2011 Chevy Cruze a Civic eater?

Slated for a North American debut early next year, and fresh from Europe and Asia where it is already on the market, comes the 2011 Chevy Cruze. The Cruze is the new standard bearer for GM in the compact market segment, replacing the departing Cobalt. With the compact market in Canada having the highest sales volume, you can bet that GM Canada will be focusing much of its energies on the Cruze’s debut.

The Cruze shares much of the Chevy Volt’s design and engineering, making the Cruze larger than the outgoing Cobalt in every dimension. In terms of market position, this leaves the new Chevy with a few toes sticking out from under the blankets of the compact market, and dipping slightly into the midsize segment.

At the heart of the Cruze is a turbocharged 1.4L Ecotec four-cylinder engine that generates 138hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. This is pretty standard, but where the Cruze shines is in its fuel consumption, gulping down only an estimated 5.87L/100km on the highway and probably something like 7.8L/100km in the city. This will give the Cruze the best fuel economy in its class. You could also opt for the 1.8L normally aspirated engine, but the horsepower is slightly less and torque ratings much lower. It seems the 1.4L Ecotec option will be hard to beat, offering a good mix of power as well as fuel savings. Rounding out the powertrain is a choice between six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions.

The Cruze’s designers and engineers targeted the Honda Civic as their primary competition and hope to overtake the Civic’s top position in the segment.

As Chuck Russell, Chevy’s vehicle line director states, “If we’re serious, we have to beat Civic… we have more interior space, more amenities, better materials, and in handling and fuel economy, we’ve done it.”

Whether the Cruze will overcome the Civic remains to be seen, but if the numbers tell a story, it certainly looks to be a contender.