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Chevrolet Cruze preview drive (photos)

Chevrolet let us take a drive in a European spec Cruze, a car that will take to U.S. highways later this year.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg
Wayne Cunningham
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GM is pushing small cars as a hedge against rising gas prices, and the Cruze, next to the Aveo and Spark, is the third pillar in its strategy.
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With fairly homogeneous styling along sides and back, the Cruze won't raise an eyebrow when it hits U.S. roads. The grille design fits with Chevrolet's new standardized style.
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Under the hood of this European Cruze is a turbocharged 2-liter diesel engine, which won't be available in the U.S. Instead, we will get two gasoline engines, a turbocharged 1.4-liter and naturally aspirated 1.8-liter.
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In front, the car feels roomy enough, offering plenty of passenger space, but legroom in the backseat is a little short.
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Chevrolet did a nice job in the cabin, given the need to keep the car inexpensive. We particularly like the use of cloth inserts in the dashboard and door panels.
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The shifter for this car's five-speed manual has a short, sporty look, which promises more than the car delivers. The U.S. version will come with the buyer's choice of a six-speed manual or automatic.
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We like the arrangement of controls for this stereo, and we think they could be used to do much more than just change radio stations. Navigation is available in the European version, but we don't expect it to be available in the U.S.
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The auxiliary jack in the console has a space next to it that seems sized for a USB port, which should be standard in the U.S. version.

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