandGears.com
24/7 Wall St reports Tesla Loses in Safety Test to Chevy and Toyota
For 2017 electric / hybrid auto rating, Tesla looses to GM and Toyota the safety crown. Tesla has stated that they have already corrected the safety issues but were unable to deliver an updated auto for testing. It will be retested later this year. Errors happen, be interesting to see how the BOLT tests out.
24/7 Wall St. Story
G. David Felt
Staff Writer Alternative Energy - www.CheersandGears.com
2017 Chevy BOLT's Production Ramping UP
Reuters is reporting that GM has decided to ramp up BOLT production at the Orion assembly plant. Currently every fifth car on the assembly line is a Bolt. The Orion plant is capable of building 90,000 auto's a year with a single workers shift. GM has stated a goal of 30,000 BOLTs which does take into account the European model that is also being built here and shipped over seas. Currently the other auto's being built are the gas powered Chevrolet Sonic sedan and hatchback. With sales falling off on the Sonic, this gives room to continue to increase all year long the production of the BOLTs if the public demands them.
Reuters does state that GM has confirmed that there car sharing operation, Lyft will be getting many of the BOLTs first at the same time they declined to stated how many pre-orders have been received. Yet GM has increased production implying that demand is much greater than estimated.
GM's flexible production line continues to show how easy it has become to build an auto with a gas powered drive train and then on the next auto bolt in the battery pack. They say they could if needed offer some overtime and build on Saturday before they end up moving to a second shift.
Growth in America's rust belt.
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