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Chevy's Cruze-ing To The Top

2011 Chevrolet Cruze Takes Top Spot as #1 Selling Passenger Car

The new 2011 Chevy Cruze compact car has done the near impossible this summer -- it became the highest-selling passenger car in the United States, beating out its rivals and longtime best-sellers the Toyota Camry and Honda Civic.

This is the first time an American company has hit this milestone in years, and Paul Eisenstein on MSNBC.com points out that events beyond GM’s control have helped the Cruze. The tsunami that devastated so much of Japan and its manufacturing network earlier this spring has slowed the rate at which the Camry and Civic are being built. The Chevy Cruze is happy to step into that void.

Not that the Cruze hasn’t done its homework. It was the best-selling compact car in May, and Chevrolet credits the car with its 2 percent growth in the compact-car segment. With more and more buyers choosing fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines, the Cruze and Cruze Eco models were poised to do well as gas prices climbed higher.

Automakers are still trying to shake off the “econobox” label of the early ‘80s with long lists of amenities. Chevrolet offers three trim levels for the Cruze, and they all have four-cylinder engines, including two Ecotec engines that get up to 42 mpg on the highway. Ten airbags are standard across all Cruzes, along with Chevy’s StabiliTrak system, which includes traction control and rollover sensors. Options include niceties like heated leather seats and tech-y bits like a nine-speaker sound system with a USB port.

Having driven the Cruze Eco myself, I can say that it was a perfectly normal car -- and I mean that in the nicest way. While the bells and whistles were minimal, it got great gas mileage (nearly 30 mpg in city driving). It was dead simple to drive, with nothing to figure out or puzzle over. The Cruze Eco isn’t going to win any drag races, but it will win over the carpool with its real back seat and low fuel cost.

You can take a closer look at the 2011 Chevy Cruze in the Auto Research section of our site.