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.