Cruze Eco compact gains coveted honor

WARREN – The Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze Eco garnered the top compact car pick in the annual Consumer Reports best cars of 2013, an honor that had local plant workers expressing pride in their product.

In fact, Cruze models made up three of 10 “recommended buy” stamps of approval doled out this weekend by Consumer Reports for compact sedans.

Cruze Eco, Cruze 1LT and Cruze LS are the only domestic autos on the list appearing in the magazine’s April edition. And of all 38 recommended compact and subcompact cars and wagons, Chevrolet was the only domestic automaker to garner the coveted “recommended buy” status with Chevy Volt and Chevy Sonic in addition to the Lordstown-built Cruze models.

”That makes our pick the Chevrolet Cruze Eco, a well-finished car that’s a benchmark of quietness in this class. First-year Cruze reliability issues have been worked out,” the magazine said in a prepared statement released Monday.

”We are really excited. We just try to make a good car,” said United Autoworkers Local 1714 president Dave Green, who represents about 1,500 workers in the General Motors Lordstown complex fabricating plant. ”It’s just great that they are taking a look at our car, and they are impressed. I think Consumer Reports will be huge for us to help get people behind the wheel.”

Glenn Johnson, president of UAW 1112, was equally pleased.

”I couldn’t be prouder for the hard work each of our team members,” Johnson said. ”It’s just another outstanding achievement for the members and for GM as a design team.”

The Cruze Eco scored 72 out of 100 on the overall road test score. The 1LT version scored 70, and the Cruze LS scored 68.

”While Chevrolet’s road test scores don’t top our ratings, they are building some solid-performing small cars with decent reliability,” said magazine spokesman Tom Mutchler.

Magazine analysts gave all three of the Cruze models thumbs up for ride, quietness, agility, solid feel, front-seat space and crash-test results.

”It feels solid and substantial, handles nicely and has a firm but controlled ride,” the report indicates. Analysts described the cabin as “well-finished,” said noise levels were fairly good for a small sedan and called crash-test results “impressive.”

Mild criticism came for “so-so” fuel economy and “cramped” rear seats.

Other companies appearing on the “recommended buy” list for compact and subcompacts included Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Kia, Hyundai, Subaru, Scion, Nissan and Volkswagen.

In addition to the compact and subcompact category, the ratings are also handed out for sedans, luxury sedans, sporty autos, minivans, SUVs, luxury SUVs and pickups.

Green said the plant is continuing to gear up for production of the new Cruze clean diesel turbo. Manufacture is set to start here next month with the 2014 model set to hit showrooms by summer.