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Chevrolet Aims to Equip Compact Cars With More Standard Equipment

Compact cars may be some of the most inexpensive vehicles available to consumers, but many automakers, including Chevrolet, are moving to incorporate additional premium content and features as standard equipment to appease -- or even surprise -- customers.

"Everything you know about the small cars that we have done for the U.S. in the past does not apply anymore," said Margaret Brooks, Chevrolet's product director of small and compact cars.

Although Chevy's compact and subcompact offerings have often erred on the side of basic transportation, the new Cruze sedan and next-generation Aveo hatchback will be substantially more upscale than current models. Brooks says the division revised its content strategies for both cars to target buyers jumping from larger vehicles into smaller offerings.

"They are not looking to be in the lowest-priced vehicle in the lineup," she told Automotive News. "They want a richly contented vehicle. We are going to market with really nicely equipped cars."

The strategy may be new to Chevrolet, but it isn't earth shattering, but it is to Chevrolet. Many customers who downsize their vehicles are simply looking to abandon the fuel consumption properties of their larger rides, not the luxuries and content contained within. Mini found success with this recipe in the past, and Ford plans on offering similar features (i.e. leather seating, Sync, etc) in its new Fiesta subcompact.

The 2011 Spark, however, may be the exception to Chevy's new compact rule. As the smallest car in GM's portfolio, the car will likely target buyers looking for an absolute vehicular bargain. Content levels have yet to be established, but expect features like air conditioning or power windows to be optional on base trim levels.

Source: Automotive News (subscription required)