By DON SHILLING
Northeast Ohio residents flock to the Cruze display,
One look at the Chevrolet Cruze had Tom Kaiser thinking about trading in one of his three Corvettes to buy the new compact car.
“I’d take this one home right now,” the 56-year-old Wadsworth, Ohio, resident said he studied the red Cruze on display at the Cleveland Auto Show.
Kaiser, who taught automotive maintenance to high school students for 20 years, called it an upscale design, saying that the body lines in back reminded him of a BMW. Attention to detail shows in the heavy weather stripping in the trunk and the lining that covers all the bare metal in the trunk and under the trunk lid, he said.
Many people like Kaiser are eager to get their first glimpse of the car that will be launched this summer from the Lordstown car complex.
“I’ve not heard a buzz about a car like this in a long time,” said Gary Adams, president of the show at the I-X Center.
People are aware of the recent struggles of General Motors and are eager to see if an Ohio-made car can lead a rebound, he said.
“Everybody in the region feels like they have a personal attachment to this vehicle, and I haven’t seen that before,” Adams said.
That was certainly the case for Nancy Pana, 53, of Brecksville, who looked the car over carefully with her son Jordan, 19.
“It’s built here in Ohio. That means a lot to us,” she said.
Jordan Pana has been suggesting that his 25-year-old brother buy a Cruze when the lease on his Pontiac G6 expires this summer.
And that was before he saw the car. Once he saw it up close, he was more persuaded than ever.
He pointed out the design of the interior, chrome door handles and back-up sensors that alert a driver if something is behind the car.
“This is something you wouldn’t expect in this price range,” Jordan Pana said.
Pricing of the car hasn’t been announced, although a Chevrolet official said it will be priced to compete with the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
Bill Patton was eager to see the Cruze because he retired from Lordstown in 2003 after working in hourly and salaried positions.
The 69-year-old Canfield resident said the styling of the Cruze is an upgrade over the Chevrolet Cobalt now made in Lordstown and its predecessor, the Cavalier. He added that the Cruze has a larger interior and new features have been added, such as fold-down back seats and the back-up sensor.
“I think it’s going to be a good-seller. It looks sporty,” he said.
Frank Magalski, 69, of Columbus said he was eager to see the Cruze because of the media attention it has received. He said he liked the looks but added that “you can’t tell until you sit down and drive it.”
No one is allowed to sit in the car at the show. The car is on a rotating pedestal, but an attendant will open the doors and trunk.
Seeing the car was enough to get Bill Rutherford Jr. thinking. The 38-year-old Norwalk resident noted that he has two children.
“It’s not too small and not too big. That would be a perfect fit for me,” he said.
He became more interested when he heard the two Cruze models will have a 1.4-liter, turbocharged engine.
“The smaller engine means it’s going to get good gas mileage, and with a turbo, you will get a nice kick,” he said.
GM officials have said that a high-efficiency model of the Cruze will get 40 mpg on the highway with an automatic transmission.
Rutherford’s father, Bill Sr., drives a Cobalt and thought the Cruze’s body styling and design of the instrument panel looked like an upgrade.
“Absolutely, I’d buy it,” he said.