Chevrolet has confirmed details and unveiled images of the 2011 Cruze compact sedan. It is set to compete directly with the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet expects the Cruze to stand out because of its expected highway fuel economy of 40 mpg.
The Cruze achieves this 40 mpg rating (and a cruising range of more than 500 miles) when equipped with its new, small-displacement Ecotec 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing. Standard on LT and LTZ models, the Ecotec 1.4L engine develops an estimated 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque.
Stepping over to the LS model nets you, among other things, a larger displacement 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine and access to a larger wheel and tire package. With either engine, the Cruze is available with automatic and manual transmissions, both of which are six-speed units.
Keeping the Cruze connected to the road is a MacPherson strut suspension up front and a Watts Z-link independent suspension in the rear, which, according to Chevy, helps to keep the Cruze’s handling responses symmetrical on both left-hand and right-hand turns. Standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, traction control, antilock brakes and electric power steering also do their part to keep the Cruze’s 16-, 17-, or 18-inch wheels on the tarmac.
Meanwhile, inside the “Corvette-inspired” cabin, the Cruze benefits from an array of noise canceling technologies, from hydraulic ride bushings to nylon baffles filled with sound-absorbent foam in the body to improved weather seals and tighter panel gap tolerances. Expect a reasonable list of infotainment technologies, including a six-speaker stereo system with MP3 playback capability, an auxiliary jack for personal playback devices as standard with available XM Satellite Radio, and OnStar. Premium audio comes in the form of a Pioneer sound system with a USB port for iPod operation, Bluetooth, and navigation.
The full list of cabin technologies hasn’t been carved in stone yet and much can change between now and the Cruze’s launch in third-quarter 2010.