2009 Sneak Preview: New and Future Chevrolet Cars

2011 Chevrolet Cruze
Cavalier, Cobalt, Cruze. "C" a pattern here?

The Chevrolet Cobalt was a major leap forward from the Cavalier, but it still hasn't quite caught up with segment leaders like the Mazda 3 and the Honda Civic. GM's next salvo, and another new name, is coming in about a year with the Cruze.

Like most GM future products, the Cruze has undergone a global development process. Suspension work was done in Europe, and much of the interior and exterior design took place in Asia. The result, GM says, is a world car that will be sold all over the globe with minimal variations. Buick will also get a version.

Compared with the Cobalt, the Cruze promises more refinement, more interior space, and-most important for this segment-better fuel economy. The last benefit is due mainly to a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Further powertrain enhancements include six-speed automatic and manual transmissions. Handling and ride are also much improved, GM says, thanks in part to rear suspension technology borrowed from the Opel Astra.

CHEAP CHIC: A Corvette-inspired twin-cockpit motif and higher-quality materials liven up the cabin. A swooping roofline allows Chevrolet to call the Cruze a four-door coupe (but we won't). There's no word yet on replacements for the two-door or the SS models, but we're not holding our breath.

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