2011 Chevrolet Cruze
For decades, Detroit’s automakers have been either unable or unwilling to sell world-class small cars in America. Too often their small cars were dumbed down to meet low cost and low expectations of a public that sees them only as basic transportation. Now, finally, we’re starting to see some of the great small cars Detroit builds for other countries come here. First it was the subcompact Ford Fiesta. And now it’s this car, the compact Chevrolet Cruze.
The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is already sold in some 60 markets other than North America, where it plays the role not of commuter car, but of mainstream family sedan. So, while technically a compact, like the Cobalt before it, the Cruze is big for its ilk. At 181.0 inches in overall length, it’s six inches longer than a Toyota Corolla.
From its familiar two-tiered Chevy grille to its thickset back-end, the Cruze exudes a taut international profile and an overall look that’s substantial, but also very safe. Substantial too are Cruze wheels and tires with standard 16-inch and optional 17s and 18s.
The Cruze powertrain line-up will surprise many. Most trims are fitted with a trick 1.4-liter variable-timing, turbocharged I-4 rated at 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Only the base Cruze LS uses a non-turbo 1.8-liter ECOTEC with 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque.
The LS and high mileage Cruze ECO models come with a standard six-speed manual, while others start and end with a six-speed manual-mode automatic.
That provides Cruze with Government Fuel Economy ratings of 24 city/36 highway using regular gas. We saw a solid 31.5 in real-world driving. Cruze Energy Impact Score is a modest 12.2 barrels of oil consumed per year, with a smallish Carbon Footprint of 6.7 annual tons of CO2 emitted.
But hypermilers will be more interested in the Cruze ECO due later. With a slew of aero upgrades, it will bare a highway rating of 42, more than the smaller Ford Fiesta. There are even more surprises inside.
The interior of the Chevy Cruze is a real game changer. Not only is it very quiet, and near mid-size in roominess, the quality of materials is impressive. Instead of acres of hard plastics, you’ve got soft materials on the face of the dash and the doors. And over here, around the center console and the center stack, expensive-look ‘piano black’ accents. That’s not what I would expect to find in a moderately priced compact car.
This edition of Chevy’s cockpit interior theme is very handsome, although some felt slightly penned in by it. The easy scan motorcycle-like gauge cluster with trip computer screen fits well. Seats are comfortable, nicely bolstered, with good lower back support. Our 2LT trim added leather and heat. All Cruze models are well-equipped with air, six-speaker CD/XM-stereo, keyless entry, and lots of cupholders and storage options. And for safety, Cruze wears OnStar and an impressive 10 airbags, including two rear seat side bags.
The rear seat offers ample room for three, although leg room is less than we’d hoped. But fold the 60/40 seat backs and the trunk’s already huge 15 cubic feet of space grows exponentially. So it may be world-class in design, but does it drive that way too?
With no notable turbo lag, initial throttle response is great. But, tall gearing bogs things down from there. Still, a 0-60 of 9.2 seconds is within expectations for an economy sedan. The quarter mile passed in a lazy 17.1 seconds at 82 miles per hour with mostly smooth shifts.
High strength steel gives the Cruze a solid platform to mount a front strut, and rear torsion beam suspension. Engineers added a centering Watts Linkage, here called Z-Link, for added roll and lateral control. Traction and Stability Control are standard.
Surprise again, the Cruze scoots through the cones with the kind of agility you expect from a car designed for Europe and beyond. Understeer is moderate and consistent, with good steering feedback. The driver can actually concentrate on having a little fun. Overall, Cruze handling is safe and solid.
The Cruze is fitted with ABS front discs and rear drums standard, with all-disc an option. Our car’s disc/drum combo averaged an acceptable 129 feet from 60 to zero. Reaction was stable and the pedal reasonably firm. On normal roads, Cruze ride quality is also solid. It conveys the quietude of a premium-level vehicle. Cruze prices are higher than the outgoing Cobalt, but they’re still very reasonable. The Cruze LS starts at $16,995, the LT at $18,895, and the LTZ at $22,695.
The success of the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is critical to GM’s long-term global prosperity. Fortunately, it beat all of our expectations, and then some. It’s a well-equipped, roomy, high quality, small car that should make even the most dyed-in-the-wool import buyers take a long and hard second look.
- Engine: 1.4-Liter Variable-timing, Turbocharged I-4
- Horsepower: 138
- Torque: 148 Lb Feet
- 0-60 MPH: 9.2 Seconds
- 1/4 Mile: 17.1 Seconds @ 82 MPH
- 60-0 MPH: 129 Feet
- EPA: 24 MPG City/ 36 MPG Highway
- Mixed Loop: 31.5 MPG
- Energy Impact 12.2 Barrels Oil/Yr:
- CO2 Emissions: 6.7 Tons/Yr
2024 Buick Envista
Buick Adds A Scenic Vista To Crossover Country
In case you missed it, Buick is now an all SUV brand. That’s right, no more new LeSabres or Regals prowling American streets. But with the new utility-minded mission also comes a new focus on style, and they’re about to shake things up in the small crossover segment with this all-new Envista.
If you’re like us, the first thing you notice about this all-new 2024 Buick Envista is that it’s gorgeous. While everyone else in the SUV world seems to be trying to out rugged one another, Buick creates their sleekest and best-looking SUV ever, then drops it right into the hot premium small crossover segment.
It’s low slung, has a long wheelbase, and a tall rear; but whatever you do, don’t call it a hatchback, even though there is no rear wiper. Minimal headlights are the most emphatic presentation yet of Buick’s “wing lighting”
Starting with base Preferred trim, you can than either go sporty with an ST, or premium with this Avenir, which gets a Black Ice chrome grille and Pearl Nickel 19-inch alloy wheels.
For now, this Envista is front-wheel-drive only, working with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
And producing the power, is a tiny 1.2-liter inline 3-cylinder turbo engine rated at just 137-horsepower and 162 lb-ft. of torque.
Despite the low numbers, it feels peppy off the line, and seems to be more than adequate when scooting around the urban environments that Buick claims the Envista was designed for.
The extra-long wheelbase allows for a good amount of space inside including for the rear seat occupants of the this 5-passenger utility, and lots of side glass helps to lend a spacious feel. We found front seats very comfortable.
The dashtop features an ultrawide display enclosure that is made up of separate screens, 11-inch for infotainment, and a very simple 8-inch driver display. The central touchscreen works well, and both screens are easy to read quickly.
Avenir luxury touches include unique stitching on the leather heated front seats, wireless phone charging, and a heated steering wheel, but a sporty-flair is present as well, with flat-bottom steering wheel and big traditional shifter.
Cargo capacity in back is 20.7 cubic-ft., expanding to 42.0 with the rear seatbacks folded. A power liftgate is standard with Avenir, but can be added relatively inexpensively to other trims.
Buick has applied their “Quiet Tuning” to the Chevrolet Trax chassis used here. It’s perhaps not quite as effective as in their larger utilities, but there was surprisingly little road and engine noise in the cabin.
Avenir also has an upgraded Watts link added to the simple torsion beam rear suspension; not necessarily to improve handling but for better road isolation enabling a smoother experience.
Though it seemed to hold up just fine in our handling course; but aggressive stability control did step in well-before we could really get a true sense of its limitations.
At a moderate pace with smooth inputs, there was very little understeer and a tolerable amount of body roll.
That peppiness we experienced on the street was present at the track too; but primarily just for getting you going. Once you got rolling and kept the throttle pinned, power delivery plateaued quickly and it was a lengthy 9.0-second trip to 60.
The thing that seemed to be in the biggest hurry here was the transmission trying to get into high gear as soon as possible; something you’ll appreciate more on your commute than at the dragstrip where it manifested itself with a 16.8-second ¼-mile at 81 miles-per-hour.
There was a bit of a disconnected feel in panic braking, as the Envista seemed a little slow to respond. Still, stable 120-foot stops from 60 miles-per-hour rates good.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 28-City, 32-Highway, and 30-Combined; but we averaged a great 32.9 miles-per-gallon of Regular in our driving loop.
That’s a better than average Energy Impact Score, using 9.9-barrels of oil yearly with CO2 emissions of 4.9-tons.
Pricing starts at $23,495, and reaches $29,695 for Avenir. Obviously sticking with base to mid-level will get you the best value, but the top Avenir makes the premium case just about as well as any rival, and makes for legitimate cross shopping with an awful lot of non-luxury brands. Though no all-wheel-drive will surely be a deal breaker in northern climes.
You may have noticed there’s no longer a circle around Buick’s tri-shield logo, and much like they’ve visually set the shields free, Buick has unleashed their designers to make a statement in the small crossover segment. All in all, we’d say the 2024 Buick Envista is a great effort, continuing the Buick tradition of making premium vehicles attainable. If this is what they can do with their entry-level model, we can’t wait to see what comes next. And it sure is good looking.
- Engine: 1.2-liter I-3 turbo
- Horsepower: 137
- 0-60 mph: 9.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking (avg): 120 feet
- MW Fuel Economy: 32.9 mpg (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Torque: 162 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 16.8-seconds at 81 mph
- EPA: 28 City / 32 Highway / 30 Combined