Cruzin’ Right Along


There’s a lot of talk out there about the new 2011 Chevy Cruze coming this fall (Yes, Jack Maxton will have inventory available). A lot of talk mentions the Cruze’s sleek design and the roomy interior. A lot of talk touches upon the variable displacement oil pump that helps the Cruze get 40mpg. There’s also talk about the 1.4l turbo charged Ecotec or 1.8 naturally aspirated engine. A lot of talk raves about the 138 horsepower and 148 lb per foot of torque. Yep, there’s a lot of hype about this car, because quite honestly, it’s amazing.

For those out there who think this is just another car, take a look again. Beside all the mumbo jumbo techie talk that all car enthusiasts love to throw around, there is some solid information available for us non-technical folk who want to know the real scoop. With all the cars available in the market today…why buy a Cruze?

Let’s start with price. The starting price is $16,995 (LS) and up to $22,695 (LTZ). That’s not bad considering the average price for a new vehicle is now $29,000. So what does $16.995 get you? It gets you a 138-horsepower (peppy) four-cylinder with a six-speed manual transmission, along with 10 air bags, traction control, OnStar and keyless entry.

Next, take a look at fuel efficiency. Gas prices this week are around $2.69 per gallon. Don’t expect them drop significantly any time soon either. The Chevy Cruze offers a new technology that regulates the flow of oil into the engine. This provides better fuel use overall and that gets you about 40 miles on just $2.69. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Let’s talk about safety, seriously. With an increasing amount of vehicles on the road each year and the probability of a motor vehicle accident increasing with it, safety should be a top priority. The value of OnStar is truly tremendous and although this article is not about OnStar, we will mention again that OnStar’s Automatic Crash Response System (along with many, many other safety features) is standard with ALL GM products, including the Cruze.

So what all does the Cruze offer in the safety category? The Cruze has airbags. Not one, two, four, or even six…How does ten sound? There are 30 new safety patents, credited to Chevrolet engineer Scott Thomas, for new and improved vehicle restraint and airbag systems. There is Stabilitrak (traction control) with anti-skid, roll over sensors, and a collapsible pedal system. A what? Basically, the pedals “detach” during an accident, helping prevent nasty ankle and leg injuries.

Finally, with everything aforementioned above, let’s just face it. The Cruze is a sharp looking car. Its smooth, aerodynamically designed shell, with futuristic looking interior,  is just plain cool!

The Power of Onstar: Local Thief Caught Red Handed


This past week, Jack Maxton Chevrolet experienced first hand the true value of OnStar. A brand new 2011 Camaro was stolen one morning, making for the start of a very hectic day.

Jack Maxton immediately called the Worthington City Police and OnStar. The OnStar representatives verified the police, than worked hand in hand with local officers from both Worthington City and Columbus Police division, to track down this criminal and his stolen loot.

OnStar activated the vehicles Global Positioning System (G.P.S), using a feature called Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, and relayed to the police, street by street, which way the criminal was headed. They had open contact at all times with the police department, who followed discretely behind the stolen vehicle.

Finally, when the police were in position, they gave OnStar the okay to work their magic. With the push of a button, OnStar disabled the engine with a feature called Stolen Vehicle Slow down. The Camaro coasted safely to a stop. The confused and bewildered criminal was immediately apprehended and taken to jail. The Camaro, after being checked by the police, was returned to Jack Maxton and is now safely back on the lot.

“What’s amazing,” says one of the new car managers at Jack Maxton Chevrolet, “is that we tell our customers how valuable OnStar is…but you really don’t think about the true value until you’re faced with a situation and you need their help.”

OnStar truly did make this a happy ending for Jack Maxton Chevrolet and a not so happy ending for the crummy car thief, who will undoubtedly be facing some lengthy jail time since grand theft (auto) is a Felony.

Thousands of vehicles are stolen every year, but with new technology like OnStar, thief’s will think twice about taking a set of wheels. OnStar, in addition to stolen vehicle recovery and assistance, provides services and features such as roadside assistance, Turn by Turn navigation (TBT), Automatic Crash Response (ACR), remote vehicle diagnostics, remote honk and lights, remote key unlock, and communications. It really is a wonderful feature and only GM carries or offers this option.

Chevy Cruze-The Compact Car of the Future


Scott Burgess

Chevy Cruze to become the compact of the future

Detroit’s history will cruise down Woodward Avenue on Saturday (though this rolling party has been revving up for weeks). Detroit’s future, however, arrives in October with Chevrolet’s big-little compact, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. Make no bones about it, this car carries General Motors Co.’s future in its 15 cubic-foot trunk.

Sure, the extended-range electric Chevy Volt has had 1,500 days of publicity without actually being up for sale yet, but the Cruze is where the low-rolling resistant rubber meets the pavement. (The Volt’s tires debut on the Eco Cruze this fall, before the Volt.)

The Cruze will do more to help the environment, do more for consumers and do more for GM’s bottom line than the Volt will for a generation (note: car generations are kind of short).

More importantly, for the first time since, well, since GM tried selling small cars, the Cruze is the best compact car available. Don’t take my word for it, go drive one.

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Here’s what you’ll find: A well-appointed interior, a gutsy little engine, smooth acceleration and a surprisingly quiet and elegant ride. It’s the people hauler for the masses.

Raising the bar wasn’t difficult. The Cobalt, the tiny compact the Cruze replaces, was what people bought because it was on sale or they had some sort of employee discount. The Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla decimated the Cobalt in annual sales — because they were better cars.

That was then. Now, the Cruze doesn’t raise the bar, it sets it. A true global vehicle, the Cruze grabs influences from GM’s designers and engineers from around the world, which might explain the awful spelling.

I’ve test driven the Cruze a number of times as Chevy wanted to tout different development phases on the vehicle over the past year. The most recent test drive was in Washington, D.C., where we were put in the completely ready as the consumer is gonna see ’emCruzes. (Unfortunately, the 40 mpg Eco Cruze was not available for testing.)

The turbocharged 1.4-liter Cruze LT with a sport package sat shining just off Dupont Circle, calling my name.

For the most part, this car needs that compact context. Just like the Civic and Corolla — the big wigs of the compact world — the Cruze was designed as stylish transportation. It’s not a sports car.

It’s better. It combines form and function with a lot of space inside.

The Cruze maintains that Chevy dual cockpit approach, but with a much more open area. The dash curves around nicely to the doors and the instruments and controls are all within easy reach of the driver. The center stack is busy with buttons around a center circle that controls the stereo. But everything feels right and it’s comfortable.

There’s also lots of technology, such as the optional Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free cell phone operation, USB audio input and steering-wheel mounted controls. Even the base model, which starts at $16,995, includes an auxiliary jack, remote keyless entry, XM Satellite radio and GM’s OnStar turn-by-turn navigation.

While high tech enough to please most young buyers, its creature comforts will please consumers downsizing to a smaller vehicle. Things like navigation, ultra sonic park assist and a 250-watt stereo are amenities people appreciate.

Big on the inside

But the bigger story is the back seat. Unlike other compact cars, the Cruze doesn’t feel very small. There is 35.4 inches of legroom in the second row. That’s like business class.

The Cruze gets down to business with its performance, too. The base model comes with a 1.8-liter I-4 engine that produces 136 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque.

No, you’re not going to set Milan Dragway on fire, but it will get you to work on time. Final EPA mileage figures have not been released, though Chevrolet says the Eco Cruze will hit 40 mpg.

In a nod to that particular model, it is not simply a stripped down version of the Cruze. Chevy has added new features to the Eco Cruze, which starts at $18,895. They include different carpet and a front grille that can open and close to improve the aerodynamics. This model won’t be available during the initial launch but arrives a few months later.

The 1.4-liter turbo I-4 is a great little engine, producing 136 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. It’s small, efficient and provides plenty of power.

Driving through the hills of Virginia outside of D.C., the Cruze never seemed to want for power. The six-speed automatic transmission was very gentle, clicking through the gears quietly and with certainty.

The ride and handling were both crisp and comfortable. Some of the biggest improvements over the Cobalt are evident in the Cruze’s ride. It feels and sounds like a more expensive car. Wind noise is considerably less and road noise was very little.

The suspension seemed to enjoy aggressive driving, keeping the Cruze firmly planted on the road and the rack-mounted electric power steering was direct and provided a confident return to center.

Fast, powerful look

In a parking lot of big compact players, the Cruze stands out. For the most part, compact styling has come up short. But that may also suggest that many of these buyers aren’t looking for steep windshields, hard edges and hood scoops. No one can look at any Corolla built between 2000 and 2010 and say, “I bought for its styling” with a straight face.

You could, however, say that with the Cruze, especially if you add the $695 RS appearance package, which includes a new front and rear fascia, rocker moldings, fog lamps and a rear spoiler. It just adds a better look to the Cruze, which looks nice to begin with.

There’s a fast look to the Cruze, in part because of the way the headlights stretch so far back into the quarter panels. The big dual grille and big wheels (up to 18 inches) all add to its powerful stance. The Cruze is also 70 inches wide, which adds to that balanced look.

In 50 years, I don’t think the Cruze will be celebrated along Woodward Avenue — at least not for the reasons people might think.

No, this Cruze will be recalled as the quintessential car that showed the world, and by the “world,” I mean Americans, that when it comes to small cars, Chevrolet could deliver.

sburgess@detnews.com (313) 223-3217

New or Used? Considering A Car For Your Teen


The start of the school year is just around the corner! With that being said, there are many teenagers and college students looking for that perfect ride to get them to and from classes.  So what is the perfect vehicle for the young adult driver?

Beyond looking at a vehicle’s price, reliability, safety, and economy rating,  many other factors must be considered when buying for that young teenager or college student.

As any parent knows, personality plays a large role when considering purchasing anything for a teenager. The car that is chosen must be one that fits their needs, budget and style.  Other factors to consider are:  climate conditions  (i.e. lots of snow all year ’round) and whether they live in a rural or metro areas (compact cars are recommended for tight parking).

A few top priorities when considering a car for that teenager or college student:

  • Ability to purchase (cost)
  • Ability to maintain ownership (insurance, maintenance, etc)
  • Credit approval
  • Style/amenities

The difference between purchasing a new car and a used car is tremendous. Let’s contemplate the facts. The fact is that a used car is initially much cheaper. Many used vehicles sell for under $10,000. In addition, credit approval for a used vehicle also tends to be a little easier to get (especially for the young adult who has no prior credit history). A used vehicle can be researched online, meaning, one can look for a specific make and model and find out if it is reliable, dependable, etc.  Although the upfront cost is low, there are risks associated with buying a used vehicle. One major important thing to consider is where to buy a used vehicle. Many dealerships offer certified pre-owned vehicles who have been mechanically checked and have a clean bill of health. However, most used vehicles that are 3 years or older DO NOT carry warranties. If they do have the balance of a factory warranty, there isn’t much remaining. Often times used vehicles have high mileage, may or may not have been in an accident, and may or may not have been taken care of by their previous owner. It’s all really a gamble.

New vehicles are expensive up front. The average cost for a new vehicle in 2010 is somewhere near the $29,000 mark. That’s a lot of money for a young teenager or college student working at the local coffee shop. There are some new vehicles that are on the market that sell for around $10,000 brand new…but at that cost, one wonders the long term longevity of such a vehicle? New cars do offer peace of mind, with warranties ranging from 3-10 years. Maintenance costs should be relatively low, and with a lot of manufacturers offering roadside assistance, parents need not worry about their kids being stranded somewhere.

With that being said…it’s really a toss up between a new or used vehicle. There are both pro’s and con’s to either decision. Perhaps the smartest choice is to get a new used vehicle. This option offers the best of all scenarios. A new used vehicle is one that is a year behind (for instance, a 2010 model, when 2011 models are now being sold) and has been driven for various reasons (the dealership used it as a rental, etc). Typically they have under 5,000 miles on them, have ALL The warranties from the factory, and you get a nice break on the initial cost of the vehicle because the dealer is making room for the 2011 models.

No matter what you decide to get, make sure that you do your research. Find a vehicle that is priced right for your budget (or the student’s budget), find a vehicle that makes your college bound teen happy to drive, and find a vehicle that makes you happy at the same time. Seem like an impossible task? It’s not! It just takes a little patience.

Interested in seeing Jack Maxton’s Inventory of New Used vehicles?

Click Here to view our “Courtesy Car” inventory.

These are new 2010 models that have been slightly driven (2000-4000 miles), still offer factory warranty, and still have all the same bells and whistles of a new vehicle…without the new vehicle price.


2010 Chevrolet Impala
2,205 miles
dual climate control
sunroof
heated driver seat
leather seats
CD player
Side air bags, key-less entry and more!

2010 Chevrolet Malibu 2LT-Consumer Review


SENIOR EDITOR FOR NEWS BOB GRITZINGER: From fit and finish to refinement in ride and powertrain, this Chevy is clearly on par or better than anything from the Japanese midsize competition, and equal to the also excellent Ford Fusion. The Malibu is remarkably solid, quiet, steady and smooth–an easy car to like and to enjoy driving. It’s obviously no race car so the standards are different, and for many years the standard in this segment has been set by the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. No more. This car defines what an American midsizer ought to be.

What makes it so good? Starting outside, the styling is clean and crisp, with wide door openings for easy access. The doors close with a solid thunk that seems far more upscale than this car is. Inside, the upholstery insets of suede make for a luxury feel, along with the soft-touch materials on the dash and doors. The interior also seems quite roomy, even with a full load of passengers. It’d be quite comfortable for four, even on a long trip. The ride is smooth and comfortable without any banging suspension noise, while showing surprising poise for a family sedan. Finally, the four-cylinder powertrain isn’t anything to brag on, but it does the job of getting the car rolling without too much straining and noise from under the hood. The six-speed automatic is super smooth and allows the engine to run at merely 2,000 rpm at 70 mph. Who needs hybrids and all the associated extra complexity and weight when you can have this simple tried-and-true powertrain?

Though the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters seem out of place in this obviously nonenthusiast model, I found them handy at times to help rev-match with traffic and when I wanted to get a little more out of the car in corners and off the line. If they don’t add much to the cost, I’d say it’s nice to have General Motors think of the driving joy of the average guy for a change.

My only wish is that GM would consider offering a wagon version of the Malibu, or at least bring back the hatchback Maxx.

The biggest problem facing GM is now that the Malibu has caught up with–and in my mind, exceeded–the Hondas and Toyotas of the world, at least in this segment, the real competition is from South Korean carmaker Hyundai. The new Sonata blows this and everything else away in virtually every category, except maybe engine refinement.

EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Here’s the new Camry. In other words, here’s the midsize sedan that should be fighting to be the No. 1-selling sedan in the country. This and the Ford Fusion, that is.

The Malibu is as good or better than the Camry in all the important ways: The four cylinder is as powerful, the interior is as nice, the exterior looks better to my eye (which is to say the Malibu is dull to look at, just not as dull as the Camry), the Malibu is quiet and I like this Opel-based chassis and suspension.

I would agree with the above that the Malibu is solid, quiet, steady and smooth, though I wouldn’t say remarkably so as Gritzinger does. I’d say it’s on par with the competition but no better. For GM to win buyers back, its bread-and-butter sedans need to blow away cars such as the Camry and the Sonata. This car is good but doesn’t blow anything away. Maybe the next one will. We’ll see.

COPY EDITOR CYNTHIA L. OROSCO: This Malibu has nice exterior lines (the red paint is very attractive), and the pleasing looks continue on the inside. The materials are quality, the center stack layout is user-friendly and the seats are comfy. The steering wheel is quite big, and the steering seemed pretty light, especially around curves.

On my way in this morning in the rain, I noticed myself slowing even more around bends as the car seemed a bit floaty; it may have just been the wet pavement. But overall, there’s good power from the four, no noticeable lag, and merging and passing are accomplished with ease. Braking is solid.

In the midsize-sedan segment, I’d definitely put this Malibu up there with the very-nice Hyundai Sonata and the fun Ford Fusion.

2010 Chevrolet Malibu 2LT

Base Price: $25,895

As-Tested Price: $27,070

Drivetrain: 2.4-liter I4; FWD, six-speed automatic

Output: 169 hp @ 6,200 rpm, 158 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm

Curb Weight: 3,436 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 26/23.7 mpg

Options: Bose premium audio ($500); red jewel tintcoat paint ($325); interface package including USB port, 110V outlet ($250); compact spare-tire set ($100)

For more Car Reviews – New Auto Reviews, click here.

VA Tech & GM: En”tire” Facility Dedicated to Research


General Motors Co. announced today that it would be investing $5 million to launch a National Tire Research Center (NTRC) at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). GM stated that better fuel economy and lower emissions are just a couple of reasons why they have decided to move on this opportunity.
According to a General Motors press release, the National Tire Research Center will incorporate state of the art rolling resistance machinery, enabling tire and automotive manufactures to accelerate the development of tire technology, reproduce real-world emergency events, and improve highway safety.

VTTI currently owns a “Smart Road”; a two lane, 2.2 mile stretch of asphalt, with the ability to replicate rain, snow and other “treacherous” driving conditions, where date can be collected and observed from test vehicles on site.

VTTI director, Tom Dingus, says the “facility will be the only one of its kind in the world and will generate world-class tire research data while generating significant revenue and high tech jobs in South side Virginia.”

In addition to the GM funding of $5 million, other sources of funding for the $14 million center include Virginia Tech itself and from a national tobacco settlement.

It is estimated that the NTRC will spend $12 million in testing and research within the five years and create up to 183 new jobs by 2020. The facility will be located adjacent to the Virginia International Raceway in Halifax County, VA.

The “Van Hauler” Comes to Jack Maxton


There is a lot of excitement going on today at Jack Maxton Chevrolet.  A bright red Chevy truck pulled into the service garage this weekend. This is not your ordinary truck. This rare Chevy truck has a Corvette engine, chrome slashed rims, custom rear end and a flashy paint job with graphics that resemble a… guitar? Yep-that’s right, it’s the “Van Hauler” truck and Jack Maxton is servicing it.

This truck was previously owned by Eddie Van Halen. Purchased in 1993, Van Halen asked Boyd Coddington to build a special Chevy truck that would reflect his personality and brand. Christened the “Boyd Hauler”, the running gear was comprised of an LT1 engine, trans and fully independent suspension from a new Corvette.  The truck was featured in many magazines and became so popular that in 1998 Testors produced a model kit of Van Halen’s famous Truck.

As with all fame and glory, eventually, the condition of the truck deteriorated and became nothing more than a clunker with a strange looking paint job. After Boyds death in 2008, Eddie Van Halen and the American Hotrods shop in Anaheim, CA came together to rejuvenate the truck. Re-christened the “Van Hauler”, they updated the paint scheme with the Wofang elements, replaced the wheels and gave it some magic. The vehicle went on display at San Diego Classic & Muscle Cars last year and then in January 2010 went to auction in Scottsdale, AZ where a private buyer purchased the vehicle.

Now-the truck is sitting in the garage at Jack Maxton Chevrolet’s service department, getting some work done. The mechanics recognized this famous rod immediately. It’s not often that famous vehicle comes this way.

(Pictures of the “Van Hauler” at Jack Maxton Chevrolet, Columbus, Ohio)