The Chevy Cruze is one of the brightest global stars in the Chevrolet portfolio, a compact vehicle head and shoulders above the previous Cobalt and Cavalier models. Finally, GM has a winner on its hands, an affordable, stylish and fuel efficient five passenger sedan.
Selling a sedan alone doesn't cut it for most global markets, which explains why the Cruze is also sold in hatchback form. But, not in North America where hatchbacks are still anathema to many drivers, particularly older drivers who remember with an utter lack of fondness the bland models of the 1970s and 1980s.
Europe has the Cruze where it is currently available as a sedan and will soon have a hatchback to sell with it. That's because a whopping 65 percent of all compact cars sold in Europe are hatchbacks according to Automotive News.
The differences between European and American driver tastes can be traced back to the same era when both markets were selling hatchbacks. The European driver was able to enjoy the latest models sold by Opel, Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen and other brands. In the US, American drivers had to put up with Ford Pinto, AMC Pacer, Chevy Monza and a host of other awful cars. The cars were bad enough – the styles were simply deplorable, as if a pop up rear door was affixed to the rear of these cars.
Hatchbacks have made a quiet return to the US market since exiting in force more than two decades ago, but are generally sold as sport wagons today. They may theoretically be hatchbacks, but these cars have styling blend incorporating the look of a wagon with the versatility of a hatchback. The Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe is one such model, now discontinued, as it the Audi A3.
Though not immensely popular, these cars should show automakers that consumer tastes have evolved. But, only where designers have worked diligently to ensure that each model has a look offering few regrets to the buyer.
With rear seat up, most hatchbacks offer under 14 cubic feet of cargo room. That's about what you'll find in the average midsize sedan, a decent amount of space where drivers can store all of their stuff. Where hatchbacks truly shine is when the rear seat is folded flat, easily doubling and in some cases tripling the cargo area.
That versatility needs to be marketed to today's car buying consumer who may not realize how stylish and roomy today's hatchbacks truly are. Words has it that GM won't be selling the hatchback Cruze in the United States even as Ford experiments with its five-door Fiesta hatchback now on sell in North America.