The 2011 Chevy Cruze, which is already sold in Asia and Europe, has finally appeared in its U.S. form, at the L.A. auto show. As is often the case with long-awaited models, GM has really built up this replacement for the compact Cobalt sedan, claiming it will take on the best-selling cars in the segment, including premium models like the Honda Civic. After our first look, it seems GM has a chance at doing so — at least in some areas.
Interior quality is the main battleground across the market, and in this area the Cruze is pretty impressive (though you have to bear in mind that the two auto show cars are the top, LTZ trim level and are fitted with leather seats, etc.). The first thing you notice is that the door slams with a substantial, satisfying thunk. Without a doubt, the Cruze beats the current Toyota Corolla, which we’ve criticized since its last redesign. The Chevy is more competitive with the likes of the Civic and Mazda3, but I’m not ready to say it’s better. I suspect impressions will differ from one observer to the next — especially when it comes to certain cabin materials. As a renowned hater of silver plastic, I must say the textured, faux-metal surfaces in the Cruze are quite nice. I also like the woven-fabric dashboard elements in the red show car. They work in black; in another color, who knows? The other show car has tan leather in its place, so this rough-hewn material isn’t your only choice.