Chevrolet Cruze on the Way

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner revealed a full-size foam model of the new Chevrolet Cruze last week. GM announced that it would invest $500 million to build the all-new global compact car that will replace the Chevy Cobalt in the United States. The automaker calls it “the first of an all-new generation of fuel-efficient small cars.”

Slightly smaller than the Cobalt, the Cruze could become the carmaker’s fiercest competitor for car shoppers looking to save money at the pump. “We expect the Cruze to have segment-leading fuel economy,” a company spokesperson told the Associated Press. “It will significantly exceed the Cobalt XFE’s numbers.” The Cobalt XFE has been one of Chevy’s top all-around sellers, offering fuel economy of 25 in the city and 37 on the highway—with a combined mileage of about 32 miles per gallon.

Though no official mpg figures have been released for the Cruze, industry insiders are expecting combined fuel economy to approach or even exceed 40 miles per gallon. If this is the case, Chevrolet may have a viable alternative to high-mileage hybrid cars from Toyota and Honda.

Abroad, the Cruze will be outfitted with a choice of 1.6- and 1.8-liter gasoline engines, and a 2.0-liter turbo diesel. In the US, it will be powered by a turbocharged version of the 1.4-liter engine, also to be used in the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. The key to the Cruze’s efficiency is its compact powertrain and lightweight architecture.

GM is aiming for mass appeal with the Cruze’s visual design: wraparound headlights, a two-tier grille and front wing lines—features that are becoming part of “the design language for future GM models,” according to the company.

A concept prototype of the Cruze will debut at the Paris Auto Show this October, with product launches planned for Europe and Asia some time next year. In the US, it will be built at GM’s Lordstown, Ohio plant, and will arrive in showrooms in mid-2010 as a 2011 model.

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  • Jerry

    Companies need to be pro active. If they had invested 500 Mill a couple of years ago maybe they would not have lost 16 Billion this year.

  • Need2Change

    Sounds like a competitive car.

    But why does Honda and Toyota stick with their economy cars (Civic and Corolla), and U.S. auto manufacturers change models so often?

    For example, why does the Coblt need to be killed?

    Also, Chrysler’s PT Cruiser is an economy car, but I hear it’s being discontinued. Why doesn’t Chrysler update it rather than kill it?

  • Brian B.

    I had heard a bit about the Cruze, but not many details until now. I assume you could buy two of these cars for what it would cost to buy one Chevy Volt. Should be a good seller. Hope they can sell it and make a profit.

  • PT Bruiser

    The PT Cruiser is a small car but not an economy car. According to CR it averages 18 MPG. The Honda Odyessey with more than twice the interior room averages 19 MPG.

    Cruze is a nice looking car, but being a GM rpoduct I will not touch until after many years of production as it is likely designed to last only 60-80K.

  • Jeff

    All sounds just like the Volt. “Lets publish some specifications and get everyone worked up about a foam model.” Until GM gets a real car on the road this continues to stink of PR products only. I am feeling a bit sick.

    GM please shut the @#$% up and start producing a real car for heck sake. Shoot they cannot even come up with an original design for their made up car. I can get far more creativity from a class room of grade schoolers. And they would probably be able to actually buid a new car in less time than GM is taking with the Volt.

    Sorry for that tirade but I could not help it.

  • Armand

    According to GM fanboys they have…the CTS-V…

    Right now they are wetting their diapers about it because it beats the M5.

    Well…now you know where GM’s priorities lie..all the while they selling Excursions and Hummers to China and the Arabs.

    Man…Americans are suckers (not you Jeff). Yeah…let’s all keep waiting for the “GREEN REVOLUTION”….lol.

  • Bryce

    Excursion is a Ford product Noz……

    This Cruze is going into production next year for the European market. There are mules running all around Europe right now and is a year or two ahead of the Volt. It will come here stateside with an engine developed at a new powertrain facility being built in the midwest. This isn’t PR blather, but the announcement of a production vehicle.

  • Anonymous

    “But why does Honda and Toyota stick with their economy cars (Civic and Corolla), and U.S. auto manufacturers change models so often?

    For example, why does the Coblt need to be killed?”

    The Cobalt just doesn’t have the reputation or name recognition of a Civic. For some reason GM and many US car manufactures can’t make a small car with an identity. I think one obstical for US makers is that they made there name with trucks and muscle cars. They still push them as the flagship of their corporate identity. Honda made its name in the US market with practical and reliable cars right when the US market needed them. The Civic was released in 1972 and it became a household name. The GM counterparts have never had a chance to gain that type of name recognition, therefore their actual name is worthless. If their name is worthless then the next best thing is to constantly change the name and offer the bumbling, consuming masses something “NEW!!!” and “DIFFERENT!!!”.

    It really makes you wonder if the Prius is the Civic of this era. Being first to deliver doesn’t give you a free ride, but it does give you an advantage. Consumers remember that you delivered when they really needed it. It think that is something many GM supporters overlook and I fail to see how they are going to pull this off no matter how “NEW!!!” and “DIFFERENT!!!” the new cars are.

  • DaveTex

    It looks nice, the mpg figures sound great.

    But… Why do American companies always release new vehicles in Europe, then later offer a version here that doesn’t include all the great features offered in Europe(note the 2.0liter turbodiesel)?

    Surely someone who reads this knows the answer. I’d like to hear it, I mean a real answer, not just BS from America haters.

  • Armand


    It doesn’t matter..don’t play dumb. You know what I mean.

    I see a common theme among GM apologists….everything WILL COME stateside…

  • Samie

    Interesting historical perspectives Anonymous I do agree GM up to this point sends mixed messages. Rick Wagoner makes me cringe like some bad nightmare about a used car salesman, that’s always the case when I see him give interviews. But lets be fair they know they need to improve in all models to stay atop b/c it is very competitive and they need to offer good products in ALL thier vehicles. I see nothing wrong with the Cobalt at all but its a fierce market and conditions are forcing GM to offer something with better MPGs. Is all this wait for the Cruze or the Volt hype, no its not but I can see why people are quick to criticize GM. The Cruze should be a good one, wish it was here sooner!

  • No-Va

    Hey guys – step back and look at history. GM had a winner in the EV1. They crushed it. Said it would not sell – yet they only leased it – never offered it for sale. Now they’re losing 1 billion every hour because they don’t have anything in the showrooms people want.
    SAy it’s the batteries that hold up the VOLT – yet Toyota has all electric Rav-4’s that have over 200,000 miles on thier original batteries. That’s up GM????
    NEXT, Ford had a Hydraulic Hybrid – full sized F-150 that would get 60 mpg!! Supposed to be a 2008 model. WHERE IS IT? They would have lines out the showrom doors if they offered that truck.
    What’s up Ford??
    Let’s all write them and ASK THEM!!

  • MLS21

    It’s a nice looking car (if the shape sticks from prototype to production). Where I think GM has faltered in the past is the crappy interior of their cars. You could always find a fuel efficient model in their line up, but only if you wanted to give up interior comforts. It’s kind of like the Malibu hybrid they offer. I can get near the same mileage with the 4-cylinder option, but I can’t get a nice interior like the hybrid has. If they just made the 4-cylinder with a nice interior as an option, they would sell way better than the hybrid version. I figured it would have been a no-brainer option for Ford, GM and Chrysler to simply add luxurious interiors as an option to their economy cars to have a near-term competitor. Maybe it is too difficult to re-tool the production plants to do something like that?

    Also, what’s with the “turbo” option coming out of Detroit now? Why would I want a turbocharged engine that I have to put preimum gas in? Won’t that defeat the purpose of getting better fuel mileage — saving money? Plus what am I supposed to outrun with a tiny turbocharged 4-cylinder? A Chevy Cobalt? Maybe I can just live with the fact that a high mileage ICE isn’t going to be a street hot rod. Hopefully there is an option without the turbo engine…

  • steved28

    I’m going to trade in my current Chevy vaporware car for this one. I got a great deal, no money down, no payments, zero interest, and no car.

  • Bryce

    The purpose of the turbochargers in all of Detroits recent products…..

    With a turbo, one can amplify the ammount of HP put out by the engine. So an engine that produces 300 hp will then make 350, or what have you. The engineers then took this idea and figured, if a smaller displacement engine with lower gas usage was tied into a turbo, that the same ammount of HP of a larger more fuel hungry engine would be able to be produced. So the HP of the current 2.2L Ecotec would be the same as a 1.4L turbo while at the same time using less fuel. That is the idea.

    o and Noz……Europe isn’t getting 1.4L turbo. they are getting a regular four banger and a turbo diesel.

  • Armand

    A turbo engine will use more fuel on the boil than a regular aspirated engine in the same operating regime. The reason why a turbo could be more efficient is because if, by chance, someone is actually light footed, it’ll act like a 1.4L engine. Otherwise it’ll use more fuel in the long run and over more of the operating regime.

    Efficiency in operation does not equate to better fuel economy. Even with a smaller displacement.

  • Forrest

    Noz you should learn how turbo’s work. All they do is add extra hp to the engine, they do this by using exhaust gases. That is why racers always complain about turbo lag, and why super charging is much more popular if more speed is the idea. Super charging is bad because more air is sent to the engine – this reduces fuel economy because more fuel gets burned. A 1.4t engine that produces the same hp as a 2.0 hp will be more efficient because it is almost half the size.

    American companies screwed up and while the rest of the world was producing fuel efficient cars, we weren’t. Instead of GM and Ford tackling the first profitable hybrid head on (prius), they are doing what they can to improve economy. If these smaller turbo engines are as good as expected, maybe they could be teamed with hybrid technology and do even better. Turbos in engines isn’t the answer, but it is a start and at least companies that have been historically bad are trying.

  • Armand

    I know exactly how they work. And I also know a turbo engine will use more fuel when the turbo is spooled up. PERIOD. Efficiency does not equal better fuel economy. It is important to understand that.

    Turbo lag is due to the engine operating in normally aspirated regime while the turbo hasn’t kicked in yet. Turbo engines have less compression so as to allow for more compression when the turbo kicks in. In that lower compression operating range, the engines have less power than a normally aspirated engine…all things being equal. Thus the turbo lag.

    When a turbo is in full bore, it WILL consume more fuel…no if, ands, or buts.

    I agree with you on your second half of your post though.

  • Paul Houle

    I think MLS21 has a point: Detroit has always acted as if they think driving a compact should be like wearing a hair shirt. On the other hand, Asian manufacturers have always made compacts that you can live in.

    American cars seem puffy to me: they’re big on the outside, but not very big on the inside. I mean, a Buick Lacrosse is one of the nicer cars GM makes these days, it’s a lot bigger on the outside than my Hyundai, but it’s not much bigger inside. A Cavalier or a Cobalt is about as big as a Corolla or Civic on the inside, but it feels about as big as a Smart on the inside.

    To answer Need2Change, American manufacturers, for the most part, have made crappy small cars that they wish consumers would forget. One counterexample might be the Dodge Neon, which started out as one of those cars that’s a little too cheap, but over about a decade they steadily improved it and it became a good value small car which was very popular with people who want to tweak out a four banger. Chrysler canceled it just before gas prices went through the roof, which was one of the stupidest moves Detroit ever made.

    Turbos can improve fuel economy, but it will take careful integration with the engine and the rest of the car; a turbo that a tweaker bolts onto a car certainly won’t. For one thing, it lets you have a smaller engine that weighs less and has less internal friction. Like Honda’s VTEC system, it ought to be possible to have multiple operating modes, one of which will be optimized for low-power cruise. Yes, a Turbo 1.4 at FOT will consume more gas than a 1.4 without a Turbo. However, the Turbo 1.4 could give the same power as a 2.2 or larger engine, with a lighter vehicle, which would help give the acceleration that a lot of us need to get out of tight spots on American roads.

    Sure, turbos have a higher compression ratio and need premium gas, but alcohol from cellulosic biomass could provide the answer. Ethanol works at compression ratios up to about 1:20! Even though ethanol has less energy of combustion than gasoline, a vehicle with an engine and drivetrain optimized for ethanol could get better fuel economy than the best gas engines — a turbo could be part of that.

  • Dom

    It’d better have a manual transmission… actually, I imagine the only model that will actually get 40mpg will be the manual…
    And to echo and previous comment – why can’t we get the diesel engine??? VW just released their new 2.0l TDI for 50-state sale, and they are ALL selling as soon as they arrive (and most are spoken for before they arrive via waiting lists). A good clean efficient diesel engine will sell in the US. It just needs some re-education on the public’s end…

  • steved28

    “Noz you should learn how turbo’s work. All they do is add extra hp to the engine, they do this by using exhaust gases.”

    You may want to take a lesson yourself.. They use the exhaust gases to spin a fan, which forces more fresh air into the combustion chamber via another fan. Same principle as a blower, but the blower does this off a belt drive. A turbo does not recirculate the exhaust gases, it uses one fan to turn another on the same shaft. The “lag” is due to the fact that the exhaust gases do not spin up the turbo instantaneously, it takes a moment to catch up. A turbo can also inadvertently heat the air it sends to the combustion chamber, which produces a less effective mixture. Which is why many turbos have some type of cooling mechanism for the fresh air intake.

    You say the supercharger is bad because “more air is sent to the engine”. A turbo does the exact same thing. And when you increase the air pressure, you gotta increase the fuel.

  • 38mpg

    “For example, why does the Coblt need to be killed?”

    Because they are too ashamed of the poor reliability of their cars in general.

  • Bryce

    According to the press release, the car is going to get a 6 speed auto, which would most definetly exceed the 5 speed manual it is purported to be equipped with.

    bottom line though, a car with 2/3 the displacement is likely to use less gas, even still when coupled to the turbo.

  • Dom

    In that case, they should provide a six speed manual instead… if geared right, that could improve mpg beyond the 5 speed manual or the six speed auto.

  • Bryce

    perhaps, though, autos are closing the gap in fuel economy thanks to quicker computers, so it may not be much of a difference. GM does have a 6 speed manual at their disposal though if they so choose. There is one in the Pontiac Solstice.

  • RKRB

    Looks like a good idea and hope it works for GM.

  • Freddie B

    Eveything is relative….I read that a GM exec said that the combined MPG for the Cruze is 9 mpg higher than the current Cobalt XFE which is 32 MPG (25 city and 37 hwy). This means that we should expect something like 34 city and 46 hwy? And if you think this is not doable consider this:

    The new 2009 2.2 L Cobalt now has variable valve timing which bumps the HP to 155. And yes, the aforementioned 25/37 MPG. No pedestrian Civic, Corolla, Yaris, Fit, Sentra, Versa can touch this combo. And forget about drag racing against the Cobalt, you WILL lose….

    Now imagine this:

    GM has been adding Direct Injection to some of their higher end vehicles yielding an additional 15% in HP while maintaining fuel economy. Now take the current 155 HP engine, add 15% and you have about 178 HP. Now, create two new smaller engines based on this design for smaller vehicles:
    (the current Cobalt is a 2800 lb car). So if you reduce the engine size by 18% and 27% and do the same for the weight of two newer models, say 2300 and 2050 you will wind up with a 145HP, 1.8L engine and 130 HP, 1.6L engine. And the numbers in fuel economy would be even better than the Cobalt, with the 1.6L approaching the new Cruze’s MPG.

    Think these HP figures are a stretch???? Think again, Chrysler currently has a 1.8L for sale in the US that makes 148 HP!!!!

    I know that GM makes an Aveo with a 1.4 L with about 90 – 100 HP and a 1.2 with about 82 HP for other markets.

    Instead, GM spends money developing a totally new engine (will the turbo last?) versus enhancing an already good idea. Yes, I agree that a new vehicle is needed…..

  • Bryce

    The drivetrain that they develop is indeed going to be interesting. : ) The style alone though is indeed pretty impressive. I am happy, and something as small as a 1.4L is bound to produce some impressive fuel economy. With 2/3 the displacement, I can see why it will produce such good fuel economy and with the turbo, o man, beautiful hp too. : ) future car of the masses right here.

    Plebes rejoice!!!

  • flat4fever

    As the driver of a 10 year old VW passat wagon with a 1.8L turbo engine commuting 75 miles a day, I can attest to the potential economy of the small engine w/turbo, but can also attest that driving style has a huge effect. My Passat wagon is a fairly heavy car at over 3400#.

    Without the turbo,it’s acceleration would be even more dismal than it already is. When its spooled up on the pipe at high boost, it goes pretty good, but only gets about 26 MPG on the highway. Thats at 75-80 MPH.

    Now if I accelerate slowly and keep the revs under 3000, (65 MPH) the thing easily gets 33 MPG and if I play a few hypermiler games like coasting down hills and cutting off the A/C when climbing hills, it will jump up to about 37 MPG and has gotten as good as 40.

    Bottom line is any pressurized engine, turbo or supercharger is going to use more fuel at high boost tha a comparably sized naturally aspirated engine. If the computer didn’t increase the fuel flow to match the air flow, the engine would run way too lean and eventually destroy itself.

    The small turbo engine realtive to the size of the car will be as good or as bad as the driver makes it. It has ther potential to go either way.