DETROIT -- Chevrolet is asking its 3,000 dealers to prepare for the late September launch of the new Chevrolet Cruze compact by purchasing competitors' vehicles for test-drive comparisons.
Chevrolet is encouraging dealers to have a Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic on site so prospective 2011 Cruze buyers can immediately measure the Cruze against its segment competitors, said Margaret Brooks, Chevrolet small-car marketing director.
At a media event today in suburban Detroit, Brooks said Chevrolet expects buyers to come away with a favorable view of the Cruze. At the event, Chevrolet had Corollas and Civics available for reporters to test drive after the Cruze.
Brooks said Chevrolet plans a major advertising and marketing blitz for the Cruze, although she declined to give details of the campaign or its budget.
The Cruze, which Chevrolet already sells in 60 countries, earned maximum scores in European front- and side-crash tests. U.S. crash tests have not taken place.
The Cruze Eco model gets a segment-leading 40 mpg on the highway, said Chuck Russell, Cruze vehicle line director. The Eco model is powered by a turbocharged, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a standard six-speed manual transmission.
Russell said the Cruze has more shoulder room than the Corolla or Civic. And Chevrolet has equipped it with 10 airbags, a plush interior and sound-deadening glass in a bid to broaden its appeal.
Of particular interest are empty-nesters and boomers wishing to downsize to a compact without losing the premium features of a mid-sized sedan, Russell said.
The base model is priced at $16,995 and the top model at $22,695, including shipping, Brooks said.
The Cruze is being built now in General Motors Co.'s Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant.