Already winning over customer's hearts in Europe and Asia, Chevy unveiled the official U.S-spec version of its new "global-design" Cruze sedan at the 2009 LA Auto Show. At first blush, this stylish five-passenger four-door appears ready, willing and able to make good on its promise to shake up the compact segment here, as well. On sale in third quarter of next year, the content-rich 2011 Cruze boasts a host of surprise-and-delight features. In addition to more interior room and cargo space than either a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, it's also projected to top its key competitors in the EPA mileage derby. Available in LS, LT1/LT2 and sporty LTZ trim levels, the front-drive Cruze will be fitted with a new family of high-efficiency Ecotec four-cylinder engines that drink regular gas and incorporate full variable valve timing. The LS gets a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter that makes 136 horsepower and 123 lb.-ft. of torque but all other versions will have a 1.4-liter turbocharged four rated at 138 horses and 148 lb.-ft. of twist. Both can be paired with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Chevy is planning at least one "XFE-type" mileage-maxing variant that will be capable of a 40-mpg highway rating.

VIDEO: 2011 Chevy Cruze First Look
VIDEO: 2011 Chevy Cruze Walkaround

To enhance overall driving dynamics, the Cruze teams its front-strut/rear-torsion beam suspension with standard Stabiltrak stability/traction control plus rollover sensing, efficiency-enhancing electric power steering and anti-lock brakes paired with 16-inch, 17-inch or optional 18-inch wheels. As for passenger pampering, its smartly designed and impressively finished cabin complements a bounty of soft-touch surfaces with unprecedented levels of sound-deadening materials and other noise-reduction technologies. The lengthy roster of Cruze standards includes everything from LED-lit analog gauges, a driver info center and a six-speaker audio system with MP3 playback to OnStar and a class-leading 10 airbags. Highlighting the options menu are premium touches like leather upholstery, a navigation package, upgraded Pioneer audio system, XM Satellite Radio, USB/iPod ports and Bluetooth connectivity. No final word on pricing, but a $16,000-$18,000 window seems a likely starting point for a vehicle that's one day destined to replace the aging Cobalt in Chevy's U.S. lineup.

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