While the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a fresh take for GM and better in many ways than its forebears, the Cobalt and Cavalier, it doesn't look particularly striking on the outside. Its exterior is a little conservative, almost homely, and looks more like a blunted Malibu (Chevrolet's mid-size sedan) than it probably should. "Traditional" is a good way to sum it up, with a clear three-box sedan layout. The arched roofline provides some contemporary pop, and GM hasn't gone overboard with the high-shouldered appearance, affording, refreshingly, a bit more greenhouse.
The interior, thankfully, bears very little semblance to that of the Cobalt; its wrap-around, multitiered instrument panel appears stylish from a distance, and Chevy has used a lot of fine detailing and carefully coordinated trims so that it looks and feels great up close, too. In the design of the center stack, you can even see a little influence from the much-acclaimed Cadillac CTS interior.
Fit and finish, at least from the pre-production, higher-trim-level cars we'd seen at the time of writing, included nice padded dash materials, as well as grippy rubber-nubbed climate control and audio knobs. The standard and optional leather upholstery (with fashionable exposed stitching) felt every bit as good as what we'd see in a more expensive mid-size car.