I have owned my 2012 Chevrolet Cruze ECO since it was brand new off the dealership floor. I have been living in California for the past 4 years and this car has been my daily driver, and it's interacted with both California traffic and roads alike.
For the past year, I've been working in San Francisco but living in San Jose. I drive the 280 from the South Bay up to San Francisco multiple times a month to go to HQ. The 280 is a very fun road to drive, a high speed 4 lane freeway that abuts the natural land barriers that serve as a geographical boundary between the city sprawl and the natural landscape that abruptly ends at the Pacific ocean. The freeway system flows with the landmasses, curving and varying in elevation. During the day, the driving on this freeway can be very fast and you have to be careful to keep your speed under control.
When I drive my Cruze on this road, I notice that my car has a tendency to overtake and surpass the majority of the traffic on this freeway. Generally, the other cars are not really road rockets, a plethora of Honda, Nissans, Hyundai's, and Toyotas all similarly equipped with their contingent of 4 cylinder engines. Their's also the SUV's, the Chevy Tahoes, Jeeps, and diesel toy haulers hauling their respective toys. All this traffic seems to lock into formation and flow on the 280 in a type of fluid motion. On the down hills, we all tend to match speed evenly until the gradual downhill arcs into an uphill motion. With this, the vehicles seem to lose momentum and the headwinds combined with the uphill climb cause engines to shift into lower gears and speed tends to drop off until they reach the precipice of the hill, where then we all spill over and restart the dance all over again.
It's on this uphill climb that I notice that the Cruze displays a completely different attitude then the other vehicles on the road. More often then not, I notice the front bumper of my car coming precariously close to the rear bumper of the car in front of me, prompting me to either make a deliberate effort to slow down, or simply change lanes and continue ahead until I approach the next car. At the precipice of the hill, we will all spill over the over and I either have the option to go with the flow, or really charge ahead and leave the pack.
It's at the high speed 70-100 MPH range that I notice the Cruze just really comes alive. There's something really dynamic about the car especially when you floor the pedal, the RPM needle aggressively settles into the 3500 K range and the speedometer goes over 80 and doesn't seem to be losing any momentum. Occasionally, I would have a car fall in behind me to try to ride my wake, only to be left behind as my Cruze would aggressively dig its way up the hill and the trailing vehicle would be unable to keep up.
I noticed another occurrence as I was driving up from LA, on a section of the I-5 that gets really hairy as your go through the valley that separates the great American southwest desert from the LA basin. This section of freeway can get very crazy as it's subject to sensory illusions as their is no obvious visual cues to indicate elevation changes. It is very crucial to keep an eye on your speed because an uphill can evolve into a downhill very gradually, and you can suddenly have your speed getting out of hand if you are distracted. In a small car like the Cruze, this isn't a very big deal. The suspension can adjust your trajectory immidietely and your speed can be reeled in quickly with the brakes. In a larger vehicle hauling a load, this can become very dangerous and the natural terrain can overwhelm the vehicle very quickly. It was on this road that once again my little Cruze shined, weaving around traffic with this type of hustle that the other cars couldn't seem to muster. Of course, this being LA there was the occasional challenger that I couldn't answer. A Porsche whizzed by, the Boxer engine screaming. Before I could even think of even trying to fall in, it disappeared over the rise.
However, there were a few surprises. A black BMW 328 series charged in hard behind me, and I floored it. Somehow, my little Cruze managed to outdig the BMW on the uphill, the RPM needle plunged into the upper regions and the speedometer needled went past the 90 MPH range and seemed undeterred. When we crested the hill I stayed on it and the Black Bimmer fell back into formation with the pack.
A new model white Mustang was similarly motivated like me to make good progress on the road, and we paced each other on a relatively open stretch on the fast lane. I decided to open up the throttle and I was well over 100 MPH when the white mustang decided he had enough and decided to fall back.
The biggest surprise came when another new Mustang, yellow this time, came charging up behind me. I decided to move over and let him pass. He sped past, (a college student with his girlfriend) and I decided to fall in behind him and see if I could keep up. This is where the biggest surprise occurred. The new mustangs are rated at around 300 HP, both turbo or V6 respectively, and I fully expected to be left behind when the opening happened and he dropped the throttle. Surprisingly, this wasn't the case. I was able to hang on.
This Cruze is a very fast and very versatile car. I'm really surprised that it performs as well as it does on the road and I am very happy to have it.