Production Chevy Cruze Revealed

2011 Chevy Cruze
2011 Chevy Cruze

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.

2010 Chevy Equinox

2010 Chevy Equinox
2010 Chevy Equinox

The Chevy Equinox hasn’t been a very competitive SUV for a number of years. Chevy hopes to change that with the all-new 2010 model debuting at the Detroit auto show next month. Most notable about the new Equinox is the fact that it incorporates the new Chevy grille with very strong fender flares and headlights that look more akin to the GMC Acadia than the Chevy Malibu or Traverse.

The profile and rear also resemble Mercedes’ SUVs, like the M- and GL-Class. It’s a handsome package, to be sure. Inside, the cabin takes a page from the new Chevy Malibu, with its twin-cockpit design scheme. What’s interesting in the new Equinox is a center stack of controls and readouts that are entirely new to the GM family. Upgrades and advancements in these areas are rare, so this should bode well for the new SUV.

There are two engine options, both new and both featuring direct fuel injection to save fuel. The base models get a 182-hp four-cylinder that’s good for 21/30 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive and 20/27 mpg with all-wheel drive. The V-6 packs 255 hp and returns 18/25 mpg with front-wheel drive and 17/24 with all-wheel drive. These fuel estimates are slightly better than those of the V-6 Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Murano, which return 17/24, 18/24 and 18/23 mpg with front-wheel drive, respectively.

The four-cylinder model gets better highway mileage than the Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Jeep Patriot, all of which are smaller vehicles than the Equinox.

At 187.8 inches long, the Chevy is more than 7 inches longer than the Saturn Vue with which it shares a platform, but it’s an inch shorter than the outgoing model. At 3,770 pounds, it’s also 55 pounds lighter than the Vue. It packs 31.4 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the second row, and 63.7 cubic feet with the second row folded flat. Cargo room was always a drawback in the new Vue, which has 29.2/56.4 cubic feet. Considering the extra length of the Equinox, this isn’t a huge upgrade — it falls short of both the outgoing Equinox and the Ford Edge, but is very close to the Nissan Murano.

We’re sure this will be a greatly improved Equinox, especially given the Vue has proved to be a highly competitive model in the segment. With improved fuel efficiency and an attractive look inside and out, it should win over shoppers in this segment.