Special Coverage

2011 Wards 10 Best Interiors

Clean, sharp appearance. User friendly. Comfortable. Those are just a few of the words our editors use to describe the new-for-’11 Chevrolet Cruze, a Ward’s 10 Best Interiors award winner.

A long-awaited replacement for the aged Cobalt, the Cruze impresses judges with its materials, fit-and-finish, aesthetics, safety and exceptional value.

Key materials resonating with editors include a high-quality headliner of woven fabric and upscale leather covering the seats and steering wheel and trimming the shifter.

“Quite honestly, I think this is the best ‘low-cost’ interior in terms of materials,” writes Ward’s editor Christie Schweinsberg on her scoresheet.

“Yes, lots of plastic, but matte-finished.”

With the Cruze, GM has made no secret of its desire to break away from the auto maker’s tendency to shortchange the interiors of its small cars.

GM also made the Cruze a little bigger than its predecessor to wow shoppers with surprising comfort for its class.

“Finally, a small-car interior GM can be proud of,” comments Ward’s editor Tom Murphy.

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The auto maker also sought to build one of the safest cars in its class. As such, the Cruze receives a coveted overall 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. and “Top Safety Pick” acknowledgement from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

A global small car for GM, the Cruze also achieves top crash-test ratings in every country where it is sold.

The Cruze has a segment-leading 10 airbags. Further safety enhancements include a collapsible pedal assembly, electronic stability control and 3-point safety belts in all five seating positions. Up-front passengers benefit from safety belt retractors and lap-belt pretensioners and load limiters.

The value equation really closes the deal for the Cruze. Our 2LT-trim package, a step below range-topping LTZ models, costs $20,675. An RS appearance package of exterior enhancements ticks the final sticker price up to a palatable $22,190.

The fact that GM kept its eye on the ball and completed the outstanding Cruze interior while suffering through a historic bankruptcy in 2009 is remarkable.

This small-car interior checks all the boxes, and we look forward to further refinements the auto maker has promised for the car in the ’12 model year.

jamend@wardsauto.com