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Consumer Reports: Cruze most significant car of L.A. car show

Published: Thu, December 3, 2009 @ 12:01 a.m.


The Vindicator/Geoffrey Hauschild A Chevrolet Cruze signed by President Obama at the Lordstown Auto Plant on Tuesday morning. 9.15.2009



Forget the buzz over hybrid and electric cars this week. The real story of the Los Angeles Auto Show is the Chevrolet Cruze, an industry insider said.

“It’s the most significant car of the show,” said Jake Fisher, senior auto engineer for Consumer Reports, shortly after the car was introduced Wednesday.

The new compact car towers over other vehicles displayed at the show because it provides cutting-edge technology and design in a high-volume vehicle that people will be able to afford, Fisher said.

Quite simply, the Cruze gives GM a good chance to compete in small cars, he said. The car promises better fuel economy and has more space than Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.

“This is a big step forward for General Motors and for small cars,” he said.

GM used the LA show to show off a Cruze built at its Lordstown complex for the first time. Cruze models are being sold in markets around the world, but the local plant will begin producing them for public sale sometime between July and September.

GM is so committed to the Cruze that it is giving it a next-generation powertrain, which will provide a combination of power and fuel efficiency, Fisher said.

The Cruze has a six-speed automatic transmission, and two of the three trim lines will have a turbocharged engine.

The transmission provides enough gears so that the car can travel at highway speeds at low engine revolutions, which saves gas, and still have enough power to handle rapid accelerations and hills, Fisher said.

The turbocharged engine allows the upper-end LT and LTZ trim levels to operate with a smaller engine, which also saves fuel. But when power is needed, the turbocharger can deliver more air and boost the acceleration.

GM isn’t being specific about fuel efficiency. It says the Cruze will get up to 40 mpg on the highway in its high-efficiency models.

Fisher said he thinks the turbocharged models will get 40 mpg, and the LS model will achieve close to that number.

The Cruze also shows a change in how GM is approaching the design of the interior of its small cars, Fisher said.

The placement of gauges and use of premium materials makes a good impression when someone steps into the car, he said.

“No longer is GM putting bargain basement materials in its smaller cars to try to put people into a bigger car,” he said.

AutoGuide.com, which also viewed the Cruze in Los Angeles, was pleased with the interior.

“Inside we were surprised to find that it’s actually as nice as the original press photos had us believe. Sure the leather isn’t Lexus quality, but it is reasonably good, and the two-tone cockpit has loads more style than pretty much any other compact car,” its report said.

GM highlighted the Cruze and the Chevrolet Volt with its first press conference of the LA show.

The Volt is an electric vehicle that will be launched late in 2010. It will be able to run up to 40 miles without any gas, but it will have a small gas engine that will provide additional range. The electric batteries can be plugged into a household socket and recharged in a garage.

Mike Simcoe, executive director of Chevrolet global design, said GM studied the Volt extensively in wind tunnels to improve its aerodynamics, and it applied those lessons to the Cruze.

He said the Cruze was given a wide stance with a bold face so that it would be recognizable as a Chevrolet.

He said he wanted the Cruze to have a premium feel on the interior but noted that it is still targeted at families because of the room devoted to the interior and trunk.

“The intention was to create a modern, upscale package,” he said.

GM hasn’t released pricing for the Cruze.


SEE ALSO:Auto show focuses on affordable small cars


1Search4Answers(718 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Most of the small car market vehicles are soon to be redesigned in 2011 and surely will be refined to better highway mileage with the addition of a 6th gear and more efficiency. I would certainly hope the cruze is more technically advanced than cars that were engineered 4-5 years ago.

They styling ain't that bad I guess.

The pricing is everything for this car. If they charge too much no one will buy it, if they can't keep costs under control ( a real problem at GM) they won't be making a profit. This is one of the most important cars GM is releasing, much much more than the Volt.

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2UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I wouldn't bet my lunch on a successful Cruze at GM. GM has all but destroyed their markets with poor quality cars that cost too much. We need the Cruze to be successful so my UAW Union brothers at Lordstown keep the plant open and some of the valley employed.

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3ront(119 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

i hope gm and lordtown are successful with the cruz. there has been many changes in management as well as hourly at lordstown the last couple of years. i would hope the 50% cut in wages for new hires has no effect on how well they do their there jobs.

to noteworthy, gm may be 60% government owned. that means, we as taxpayers own 60% of gm. i, for one hope it's becomes the most profitable company in the world.

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4AKAFR1(322 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Noteworthy, if GM failed the impact on the whole country would have been disasterous. The country can either pay upfront by lending them the money or pay in the end when the country has to fund the failed pensions through PBG. Not to mention the unemployment and welfare costs.

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5Search4Answers(718 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

AKAFR1, that would not affect much the amount of cars sold in the market. The losses in GM jobs would be made up by job gains by other companies.

I personally believe if GM failed another automaker would have purchased the Lordstown assembly plant... granted there would be no way in heck it would be union which would be a problem for this area.

If GM went to liquidation people would have purchased some of the different assets of GM. 20% of the US automarket would be then up for grabs.

Let's not forget that they STILL went bankrupt with the bailout and continue to lose money according to their internal reports.

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6RFederer(116 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

GM's bailout was simply a payback for union support of Obama during the election. Search above is correct, supporting GM is bad for Ford and other carmakers and bad overall. It was also bad for constitutional law since the natural progression of creditors in bankruptcy was circumvented. The government should never pick winners and losers in the market.

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7Search4Answers(718 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Not only that but people also said GM had to be saved because the suppliers would go under if they didn't. GM filed for bankruptcy and now those suppliers are still struggling.

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8cambridge(2958 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

The 70 Billion spent by Obama to save the American auto industry is about the same amount Bush spent in Iraq every six months for six and a half years while virtually ignoring those that attacked us on 9/11.

Saving the American auto industry saved millions of jobs. Those auto workers and suppliers would otherwise be collecting the tax payers money in the form of unemployment compensation and defaulting on their house payments putting that much more stress on a fragile economy which is now showing signs of recovery. Money well spent.

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9AKAFR1(322 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Search, not completely so. If auto manufacturers are not at full capacity, they would not purchase or expand production. Some jobs may be added but more would be lost. It is easy to say let them fail, but the same voices would be crying when the ripple effects reach them. Yes they filed bankruptcy which allowed them to reorganize not go out of business completely. Remember that a company this large cannot be turned around in seconds.

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10RFederer(116 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

70 billion was only for GM and Chrysler. Saving them in no way saved millions of jobs. Their sales would have gone to Ford and other auto makers that use many of the same suppliers. Ford would have needed to expand their operations thereby hiring some GM workers. 10 million cars would have been sold with or without GM and Chrysler. The same supplier base would be in place with or without GM and Chrysler. In fact, supporting companies that now have a competitive advantage hurts the other car makers who played by the rules and ran efficiently. Money poorly spent.

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11Ytownnative(1010 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I think the Cruze looked pretty sweet

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12Search4Answers(718 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

AKAFR1, the amount of jobs out there has nothing to do with the amount of companies. You have to sell cars to keep the jobs or you're going out of business. Right now GM is running at 53% capacity according to their own reporting for the last 3 months and below 50% for 9 months; If they aren't selling the cars they will be forced to continue to downsize so that they can get to a more normal 85%-90ish utilization of capacity. GM will continue to cut jobs to get to a normal level of capacity. No job was saved in the long run.

You're completely right GM can't turn around the company in seconds, they couldn't do it in 30 years they sure aren't going to do it overnight.

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13ront(119 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

when i see some of complaining about tax dollars going to call centers and foreign steel companies in youngstown. in addition all the tax dollars given to japanese, korean and german car companies to bribe them to build in certain states; i'll listen to what you have to say.

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14sullyfahs(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

GM would like to erase the memory of the large numbers of people who loved the EV1. See the film, "Who Killed the Electric Car?"
Until some big automaker makes a family sedan that is pure electric, gets 100 miles range and is a fun car which is reasonably priced, I am not buying any car.
I am in luck. I just described the Nissan Leaf, due out in 2010.
"No plug, No deal". Simple.

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15xytown(63 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

GM is a deceased company just like the mills in the late 70's and the unsightly overpriced Cruz will only add insult to injury. Youngstown needs to look beyond the auto industry and move on. It's over.

Sad very sad...

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16HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

The government WILL perform an IPO next year. Then we'll see if GM is worth anything. Maybe China will buy it to get a foothold into the US market with dealers for distribution of Chinese made cars. That should be fun to watch. The same UAW members who said not to buy foreign will then change their minds and tell us to buy communist.

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