The week that transitions Denver, Colo. from March to April marks a busy time, especially for those involved with the Denver International Auto Show. You might have noticed as AllSmallCars.com covered all the exciting news and reviews coming out of the auto show. One of the highlights was the manufacturer ride and drive program, a program that had 11 manufacturers participating for 2011. Chevrolet was just one, but they brought a lot of excitement with the ability to drive a 2011 Chevrolet Volt, a car we did a driving review for last week (more here). We also took a spin around downtown Denver in the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. Like the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, we came prepared with our 6’ 2” passenger to test out the backseat. How did it fair? Let’s check it out.
One thing that stands out from the competition is the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 138 horsepower. If you associate turbo with lag and worse fuel economy, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze will change your perceptions. With highway mileage at 36-mpg and a decent 0-60 time right around 9 seconds this isn’t your fathers economy car. When driving the car around downtown we found that turbo lag is still evident, but it isn’t hampering like some of the turbo cars made 10 or 15 years ago. That said you do still get that punch that is delayed from when you put your foot in it. The mid-range power is excellent compared to the Cobalt predecessor, for sure. One thing we do want to mention is the electric power steering—something a lot of compact segment cars are moving to. The steering feels accurate and easy, but we are still getting used to it. Since we didn’t take the car out to the mountains for some twists and turns, we will reserve complete judgment though we can say in traffic the Cruze is a breeze to pilot.
2011 Chevrolet Cruze
How about that backseat room? Well, according to our 6’ 2” 275 pound passenger, the Cruze offered good leg and headroom when sitting behind the passenger seat. More than that, the car we test drove had leather, which offered a more luxurious feel that has finally brought Chevrolet’s compact car to a level where it can compete with the Honda Civic. The competition is tough though with the all-new Hyundai Elantra (now with styling like its Sonata sibling) and the 2012 Ford Focus (which seems to have the performance and economy edge on the Cruze).
Bottom line—if you are a bowtie fan and in the market for a good c-segment (compact) car, then the 2011/2012 Chevrolet Cruze should impress you. If you are looking for even more economy, check out the Chevrolet Cruze Eco. The Eco is expected to achieve 40-mpg on the highway in direct competition with both the all-new Focus and Elantra.