Big on space, safety and performance, the Cruze is probably the best compact car ever made by Chevrolet…

2011 Chev Cruze
2011 Chev Cruze
2011 Chev Cruze
2011 Chev Cruze
2011 Chev Cruze
2011 Chev Cruze

The Chevrolet Cruze was already a winner in Europe and Asia before it cruised into Canada for the 2011 model year.

Cruze continued its winning ways by adding the prestigious 2011 Canadian Car of the Year Award, presented by the Automobile Journalist’s Association of Canada (AJAC) to its trophy cabinet.

The base LS edition of Cruze comes with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine and the Eco, LT and LTZ editions come with a Ecotec 1.4-litre turbocharged-four that delivers more power at low engine speeds, yet provides similar fuel economy. The transmission choice offered was either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.

Clever aero tweaks, including active front grille shutters, help the Cruze Eco slice through air on low rolling-resistance tires. Weight saving initiatives (right down to the size and location of body welds) also trim 97 kg (214 lbs.) from its total body mass. A taller sixth overdrive gear allows additional highway fuel savings and an impressive official FE rating of 7.8/5.4 L/100 km (city/highway) with the manual transmission.

Cruze has one of the roomiest cabins in the compact class. There’s also excellent fore-aft travel on the driver’s seat plus generous head room, making is a small car for big people. Adding to driver comfort, the steering wheel has both a tilt and telescopic feature, in all models. The trunk in a Cruze is also one of the largest in class and only slightly smaller than the VW Jetta.

Top-notch safety features include 10 standard airbags, instead of the usual six fitted in its compact competitors. The extra occupant protection comes in the form of knee-airbags for the front passengers and side-impact airbags for the rear outboard passengers. The head curtain air bags in Cruze also provide rollover protection. A disturbingly high number of safety recalls (see list), however, might make one wonder about overall Cruze quality and safety.

Cruze continued largely unchanged for the 2012 model year, other than adding touch-screen navigation and push-button start with keyless entry systems to the list of options available. An infotainment system, with Bluetooth streaming audio, was made standard on all but the base LS model, in 2013. A blind spot warning system was also a new optional safety feature.

Consumer Reports list the Cruze as a “Recommended” vehicle buy and show it as having an average repair history. It’s currently the best selling compact car in Canada, made by a domestic auto maker.

Big on space, safety and performance, the Cruze is probably the best compact car ever made by Chevrolet.

Price Check: 2011 to 2013 Chevrolet Cruze (January 2014)

Year                    Edition                                                 Expect to Pay Today

2011                  LT turbo                                                     $11,000 to $14,000

2012                  LT turbo                                                     $13,000 to $16,000

2013                  LT turbo                                                     $15,000 to $18,000

*Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.

Safety Recalls: 2011 to 2013 Chevrolet Cruze:

2011– The steering wheel may have been improperly fastened and could loosen and eventually separate. Dealers will inspect the steering wheel fastener bolt and repair if necessary.

2011 – The automatic transmission shift linkage may not accurately reflect the actual transmission gear selection. This could allow the driver to move the shifter to PARK and remove the ignition key, even if the transmission gear is not in the PARK position. Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, adjust the transmission shift linkage.

2011 – The bolt attaching the intermediate steering shaft to the steering gear input shaft may not have been properly installed. If the joint separates and a loss of steering function would result. Dealers will inspect and ensure that the bolt is fully seated and the shaft is properly assembled.

2011/2012 – Oil spilt during an oil change, or hydraulic fluid expelled from a clutch housing vent hole, could contact a hot engine shield and cause it to ignite and burn. Dealers will modify the engine shield to prevent fluid from contacting the shield.

2011/2012 – Welds may have been omitted from the fuel tank mounting brackets could allow fuel leakage to occur in the event of a severe side impact crash. Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, secure the fuel tank brackets using fasteners.

2011/2012 – In vehicles equipped with the 1.4L turbo engine and automatic transmission, a supplemental electric vacuum pump may not function as designed. This could result in an intermittent reduction or loss of brake power assist and increase stopping distances. Dealers will replace a micro-switch in the power brake vacuum pipe assembly.

2012 – The primary stage of the driver’s airbag may not deploy during a crash and increase the risk of personal injury to the seat occupant. Dealers will replace the steering wheel airbag coil.

2013 – In vehicles equipped with a manual transmission, the passenger side halfshaft may fracture and separate, which would result in a loss of motive power. Dealers will replace affected halfshafts.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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