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Is Tim "More Power" Allen the Right Spokesman for Fuel-Sipping Chevy Cruze?

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After a year of flailing around and firing ad agencies in search of a new marketing approach for Chevrolet, General Motors has tapped comedian-turned-voice-actor Tim Allen as the voice of the brand, starting with a series of TV spots for the 2011 Cruze compact sedan.

It’s an odd choice, given that Allen’s last starring role in the automotive field was a public service announcement on the dangers of drunken driving, part of his court-ordered community service from a 1997 DUI arrest. This came after police in a suburb of his native Detroit had clocked his Ferrari at 70 mph in a 40 mph zone.

Which brings us to another incongruity: Allen, who played a power-tool-obsessed TV host on ‘90s sitcom "Home Improvement," has long cultivated a muscle-car-guy image that seems at odds with a car whose 40 mpg Eco package is expected to be its best seller. It's hard to imagine a guy whose extensive car collection includes a Chevy Impala with a Corvette engine getting excited to drive a compact that tops out at 138 horsepower.

Then again, maybe these complications make Allen a perfect fit for the beleaguered Detroit automaker. Just as Allen moved beyond legal and substance-related problems to star in the massively successful “Toy Story” franchise, GM hopes to make Americans forget about crazy decisions in its past by building cars of all sizes that can actually compete with Toyota and Honda’s offerings. The Cruze may not pack “aughh-aughh-aughhh!”-inspiring power, but perhaps in a newly prudent era, drivers will see excess horses as little more than a temptation to blow by the speed limit. An older, wiser Tim the Tool Man, his lusty grunts of “more power!” replaced by murmuring approval of quiet, comfortable interiors, just might be the voice GM needs now.

First Cruze commercial:
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.