By Karl Henkel
If it’s not broken, there’s no need to fix it.
That’s the message sent by General Motors Co. when it announced upgrades for the 2012 version of the Lordstown-built Cruze on Wednesday.
The new Cruze 1.4L turbo and six-speed automatic transmission models will get 38 miles per gallon compared with 36 on the 2011 version. GM credits the savings to a lower axle ratio.
The Eco version will get 39 mpg compared to 37.
The new Cruze will cost a little bit more. Its least-expensive model, the LS manual transmission, starts at $17,470. The most-expensive model, the LTZ automatic transmission, is $23,860, $885 more than the 2011 edition.
The car will cost more, and will include more: A loaded feature package, which previously cost drivers $525, now will come standard.
The package includes Bluetooth-phone connectivity, a USB port, steering-wheel audio controls, cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Nine in 10 Cruze buyers ordered the package on the 2011 model.
“Chevrolet is committed to responding to what customers want and making it easier for them,” said Rick Scheidt, vice president of Chevrolet marketing.
“Adding these previously optional features streamlines the ordering process and answers the call of what our customers told us should be standard.”
Additional standard equipment includes remote keyless entry, air conditioning, power windows, rear defogger and enhanced audio packages.
In May, the 2011 Cruze became the first American-made car to lead the compact category, outselling stalwarts Toyota (Corolla) and Honda (Civic) and before that it became Chevy’s best-selling worldwide nameplate.
The vehicle also went through two recalls; the first in April, a much-publicized incident in which a steering wheel detached from the steering shaft. In May, GM recalled every Cruze manufactured to date amid concerns about intermediate steering shafts and improperly installed automatic-transmission shift links.
Neither recall seemed to dent sales figures, and Lordstown representatives have said the in-house problems have been corrected.
Lordstown will manufacture the final 2011 versions later this week before the new model transition takes effect Monday, said United Auto Workers Local 1112 President Jim Graham. The 2012 cars should hit dealerships sometime in July, a GM spokeswoman said.
“We will continuously try to make the product better every day,” Graham said.