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2011 Chevrolet Cruze - click above for high-res image gallery

More than a year after first showing us a styling buck and nearly as long since launching it overseas, General Motors is finally showing off the production Chevy Cruze for North America. Set to be shown publicly this week at the LA Auto Show, the Cruze is still a good eight or nine months away from arriving in U.S. showrooms.

When it does finally arrive, the Cruze should be a huge step forward from the Chevy Cobalt, and GM hopes it will be an able competitor to the next-generation Honda Civic and Ford Focus, which are slated to arrive not long afterward. The Cruze is slightly larger than the Cobalt, but will be powered by downsized engines, including a new 1.4-liter turbocharged four cylinder with 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque, as well as a 1.8-liter normally-aspirated unit with similar power but less torque. All Cruze models will get six-speed gearboxes – either manual or automatic. The turbo Cruze is expected to score an impressive 40 mpg EPA highway rating.

Based on our brief experience driving a Chevy Volt powertrain mule (Cruze and Volt share common DNA), the Chevrolet Cruze should be more refined than the outgoing Cobalt by an order of magnitude, with a roomier interior and much better-executed passenger cabin. We'll see it in person later this week in L.A., and in the meantime, you can check out the first official images from GM in the gallery below. The official press release follows after the jump.

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  • (L to R) 2011 Chevrolet Volt (pre-production model) and 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. X11MB_CH001 (United States)
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[Source: General Motors]

press release

The 2011 Cruze: Chevrolet Unveils U.S. Version Of The Popular, Fuel-Efficient Global Compact Sedan


2011 Chevrolet Cruze at a Glance:

o Popular global car refined for America
o Expected segment-best fuel economy – up to 40 mpg highway – with new family of small-displacement engines, including Ecotec 1.4L I-4 turbo
o Progressive design with exceptional levels of refinement, quietness and build quality
o More spacious interior and greater cargo room than Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla
o Ten standard air bags help make it one of the safest cars in its class
o Built at Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant
o On sale in third quarter of 2010
o Five-year/100,000-mile powertain warranty – the best coverage in America

LOS ANGELES – Chevrolet unveils the U.S. production version of the 2011 Cruze compact sedan at the L.A. Auto Show on Dec. 2. It is a global car refined for America, delivering many segment-leading features and details that challenge preconceived notions about what a compact car can be in North America.

The Cruze also affirms Chevrolet's commitment to building refined, fuel-efficient vehicles, with new, small-displacement four-cylinder engines. It is expected to deliver segment-leading fuel economy with a new Ecotec 1.4L I-4 turbo with variable valve timing – including up to 40 mpg on the highway with a high-efficiency model.

"Cruze is already a hit across Europe and Asia; and now, it's coming to America to challenge the status quo," said Brent Dewar, GM Vice President, Chevrolet Global brand. "Along with the Volt electric vehicle, Cruze is the latest tangible example of how Chevrolet is working on exciting products that range from gas-friendly to gas-free."

Leveraging Chevrolet's design and engineering talent in Asia, Europe and North America, the Cruze brings to market a progressive, globally influenced design complemented by exceptional levels of quietness, quality and attention to detail – from precise tolerances between body panels to the use of premium materials throughout the interior.

"The amenities, quietness and roominess you expect in larger cars are what the Cruze delivers," said Margaret Brooks, Chevrolet product marketing manager. "This is a car that will shake up the compact segment, with a more spacious interior and more cargo room than the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla."

Cruze goes on sale in the U.S. in the third quarter of 2010 but has already logged more than 4 million miles in quality and durability testing worldwide, making it one of the most real world-tested GM products prior to a U.S. launch. The U.S. and Canadian versions of the Cruze will be built in Lordstown, Ohio, where $350 million was invested for their production.

More than expected

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze will be offered in LS, LT and LTZ trims. Standard and available equipment includes:

* New family of efficient four-cylinder engines, including a 1.4L turbo and 1.8L
* Six-speed automatic and manual transmissions
* Ten standard air bags, including frontal, side-impact, roof rail head curtain, rear seat side air bags and new knee air bags
* Electronic stability control with rollover sensing
* Bluetooth, USB connectivity and navigation system
* XM Satellite Radio and OnStar
* MacPherson strut front suspension and Watts Z-link rear suspension, with a family of 16-, 17- and 18-inch wheels
* Standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes
* Fuel-saving, rack-mounted electric power steering
* Unexpected levels of quietness, smoothness and refinement for the segment

All models share an interior characterized by premium materials and a lengthy roster of unexpected equipment, including leading infotainment. A stereo system that includes MP3 playback capability, six speakers and an auxiliary jack for personal playback devices is standard. A premium Pioneer sound system is available, as is a USB port for iPod operation. Other available technologies include Bluetooth and a navigation system.

"There's a lot of content in all Cruze models; it was designed to give customers the features they want regardless of the car's size or segment," said Brooks. "At a very competitive price, you'll be able to get a Cruze with leather and heated front seats, 16-inch aluminum wheels, XM Satellite Radio, OnStar, Bluetooth, a USB port for your iPod, cruise control, power locks and power outside mirrors."

Arching roofline

Chevy Cruze's design is distinguished with a bold face – including a two-tier grille with the iconic Bowtie logo – that is Chevrolet's signature look around the globe. An arching roofline connects a steeply raked windshield and fast-sloping rear pillars to give the car a sporty, coupe-like proportion.

The sporty aesthetic is also seen in prominent headlamp housings that wrap around the corners and sweep upward in the fenders and sculpted hood, as well as a short rear deck typically found on sports coupes. The wheels are at the corners, too, with minimal front and rear overhangs. All the elements work cohesively to give Cruze an aggressive look that is complemented by a wide, confident stance.

Indeed, the Cruze is wider and longer than most of its competitors. Taut, tightly drawn bodywork conveys solidity, while restrained use of exterior trim enhances the car's high-quality feel. The overall appearance is one of purposeful precision.

Precision is also seen in the Cruze's build quality. The Lordstown assembly plant's body shop was retooled with the latest in body-framing and welding equipment to optimize the manufacture of a very solid body structure. That strong structure fosters minimal production variance and repeatable gap tolerances of 3 mm or less between most exterior panels. To the customer, this means a better looking car when new and one that feels solid for years to come.

Interior refinement

Cruze's bold design cues and attention to detail carry over to the interior, where a Corvette-inspired twin-cockpit motif is matched with high-quality materials and exceptional assembly tolerances. Grained, soft-touch components and low-gloss trim panels exude a quality that is uncommon in the segment.

The instrument panel is an excellent example of how Cruze eschews expectations of compact cars. It features richly detailed instruments that are backlit with light-emitting diode (LED) technology. The LED lights provide a crisp, ice-blue illumination of the analog instruments, as well as lighting for other interior controls. A segment-rare standard driver information center offers a wealth of data for the vehicle owner.

Blending harmoniously with the instrument panels is an integrated center stack that houses the infotainment display, climate controls and radio controls. Flush-mounted components within the center stack have a gap tolerance of less than 1 mm, while the instrument panel-to-door panel gaps are less than 5 mm. Those tolerances are among the best in the class and contribute significantly to the Cruze's aura of refinement and precision.

Cruze's headliner and pillar trim exude craftsmanship, too. The headliner cover is made of a knit material that also serves as one of five layers of an acoustically designed headliner to help make the passenger compartment quieter. The interior pillar and other moldings are color- and grain-matched to the headliner, while seat inserts are color-matched to the color of the instrument panel accent trim, giving the cabin the detailed appearance of larger, upscale sedans.

New, efficient powertrains

Enhanced with its exhaust-driven turbocharger, the Cruze's Ecotec 1.4L turbo performs like a larger engine when needed, but retains the efficiency of a small-displacement four-cylinder in most driving conditions. It is standard on LT and LTZ models, with power ratings estimated at 138 horsepower (103 kW) and 148 lb.-ft. of torque (200 Nm).

Standard on LS models is an Ecotec 1.8L four-cylinder that has the same basic architecture as the 1.4L turbo. Both engines are part of GM's family of global small-displacement engines designed with fuel efficiency in mind, including technology such as full variable valve timing that optimizes performance and fuel economy across the rpm band.

Backing the Cruze's new four-cylinder engines are six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. Each contributes to Cruze's excellent fuel economy and, with their carefully matched gears, enhances its fun-to-drive quotient.

With the Ecotec 1.4L turbo, Cruze's fuel efficiency enables a cruising range of more than 500 miles (800 km), meaning it can go longer between fill-ups.

Cruze is backed by GM's five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty – the best coverage in America.

Responsive, quiet driving experience

Complementing Cruze's new powertrains is a strong body structure and chassis system designed to deliver a responsive and fun driving experience. The body structure is tight and stiff; and its solidity enabled engineers to more precisely tune the chassis for comfort and driving control.

A MacPherson strut suspension is used up front, while a technically advanced Watts Z-link design is used with the rear suspension. It helps center the rear axle during cornering, helping to keep the Cruze's handling responses symmetrical on both left-hand and right-hand turns. The linkage's capability to center the axle during cornering delivers a more balanced driving experience, as the rear suspension better follows the lead of the front suspension.

StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, as well as traction control and anti-lock brakes are standard. Electric power steering is also standard on all models. It helps save fuel because it removes the conventional power steering pump from the engine's driven accessories. Sixteen-inch wheels are standard on LS and LT models, with 17-inch alloy wheels standard on LTZ. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are available on 2LT and LTZ models.

Along with a responsive driving experience, the Cruze delivers quietness and refinement on the road. Hydraulic ride bushings and an isolated engine cradle reduce or eliminate vibration pathways that could be transmitted to the passenger compartment. Similarly, a number of noise-reducing and noise-cancelling technologies are employed throughout the body structure, including 18 distinctive acoustical treatments. Examples include:

* The steel front-of-dash panel is sandwiched between two damping mats
* Nylon baffles are used in various hollow portions of the body structure and filled with sound-absorbing foam that expands when the body enters the paint oven
* The headliner comprises five layers of thermal fiber acoustic material, including a premium woven fabric on the visible outer layer
* Patches of sound-damping material are applied strategically throughout the body structure and melt into place when the body passes through the paint oven, allowing the patches to follow the contours of the sheet metal below
* Sound insulation material between rear-body structural components that is made from recycled blue jean material
* The doors have triple seals and feature fiberglass "blankets" that serve as water, airflow and noise barriers. The doors are also beta-braced, meaning they close with a solid, precise sound and no resonance.

About Chevrolet
Chevrolet is one of America's best-known and best-selling automotive brands, and one of the fastest growing brands in the world. With fuel solutions that range from "gas-friendly to gas-free," Chevrolet has nine models that offer an EPA-estimated 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway, and offers three hybrid models. More than 2.5 million Chevrolets that run on E85 biofuel have been sold. Chevrolet delivers expressive design, spirited performance and strives to provide the best value in every segment in which it competes. More information can be found at www.chevrolet.com. For more information on the Volt, visit http://media.gm.com/volt/.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Will Cruze be available in a 5 door hatchback? I'd like to have one of those. Its more practical than the sedans.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I rather like the looks of this car. It's got good proportions, the interior is thoughtfully laid out and the engine/transmission choices are appropriate. What is it exactly that strikes some of you as "underwhelming"? What's better in this segment?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nice looking car, though I'm not a fan of the cutlines on the hood. Hopefully the dynamics and mileage will match the styling.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If GM builds the interior with good material quality and everything fits well, I don't see how anybody could ignore this car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's a very handsome car, and I am extremely impressed with the interior. However, I think they need to do something to the front to spice it up a bit. Maybe something as small as adding projector lights, perhaps with LED accents around the housing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      40 MPG highway sticker.

      A Civic already gets 36. So would a Cobalt and Corolla if they weren't hooked up to antiquated 4 speeds.

      Consider that other recent GM models are so reluctant to use lower gears as to be genuinely frustrating to drive and it should be pretty obvious where that mileage bump came from.
        • 5 Years Ago
        LS2LS7: While I agree that the manual generally gives better mpg, customers will be expecting the automatic to be getting the advertised 40 mpg. While the take rate for manuals may be higher in compact cars compared to other classes, automatics are still the overwhelming majority. You gotta deliver what the customer wants and the customer wants high mpg with an automatic.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're talking about automatics? If you want a small car that gets good mpg, you don't get an automatic.

        The highest mpg BMW MINI gets 37 highway with a stick, and 33 highway with an automatic, even though the automatic is a 6-speed! The weight and internal friction of an automatic with a lot of gears is difficult to overcome in a car that small and light.
        • 5 Years Ago
        As of 2008 the Civic and Mazda 3 had a 82% take rate for the automatic. The I-hate-to-drive Corolla was at 93%.

        Regarding numerically equal gearing comparisons, you can't. Automatics work well with tall gearing because they can cheat by unlocking the torque converter to keep the engine from bogging down. A stick Civic with the same gearing as the automatic would drive pretty poorly.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't think automatics are the overwhelming majority on compact cars. Definitely on the larger sizes though.

        And again, if BMW MINI can still sell cars even though their automatic gets 20% worse fuel economy than their stick, then GM can get away with getting 10% less.
        • 5 Years Ago
        In the case of the Civic if you want a small car with good mileage you get the automatic. You get a 2 mpg highway advantage by getting the 5 speed automatic vs the 5 speed manual. In city mileage you get a 1 mpg advantage using the manual in the Civic vs the automatic in city mileage.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So what's the point of the 1.8? It gets 2 more horsepower and less torque?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Price leader.

        Turbochargers aren't free.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "We are taking more time to rethink the new Civic and all our models," Honda CEO Takanobu Ito told AN. "We had to revisit our development work and planning to comply with the change in the environment."
      The original plans for the next-gen Civic were for a larger vehicle than the existing sedan, but the new strategy will see its external dimensions shrinking slightly. However, the report says the designers aim to "create a perceived sense of increased roominess inside".

      Translation: "We are a small auto company, and we ran out of money just like everyone else in the industry in the Auto Depression, and are stretching out the next model introduction..."
        • 5 Years Ago
        Honda has been profitable even during the recent collapse. They're not "running out of money." It sounds to me that what Mr. Ito is saying is that they're reversing the trend of their models getting larger every generation. Remember how small the Civic used to be in the '80s and '90s? Now the Civic is the size the Accord used to be, and they had to bring out the Fit to fill the segment that the Civic used to play in.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would have thought this car was Japanese or Korean if not told. IMO, American cars started to lose it originality and passion when they started to compete with Japanese cars in the 1990th. Japanese cars are well made industrial products for daily use without passion. I think that is not the way American cars should be heading, and American cars should offer pride, passion and dreams to the drivers as the cars in good old days did.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Definitely a better effort than the Cobalt. I will be buying in this segment in the next year or two and this will be worth a look. Too bad it already has a poor local dealership to overcome not to mention several hundred thousand miles of excellent Honda Civic ownership experience. If it is good enough, perhaps I will travel a bit to find a good dealer.
      • 5 Years Ago
      lame. the current 2.2 is a vastly superior powertrain
        • 5 Years Ago
        I do think that more engine choices will come..
        • 5 Years Ago
        If GM can offer more engine choices and more transmission choices for this car it will make the car shopper have many choices to choose from, like the Civic. In other countries a 2.0L engine is considered 'luxury'. I wonder if GM will offer a 1.6L engine with their ecotec technology?

        Hopefully a 2door version and an SS version comes out within a year, which is good, I agree that is a good plan which Mazda did with the speed3. Overall lets see how the 1.4L ecotec engine does on American roads. I am sure that this car is light enough and the engine is meant for low end grunt and be able to respond quickly for getting on the freeways.
        • 5 Years Ago
        and the 4 speed automatic is vastly inferior.
      • 5 Years Ago
      From Cavalier to Cobalt to Cruze. GM has renamed its small car so often.
        • 5 Years Ago
        He, I think that Cobalt is a pretty cool name for a car. Just ask Leó Szilárd

        (or google "Cobalt bomb")
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