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2011 Chevrolet Cruze Photo

2011 Chevrolet Cruze - Review

 

2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco Quick Drive and Live Photos

The Chevrolet Cruze has been on sale for a few months at this point. Sales seem to be doing well, and the advertising is definitely aggressive. Chevrolet even calls out the competition by name in its advertising. The introduction of the Eco model was slightly behind that of the regular Cruze models, though we recently had the opportunity to drive the new Cruze Eco in sunny California to see if it lived up to Chevrolet's promises.

Upon arriving at Los Angeles we were given a choice: a Cruze Eco with a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. Knowing that the six-speed manual is they model rated at 42 mpg, we quickly expressed our preference. Chevrolet was happy to comply.

Our drive consisted of 120 miles on the freeway, from Los Angeles to San Diego. We decided not to use the cruise control, and made no attempt to hyper mile. We wanted to see what kind of real-world freeway gas mileage we could get. During our drive we cruised at speeds north of 70 mph with light traffic. With only one quick stop to switch drivers, we recorded an average of 44.1 mpg. Color us very impressed.

Something very important we noticed is how normally the Cruze Eco drives. It isn't a watered-down model with ridiculously boosted steering and lazy driving dynamics.

The six-speed manual had long, but easy to find shifts, while the clutch was feather light. The six-speed actually has two tall over-drive gears as fifth and sixth for highway cruising. In our experience, to do any sort of passing or acceleration, you must drop from sixth gear to fourth or third gear.

Much of what makes the Cruze Eco an Eco model are things that you will not notice on a daily basis. The active grille louver system is an air-on-demand system that allows air into the engine bay when needed, and closes when not needed. This makes the Cruze Eco more fuel efficient. The light-weight chrome wheels on the Eco are unique to this model, and the lo-rolling-resistance tires are shared with the Chevrolet Volt. A small rear trunk-lid spoiler, and under-body panels are in place to also help with aerodynamics. Together, all these Eco-specific modifications help the Eco achieve its 42-mpg EPA highway rating.

Overall, we were impressed with the Cruze Eco. It delivers on its highway fuel economy promises, while still driving like a normal car. The model seems like a real value to those buyers who want higher fuel economy without the driving experience of a hybrid.


 
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Comments (9)
  1. Ouch, the automatic drops the highway MPG from 42 to 37. That is about a 12% loss. But well done for the manual version.
     
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  2. Price starts at $18,895 compared to $22,800 for a low end Prius. Hmmm. Not sure about the value of the Chevy Cruze ECO.
     
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  3. The great thing about the 40MPG Cruze is that it makes doing the math on it's platform brother the PHEV-40 Volt so easy. Since the Volt has an electric range of 40 miles it's instantly clear that this car could save you about one gallon of gas a day compared to the 40 MPG Cruze. Crunching the numbers people will quickly realize that the extra $22K for the Volt just can never be recouped over the lifetime of the Volt (unless it lasts at least 20 years without extra maintenance). That's why I'm not a fan: the technology is just too complex and therefore too expensive. The Volt's extreme part count suggests the price could never come down enough to ever become a mass market proposition. A solution is never a solution if the numbers don't add up.
     
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  4. @ Chris
    Chris that is for highway driving, you do not get 40+ mpg in the city which is where a lot of your driving takes place and thus your whole little calculations go out the window.
    In any case the same can be applied to for the Prius, which tops out at $35K for the top model. But even using the base price you could just as well by Hyundai Accent or Chevy Aveo or a whole slew of cheap fuel efficient vehicles and the Prius would never "recoup" it's value when compared to those vehicles either. Vehicles are never an investment, it's about choice and what you want to do with it.
    The most important thing to me about the Volt is it allows you to drastically reduce your oil consumption unlike any vehicle on the road today while still driving like a normal car.
    Many people have traveled over 1000 miles on as little as 5 gallons of fuel with the Volt, you can acheive that with anything out there today.
    I guess you also mist this article Chris in pertaining to cost
    http://green.autoblog.com/2011/02/04/rumormill-gm-looks-to-cut-price-of-next-gen-chevy-volt-by-7-50/
    GM looks to reduce the cost of the Volt by almost $8k by the second generation.
     
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  5. @Khadars: obviously your mileage will vary, but keep in mind: so will the Volt's all electric range which is actually EPA-rated at 35 miles, not 40. Also using the range extended mode on the highway (which is typically where you would use it) the Volt is rated at 37MPG against the Cruze's 42MPG, so more gains are lost. About the Volt's price coming down: it's only a rumour of course but let's say it happens. Now the extra cost of the Volt is "only" $14K. I challenge people to do the math for themselves but I predict that most people will still find they just can't make up for the extra cost by saving one gallon a day at best. Obviously though the Cruze is a crude burner and I think people should do the right thing and choose the Volt over the Cruze but I'm afraid the +$14K upfront is still the more compelling argument.
     
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  6. @Chris O
    If you're going to compare fuel economy between Volt and Cruze Eco at least compare the right numbers. Volt is rated @ 35 mpg city 40 mpg highway with a 37 mpg composite. Cruze Eco (manual) is rated @ 28 mpg city 42 mpg highway with a 33 mpg composite. Even in range extended mode the Volt is significantly more efficient overall even though it is lugging around the added weight of the battery, etc. Also, remember most Americans will refuse to drive the manual version.
    I also think, if you were able to calculate all of the external costs not included in the price you pay at the pump to fuel your gasser (secure oil supply chain, oil spills, etc.) you would find that you could quickly recoup the $14k price difference. Sadly this info is withheld, keeping the price artificially low.
     
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  7. @ Rob: You're right, the Volt is more efficient overall, though the Cruze still seems to have the edge on the highway. About external cost: agreed again; not to mention the possibly devastating effect of the looming "oil crunch". The Cruze for all it's economy might as well be called the Crude for the type of energy it uses. Like I said: the Volt is the more responsible choice of the two. But...the Nissan Leaf is the smartest choice of the three ....Why bother with the double drivetrain if you (like most households in the US) own more than one car anyway? Keep it simple and affordable: ditch the ICE generator and use your mini van or whatever for those roadtrips.
     
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  8. how is the Leaf the better choice of the three? If you think owning an entire additional vehicle is some how more efficient than owning one I don't know what to tell you. In addition, the Volt is only on it's first generation and the cost is certain to come down in not to distant future with improved efficiencies.
     
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  9. The Volt is too expensive. Toyota and Honda hybrids, though smaller, are priced in the mid 20's, not north of 40, which brings up another point. The people who would spend $40,000 on a midsize car don't give a toss about economy and head for the BMW and Mercedes-Benz dealers. I've seen *one* Volt in the Lansing, MI area, and I think that is just because he owns a Chevy dealership. Also, the people that would spend $40,000 on a Chevy buy trucks, not fuel-sippers.
    Don't get me wrong though, the Volt's hybrid system is brilliant, but it doesn't need to be that complicated. The potential is there to make the Volt cheaper than Prius without making it cheap.
     
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