Chevrolet’s Cruze is, well, Cruisin’. Since its launch in Europe in the spring of 2009, Chevy’s first global compact car has racked up a total of 270,000 sales in more than 60 countries. Add another 70,000 sales with versions from Holden in Australia and Daewoo in South Korea.
The Chevy Cruze Eco and Ford Fiesta could be leading the way to economical fuel economy.
U.S. dealerships will begin sales in September and all models will be produced in Lordstown, Ohio. The Chevy Cruze will be one of the few compact cars built in the U.S. for the 2011 model year.
Pricing starts at $16,995 for the LS model with a long list of standard safety features, including 10 air bags, electronic stability control with rollover sensing, traction control and anti-lock brakes.
40 MPG, No Battery Pack
The Cruise Eco model, starting at $18,895, delivers an estimated 40-mpg highway. (EPA numbers have not been released.) This hybrid-like fuel economy can be attributed in part to the 1.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine with turbocharging and variable valve timing connected to a six-speed manual transmission with a useful overdrive gear. Add to this ultra low-rolling resistance tires, and an enhanced aerodynamic-performance package that features a shutter in the lower front grille that automatically closes at higher speeds for improved aerodynamics.
The top of the line Cruze LTZ model starts at $22,695 and features a standard six-way power driver seat, leather seating surfaces, cruise control, Bluetooth phone connectivity, USB port with audio interface, ultrasonic rear-parking assist, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The Cruze’s interior feels like it is nearly midsize-car passenger space. The 13.2-cubic-foot trunk provides more cargo capacity than major competitors Honda Civic, Mazda 3 sedan and Toyota Corolla.
When asked at the New York Auto Show last April why the U.S. is getting the Cruze late in the game, Chevrolet small car product marketing director Margaret Brooks said the car was always aimed at an international market, and that the U.S. just happens to be the last major market in the rollout.
The domestic automakers are finally delivering fuel-efficient, economical conventional small cars that can get 40 mpg. With quality fuel-efficient small gas cars like the Chevy Cruze Eco, and the Ford Fiesta, finally reaching U.S. shores, one question remains. Are American car buyers, who have traditionally viewed small as less, ready to make a shift?