Edmunds.com and Parents magazine rate the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze Eco and Sonic as two of the Best Family Cars for 2012, General Motors Co. reported.
One reason may be the Cruze is built to withstand being doused with 6,600 gallons of water - a lifetime of water exposure - as engineers test seals to ensure the car can handle intense rain and other weather hazards, GM said.
"The Cruze Eco and Sonic are the best small Chevys ever built," said Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com editor-in-chief. "They are fun to drive, attractive, well-built and extremely fuel-efficient, making them excellent choices for anyone shopping for a compact or subcompact car."
Dana Points, Parents editor-in-chief, said magazine officials "know that buying a new car is a big family decision, so we want our guide to make the process easier. The Cruze Eco and the Sonic scored high safety marks, and parents using the vehicles were impressed with the responsiveness and the family friendly features."
The Eco, along with other model trims, are built at the 4,500-worker Lordstown Complex.
Both the Cruze Eco and Sonic deliver fuel economy of 40 mpg or more on the highway and offer consumers comfort, safety and advanced technology at a value.
The Cruze - Chevrolet's best-selling car around the world - provides the amenities, quietness, safety features, infotainment and roominess expected of a larger, more expensive sedan, but with the efficiency of a compact car, GM officials said.
GM noted the Cruze Eco achieves its hybrid-like highway fuel economy, estimated at 42 miles per gallon, with a 1.4L Ecotec turbocharged engine, six-speed manual transmission and features that improve its aerodynamics, minimize weight and reduce rolling resistance.
It also is designed to withstand exposure to 6,600 gallons of water in eight minutes, thanks to 825 gallons of water spraying from 330 nozzles at GM's Universal Water Test booth at the Milford Proving Ground in Michigan.
GM said the Cruze goes through a number of other tests, such as GM's Climatic Wind Tunnel, which replicates hurricane-force winds, and the Flooded Road Lab, where it's driven through up to one foot of water to help eliminate water leaks into the engine compartment or doors.
The Thermal Chamber tests the car for conditions ranging from arctic cold to desert heat and the Dust Booth exposes the car to an extreme number of dust particles to help keep it air tight.
"We go above and beyond Mother Nature to ensure our vehicles can withstand the elements," said Kevin Dunn, GM global vehicle development owner - splash contaminants. "This type of creative testing helps ensure our vehicles can better withstand rain, snow, wind, dust and other day-to-day contaminants."