Consumer Reports evaluates Elantra, Cruze, tC, and Jetta

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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Consumer Reports, the American consumer product magazine recently revealed comprehensive test reviews of four small cars which are all available for sale in Canada. The featured cars include the 2011 Hyundai Elantra, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, the 2011 Scion tC, and the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta. The Jetta, tC, and Elantra have all been redesigned in the last year or two, while the Cruze is an all-new entry to the small car segment, replacing the Cobalt.

Consumer Reports praised the Elantra for its nimbleness and ride comfort, as well as its responsive steering and emergency handling. The Elantra was also rated high for its interior design and overall build quality. According to Consumer Reports, the Elantra's six-speed automatic transmission is responsive and operates smoothly. The little Hyundai received a Very Good rating of its braking performance and Consumer Reports expects the Elantra's reliability to be above average. In fact, the Hyundai Elantra is the only vehicle of the four-car test group to earn a Recommendation rating from the highly respected magazine. Apparently, the Cruze, Jetta, and tC did not score high enough to earn the same accolade.

Chevrolet's Cruze was lauded for its ride quality and good handling as well as its smooth six-speed automatic transmission. Criticism was found with the car's above average curb weight, which was said to hinder fuel economy and acceleration. The Cruze also received a braking performance rating of Very Good. Consumer Reports went on to say that the Cruze's interior was above average, but cramped rear seating was another cause for criticism.

Scion's tC also ranked highly for its handling performance as well as its acceleration and fuel economy. However, the Scion met criticism for a noisy interior, limited rear visibility and disappointing ride quality. Like the Hyundai and the Chevrolet, the Scion also has a six-speed transmission, but it's a manual instead of an automatic. Consumer Reports were pleased with its precise action and effortless feel. A six-speed automatic is optional.

Last of the test, literally, is the new Volkswagen Jetta. Consumer Reports claims that the handling and cornering ability of the new Jetta are disappointing. The same was said of the interior, and even the engine was criticized for its coarse sound. Consumer Reports also claims that the Jetta has long braking distances. There were a couple of bright spots though. Rear seat room is better than in the last generation, and the Jetta also has a large trunk. Senior Director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center, David Champion had the following to say of the new Volkswagen Jetta, "In an effort to bring the car's starting price down, VW cheapened the previous Jetta's interior and suspension, making it less sophisticated and compromising handling."

While new car buyers can benefit from the efforts of Consumer Reports and indeed all vehicle review outlets, buyers would be well advised to test drive cars for themselves in order to acquire their own opinions.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Sports Coupe, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Scion, Volkswagen, VW, 2011, Elantra, Jetta, Cruze, tC, $10,000 - $19,999, $20,000 - $29,999, Consumer Reports,

Organizations: Consumer Reports, Hyundai, Volkswagen

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