2011 Chevy Cruze: The Trade-Off Is Happiness [Review]


When I handed the keys back to the bewildered receptionist at the dealership, a girl barely out of high school and clearly not acquainted with press car handovers, I didn’t think much of the blasé mood that had blanketed my emotions since the moment I awoke.

The sky was a lustrous grey, the wind was annoyingly brisk, and the raindrops were too frequent for July. The meteorology was taking the brunt of my blame for my absent desire to wake up and enjoy Saturday. Even after a trip to the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market with the future Mrs. CarEnvy, and a good old-fashioned weekend afternoon romp, my indifference was stifling. It wasn’t until I gave back the VW-style flip key that my mood started to lift towards something resembling upbeat – my typical disposition.

It wasn’t the despondent clouds, pregnant with rain, that had me down, it was the jerky auto, sopping wet brake pedal, and unrepentant emptiness of it all. Not even the most cosseting economy seats could mask the wrongdoings of the chrome wheel covers and oatmeal interior.

In every measurable way, the Cruze is a triumph over its predecessor in much the way that Barack Obama is a triumph over his. Both have the gleam and glitz expected of a revolutionary, but rosy hope and utopian optimism eventually come to terms with a starker reality. This is where the analogy ends because Obama could never live up to the hype, and at the end of the day, his party is simply one of two heads of the same lobbyist-driven dragon.

The Cruze comes much closer to living up to its hype, but it’s still a Korean-designed soul-depleter with inconsequential American bling. It’s genuine competition for the last generation of Hyundai and Kia compacts, and behind segment leaders from Ford and Mazda. GM being GM, the Cruze will labour on far past its expiration date and, in the process, trick far too many of the company’s remaining faithful into a spiceless pit of wretched hopelessness.

The keys to the Cruze are not worth my happiness, and they’re not worth yours.