Up Close: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze

Cruzeupclose

Amid hundreds of chanting GM fans — mostly employees, family members and retirees — The General unveiled the U.S.-bound Chevy Cruze as part of a cavalcade of concept and production cars. Alas, while certain elements (namely the prospect of 39 mpg on the highway) are promising enough, I’m not sold on the Cruze’s overall execution.

For starters, there’s no folding backseat, only a center pass-thru for skis. Though one product specialist said she thought there was a chance the U.S. model might get a folding backseat, GM/Daewoo vice president of design Taewan Kim said it won't. That’s a deal-breaker for some; the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Ford Focus and others have folding seats standard.

Cabin quality is more respectable, with comfortable — if low-rent — mesh-like fabric in the display car. Leather will be optional. Various sections of the dash are clad in similar mesh fabric, which is a creative way to get around the frequent use of cheaper hard-touch plastics in this price range. The rear seats offer adult-sized confines with good thigh support.

The controls have decent quality, and luxury features like automatic climate control and heated seats will be available. Unfortunately, GM’s user-friendly radio — one of the outgoing Cobalt’s few strengths — has been ditched for a new design. The depowered show car didn’t offer a chance to play with it, but judging by the location of the buttons I doubt it will be as friendly.

If the Cruze has an obvious strength, it’s styling. The profile recalls the Pontiac G8 — especially with the G8-like squared-off door handles — and the face seems well-proportioned for Chevy’s split-grille routine.

Comments 

Troy S.

I think the Cruze is behind the current economy class of cars in technology and creature comforts. Are the designers getting leftover parts from early 90's Cavalier parts bins? We already have the unachieving Aveo for goodness sakes!

I just checked it out and Kelsey is nutso. The interior quality is behyond the current Focus or Elantra. Prob not up to Civic but as good as the Corolla if not better.

I really like the looks of the Cruze. Any word on a coupe for the US?

Happymantis

I don't think the cockpit looks that bad...

Dave is nutso-er. Styling inside and out is a plus, but otherwise the disappointments are wide-ranging. If the Cruze gets 39 or 40 mpg, it should still be in good shape, though.

C

The tail lights looked like the JDM 8th gen Civic

YOING

Is that padding on the dash or is that just the texture of the plastic? The gray swaths I talking about. I don't know what to think yet, it looks more upscale than the current el-cheapo Cobalt, but the Malibu does too and poking around that thing revealed some pretty cheap feeling bits and clunky controls. GM seems to always lack the snick-snick quality of the imports.

sheth

Wide ranging disappointment? BAsed on what? The car looks good and will have great mileage. The interior is far better than the Cobalt and the Corolla. The black tie radio has shortcomings in terms of how much data can be displayed. This new set up will allow for much more data to be shown. Its much more high tech than the black tie radio. This is called PROGRESS!

YOING,

I already know you are biased but I would like to know where you found all t hese cheap controls in the Malibu. Name a few of these components. All of the Malibu's switches and stalks operate smoothly and feel substantial.

sheth

"I just checked it out and Kelsey is nutso. "

I concur. What is he comparing this car to if its a disappointment? The Elantra? corolla? The corolla has one of the cheapest interiors in this class. I do not like the interior design of the new 3 either, this is more symmetrical and attractive. Sounds like another competent car is going to be doomed before it starts based on plastics.

segfault

No folding seat? What are they thinking? You use it a lot in a smaller car.

Also, the trunk hinges aren't the hidden kind--they take up room in the trunk. Cheap.

Ryan

Sheth,
I agree with YOING that the Malibu looks and feels really good initially, but on closer inspection, some parts are really cheap.

Here's a few examples I found:
-The strip of wood trim that wraps around the top of the dash can be easily peeled off and is just barely clinging on.

-The headliner is not flush with the top of the widshield and is just begging to be pulled down. It felt like it would be easy to do so with a slight tug.

I know there were a few others, but that's all I can think of.

Granted, the new Malibu has much better interior quality than the old Malibu, the current Impala and Cobalt, and any Chevy from the last 20 years or so. But it still doesn't match Hyundai, Honda, or Toyota. After looking at all the cars at the recent LA Auto Show, I would even dare say Chrysler (and Ford) had better attention to detail. Like YOING said, GM will try, but they still overlook the "little things" that count.

For the record, before this turns into a domestic vs. import battle, I used to own a Chevy and now own a Ford and Subaru and love them both. I'm not biased toward either, but just like a good quality car.

Ryan

Sheth,
I agree with YOING that the Malibu looks and feels really good initially, but on closer inspection, some parts are really cheap.

Here's a few examples I found:
-The strip of wood trim that wraps around the top of the dash can be easily peeled off and is just barely clinging on.

-The headliner is not flush with the top of the widshield and is just begging to be pulled down. It felt like it would be easy to do so with a slight tug.

I know there were a few others, but that's all I can think of.

Granted, the new Malibu has much better interior quality than the old Malibu, the current Impala and Cobalt, and any Chevy from the last 20 years or so. But it still doesn't match Hyundai, Honda, or Toyota. After looking at all the cars at the recent LA Auto Show, I would even dare say Chrysler (and Ford) had better attention to detail. Like YOING said, GM will try, but they still overlook the "little things" that count.

For the record, before this turns into a domestic vs. import battle, I used to own a Chevy and now own a Ford and Subaru and love them both. I'm not biased toward either, but just like a good quality car.

Ryan,
If you don't want this to turn into a domestic vs. import battle then why fan the flame with such trivial examples of "cheapness"? You could get into any car and find those levels of "cheapness" in every one of them so don't act like other cars out there are any better or more sturdy because they are not.

sheth

The TL has a similar set up. No one complains. The Lucerne and DTS have this as well.

Ryan,

I have been in many Malibus and have not noticed a sagging headliner or wood trim that peels off with little effort. At least the Malibu uses a woven headliner like VW. Mazda and some Lexus/Toyota models still use mouse fur fabric like my old Alero. It seems you are really reaching and I cannot imagine how any objective person could say the Malibu cannot compete with the camry and Altima in interior design. The Camry is dull inside and has lots of hard surfaces.

I dont do flame wars but I do point out things that I find hard to believe. In all of the reviews I have read of the Malibu NONE have mentioned the cheap touches you just mentioned. MT feels the Malibu's interior is one of the best in class.

sheth

"No folding seat? What are they thinking? You use it a lot in a smaller car.

Also, the trunk hinges aren't the hidden kind--they take up room in the trunk. Cheap."


I agree it should have a fold down seat. TL lacks one and has same trunk hinges. Accord and altima have bare metal trunk supports. You know, the set up that was critized as an example of cost cutting on older domestic cars.

C

Sheth,
No one was talking about the Accord, TL or Altima here. Dragging those into the discussion does not make the Cruze any better.

Well if the Accord and TL use it and those cars were designed by the almighty Honda, the car manufacturer who doesn't make mistakes then surely it is not "cheap" but actually desirable and the Cruze designers should be commended for following Honda's lead in superior trunk hinge design.

sheth

"No one was talking about the Accord, TL or Altima here. Dragging those into the discussion does not make the Cruze any better."

Tl costs about $35k. If its not bad engineering and cost cutting in that car I dont see it can be in a compact that will probably cost $17k. That was my point.

If the Cruze has covered hinges that dont crush luggage but the Accord and altima do not I would say that is good for the cheaper Cruze. Make sense?

Six

Looks like a winner, despite Kelsey's complaints. The Cobalt still feels like a Cavalier. While there are nice features here and there with the Cobalt, it's far beneath the Focus -- the turning radius alone was enough for me to wish the rental companies would stop giving me the Cobalier.

But this looks much better, and anyway the driving will make or break the car for me, not the plastics used on the dash.

sheth

six,

I would say the styling, driving experience, features and mileage are going to be key. If people cared about soft plastics in economy cars they wouldnt be buying the corolla in droves. For all the press' adoration of the 3 the fact remains the mundane and very average Corolla is the #1 seller in this segment. I think the Cruze has a good shot at being a better car than the current Corolla and really that's all that matters. When you consider the fact that the Corolla is #1 and the Cobalt outsells the 3 I have no idea why some people think GM should be worrying about copying the 3.

sheth

six,

What I really mean is the Cobalt is such a good car, why would GM want to improve on it? The car beats a Civic hands down, is more exciting and driver focused than a Corolla, has all around world class materials, I don't see why anyone buys anything else.

sheth

six,

Actually I will have to add something else. Why would you even consider a different car, I mean ever? And if you are going to evaluate the plastic in a car, do you really know what a car is? I mean I think driving, looking at, touching, talking to, maybe even sleeping in a car is all that matters. I just think you are really out of touch with the whole automotive market.

sheth

six,

Now look, I don't want to come off as arrogant or anything, but you really should know more about this car before talking about it. I mean I have spent all day on my Mom's computer reading about the length of the car, the tire size, the amount of light the headlights produce, etc. I really think you should just sit and read about the minute details about a car before commenting on them. Otherwise no one will have any idea about what you are talking about.

YOING

Gotta laugh at Sheth here. The Cobalt beats the Civic hands down? In rental fleet sales maybe.

alex

sheth, i strongly disgree with your assertion that the cobalt is better than a civic. Opinions must be based on facts. Fact: civic scores higher than cobalt in CR testing. Fact: civic outsells cobalt by a large number. Fact: civic was the car of the year when it came out in 05 ot 06, was the cobalt? Fact: civic is almost universally reagrded as a beter car than the cobalt? the only person that thinks the cobalt is better? YOU!!!! facts are a stubborn thing

sheth

alex,

I didnt write any of that stuff. Someone is trying to be funny I suppose. Those last three posts weren't mine. Someone is attempting to mock me by making outrageous statements that degrade the civic and corolla. Pretty pathetic.

sheth

yoing/alex,

I have to say I am insulted that you cant tell the difference between what I have said before and the idiot who is imitating me on here. Come on now. I suspect that the new "sheth" is one of the people who was posting here earlier attacking me for not treating the word of the bloggers as gospel and informing me that we as regular people are not qualified to question "experts" because we are too ingnorant or stupid to do so. That would be my guess. I never said the Cobalt is better than the Civic. I said the car isnt' worthless simply because it has some hard plastics on the inside.

H

FYI the recently unveiled Holden Cruze has a 60/40 split folding backseat. As the Holden should be essentially identical to the Chevy other than LHD vs. RHD, I don't see why it would not be available on the Chevy version.

Original sheth

H,

I saw the same thing. I agree.

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