2011 Chevrolet Cruze
2011 Chevrolet Cruze
2011 Chevrolet Cruze. Click image to enlarge

Photo Gallery:
2011 Chevrolet Cruze

Los Angeles, California – A day before being revealed at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show,  General Motors invited the media to get up close with two new fuel efficient models that will go on sale next year as 2011 models – the Chevrolet Volt and Cruze.

The Cruze is GM’s new world compact, a car already sold in Europe and Asia. North American models will begin to emerge from GM’s Lordstown, Ohio plant
in the third quarter of 2010. GM expects the Cruze to challenge Toyota’s and Honda’s supremacy in the compact segment based on its size, standard
and available features and affordability.

Just because it is a small car, GM isn’t holding back on content.  The Cruze will come equipped with a segment leading 10 standard airbags including
frontal, side-impact, roof rail head curtain, rear seat side air bags and new knee air bags. It will also be equipped with electronic stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes.

Available features will include Bluetooth, USB connectivity, navigation system, XM satellite radio, OnStar, 16, 17 and 18-inch alloy wheels, leather and heated front seats, and a choice of  two four-cylinder powerplants.

Standard on LS models is a 1.8-litre engine, while LT and LTZ models will receive a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine.  The latter is expected to produce 138 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. of torque. Six speed manual and automatic transmissions complete the powertrains.

While we didn’t get a chance to drive the new Cruze, our short seat time revealed an unexpected level of refinement and quality.  Grained, soft-touch components, low-gloss trim panels and gap tolerances of less than one millimetre characterize a roomy and comfortable interior. In fact, the Cruze is nearly a mid-sized sedan, coming in at the top end of the compact segment.  This translates into plentiful leg room for both front and rear seat passengers.

The Cruze, which will replace the Cobalt in the Chevy line-up, will debut December 3rd at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Chevrolet Volt (click for photos)

Also making its first appearance at the LA auto show is the production version of the Chevrolet Volt, GM’s first extended range electric vehicle.

2011 Chevrolet Volt
2011 Chevrolet Volt
2011 Chevrolet Volt. Click image to enlarge

Unlike a hybrid that runs on both electricity and gasoline, the Volt is an electric vehicle with a gasoline engine to power a generator.  The Volt can travel up to 40 miles (60 kilometres) on electricity before the gasoline engine starts the generator to extend its range an additional 300 miles (app. 500 km).

In both electric and extended range modes, the Volt is propelled exclusively by electricity. It has a top speed of 160 km/h. And with instant torque, there is no compromise in driveability.

During electric mode, the Volt uses electricity stored in its Lithium-ion battery.  When the battery’s energy is depleted, the car shifts automatically to extended range mode. The vehicle can be plugged in to 120 or 240 volt circuits to recharge the battery. Regenerative braking is also used to improve the overall efficiency of the vehicle.

The Volt is more than an advanced propulsion system.  It uses two displays, one containing digital gauges.  The Volt’s “efficiency meter” gives real time feedback to the driver on vehicle efficiency.  It also uses a touch-sensitive board on the centre stack to operate vehicle functions such as the climate control, rather than traditional knobs and buttons.

In designing the body of the Volt, GM’s designers took aerodynamics to a new level, recognizing that any improvement in aerodynamics would extend the range of the vehicle. Even a small five mm rise on the back of the car’s spoiler increases range by one quarter of a mile.

Bob Boniface, Director of Design for the Chevrolet Volt noted that the Volt has “extremely low drag and is extremely efficient, more so than any hybrid on the road today.”

The Volt will be sold initially, in the last quarter of 2010, in California, where GM has been working with local utilities to establish charging stations, educate consumers and conduct a real world test of consumer readiness for electric vehicles. It is expected to be available in Canada in the second quarter of 2011.

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