Already A World Hit, Chevy Cruze Makes U.S. Debut In September

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.

Is 40 MPG A New Trend?

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?

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  • Achilles

    The Cruze Eco will be the standard against which the Volt will be judged.

    Less than half the price! $15,000 buys a lot of gasoline, even at $5 a gallon. 3,000 gallons at 35 mpg is 105,000 miles. (175,000 miles at $3 a gallon) And on long trips the Cruze will probably get slightly better mpg than the Volt, after the first 30 miles.

    Which looks prettier? Which rides and handles better? What will be the resale values?

  • JBob

    Nope, the Volt will be judged against the Prius, as would a fully loaded Cruze since that will put its price near that price point. The Cruze’s main competitor will be the Honda Fit Hybrid when that’s introduced later this year.

  • calvin

    The Volt should be judged as an electric car according to GM, since it has a much more substantial battery-only range than other hybrids. Theoretically, most drivers who commute less than 40 mi. a day can drive the Volt without ever switching on the ICE. That is a considerable advantage over hybrids like the Fit or Prius, much less a conventional vehicle like the Cruze.

    The Cruze is a shift in the right direction for GM, but it can’t compete with the Volt on fuel economy or environmental friendliness. If you can charge up your Volt at work, you can even drive 80mi round trip without needing to turn on the gas engine. We just need more plugin hybrids like it so that electric charging stations can start popping up.

  • Charles

    Nope, the Cruze’s main competitor will be the new Ford Focus. Both world cars built in America, with class leading MPGs, and European roots. Other competitors will be the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra and Mazda 3.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    I agree with JBob and Charles about the Cruze’s competition. And the Cruze is definitely a step in the right direction for ICE cars. Maybe a hybrid version in the future?

    Calvin, in the case you cited, the Volt could be considered an electric car. But how many employers are going to be willing to supply the required fast charge stations along with paying the electric bill that goes with your recharge? It will be easier to move within 20 miles of work than to get “40 miles to work” employers to foot the bill for a recharge center. A flexible solar cell car cover for some trickle charge (not a recharge) would be a more likely option. It will not give you another 20 miles, but anything is better than nothing. Besides, the Volt will still have its “on board” charging system for when the battery gets too weak for pure electric travel. And that system is still good for another 300 miles.

  • JamesDavis

    Did you guys not read the next to last paragraph in that article? Chevy is an American auto maker, that took billions of dollars in tax payers money on a bail-out, and they put Europe above us. In fact, America was dead last on Chevy’s list in bringing that fuel efficient vehicle to market. Them knowing that the gas prices was out of reach of the common working stiff, and they still put us dead last. Well, guess what Chevy, you can take your “bread crumbs” right back over to Europe and keep your a** there. I will never buy another Chevy and I will tell all my friends how Chevy treated us after we gave them a bail-out.

  • calvin

    Lost Prius to wife:
    Most employers definitely aren’t going to provide a charging station this early on, but if plug-in electrics become more commonplace, I think charging stations at work could be standard practice.

    At first I’m sure it will only be public institutions, universities and the more progressive employers like Google, Microsoft, etc. who are trying to attract the best talent by providing such employee benefits, but once they establish the trend, other companies will follow (just like wellness programs, child care benefits, take-home vehicles, etc. have caught on).

    I mean, electricity is a lot cheaper than gas, and many companies are already paying for their employees’ commute costs or helping with employee relocation. So it’s not that much of a stretch. Of course, if you are driving 40 miles a day to work at McDonald’s, then you may want to just find a closer job.

    Another thing is, government support is vital whenever you are deploying new infrastructure. That’s why cities like San Francisco are funding the building of plug-in stations and providing incentives for private companies that deploy them. It’s the only real way to solve the chicken-or-the-egg problem, since the private sector isn’t going to invest in plug-in infrastructure on their own without widespread use of plug-in vehicles, and the usage of plug-in vehicles will never become widespread without plug-in station availability. So tax cuts for companies that provide charging stations will go a long way.

    Last of all, I think most plug-in vehicle owners would probably be fine with the company (or city) just providing the plug-in station and letting the driver pay for the cost of the electricity themselves. Just being able to recharge away from home is a huge plus. No one is expecting to be able to drive for free.

  • Shines

    JamesDavis clearly you hate GM. You own a Mustang and a pickup truck? Most Americans don’t own cars the size of the Cruze. For most of Europe and Asia most drivers own samller cars than the Cruze. The price of Gas is 5 times higher in those countries than it the US. So it would make sense for GM to bring a new small high mileage car to market in the markets where it would be most popular. I could just as well say GM introduced the Cruze in the foreign markets to get the kinks out and refine and test it as much as possible before bringing it to the US market. So we get the best version of the Cruze with all the kinks worked out. As far as gas prices being out of reach of the working stiff, just wait about 3 years. I bet 5 dollar a galon gas will be considered a bargain.

  • JamesDavis

    No Shines. I don’t hate GM. They have sitting on their shelf, one of the best hydrogen fuel cell batteries on wheels, (you just pour water in it and the cells create electricity. It is based on the Norwegian hydrogen battery.) called the Skateboard Car, in the world and they will not bring it to market. GM boosted the Skateboard Car up by having college engineer students design hundreds of body designs for it and then just let it die away.

    Yes, I own a Mustang, you have a good memory, but I do not own a pick-up truck. I was thinking about getting a Ford 150 though. I use to own a Chevy Nova and a Chevy SS. By the time I was able to get rid of those two cars, I had put as much money into getting them repaired as I did when I bought them. I think that GM’s executive board needs repaired, and I think they forget or forgot who puts butter on their bread…same with Chrysler.

  • calvin

    I have to agree with Shines. I personally think GM as a company has a terrible track record in terms of corporate responsibility and general ethics. They have a _lot_ to answer for. But they had good reason to debut the Cruze in other markets. America is the worst market for compact cars. Size sells, not fuel economy. If GM had sold the Cruze in the U.S. first, and it flopped because American consumers rejected it, it would have damaged the reputation of the car and probably cause it to not be sold overseas. It always makes sense to debut a product in the most receptive/promising market.

    Secondly, GM is an international company. They make tons of vehicles that they don’t sell in the U.S. It would be silly to expect GM to sell every single one of their models in U.S., much less sell them all in the U.S. first. Nissan doesn’t sell the Infinity FX in Japan, and Toyota and Honda also have vehicles that they only sell overseas. That’s the nature of being an international automaker. You have to cater intelligently/logically to different markets rather than base business decisions on emotional responses like nationalism.

    Be happy that the Cruze is even coming to the U.S., as its chances of selling well here are pretty low. Now, if the Cruze miraculously sells well and GM keeps the production low, _then_ you’ll have reason to be mad.

  • Shines

    Do you really believe if GM had a car that would run on water they would not bring it to market!?! Actually do you honestly believe there exists a fuel cell that runs on water?!? I read about the Norwegian hydrogen fuel cell. They can use it because they have geothermal power. The battery/fuel cell needs heat to generate power/hydrogen. It is still too expensive to produce except for the Norwegian government subsidies.
    Anyway I wish GM luck with the Cruze. America is not a manual transmission kind of country. So the 40 mpg based on a manual transmission may not create a lot of interest here. It still has to compete with Focus, Corolla etc…

  • Achilles

    As usual, the facts are in the article, the entertainment is in the comments.

    In the first comment, I didn’t suggest the Cruze would compete with the Volt, just that it would inevitably be compared with the Volt because it shares the same platform. Cruze is the standard offering from GM, Volt has the exotic extras, like big batteries and electric motors. And only four seats. Guess how many car mags will run Volt vs Cruze vs Prius stories.

    The over-provision of battery capacity in the Volt results in a vehicle cost which pushes the Volt architecture permanently out of reach of the mass market, post subsidies. GM has already stated it’s considering alternatives.

    The economically rational will buy a Cruze (or Focus, etc) if they want a car of this size. If you never drive more than 80 miles, please wear a Leaf.

    It will be interesting to see how many more Cruzes than Volts are sold in the U.S. (and Ampteras globally) in 2012, when both are fully available. My guess is at least five times more. Perhaps ten, globally.

  • Max Reid

    Not only the offices will provide charging stations, even the government buildings, post offices, libraries and stores could provide chargers and collect money for charging while attracting customers as well.

    In the 30 – 60 minutes we spend in a library or store, almost 100% of the battery will be charged. Chargers cost only 50-60K.

    As for the Cruze, it makes much better sense to spend 18K on this vehicle which gives 40 MPG instead of shelling out 41K on Volt.

    But rich guys will buy Volt to show off.

  • TBS

    Did you ever think that Chevy had to work within the confines of the market. Americans have been buying suburbans and SUVs and driving them mostly without passengers (while talking on there cell phones) rather than driving eco-friendly cars for years. Chevy was probably going for some cred in the market before delivering to the unfriendly US market and having to overcome preconceived, negative emotions about the quality of American cars. I personally will cheer on any automotive maker who delivers a high quality, eco-friendly car at a reasonable price- especially the American auto-makers! I am excited about the Cruze.

  • calvin

    That’s a good point about using charging stations to attract customers, but plug-in adoption still needs to reach critical mass before businesses will do this on their own, I think.

    Also, whether it makes sense to buy the Cruze or the Volt depends on what your purpose is. If your purpose is saving money, then the Cruze is a better deal in the short run (depending on gas prices in your area and how much you drive, with the Volt you could end up breaking even in less than 5 years). But if your main concern is with the environment, then it’s perfectly reasonable to spend more on a Volt than to get a Cruze.

    And I think most “rich” people are going to buy a Mercedes or Beamer to show off, not a Volt.

  • almprin06

    Here are some notable quotes from 2005 about the Chevy Cobalt (which is now portrayed to have been so horrible):

    “I was really impressed when I got into the Chevrolet Cobalt. I don’t know what my expectations were but the car certainly exceeded them. The Cobalt is Chevy’s new entry in the compact sport market. The interior of my test vehicle was nicely done. The materials were of good quality, the fit and finish were good and the Cobalt had a nice feel to it. In other words, I didn’t feel like I was driving a cheap car.”
    By Frank S. Washington
    The New York Beacon

    “Chevy’s new ‘premium’ compact replacement for the Cavalier knocks the socks off the model it is replacing. It is clear from the start that the Cobalt is far better built than its predecessor. All the pieces fit together…an absolute blast to drive…inside, the cabin is well done and quite cozy, with a dashboard that has nice sizable switches and controls — no cheap stuff here….a serious contender now for anybody looking for a small car.”
    Chevy Cobalt clobbers Cavalier for fun, class.
    By Don Hammonds
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    How quickly you guys forget.

  • Donald Worrell

    I have no desire to buy any 4 door sedan car. But you make it a hatchback like the orlando look and I will trade in my 2000 Tracker in a heart beat.

  • drivesaneclipse

    GM actually paid all of their debt back believe it or not.

  • Bryan19851581

    I work for GM and sell Chevrolets. Here are the facts. Chevy Cruze is a hit. Already, I sold one and its not due in for 2 weeks!!! Girl said she had to have it! GM paid back all their debt! How many of you people that are beating up GM and honestly some of you guys are less responsible in your own life. You all have debt to payoff and owe credit cards and mortgages. Some of you guys probably short selled your house and screwed over the morgatge company that gave you the loan, or you filed bankruptcy, or you are still robbing peter to pay paul (aka visa and mastercard). It is so simple to point the finger at someone and say “HERE IS YOUR FAULTS” but when the finger comes back at you, you cant take it. Why dont people complain about other people. Saying I wont buy GM or Chrysler stuff is as arrogant as saying that you wont eat at your favorite local resturant cause the owner had a bad year in business and short-selled his house, or filed bankruptcy. Think about it. You are ridicuilly a company for having a financial strain??? Well hello, where do you think it came from?! All of you out there buying crap you cant afford and getting houses for twice what you should pay for it. You small business owners hiring illegals to work so they can dodge taxes and you dont have to pay them. All you people that took every single credit card and maxed them out! All of YOU which sat back and allowed the corrupt politicians to stay in office. All of you that did no research whatsoever on the company you gave your money to to invest it. The american recession was your fault. We were all blinded by bush and not obama. Not saying they are bad presidents, but honestly, when was our last good one? I live life every day to the best that I can. Do I make mistakes? Yes. Do I critisize, yes! However I look at the full picture. GM, Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota all took bailouts from their governments. Oh well, it happened, cant change it. GM paid back their loan. And as far as I can see the Cruze is a step in the right direction.


    The Cruze will flop in the US, like all GM imports. Just look what happened to Saturn after it decided to sell rebadged Opels. Alas, the Cruze will suffer a similar fate. Besides, once people look at the content sticker and find its North American content is 45% they will shop elsewhere.

    BTW, the Corolla has 65% NA content.

    Stay away from the Cruze it will bring down the US auto industry


  • Dawn

    I have bought GM cars since the 80’s. My father retired from GM. I just bought a Chevy Cruze and I love my car. While I was shopping several dealerships, the Cruze was selling like hot cakes!!! The weekend I bought my car they sold 9 in one weekend. The Cruze seems to be a hot seller in my area.