Review: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze ECO

Posted on 26. Sep, 2011 by in Auto News

Segment leading sales (up 31 percent over the previous year) at a higher purchase price (up to 27 percent two years ago, $ 20,465, according to TrueCar): With the Cruze Chevrolet has pulled off a rare combination. But it did not hurt that the Corolla, Civic, Focus and Elantra have all been supply limited. Once competitors get their factories running, the Cruze is what it takes to keep its current projection?

A Cruze LTZ is an attractive car, if conservatively styled. When I saw for the first time in the metal I held it for a short Audi. But replace the ECO 17-inch forged wheels are polished alloy wheels for the LTZ five-spoke 18s and … well, what do you think? A forged polished wheel is not cheap. It takes a special talent to make one look like a cheap hubcap. I would not have mistaken the bulbous ECO for an Audi.

If both cars are comparably equipped, lists a C-segment Cruze for about $ 2,000 more than the new B-segment Sonic. The $ 2,000 paid for a car that is about eight inches long and a quarter-ton, but the extra cost in a metal Cruze GM is not more than a few hundred dollars. Thus making GM has not nearly as hard to pinch their pennies with the Cruze, and this is most evident in the car, where pretty much everything looks and feels solid back, and nothing that you just bought the car because you couldn 't better. Could be during the Cruze styling hardly conventional-you will not find anything like the Sonic tools are here-it an aesthetic innovation: heavy-weave fabric upholstery is made up of the door panels on the face of the instrument panel. Although not as simple as clean plastic (especially in black), it's certainly the place to dress.

When I first reviewed the Cruze last year, I praised it with its own front and rear seats and relative adjustments on both front seats, not less. I've also found that bean counters have been chasing this feature to extinction. I now fear that could be my contribution to the downed a game to this function for the year 2012 is over. Fortunately, they did not try to combine the inclination and relative adjustments. Given the Cruze to the high bonnet and beltline, those of us under six feet tall, you should crank the seat up a few clicks to avoid feeling buried in the car, and we will not necessarily tilt the seat forward. The firm but comfortable driver's seat remains true than most in this segment. My buttocks recognize a healthy dose of high-quality foam. The back seat is too low. The ground and a little short on legroom

The Cruze shares its engines with Sonic. By driving the latter, I learned why is the 136-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is not the way to go. Even in the lighter car, it feels short on power, focuses much sonic inconvenience if forced to work and not being stingy with fuel. The 1.4-liter turbocharged four standard in the Cruze is no longer efficient at high speeds, but has a much plumper midrange, as seen in the figures, maximum torque: 148 pound-feet from 1,850 rpm instead of 123 at 3,800 . What this means: you do not have the 1.4T almost as hard work in typical suburban driving. Although a little shake at idle, the small four reasonably well-behaved is different. Just do not expect blistering acceleration: 138 hp is not much for a 3100-pound car. As a Toyota Prius, the ECO feels best when in an economy-minded fashion-which is of course what this variant with its special "Triple Overdrive" gearing all over driven. The main reason not to do: the people behind you appear more often in a hurry to get to the next red light. Sixth in the small motor rotates only 2,300 rpm at 75 mph. Unlike those in many small cars, the shift lever feels smooth and firm.

And fuel consumption? The EPA highway rating of 42 is at the top of the segment, and the city rating of 28 is not bad. For a number of my suburban drives, the onboard computer reported low 40s and in a straight highway driving for over 50 years. I averaged a little over 35 for the week. I might ask, how much better it would do if GM had managed to clear the curb weight to keep it under £ 3,000, except that the lighter Sonic managed only EPA ratings of 29/40 with the same engine. The ECO tweaks appear to make about ten percent difference in the EPA tests. If the onboard computer can be trusted, it could take more of a difference with an economy-minded drivers in the real world. Update: a Cruze owner informed me that he and others have noted, the onboard computer to three percent to be optimistic, so it is up about 1 to 1.5 MPG.

Unfortunately, these tweaks make a difference, like the Cruze ECO treated. The 215/55HR17 Goodyear Assurance tires offer little in the way of grip and crisp steering, expire early in a soft, safe film. The lesson once again: This car is optimized for the economy, not Hooning. In commuter mode, the Cruze runs very pleasant, weighted by pretty fast and good (if numb). Steering and a smooth, quiet, well-isolated ride Body control is not as good as the Ford Focus, with a bit of bobbling over very uneven pavement, but it's much better than the Hyundai Elantra.

Paint the list price if you give up the cars tested $ 325 "Crystal Red Metallic Tintcoat" (that's a waste, when paired with the ECO wheels anyway): $ 19,995. A Cruze LT with EPA ratings of 26/38, lists for $ 770 less. The average driver will again earn the difference in about six years. The higher cost would tastier if the ECO unique wheels and subtle spoiler significantly improved the appearance of the cars, but they do not.

A Ford Focus SE with Sport and Convenience Packages include lists for $ 20,365, so absorbed in the ECO. Adjusted for the Cruze, the extra features (especially a few extra airbags) on True Delta car price comparison tool to divide more than $ 900 (about $ 1,300, if you compare the Cruze LT instead).

A Hyundai Elantra GLS with Comfort package and floor mats is much less than the other: $ 17,300. But adjusting for feature differences. The gap to a mere $ 200 Part of the reason for the large feature-based price adjustment: opt for a manual transmission, and you can not light alloy wheels or a Bluetooth connection-on the Hyundai. The Hyundai also looks and feels like less of a car.

The choice between these three is clearly a driving enthusiast. Hypermilers But the Ford looking for a comfortable, economical commuter that does not look or feel like a penalty can not much better than the Chevrolet Cruze Eco While responsible for product development at GM, Bob Lutz put a high priority on refining, and it shows in this car (much more than in the Sonic). The curb weight was a big hit as a result of punting it almost midsize sedan territory, but once the Cruze does what its name says it best, this may seem to have little influence. What's missing: in the Toyotas of the Cruze beats at their own game, there is no sense of occasion, and nothing apart from fuel economy that inspires.

Chevrolet provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh operates True Delta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.