DETROIT -- Chevrolet is so confident in its new Cruze compact sedan that it is encouraging dealers to buy competitors' vehicles for comparison test drives.
The Cruze, which replaces the Cobalt, will hit showrooms in late September, said Margaret Brooks, marketing director for small cars at Chevrolet.
The car has a more refined interior than the Cobalt, more horsepower and a five-star crash rating in Europe. The Cruze Eco model, with a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine and a manual six-speed transmission, gets 40 mpg on the highway. The base model is priced at $16,995 and the top model at $22,695, including shipping.
Chevrolet wants its 3,000 dealerships to keep a Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic available to shoppers so they can compare them to the Cruze.
Chuck Russell, vehicle line director for the Cruze, said the shoulder room, which exceeds the Corolla's and Civic's, and 10 airbags will appeal to empty nesters and boomers looking to move from mid-sized cars and SUVs without losing amenities.