Chevrolet last night said the GM-Daewoo designed, Ohio-built Cruze due in US dealerships this September will be priced from US$16,995 (GBP11,593; EUR13,884), including delivery to the dealer.

“Priced to compete in the compact-car segment, the Cruze offers more interior room, more miles per gallon in the Eco model, and more standard safety features than any of its competitors,” GM said. 

The Cruze has been around a while now and is sold in most markets as a Chevrolet, thought it’s a Holden in Australia, and is offered with a choice of 1.6-, 1.8- and two-litre petrol engines plus a two-litre diesel.

But, though the entry level US model will have the 1.8 petrol with a six-speed manual gearbox, the three higher trims will come with a new 1.4-litre, turbocharged ‘Ecotec’ engine, for which GM claims segment-leading 40mpg-plus fuel economy with a six-speed manual. A six-speed auto is optional.

Base LS models will have 10 air bags, electronic stability control with rollover sensing, traction control, anti-lock brakes, collapsible pedal system, power rear-door child safety locks, OnStar telmatics with a six-month subscription including turn-by-turn navigation, air conditioning, power windows, power door locks with remote keyless entry, driver information centre, and XM satellite radio with a three month trial subscription. The base price is about GBP1,000 less than the 1.6-litre entry model sold here in the UK.

The LT, from $18,895, adds the 1.4-litre Ecotec turbo and six-speed automatic transmission and16-inch wheels, and the Eco also starting at $18,895, has six-speed manual transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels with ultra low-rolling resistance tyres and and enhanced aerodynamic performance package.

The top LTZ, from $22,695, has six-speed automatic transmission, six-way power driver seat, leather seating surfaces, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, cruise control, Bluetooth phone connectivity, USB port with audio interface, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, and remote vehicle start, automatic climate control, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, ultrasonic rear-parking assist and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Major options include navigation system with 40-gigabyte hard drive, enabling pause-and-play radio, downloading of audio CDs, or transferring MP3 files from a USB memory device, Pioneer audio system, with nine speakers and 250-watt amplifier and an ‘RS appearance package’, including rocker moldings, unique front and rear fascias, front fog lamps, and rear spoiler.

The model line replaces the US-designed Cobalt. Cruze models for the US and Canada will be produced at the Lordstown, Ohio assembly complex where, in February, Chevrolet announced the addition of a third shift at Lordstown that will add 1,200 workers. Over US$350m has been invested to re-tool the plant and add new manufacturing equipment.

General Motors will also spend about $494m and create around 550 jobs in three US plants to make ‘next generation’ fuel efficient Ecotec engines, the automaker announced at simultaneous events in three states in February.

Though the Cruze’s 1.4-litre turbo will initially be imported from Europe, it will eventually be made in the US. It’s a key engine as, apart from introducing many Americans to European-style small engines with big engine output, thanks to the ‘blower’, it will also generate electricity in the upcoming Volt range extender hybrid.

Many drivers – domestic and visiting – will doubtless get their first introduction to the US Cruze at a rental lot, as the car takes over an entry-level role held by the Cobalt and its Cavalier predecessor.

“We believe the Cruze can redefine the expectations for compact-car owners and shoppers who are new to the segment,” said Jim Campbell, head of Chevrolet marketing. “For the price of a compact car, Cruze offers the styling, safety features, roominess, amenities, and refinement of a much more expensive car.

“Cruze is a truly global car that leverages Chevrolet’s  design and engineering capabilities. As a result we can offer customers more standard safety features, more miles per gallon, and more upscale features than our key competitors,” Campbell said.

“That formula made Cruze a hit overseas, with more than 200,000 customers choosing Cruze since it went on sale in 2009.”

GM highlighted the differences in entry-level model standard equipment between the Cruze LT and Honda Civic DX sedan, a key competitor. The Chevy includes items like air conditioning and power locks and mirrors which are options on the Honda.