2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ

Matt Tierney

In no segment is the unfortunate trend of incremental growth of dimensions and curb weights more apparent than the small-car segment that the Cruze and the Ford Focus play in. Both of these domestic offerings weigh a few hundred pounds more than their rivals and have pricing that seems more fitting for a mid-size sedan. At least Ford offers buyers a dual-clutch transmission instead of a rather sluggish automatic as in the Cruze.

Personally, the Cruze does nothing for me because it doesn't come as a hatchback. For that reason alone I'd be heading to a Ford, Mazda, or Volkswagen dealer if I were in the market for a compact car. If the hatchback isn't a requirement for you, a Hyundai Elantra will be a little easier on the wallet, eyes, and monthly fuel tab. Yes, the Cruze is a big step forward for GM in the small-car segment, but it doesn't advance the small-car segment itself. There's no technology to rival Sync, no reduction in curb weight like the Elantra, nor great driving dynamics like you'd find in a Mazda 3 or a Volkswagen Golf.

As David says, the Cruze is a bit bigger than the competition, but I'm not sure that's a good thing in this segment. Some people want small cars but aren't willing to move down to a B-segment vehicle that offers virtually no difference in fuel economy but requires a big sacrifice in power and generally a sacrifice in comfort on long highway drives. If you want a bigger car, it's smarter to shop a lightly used mid-size sedan than a brand new plus-size compact.
- Phil Floraday, Senior Web Producer

Criticism because the Cruze doesn't come as a hatchback? Because it's LIST price is a few hundred more than MOST of the competition, you should buy a used mid-sized? You guys are really reaching. Will you criticize every other car in the segment (except the Focus) for not having DSG? How about spending a little time comparing to the Mazda3, Focus, Elantra, Civic, Corolla? You know, the cars in it's class. How much more (if any) does the Cruze cost than it's competion after considering content. Is this asking too much in a car review? Sheesh.

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