2011 Chevrolet Cruze

2011 Chevrolet Cruze

2011 Chevrolet Cruze

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The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a good car. There, I’m done. I wish it were that easy. In truth, this type of review is the most complex dissertation of facts I’ll be asked to do this year. You see it’s easy to review Corvette’s and SUV’s. They offer visceral feelings that sick with you long after the car has been returned to the manufacturer. I was not blown away with the Cruze. What I was impressed with was how the Americans have handed the Japanese car maker their hats. Years ago you could not compare a Chevy Citation to a Corolla. There would have been no contest. Times have changed however, and just like today’s kids, who watch way too much Elmo and not nearly enough Bugs Bunny, American cars are now on par and in many cases better than their counterparts on the other side of the world.

The 2011 Cruze comes with far more comfortable seats than any car in its class. Designed to compete with the Civics and Corollas of the world the Cruze is more similar in content to the options on the Accords or Maximas. The interior was my favorite part of the Cruze. That would be great except for one thing, the Cruze is powered by a turbo. In most cases the turbo trumps all. Instead, thanks in part to a very substandard transmission the interior is what stands out the most. It sounds crazy but when I opened the door to the Cruze I was reminded of the Pontiac G8. Remember that car? I’m glad General Motors did. There is touchable material on the dash that looks a lot like the stuff that covers speakers. The cool thing, however, is that this cloth type material is very durable. Just for purposes of this review I scratched it with my old man finger nail for at least two minutes. No tears became visible, as a matter of fact you couldn’t even tell I had tried so hard to harm it. Sorry, Chevy, I’ve got a responsibility to my listeners.

The Cruze is quiet and the ride is impressive. Comfortable but firm, with emphasis on the comfort. The one thing that I kept thinking the entire time I drove the Cruze is, it is smaller than it looks. The back seat although large enough for my seven-year old, would be a disaster for my six-foot four co-host.

I wish I could continue my loving feeling with the power train but I just can’t. I’m sure Chevrolet meant well installing the 1.4 liter turbo instead of the naturally aspirated 1.8 but for goodness sakes why choose to kill performance with a snoozer of a tranny. This automatic transmission, that never quits shifting, just robs the Cruze of enjoyment. If you choose to buy the Cruze, opt for the manual transmission. Then, you’ve got something. Well, I guess if you order the auto-trans you still have something…a bore on wheels.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a nice car that should offer enough pep for most, just not me.

Here’s where it gets fun. If you want a Cruze order the ECO. It comes with the turbo and a six-speed manual, and many weight saving mods that allow the Cruze to get 40mpg while keeping the price at a comfortable $18,895. Like I said, it’s a good car.

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2011 Honda Odyssey

2011 Honda Odyssey

2011 Honda Odyssey

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I can’t believe what I’m about to write. I really like a mini-van. I’m having a lot of trouble categorizing my emotions. First of all, like many other mini-vans, this one is well, less than attractive. You know how some people say puppies are so ugly they’re cute? So is this mini-van. It looks sort of like someone drove an Accord under a bus and when it came through the other side, the bus rear-ended it. But, it’s actually a good look. No one, however, buys a mini-van for looks. You buy them for their primary job of hauling too many kids and far too much stuff.

Enter the 2011 Honda Odyssey. With as much to offer cosmetically as an aged Madonna at six a.m. Stick with me. That’s where the negatives come to an end. The 2011 Odyssey gives you great mileage, wide screen(16.5 inches) monitors and amazing comfort while heading over to grandma’s house. Just for this review I took the Odyssey on a trip across East Texas. I packed it full of firearms (bb-guns), ammo (bb’s), assorted food and enough kid’s movies to entertain the most discerning seven year-old. No problem with the Odyssey. It swallows cargo faster than birds fall from the sky in Arkansas.

The odyssey drives extremely smooth. It really feels more like an Accord than a mini-van. The seats are comfortable and heated, of course, and the Odyssey offers many of them. You could carry over half of Octomom’s family in the Odyssey and give them all a cool drinks knowing that up to fifteen drinks can be held in place at one time in the Odyssey. To keep trash to a minimum there are rings that pop out to hold trash bags and a cooler between the seats to keep your colas cold. Since you’ll be too busy to select a song trying to drive, hand out drinks, keep up with the trash and yell at kids you’ll really appreciate the Song By Voice that allows you to pick the tunes you want to listen to while the kids, enjoy Hanna Montana and the Coral Reefer Band. I kid Miley.

While you’re driving down the road relaxed and entertained you can’t help but notice the gas gauge seems to be stuck on full. How about Tyler to Texarkana and back on less than a half a tank of go juice? Sounds good, huh? This is something that definitely got my attention. Honda says the Odyssey gets 28mpg highway. All I know is that in a week of driving I never had to stop and fill up. The Odyssey is powered by a 3.5 liter 258HP V-6 that offers plenty of get up and go probably due to the 250lbft of torque.

Now, for the handling. I drive a ‘74 Camaro from time to time (spring and fall) and it handles better than most mini-vans. Not the Odyssey. The Odyssey offers precious little under steer for a mini-van.

Thank you, Honda for stepping up to the family plate and knocking it out of the park. Now, just make it better looking.

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