2011 Chevy Cruze Eco Car Pro Review

I have wanted to get my hands on the new 2011 Chevy Cruze Eco for a while now.  Early reports back from listeners who have bought the car have been very positive.  But I sensed a real excitement about this car from the Chevy Dealers in the markets that the Car Pro Show airs in.  Usually that is a really good sign for a car.

I had the 2011 Cruze Eco this week, which is the most fuel-efficient of the Cruze models.  For me, the first surprise was the size.  I expected it to be a compact car, and while Chevrolet calls it a mid-sized car, I think it falls smack dab in the middle.  Cruze is larger and more spacious than most of the vehicles that get anywhere near the gas mileage this car does.

General Motors built this car to take on the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.  It was a pretty gutsy attempt by Chevrolet to intentionally call out two of the world’s best selling cars, but I will tell you that this car is a contender.  It is in fact, extremely import-like down to every detail.

Cruze Eco comes with a very small 1.4-liter inline 4-cylinder that comes with a turbocharger.  The other members of the Cruze family comes with a larger, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder.  My test car came with a 6-speed manual that shifted very smoothly and helped you eek every bit of horsepower out of the small but capable engine.

The Cruze comes with a fairly impressive list of standard equipment including keyless entry, power windows and door locks, AM FM Stereo with CD player, tilt steering wheel, and a driver info center that helps you maximize the fuel economy.  Other notable items include 17” polished wheels, rear spoiler, power mirrors, tire pressure monitoring system, cloth seats.  From the safety standpoint, Cruze has excellent crash test ratings and comes standard with a ton of airbags for the driver and passengers.

From a value standpoint, the Cruze I have has a Connectivity Plus package, an exceptional $525 package that includes cruise control, USB audio interface, leather wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, and steering wheel controls.

Inside the car, it is not one of those cars that just blows you away when you open the door, but once inside, the seats are quite comfortable and everything is well laid out and clearly well thought out.  It is nothing fancy inside, but you wouldn’t expect that in this price range car.  There seems to be one shocker with every car review, and for the Cruze, it was the trunk.  It has an amazing amount of trunk space.  The only real complaint on the car is the back seat.  It is quite uncomfortable for an adult; it sits really low, which makes your legs stick up unusually high.  It would be fine for kids.

Outside, Cruze does not look like an inexpensive car.  The car has an incredibly wide stance and the look of a car that is fast.  This sort of look is going to be the new face of Chevy, a much similar look to the Volt I had not long ago.  The lines of the car are clean, yet aggressive.  What is interesting is you can see this car crossing generations.  It is not too aggressive for middle-aged to older folks, yet the younger set would be proud to drive it too.  Kudos to the GM designers for pulling that off, it is not easy to do.

Overall, I like this car for what it is…a mid-sized car, moderately priced, that gets exceptional fuel economy.  I never quite got the advertised 42 miles per gallon highway, but got close at 40.  Getting the 28 mpg in the city was actually quite easy.

Cruze is exactly the type car I have been talking about since the gas spikes started.  It is a very fuel-efficient car that doesn’t look or drive like a cheap car.  We had no choices in autos like this in 2008 when gas spiked the last time.  Chevy finally got a fuel-efficient car right after many attempts.

What I liked most: The overall value of the car.

What I would change if I could: The uncomfortable back seat.

MSRP as tested: $19,745.

Fuel Economy: 28 city/42 highway, 33 overall.

Cruze in a few words:  Great value, a very worthy competitor to the imports.


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