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Summertime Just Got Better with the Chevrolet Cruze

photo Russell Dandridge

I like the sound of it, the Chevrolet Cruze. It just rolls off the tongue. What I like even more is that it’s a laidback car and, even a bigger score, its eco-friendly with 26 miles per gallon in the city and a whopping 37 miles per gallon on the highway.


Coming in as a sedan level entry in 2011, the Cruze is all new to the market with reminisces of the old Cobalt, long gone in the Chevy lineup.

Competition for this one means it stands in line with the Ford Focus 2012 version, the Hyundai Elantra and the Mazda 3. Of course, there are always the stand-ins for the entry sedan market too which are the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla, but the Cruze stands in the front of the line any way you look at it and better, there’s no yawn factor with this one either.

The big “pro” for me with the Cruze is that it is eco-friendly and that’s a lot these days. Forget about the larger than needed engine that Chevy has been known to offer in the past. Nope, on this one it’s not too big, not too small, but just right.

The efficient turbocharged engine and the eco model’s not-to-be-overlooked fuel economy mean you have choices with this model and plenty of it choosing from either a 1.8-liter non-turbocharged inline-4 or the 1.4-liter turbo option.

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze comes in four trim levels the LS, Eco, LT and LTZ, but keep in mind you can mix and match the trims in a number of cases too, particularly with the variety of sound systems, or a sunroof option. If you prefer the RS appearance package that includes the front/rear fascias, foglights and rear spoiler and it’s an option for trim level mixing and matching.

What about under the hood you’re asking? The LS has the 1.8-liter inline-4 with 136 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque while the Eco, LT and LTZ are turbocharged with a 1.4-liter inline-4 giving it 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. The LS and the Eco are equipped with a six-speed manual transmission while the other trims are six-speed automatic, which is also an option on the LS and Eco if you want it.

Inside the interior is more than you’d imagine with an upscale styling and design reminiscent of a larger car with more of a price tag. The Cruze has narrow front seats and a diverse color scheme, mine came in jet black, but it added to the upscaleability, which is certainly one of the head turner features here. Easy to navigate the knobs and buttons even the seat dials are intuitive and if you don’t like one position there are plenty more to try out for comfort.

Handling takes top kudos in my book and is the most “to talk about factor” and you know how I am about feeling the road. It’s a secure ride, I’d say even a sporty drive, and I didn’t feel as if I’d be dumped over or do a tailspin if I took the curves for a test run. My backseat drivers gave me a big smile and thumbs up too, its comfy back there and a roomy. So bottom line is there are no complaints and if you’re a Chevy lover you’re gonna feel like you’ve finally come home.

Need to Know: The wow factor sets in when you realize the gas mileage is such a deal. Notice the larger than most trunk making the Cruze an excellent vacation and travel vehicle for the family. Top of the line LTZ will also get you zero to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds not so bad since you’re not on a race track anyway.

Out of Pocket: The Silver Ice Metallic Chevrolet Cruze I drove around town was the eco version and came in at $21,130.



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