The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is finally coming Stateside and during a private event held earlier this evening ahead of the LA Auto Show, General Motors – 20 minutes after announcing the departure of Fritz Henderson as CEO – unveiled the U.S.-spec version of its Cobalt replacement and Toyota Corolla competitor.
Sharing much of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt's architecture, the Cruze has the potential to be a massive leap forward for Chevy in the mid-size/compact segment. Larger than the Cobalt in almost every dimension and packing a choice of either a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder putting out 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque or a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter four-pot, fuel economy and efficiency take center stage. However, "driving enjoyment" was mentioned more than once during the presentation, so to aid both its fuel consumption (an estimated 40 mpg with the turbo'd four) and enhance the experience, buyers will be able to choose between a manual or automatic six-speed gearbox.
Although we've seen the Cruze in person before (it's been on sale in Europe and other markets for over six months), its sharp lines, taut headlamps and enlarged grille play Dr. Jekyll to it's rather staid, Mr. Hyde rump. Inside, the two-tone brown and black leather interior is a tremendous improvement over the model it replaces, with an artfully sculpted dash and center stack surrounded by soft touch materials, brushed fauxluminum and a smattering of chrome. Back seat passengers should be equally pleased with the appointments and a 60/40 split bench ups the ante for usability.
The Cruze's arrival late next year couldn't be better timed, as Ford is readying the next generation Focus and Honda is toiling away on a reworked Civic. We're expecting to get some seat time in the coming months, and for the first time in recent memory, we're looking forward to sampling a new mid-size product from the General. Full details in the press release below the fold and check out the gallery of live images below.