There seem to be two General Motors these days. One is scoring an assortment of solid hits with products ranging from the big Chevrolet Silverado pickup to the sporty new Chevy Corvette and lavish Cadillac CTS. The other GM, well, it is struggling to keep its name from being dragged through the muddy waters surrounding its ongoing ignition switch recall scandal.
Good product is, without doubt, the best way to shore up one’s reputation, and the Detroit maker is hoping that’s what folks will be focusing on this week as the annual New York Auto Show gets underway. One of the most important GM product launches on tap will be the debut of a refreshed 2015 Chevrolet Cruze.
Though it lags behind such compact powerhouses as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, the Cruze has been doing well for GM as the Detroit maker’s top-seller in 2013. So, no surprise the maker hopes to do even better with this update that puts an emphasis on new technology.
That includes the new OnStar 4G LTE system, one of the first of a coming wave of systems that will provide motorists and passengers with an onboard WiFi hotspot. Among other things, the 2015 Chevy Cruze will have Apple Siri integration, the ability to incoming text messages read out to drivers, and it will office an AppShop with a growing list of smartphone-linked apps for music, news, weather, travel features – and access to vehicle data.
“We’ve simply made a great, versatile car even better,” says Steve Majoros, Chevrolet director of passenger car and crossover marketing, “Chevrolet continues to design, build and sell the most compelling small cars in its history and the 2015 Cruze offers more of the features, connectivity and efficiency that are important to today’s customers.”
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Beyond the tech updates, there are some minor tweaks, including a new dual-port front fascia and revised headlamps influenced by more recent Chevy offerings such as the 2014 Impala and Malibu models.
Inside, it seems, one of the biggest updates comes with a better cupholder design which, GM says, “make(s) it easier insert and remove cups.”
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The outgoing Cruze model has been doing quite well this year, gaining 17% during the first quarter, after sales jumped 4.4% last year, to 248,224, making it one of the compact segment’s best-sellers. It was, in fact, GM’s top model in the U.S.
But the Cruze got caught up recently in GM’s ongoing recall problems. The maker unexpectedly announced a stop-sale on versions of the compact equipped with 1.4 liter turbo engines. A few days later, it issued a recall to replace a right front axle half-shaft that can fracture and separate while driving. Unlike the maker’s embarrassing ignition switch recall, however, there’ve been no reports of accidents or injuries and the problem so far does not seem to be causing a problem for Chevy dealers.