The Chevrolet Cruze compact car (internally referred to as the “J300”at GM) was introduced to the world in 2008 for the 2009 model year. When it was launched in 2008, The Cruze J300 was available just as a 4-door sedan. GM added a hatchback variant in 2010 and then a wagon variant in 2012. The Cruze replaced the North American Chevrolet Cobalt, the Pontiac G5, the Chevrolet Optra (that was also sold around the world as the Suzuki Forenza or Daewoo Lacetti), and the Australian Holden Cruze. The Cruze moniker had initially been used in Japan on a high-riding five-door subcompact hatchback that was based on the platform of the Suzuki Ignis. This Japanese Cruze hatchback was available between 2001 and 2008.
For General Motors, the Cruze J300 was not just any compact car. After years of dwindling sales figures and with the sharp economic downturn caused by the great recession, GM was not doing well financially in the late 2000s. The company’s future success was riding on the Cruze J300. Its launch in 2008 was referred to as GM’s biggest and most important car launch in decades. Besides the United States, GM also launched the Cruze J300 in several other markets around the world like China, Australia, Canada, Sweden, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, and as such, the car became GM’s first global car. Pitted against the likes of the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic, the Cruze was GM’s most significant attempt at getting a share of the global compact car market.
Well, the Cruze J300 did not disappoint. With its handsome styling, its commendable practicality, its lively engines, its pleasing driving dynamics, and its high fuel efficiency, it soon became Chevrolet’s best-selling model. By 2014, its global sales had hit 3 million, at which time General Motors was selling it in 118 countries around the world, China being its biggest market. The Cruze J300 is credited with helping to launch GM’s global sales success after 2009. Unfortunately, the sales numbers of the Cruze plunged from 2015, and as a result, GM eventually stopped production of the Cruze in North America in 2019.
Under the hood of US-spec Cruze J300 was either a naturally aspirated 138-horsepower 1.8-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder gas engine or a turbocharged 138-horsepower 1.4-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder gas engine. They paired with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. In 2014, a 151-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel four-cylinder engine was added to the lineup. The Cruze J300 also came equipped with GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability control and electric power steering. It later added Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system and optional driver-assistive safety technologies like Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear park assist, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
The 2nd-generation Chevy Cruze (codenamed the J400) featured a sleeker, sharper exterior and a more refined interior than its prior generation. It was also larger, which was seen because it had a roomier cabin. The US-spec Cruze J400 was powered either by a 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec 4-cylinder gas engine that made 153 horsepower or a 1.6-liter turbocharged diesel four-cylinder engine that made a stout 240 lb-ft of torque.
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