Getting the Chevy Cruze in Gear

2011 Chevrolet Cruze ECO
2011 Chevrolet Cruze ECO. X11CH_CZ064 (03/29/2010)

Chevy Cruze: First Cruze

There was a lot to like about the new compact from Chevrolet. But we didn't start off well together.

Get back: You might think it's nice having automakers bring you a brand new car to drive every week or so. But sometimes, it's not so easy. (I can see everyone playing fake violins out there.)

Take my introduction to the Chevy Cruze six-speed manual.

I'd already spent a week with the automatic version and was impressed. GM brought me a new one and left it for me at work. So after a long night, I hopped in the car at 11 p.m. and began to familiarize myself with the controls.

Everything was fine until I tried to find Reverse. The pattern was drawn on the shift knob, so it should have been easy.

But the shifter didn't seem to go to the far left. I could feel fifth, third and first.

I looked for a button. Nothing.

I tried pushing down and putting it all the way to left. I eased the car ... forward. Whoops! Stop!

Finally, after careful examination, I felt a little ring on the top of the boot under the gearshift knob. Voila! And out I went.

Stalled out: After I spent some time driving the Cruze, I found it easy to stall. (Yes, I do drive sticks with regularity, folks.) Second gear won't catch at the lowest speeds, so that was one of my downfalls. The clutch felt like it had a mind of its own.

But I'm still going to say operator error on these counts.

How did the Cruze do otherwise? Check out the full review in this Wednesday's Inquirer and on the Cars page of