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 Mazda CX-90
A Force To Be Reckoned With
If you’ve been following Mazda lately, you’ll know they’ve been fielding some serious new designs; you could even say, they’re latest efforts are 10-times better than before. After all, the CX-3 became the CX-30, then CX-5 became the CX-50, and now it’s the CX-9’s turn. So, let’s find out if this all-new CX-90, their largest SUV yet, is a real multiplier or if it’s all just a numbers game.
Don’t think of this 2024 Mazda CX-90 so much as an updated version of the CX-9, as it’s more of a complete rethink of their 3-row crossover, the first built on an all-new, large vehicle platform for the brand. And this platform carries a host of surprises. Not only does it make the CX-90 bigger by every dimension, but it’s a rear-drive architecture, and features all-new powertrains, including the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, and even an inline-6 engine.
Why an inline-6 to replace the CX-9’s turbo-4? Well, in general terms, I6s are better balanced, run smoother, and can deliver more torque at lower RPM. Just ask the BMW faithful, or any of the truckers you see going down the road hauling more than 20-tons of cargo with their inline-6s.
There are 2-versions of the longitudinally mounted 6, both assisted by turbocharging and a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Output for the base Turbo is 280-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque; this Turbo S cranks it up to 340-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. The PHEV, on the other hand, is based on a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4, working with a 100-kW electric motor to deliver 323-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. A 17.8-kWh battery delivers 26-miles of EV driving.
It’s not the prettiest SUV, but it does have very smooth body work; plus, the longer hood and 7½-inches of wheelbase stretch over the CX-9, give it more stately proportions. All CX-90s come with i-Activ all-wheel drive and the brand’s first 8-speed automatic transmission; the longer wheelbase allows tow ratings to step up from 3,500-lbs. to 5,000.
At the test track, our Turbo S launched effortlessly with good grip on the way to a 6.4-second 0-60. The smooth vibes continued throughout the ¼-mile, with refined power delivery, seamless shifts, and a noticeably more solid and stable feel at speed than the CX-9. Our best time was 14.7-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, it still behaves like a Mazda, with very good steering feel and a solid presence in corners at low to moderate speeds. Some understeer and body roll will show up when pushed hard, but Mazda’s Kinematic Posture Control uses subtle selective braking to help the vehicle rotate, and safety systems will step in well-before it gets out of sorts.
There’s a nice firm feel to the brake pedal, delivering good stopping results of 118-feet from 60 miles-per-hour. You can feel a lot of weight transfer, but nosedive was well contained.
Another unique element the CX-90 brings is seating arrangements for 6,7, or 8. It’s the 8-seater that’s standard with 3-across bench seating for 2nd and 3rd rows. 7-seaters get either captain’s chairs in the 2nd row, or more contoured seats for the 3rd; 6-seaters sport 2nd row captains and the contoured 3rd row. Cargo capacity varies with seating, but is at best 15.9 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 40.1 behind the 2nd, and 75.2 with all seats folded.
As far as what it’s like to actually live with, the CX-90’s cabin is a clear step up, including on some trims suede-like materials, intricate stitching, and real wood, all consistent with what we’ve seen from the brand lately. A 10-inch dashtop touchscreen is standard for infotainment, with upper trims getting a larger 12.3-incher. We applaud Mazda’s inclusion of plenty of old-school manual controls for radio and climate, which keeps menu diving limited to secondary functions. PHEVs get a few unique controls and readouts to monitor drive modes and battery level.
Overall, the CX-90 is highly functional, entertainingly sporty to drive, and will be more competitive in the ever growing 3-row family crossover segment; and its posh interior may even attract luxury buyers on a budget.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Turbo S are 23-City, 28-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a good 26.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Pricing begins with the base Turbo at Select trim for $40,970, PHEVs are available in Preferred trim and above starting at $48,820, and the Turbo S starts at $53,125.
Force multiplier is a military term for when strategic elements come together to produce results greater than would have been possible without them. Well, no high-level math skills are necessary here to see that the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is clearly more than just a much better CX-9; it’s now a force to be reckoned with in the 3-row family crossover segment.
- Engine: 3.3-liter I-6
- Horsepower: 340
- 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.5 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 369 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.7-seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 23 City / 28 Highway / 25 Combined
- Starting Price: $40,970