2011 Chevy Cruze - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

2011 Chevy Cruze

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Do you consider yourself an independent thinker who takes adult responsibilities very seriously?

Does the term "green" mean saving money?

If you answered yes to those questions and need a car that perks you up and makes you feel young, then has Chevy got the car for you, and it's called the Cruze.

These are the type of people the Cruze marketing team sees driving the new compact.

Hey, I like saving money and who doesn't need to feel perky every now and then? Let's go for a drive.

Graciously I was handed the keys to a Silver Ice Metallic sample. My first thoughts: this is good looking little car. Compacts are usually boring in the looks department, but this Cruze has face better looking than Tom Cruise. And when you hear about the 36 miles per gallon, you'll be jumping up and down on the couch.

Depending on which of the 5 models you choose, you can jazz up the looks with options like different wheels, chrome bits and pieces, rocker moldings, different front and rear fascias, and fog lights.  The car comes standard with a can of tire sealant and an inflator kit, a spare tire is an option.

With the LT 1 pack on my ride, there were plenty of bells and whistles for a car priced a tick over 20 grand. 

I think American car makers finally got the message that they needed to spend a few more bucks and use quality materials when putting the inside together.  The cloth on the seats was well stitched, although it did look a bit odd when used on the door panels and parts of the dash.  If you can spring for the leather, it's worth it.  The rest of the dash is well designed and sharp looking. Gauges are in the right spot and have a nice blue glow to light them up. All the knobs and stalks are readily accessible.

One trick little thing Chevy did was move the door lock button away from the door to the dash right below your center stack.  It makes sense there.  You start the car, and before you shift into gear, a quick push and you're locked and loaded.

As with any car these days, you can load it up with all the bells and whistles you want like Bluetooth, Nav, rocking sound system, (the 250 watt Pioneer upgrade kicks) and remote start.

Since the Cruze is a GM car, that means you get On Star. It's free for the 1st six months.  On Star does some great stuff like automatic crash response, security services and can even unlock your car.

Keeping up with technology, On Star has an app for both iPhones and Android phones called "On Star My Link".  This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen.  You can keep tabs on your car from anywhere you have phone service.  You get real time monitoring of your cars vitals, including gas mileage, miles to empty, oil life, tire pressure etc.  OK, not everyone keeps track of that stuff, but since I'm a car nerd, it rocks.  A few things it can do everyone will like is lock and unlock you doors from anywhere.  Say you're in the mall and you can't remember if you locked up.  Just a few clicks on your phone and you're car is locked.  Say you're flying in from vacation, as you're getting ready to get off the plan, you can start your car.  Think of it as a long distance key fob. All cars should have this. 

Despite all the perks inside, there is one big drawback, space.  There's not a lot of it, especially for back seat passengers.  With the driver's seat adjusted comfortably, my 6 year old in her booster was out of leg room.   With a few adjustments you could fit a few adults in back for a short uncomfortable ride.  The seats do fold down for some pass through hauling.

You get a choice of engines to fire up with the remote start; a138 hp, 1.8 liter 4 banger or the 1.4 liter turbo, also laying down 138 hp.

I had the turbo 4 under the hood. For tooling around town it's plenty of power.  But when you need to get up to highway speeds in a jiff, you need to wind that spindle up.  It's may not be the fastest ride in town, but not many cars are returning up to 36 miles per gallon. There is also an ECO version of the Cruze which gets you up to 42 MPG. It gets the job done with an extra "overdrive" gear on the 6 speed manual.

The seats are comfortable enough for a long journey and the ride is smooth and quiet, at least until you get that turbo spooling up.  The Cruze handles very well for this class of car. 

It may be a little late to the party in America.  The Cruze has already proven a sales success selling about a quarter million of them in 60 countries.  For small car at a small price, starting around 17 g's, Honda and Toyota just got some serious competition.

Get Cruzing here.

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