High qual­ity and a hotspot: What’s not to like?

The Washington Post Sunday - - CARS - War­ren Brown war­ren.brown@wash­post.com

A Wash­ing­ton-area Gen­eral Mo­tors dealer once scorned me for giv­ing Chevro­let and other GM brands the ben­e­fit of the doubt.

“You are try­ing to be fair,” he said. “But you are go­ing over­board. GM hasn’t earned it.”

That was in 2006, three years be­fore GM, weighed down by poor sales and lousy pub­lic re­la­tions — which I still con­tend were in­flu­enced by some bi­ased au­to­mo­tive jour­nal­ism — filed for bank­ruptcy.

“Let GM earn it, re­ally earn it,” the dis­grun­tled dealer said. “Then we can talk.”

Re­spect­fully, Mr. Dealer, I’d like to re­open that con­ver­sa­tion — at your con­ve­nience, of course. GM has done what you said it prob­a­bly would never do, crack the Top 10 list of Con­sumer Re­ports. The 2017 Chevro­let Im­pala and Cruze sedans did that.

I couldn’t be­lieve it, ei­ther. So, I turned my at­ten­tion to GM cars, plan­ning first to spend my time in au­to­mo­biles many of us ac­tu­ally could af­ford, start­ing with the new-for-2017 Chevro­let Cruze LT Diesel.

What have I learned? First, this is not the Gen­eral Mo­tors of which we pre­vi­ously spoke. It is bet­ter, much bet­ter, more ded­i­cated to do­ing things right. If GM hasn’t yet “earned it,” it cer­tainly is try­ing, and it is giv­ing its buy­ers good bar­gains in the off­ing.

The Cruze LT Diesel is su­pe­rior to any com­pact car — eas­ily above the lack­lus­ter Chevro­let Cava­lier and Cobalt — re­cently pro­duced by GM. Fit and fin­ish are ex­cel­lent, on par with or bet­ter than ex­am­ples turned out by Asian and some Euro­pean ri­vals. Ad­vanced elec­tronic safety fea­tures, such as blind­side mon­i­tor­ing and lane-de­par­ture warn­ing, are good. The car has its own WiFi hotspot. Bravo! Equipped with GM’s OnS­tar com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem, you are as safe in the Cruze LT Diesel as you are in any­thing from MercedesBenz. It looks good in­side and out. You can be proud be­ing be­hind the steer­ing wheel of this one.

What about that diesel? I’m not go­ing to make the mis­take I made with Volk­swa­gen — fall for clever and de­cep­tive mar­ket­ing pitches about its tailpipe cleanliness. Painfully, I now know that when you em­brace a lie in this busi­ness, you wind up ly­ing to ev­ery­one. Mea culpa!

I will tell you what I ex­pe­ri­enced. I av­er­aged 46.3 miles per gal­lon on the high­way in the Cruze LT Diesel and 30 miles per gal­lon in the city. That is good. The car uses an add-urea sys­tem to treat diesel ex­haust. Chevro­let’s en­gi­neers say the car com­plies with fed­eral and Cal­i­for­nia ex­haust reg­u­la­tions (the tough­est state reg­u­la­tions). I’ll be­lieve them and let the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, the Cal­i­for­nia Air Re­sources Board and sim­i­lar en­ti­ties that have the tech­nol­ogy and ex­pe­ri­ence to check those claims do the rest.

Keep in mind that the Cruze LT Diesel was nei­ther de­signed nor en­gi­neered to op­er­ate as a speed­ster. It doesn’t.

It is a com­pact, front-wheel-drive econ­omy car, mostly de­signed to lower fuel costs. It en­ters the high­way safely and op­er­ates well at high­way speeds. I’d rec­om­mend keep­ing it in the mid­dle or right high­way lanes to stay in safer­speed com­pany.

The Cruze LT Diesel is good for long road trips, as­sum­ing you use com­mon sense and rest when needed. The car is a tad noisy, and that can be wear­ing.

Other­wise, it is a very de­cent, safe, af­ford­able and lik­able au­to­mo­bile that gets a solid “buy” rec­om­men­da­tion here. You’ve earned it, GM. Keep try­ing.

The Cruze LT Diesel is su­pe­rior to any com­pact car re­cently pro­duced by GM.


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