On Thursday, General Motors announced that the base Cruze will start at $16,995 when it goes on sale in September.
That puts the Cruze a few hundred dollars higher than its Japanese competitors in the compact car class: the Honda Civic, which starts at $16,405, Toyota Corolla ($16,200) and Mazda 3 ($16,095). All prices include destination charges.
“We believe the Cruze can redefine the expectations for compact-car owners and shoppers who are new to the segment,” said Jim Campbell, vice president of Chevrolet Marketing in the United States. “For the price of a compact car, Cruze offers the styling, safety features, roominess, amenities and refinement of a much more expensive car.”
The 2011 Cruze LS comes with a 1.8-liter Ecotec engine, with 140 horsepower, and a 6-speed manual transmission; a full clip of safety features, including 10 air bags and stability control; air-conditioning; and power windows and door locks.
In comparison, the Civic base trim, the DX, does not come with air-conditioning or power door locks, and only the higher trim levels of the Mazda 3 come with stability control and automatic climate control.
“An informed consumer doing an apples-to-apples comparison may think the Cruze is a better deal,” Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at Edmunds.com, told The Detroit Free Press, “but I think if people are just looking for a cheap, economical car, it’s not the best out there in that segment.”
Ms. Caldwell said an issue with Chevy’s pricing scheme is that shoppers may overlook the amenities and just go for the cheapest car in the class. “I think that’s where they could have some trouble,” she said, referring to Chevy. “Compact car buyers are pretty price sensitive.”
The Cruze will be offered in four trim levels to start. The LT trim, which uses a 1.4-liter Ecotec turbo engines, will start at $18,895. The Cruze Eco, which was touted by G.M. at the New York auto show a couple of months ago as providing 40 miles per gallon fuel economy, will start at $18,885. And the lineup tops out with the Cruze LTZ, which will start at $22,695. Both the Eco and the LTZ trims will also come with 1.4-liter turbo engine.