The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada gave the 2011 Canadian Car of the Year and Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year awards to the Chevrolet Cruze and the Ford Edge. These awards, which were voted on by 70 Canadian journalists, were given at the opening ceremony of the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto.
Last October, the association released a list of 11 vehicles as finalists. The Cruze takes Best New Small Car over $21,000 while the Edge was named the Best New SUV/CUV between $35,000 and $50,000. All the Best New category winners can compete for the overall award for Canadian Car of the Year or Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year.
The other vehicles that were in competition for the awards include the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Jetta TDI Clean Diesel, Buick Regal, BMW 5 series, Porsche 911 Turbo S, Cadillac CTS-V coupe, Toyota Sienna minivan, and the Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen Touareg crossovers.
The 2011 Best New Design award went to Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, beating the Audi R8 Spyder and the supercharged Jaguar XJ. Ford Motor Co.'s rear inflatable seat belt was named 2011 Best New Technology.
The belt lessens chest pressure while helping to control head and neck movement in the event of a crash. Last October, members of the AJAC evaluated 144 new vehicles in four days. In a statement, the organization said that the judges considered 20.
The new Cruze is easily recognizable as a Chevrolet anywhere in the world, thanks to its bold face that features a two-tier grille and the iconic Bowtie logo. It owes its sporty, coupe-like proportion to its steeply raked windshield and fast-sloping rear pillars, as linked by an arching roofline.
Chevrolet also reinforced the sporty visuals of the Cruze by fitting prominent headlamp housings wrapping around the corners. The housings also sweep upward in the fenders and sculpted hood of the car. Likewise, the carmaker made the Cruze look sportier by giving it a short rear deck, minimal front and rear overhangs as well as wheels positioned at the corners. Overall, these elements lend the Cruze an aggressive appearance, as boosted by its wide, confident stance.
When made to sit side by side with its rivals, it would be easy to see that the Chevrolet Cruze is wider and longer than most of them. Offering a purposeful precise overall appearance, the new Cruze looks solid because of its taut, tightly drawn bodywork. It also exudes high quality due to its restrained use of exterior trim.
Purposeful precision is also evident in the build quality of the new Chevrolet Cruze. To optimize the manufacture of a solid body structure, the carmaker retooled the body shop of its Lordstown assembly site with the latest in body-framing and welding equipment. The resulting strong structure promotes minimal production variance as well as gap tolerances of 3 mm or less between most of the Cruze’s exterior panels. This makes the new Cruze look and feel more solid.
As expected, the bold design cues and attention to detail given to the exterior are continued to the interior, which features Corvette-inspired twin-cockpit motif. Boasting of exceptional assembly tolerances, the cabin of the new Cruze makes use of high-quality materials, grained soft-touch components and low-gloss trim panels.
The new Chevrolet Cruze is known for exceeding expectations for compact cars. A proof of this is the instrument panel with richly detailed instruments backlit with LED (light emitting diode) units. These LED units deliver an ice-blue illumination of the analog instruments and lighting for other cabin controls. As standard, the Cruze comes with driver information center, a feature that is usually rare in its segment.