Canadian Car of the Year: Chevy Cruze

February 23rd, 2011

2011 Chevrolet Cruze

Now, come on, no stupid jokes about Canada, please, and no more comments about the Cobalt. Chevrolet—with much assistance from Daewoo and Opel—has finally made a very good compact car in the Cruze, now acknowledged Car of the Year at the Canadian International Auto Show by 70 Canadian car journalists.

How do we know it’s so good? We read the reviews, Jack, and hear the buzz on the street, plus the car is selling well in California and other coastal states. It’s all over Mexico, and GM needs to add dealerships in both San Francisco and Los Angeles to service demand.

We told you something about the Cruze and its EV version here, and we’re only sorry the hatchback still isn’t on tap for the U.S., though its importation is not impossible. Chevrolet has sold 500,000 Cruzes in over 70 countries.

Chevrolet Cruze interiorEven the florid and occasionally gaseous writers for Car and Driver have good things to say about the Cruze. Steve Siler makes the point that the car has gained its fuel efficiency through weight reduction, better aerodynamics and a better powertrain—without much sacrifice in performance.

On an L.A.-San Diego trip in the Eco version, he got “an average of 43.8 mpg, with most of our cruising done at 80 mph with the air conditioning on and the engine loping along at 2500 rpm.” The turbo-powered LTZ Cruze can do 0-60 mph in 8.9 seconds. Pretty amazing.

Eco prices start at $18,895; the base Cruze LS lists at $16,995; and the LTZ at $22,695. On top of that, the car is very quiet, not Cobalt-crude, handles very well, and outclasses the new VW Jetta in most every category, according to reviewer James Hamel.

There is one sour note: Inside Line’s Caroline Pardilla complains that the Cruze’s seat heaters get only mildly warm. God save us from pampered California car reviewers.

The Cruze’s competition in Canada included the Ford Fiesta and the Jetta TDI. Which of the three cars would you buy?

—jgoods

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