Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

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Thread: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

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    6.0 Liter L76 V8 MaxLegroom's Avatar
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    Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    Yesterday I got a chance to test drive a Cruze 2LT. Except for the alloy wheels and the black leather interior, it looked much the same as the car in the test sit thread. I got to drive this in a mixture of city and highway traffic in the late afternoon.

    My first impression of this car was after the salesman opened up the hood. It's been a long time since I've seen a engine compartment that actually looked like it would be easy to work in, should it be necessary. Indeed, it somehow begs for a larger engine.

    Something that bears on my impressions of this car is that I had also taken a 2011 VW Jetta 2.5 SE out for a drive recently. This is the new one that VW has made various tweaks to to bring down its price, and place it squarely in the fight with cars like the Cruze, Corolla and Civic. As Chevrolet has tried to aim the Cruze farther upscale, the Jetta does make it something interesting to compare it to. If I had to choose it just on looks, the Cruze would be the one in my driveway. Inside and out, the Cruze beats the Jetta on style, and doesn't give away anything of note on quality. Once behind the wheel, the Cruze puts more features literally in your face than the Jetta. For example, if the Jetta's center display offers anything but the trip odometers besides that gas gauge, I couldn't find it. That display in the Cruze is offering mileage, navigation instructions, average speed, and a few other matters. It takes a few minutes to figure out how all the various controls work, but it is worth it to learn.

    I found the seats of both cars to be comfortable, but it is interesting that with that little in price difference between the two cars, that the leather in the Cruze is real, and what looks like leather in the Jetta is leatherette. On the other hand, there isn't much to be said for using the method of power seat adjustability that the Cruze utilizes, as the seat remains at a fixed height. The Jetta seats were manual, but were adjustable for height. The result was that while I had a couple of inches of room between the back of the front seat an my knees in the Jetta, I could barely wedge my legs into the back of the Cruze after I'd adjusted the front seat for me to drive it.

    Strangely, I was familiar with the ergonomics of both cars, the Jetta's because I own a VW, the Chevy's because I recently drove a Camaro, so I knew, for example, exactly how the items on the control stalks worked. Once you learn the wheel controls on the Cruze, though, there's a lot less you need to reach for the center stack for.

    Once moving, I was impressed at how quiet the Cruze is. I don't recall thrashing, or other coarse noises coming from under the hood. It is a welcome improvement. What I did enjoy was the way this car dealt with our local roads, some of which are less than flawless. I also enjoyed the way the steering communicated when dealing with off ramps, which was about as much cornering as I really got to do. The transmission's shifts were pretty much seamless, the only glitch of any sort being at one point where I stepped lightly into the throttle and the car seemed to slow momentarily before accelerating. I generally don't like automatics in cars this size, but almost forgot that prejudice while driving this one. Later, the salesman said that the 1.4 turbo was available in with a manual on models other than the ECO, despite what the brochure he put in my hand had to say. I ultimately told him that if that was the case, I'd definitely be back for another look.

    Perhaps that is the best way to describe my opinion of this car. I'm actually very impressed, except for the way of thinking that dates back to the days when it was a luxury feature to have an automatic transmission, one that says that manual cars must be the cheapest, and their drivers don't deserve features like sunroofs and a navigation map system. That Jetta can be had with both features and a manual transaxle, at about 23k. Chevrolet could take a bite out of the Jetta's cool factor by offering the same, and now is the time.
    Donne e motori, gioie e dolori

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    GMI Staff Member FenwickHockey65's Avatar
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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    Glad to hear you liked it!
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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    Thanks for writing that all up. I really enjoyed hearing a real life review and comparison between the two cars. I also own a VW and I am interested in the Cruze. I wish, like you, that GM would offer the manual in all the "flavors" of the car. Another thing that bothers me is the lack of cruise control on the lower models...

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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    I wish GM would make automatic climate control an option on 2LT without having to get the sports tuned suspension and low profile tires of the LTZ model. It's a small efficient family car.

    Make all the comfort items available without having to try to make it a sports car wannabe.
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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    Awesome review ML! I too wish GM would offer the 1.4 with a manual, but what can you do.

    Just curious, but do you think the 1.4 is powerful enough for the Cruze?
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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    I didn't find myself cursing a lack of power here. I'm not sure what objective testing will find, but I had no trouble getting into traffic with this setup. More, of course, would always be nice, and a LNF powered Cruze SS would be fun, but this was pretty good.
    Donne e motori, gioie e dolori

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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    Thanks for this, I like to hear what people have to say about the Cruze and VW. I've narrowed my search down to 2 cars. The LTZ cruze, or the tdi golf wagon. Waiting for the Cruze to make its way up here so I can test it. Based on price, and advertised economy, the Cruze is winning out based on what you eluded to about features and options. The wagon is compelling as is the Diesel options which the Cruze sadly does not offer.... but you have to be able to enjoy a car, especially for how much I drive. and gadgets, options and features go a long way to being part of the experience.

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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    I too noticed the lack of back seat legroom in the Cruze compared to the far roomier Jetta. Why can't GM make a compact with legroom? The Cobalt, Cavalier and Corsica all suffered the same problem. Put the front seat back where your comfortable and the rear legroom is very tight. I have been in Jettas, Carollas, Civics and Elantras and they all manage decent amounts of rear legroom.

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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    Quote Originally Posted by tbirderic View Post
    Awesome review ML! I too wish GM would offer the 1.4 with a manual, but what can you do.
    But they do...

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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    Quote Originally Posted by Hitman1970 View Post
    I wish GM would make automatic climate control an option on 2LT without having to get the sports tuned suspension and low profile tires of the LTZ model. It's a small efficient family car.
    As long as they make it an option on every level, not standard.
    Automatic climate control is one of the things my wife and myself whole heartedly agree on. We DO NOT like it. We prefer a basic HVAC control with 3 knobs, blower-temp-mode, minimal buttons like a/c-on/off, rear defrog.

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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    Quote Originally Posted by jaydee View Post
    But they do...
    Only the Eco, which isn't on the market yet.
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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    Didnt the guy just say in his OP that that was BS?

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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxLegroom View Post
    I found the seats of both cars to be comfortable, but it is interesting that with that little in price difference between the two cars, that the leather in the Cruze is real, and what looks like leather in the Jetta is leatherette. On the other hand, there isn't much to be said for using the method of power seat adjustability that the Cruze utilizes, as the seat remains at a fixed height.
    Are you sure about the seat not being height adjustable? I've never seen a GM car with electric controls that can't adjust the height. The press releases even say the passenger has a height adjustment control:

    http://www.autogeeze.com/2010/09/201...let-cruze.html

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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    Quote Originally Posted by tbirderic View Post
    Only the Eco, which isn't on the market yet.
    Did you not see the front page of this site?
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    Re: Brief Drive of the Cruze LT

    My HHR's seat is electric and height adjustable, as in up and down. its a 2006. I am pretty sure the 2LT cruze I sat in had this same feature.

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