General Motors said that more features will be offered as standard for the 2012 model year of the very popular Chevrolet Cruze in hopes that it will add to its momentum. GM said that the turbo versions will offer improved fuel economy.
From returning 36 mpg on the 2011 model, the LT and LTZ versions (the two most popular six-speed automatic versions of Cruze models with the 1.4-liter turbo engine) will get 38 mpg on the highway in 2012.
Meanwhile, the automatic Cruze Eco, a more expensive variant of the turbo that is more aerodynamic, will receive 39 mpg highway, an improvement from 37 mpg.
GM attributes the boost in fuel economy to having a lower axle ratio. In addition, GM is developing the “Connectivity Plus Cruise” option package. For just $525, the Cruze can be fitted with steering wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth phone connectivity, cruise control, a USB port, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter that are standard on additional trim levels.
These features will be standard equipment on the 1LT and Eco versions but they’ve actually been standard on the 2LT and LTZ.
For the base model LS, the package is priced at $275. Rick Scheidt, vice president of Chevrolet marketing, released a statement to say that with these features, the ordering process is streamlined.
This move is also expected to delight customers who have been asking the company to offer certain features as standard. So far in 2011, about 15% of Cruze sales are for the Eco model. GM claims that the Eco with a six-speed manual gearbox has an EPA highway rating of 42 mpg, making it the most fuel-economic non-hybrid vehicle in the U.S.
The Chevy Cruze has a distinctively assertive look from the front, where the internationally-recognised trademark Chevrolet Bowtie symbol is set upon the two-tier grille. The roofline has an arc shape that smoothly connects the steep angle of the windshield with that of the rear pillars. This makes the silhouette resemble a sport coupe’s form.
The headlamps uniquely wrap over the sides and are angled over the fenders and groove to the side of the sculpted bonnet, furthering the car’s sporty image. The short rear deck is also reminiscent of a sports coupe. The wheels are set almost at the very corners, minimising the overhangs. With a self-assured wide stance, the Chevrolet Cruze’s design form projects consistent aggression from all angles.
Dimensionally, the Cruze exceeds the length and width of most competitors. The general body shape projects a sense of packed solidity with only minimal trimmings. These contribute to a more premium quality feel. As a whole, the car’s design evokes functional precision.
Precision is also evident in the build quality of the Chevrolet Cruze. It is assembled at the Lordstown plant where the newest welding and body framing tools have been made available. These were used to produce the sturdiest and most solid body possible while minimising the production variance and keeping repeatable gap tolerances within a 3 mm limit for most exterior panels. This translates to more polished looks and more solid performance over a longer period, which would be ultimately appreciated by the customer.
The Chevrolet Cruze's interior is also reflective of its bold design but with fine detailing. The cockpit is designed in Chevrolet Corvette style, boasting the use of finest materials and outstanding workmanship. Components feature a grained, soft-touch texture with subtly glossy trim panels, providing an extra feel of quality usually only seen in more premium sedans.
The Cruze’s instrument panel is a perfect illustration of how Chevrolet builds beyond the usual compact car standards. The highly detailed gauges are backlit by LEDs that emit a clean, icy-blue light. This illuminates the analogue gauges and other controls. The car’s panel is also one of the only ones in its segment to feature a driver information centre where various vital data can be easily seen.
The centre stack is assembled seamlessly with the instrument panels. It contains the infotainment display, radio controls and air conditioning controls. Components are set flush on the stack and gap tolerance is maintained within a millimetre. Meanwhile, panel-to-door gaps are kept below 5mm. These are among the strictest tolerances for any compact. It’s no wonder why the Chevrolet Cruze has such a refined and precise aura.
Superior craftsmanship is also seen on the Chevrolet Cruze's headliner and pillar trim. The headliner is covered by a knit material which is actually one of five acoustically designed layers that contribute to a quieter cabin. The interior pillars and mouldings match the headliner’s grain and colour. Meanwhile, the colour of the seat inserts match that on the instrument panel accent trim. These details make the cabin appear as though it belongs to a more premium sedan.