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Having driven my fair share of very different cars along the way, I feel that I am at least in a position to do a decent everyman review of the Chevrolet Cruze LTZ. Here are a few of the cars I have owned along the way:

1978 Fiat X19 Limited – Caught on fire at 84 miles due to a wiring harness issue, had fuel pump issues for most of its life, but I sold it to my brother after four (4) years, and he drove it for another three (3) years.

1980 Volvo 242GT Limited – Loved this car! I bought it gently used, and literally drove it until the paint fell off. Corduroy seats, electric overdrive, driving lights and sunroof, all added to the style and fun of this less-than-aerodynamic bit of Swedish engineering.

1987 Saab 9000 Turbo – My first venture into the world of forced induction, and also my first black paint job. High end stereo with more buttons and knobs than a spaceship, engine compartment straight out of a fighter plane, but wheels and suspension that had trouble putting the power to the ground.

1994 Chevy Camaro – Another black paint job, T-Tops, and an anemic sequentially fuel injected V-6. Like most Camaros of this vintage, it was a rattle trap before it hit 50K miles. A couple of teenage drivers did not help, with one of them losing a T-Top on the expressway.

1998 BMW 528i – I loved everything about this car, although wished that I had gone for the 540, as the straight six seemed under powered for what was a fairly heavy car.

2000 BMW Z3 – A sunny day in May (Southern California) convinced me that I could no longer live without a convertible, so an even trade for the 528i had me cruzing topless for a while. Great car, but narrow and tiny in the extreme.

2002 Mini Cooper – Like driving a street legal go-cart, and this was the non S version. Run flat tires killed the ride quality though. I opted for the manual tranny, but think the CVT Auto would have been a better choice.

2006 Ford Escape Hybrid – X plan pricing from Ford, a big fat rebate from State and Federal Taxes, and 0% financing, convinced me that I indeed could afford to go Green! As it turns out, mileage was in the mid 20s overall, and once I took a job that did not feature a car allowance, the glow wore off.

2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP – Back to a drop top and forced induction, with 260 horses out of just 2 liters, 18 inch wheels, and I was back in convertible love! This all lasted 2.5 years, with GM killing the entire Pontiac line, and the car losing massive resale value and appeal along the way. I also got quite tired of carrying luggage in my passenger seat, as sometimes the wife actually liked to come along. Less than 17K miles were testament to its waning appeal in our household.

Welcome 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ! – Having watched the WTCC results, and followed some of the early buzz coming from other parts of the world, it looked like the Cruze might be a decent contender for a 4 door sport compact purchase. Anticipating $5 per gallon gas, needing 4 doors and a trunk, had me looking at all of the usual suspects. Deciding to give the American Reinvestment movement a chance, I popped on a Black Granite Metallic Cruze LTZ. I chose to skip the RS Package and Sunroof, as the former looked a little juvenile for this 50 something driver, and these add-on packages never seem to age well. The sunroof was a skip due to lack of use in former vehicles. I have had the car now for just less than a week, and right at 500 miles, so I felt ready to do a minimal “First Impressions” review.

Exterior – Decent lines, and a nice job on the paint. I am not sure yet how I feel about the LTZ Chrome Accents, but it looks OK. 18 inch wheels, with Michelin Shoes make for a little rougher ride, but combined with the sport suspension, is certainly a sportier feel than one might expect. We shall see how I feel about them when it comes time to pop for tires on those flangeless rims. Fender and door gaps seem fairly tight. They could have done a little better job on the hood fit though. Tail lights seem like a weak stab at European styling, while the headlamps beg for projectors versus the yellowish halogens. The SatNav/Radio antenna looks to be straight off of a VW Jetta, but I can live with it, especially as it’s black on black.

Interior - Nicely done GM. The leather seems of fairly high quality, with great comfort in the front, and pretty good comfort in the rear. I’ve sat in the rear, but not taken a ride there yet. My wife gave it pretty good marks after a couple of hours though. The ride is certainly on the quiet side. Some tire noise makes it inside from those low profile Michelins, and I can hear just enough of the engine sounds to provide feedback that things are happening. I have kept my foot out of the accelerator so far, due to the low mileage. The headliner seems of reasonable quality, carpets are average, with floor mats that snap into place and stay out from under the gas pedal. The doors sills and kick panels seem to scuff easily, and also seem to have some kind of negative charge, as they are magnets for dust, hair etc.

Drive Train – Opting for the 1.4L Turbo was a fairly easy choice. Having experienced the 2.0L Turbo Ecotec in my Solstice gave me a high level of confidence that GM has figured out how to build a small displacement engine that can handle forced induction without reliability issues. I would rate the 1.4L Turbo as having ample power, but not an abundance of power. I have had the opportunity to do a few mountain road runs over the past couple of days, and really enjoyed the experience. The adaptive six speed auto seems to be improving as the miles add up. Manual mode takes some getting use to, especially for those of us that have not experienced a six speed variant. Those first 4 gears are pretty close together. I do like the fact that there are safety features built into the software to protect me from myself. I got the “Shift Denied” message a couple of time when trying to downshift too quickly on the downhill side of my run.

SatNav/Entertainment - I am one of those people that often make my first two accessory stops at the Muffler Shop and the Car Audio store. With the purchase of the Cruze LTZ, I decided to resist on both counts. With the high level of device integration available, I opted for the High End OEM solution this time, and boy am I glad I did. With the exception of limited input options while moving, the SatNav seems to have all the features needed. The Hard Disk eliminates the musical Nav CD exercise, and even leaves 10 GB for storage of Favorite CDs and MP3s. Some of the POI software looks like it could use some work. Some POIs get automatically displayed, and the “Exit Info” button seems to do the opposite, and drill down even further into the details. The integration with the Driver’s Information Center is a nice touch, as upcoming turn data does not need to be displayed on the main entertainment screen.

Bluetooth Phone Integration works very well, with great noise cancellation. I use an iPhone, and access to my Address Book, and Call Lists makes true “Hands Free” operation a breeze. This is important now here in California, as a ticket for cell phone use is upwards of $250 for a first offense.

External audio integration was also a snap. I have tried multiple USB Drives, with all of them working flawlessly. Warning – large USB devices can take a little time to index for display purposes. I also tested my iPod Classic and my iPhone via the USB Cable. Both worked flawlessly. I have left my iPod Classic in the center console. Kind of nice having 80 GB of my personal music and audio books available. Navigation of these devices via the main screen is fast and intuitive.

The CD/DVD player works as expected. With the Center Channel and Rear 6X9s, included as part of the premium audio package, movie sound was quite impressive. I am not sure how often one would actually watch a movie, but if you were stuck in park somewhere for an extended period, it might be handy. CD Audio works as expected, with a touch of the “Save” button sending any or all tracks to the hard drive.

OnStar/MyLink – As it probably did for most people, the MyLink Commercial was what first drew my attention to the Cruze. I had heard it discussed relative to the Volt, but had no idea it would extend to many of the 2011 lineup at GM. My Chevy Dealer did some of the initial OnStar Registration before I ever left the Dealer Lot. As part of the Drive Away Delivery Process, my Salesman reminded me to press the Blue Button when I was in a safe place to do so. OnStar answered by congratulating me by name on the purchase of my new Cruze. In addition to completing the registration process, they were able to help me terminate OnStar for my Trade In vehicle, sold me some cheap minutes (3 cents per minute) for the built in phone, and sent my first Vehicle Diagnostics Report to my email address. Turn By Turn “Directions” are provided free for six (6) months, and will download to the SatNav.

MyLink is a real kick to play with. Remote Start, Remote Door Control, Fuel and Oil Status, as well as Tire Pressure details, all combine to make for a pretty fun application. It works well on both my iPhone and my iPad. Lifetime and Recent Trip fuel economy data are also useful data points, and eliminate the need to keep too close a track at fill up intervals.

Summary – So far so good. Transmission really seems to be settling into a nice driving experience. Stereo is loud and distortion free. Engine power and economy seems well balanced for my driving style. I will likely do a bulb upgrade on the headlights, and learn to like the taillights. Seat adjustments are a work in progress, as is the tilt/telescoping wheel. I got approx 30 mpg in the mountain runs, and close to 34 mpg on level freeway. I expect these numbers to improve as the drive train gets run in. Parking sensors seem to do the job, with plenty of warning before rubbing any paint. Loyalty Rebate and Special Financing (2.9%) from GM took a little sting out of trading the Solstice early. Overall, I think the Cruze will get a lot more use than the Solstice did.
 

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I recently dealt with the decision between Solstice GXP vs Cruze and lack of any real space in the solstice pretty much sold me on the Cruze. The thing doesn't even have a trunk really..
 

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Thats even more diverse than me considering the Camaro vs a Cruze. I absolutely love the GXP hardtop, but it is not for me at this time with the kids and all. If I were 50 some, I may have gone for the Solstice :D.
 

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Thats even more diverse than me considering the Camaro vs a Cruze. I absolutely love the GXP hardtop, but it is not for me at this time with the kids and all. If I were 50 some, I may have gone for the Solstice :D.
And I'm very young but still couldn't live without SOME cargo space.. Man's gotta eat (and transport those groceries)
 

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elwood58-- Very nice personal review. This is what GM needs to read, the real world drivers & not just having a test car for a week or less like most car publications or newspapers do.

We loaded our LTZ RS with every single option that you can get. So hearing that the NAV is a nice feature including the Pioneer pkg should make my wife love that she'll have such a nice audio setup.

We're like 3 days from ours coming in to the dealership and then still has to get its after-market add-ons done.

So needless to say, we're very excited..:D
 

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I can't wait to see GoldenRS's ride. It will be nice to see the RS package in something other than the media spread red, black, and that awful blue color.
Me too..I just hope that the color is as good on the Cruze in person as I've seen on the Equinox's & Malibu's that the dealer had for comparison when we ordered ours. This morning when I left work and was cruising down the highway, I came across 5 Cruzes. They were mainly LS's except for one LT and they were either black,red or dark blue too..

So Cruze sightings are becoming more of a daily occurrence here in the Southern Metro of the Twin Cities.

Trust me..The wife has already directed me to take a vacation day for our delivery pick-up. Been reading the online version of the owners manual already. :D

Pics will follow for sure..
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Update on SatNav

So I wanted to post a quick update to my earlier post on the new Cruze LTZ. I had one of those weeks that included many trips around the LA area. I had previously commented on the limitations of input to the SatNav while moving. Lets just say I had not had the chance to try out the interactive voice commands for the system! This feature works great! In addition to doing things like show/hide POI, and changing the display from Day to Night mode, you can also speak your destination. The system has a very intuitive way of getting the exact address into the system, and even gives you the choice of setting the address as a waypoint, or a new destination.

I would also comment that the Nav seems fairly up to date, and accurate.
 

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My big gripe. The leather seats are extremely cold until the heater kicks in, which seems like forever. My other leather seated vehicles are not this bad. But, the Cruze is AWESOME in snow and ice. It is the best I've had, and I've had a lot of vehicles, some 4X4. OP, that is quite a list of cars. If you think your '95 Camaro rattled, check out a mid '70s. My 77 1/2 Trans Am was one bad ass car, but man that thing sounded like it was coming apart every time I got on the gas!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
If you have OnStar Directions service, they can download instructions and routing to the SatNav. I do have OnStar, and six (6) months of free service.

The seats are a little cold. You can program the seat heaters to turn on with remote start. This way the seats are already warm when you climb in. The cool seats will be a nice feature come summer though.

Once the seats have gotten to temperature, they sure are confortable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thousand Mile Update

I have had the Cruze LTZ for nearly three (3) weeks now, and thought I would update my first impressions post.

Exterior - Nothing gives you that up close and personal feel for Fit and Finish like hand waxing your car. Got out the Maguire's and went to town a week ago. No major flaws observed. Certainly more Real Estate to cover than waxing the Solstice! Not too many areas to accumulate dead wax, and the detail brush worked fine on those that did. Nothing looks better than a freshly waxed glossy black car :)

Interior - The more I drive it, the more I love it. Quiet and comfortable is the best way to describe the Cruze. I have used the heated seats on a couple of cool mornings, and really enjoy them.

DriveTrain - Very solid. Tranny seems to be settling into my driving style, and as stated before, just enough engine noise makes it into the cabin to qualify as Driver Feedback, without being annoying.

SatNav/Entertainment - I had already posted an update on usability of the SatNav, and its interactive voice capability. I have since discovered its ability to leverage the Voice Commands built into my iPhone. This truly makes for a HandsFree experience.

OnStar/MyLink - The OnStar Voice, and SatNav Voice, are one and the same. I was concerened about whether I was calling using pre-paid OnStar minutes, or my iPhone. The system actually tells you which phone it is using. Suffice it to say, if your phone has linked via BlueTooth, it will be the default call route. The novelty of MyLink has worn off a little. Still a very cool toy, but not something I will use on a daily basis. Southern California weather makes the remote start a nice to have, but certainly not a have to have feature. I would imagine if the keys get locked in the car at some point, the remote features will come in handy.

All in all, we are really enjoying our Cruze. Easy to park, easy on gas (87 Octane), easy on the eyes, and enough zip to keep my inner RaceBoy happy.
 

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elwood58: Kudos and Congratulations! Thanks for the great Review and Follow-Up.

Having an LTZ without the Nav, I've had to use the OnStar Turn-by-Turn feature. It's pretty neat. Being able to send a destination to your car from Google Maps is amazing. Just pull up the address on your computer (via Google Maps), type a Nametag to associate with it, and send it. The next time you use OnStar for Navigation, it'll ask if you want to use your most recent Nametag. Very cool. Google Maps connects to your car via the username on your OnStar account. Slick!
 
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