2012 Chevrolet Cruze Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Chevrolet Cruze Sedan

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Chevrolet Cruze Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 138 hp @ 4900 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 26/38 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze

  • B Edmunds Rating
  • Put the preconceived notions to bed, because Chevrolet finally has a quality small car in the form of the 2012 Cruze.

  • Safety | Rating Details
  • Pros

    Upscale interior design; lively yet efficient turbocharged engine; Eco model's high fuel economy; secure handling; top safety scores; big trunk.

  • Cons

    Mediocre seating comfort; six-speed automatic's sleepy responses.

  • What's New for 2012

    There are no major changes for the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze.

Full 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Review

What's New for 2012

There are no major changes for the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze.

Introduction

Researching a small car on Edmunds.com to find a top pick used to be pretty straightforward. Chances are we'd point you to a Honda Civic, a Mazda 3 or, if you really wanted to fly your freak flag, a Subaru Impreza. But now things are different. There's been a regime change for small cars, and one of the rebel leaders is the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze.

The Cruze debuted last year as an all-new model and has gone on to be both a sales and critical success. The reasons are multifold, but the bottom line is that the Cruze is simply a quality car. It looks sharp inside and out. Attention to detail is apparent the first time you close the door and notice it shuts with a solid "thunk." The feature content is up to date with options such as hard-drive-based navigation and keyless ignition/entry. Chevy's come a long way since the Cobalt.

On the move, the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze impresses with capable handling and a quiet cabin. Under the hood you have a choice of two engines. Base LS models have a 136-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder, but most Cruzes actually come with a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine. Horsepower is about the same from this smaller engine (138 hp), but torque rises significantly to give the Cruze a boost in around-town acceleration. The turbo also sees duty in the Cruze Eco variant. Thanks to various tweaks, the Eco achieves an impressive 42 mpg highway EPA rating.

That said, looking at other models is still a wise idea. The redesigned Ford Focus is similarly impressive and holds advantages in handling and technology features. The stylish Hyundai Elantra is equally well rounded and arguably a better value. And even though they're not the dominant choices they once were, the Honda Civic and Mazda 3 are still great cars. But the fact remains that the small car segment has changed, and the Chevy Cruze is a top contender.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze is a small sedan that comes in four main trim levels: LS, Eco, LT and LTZ.

The LS includes 16-inch steel wheels, OnStar, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, air-conditioning, a six-way (manual) adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split rear seat, a trip computer, full power accessories and a six-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. A Connectivity package adds Bluetooth, a USB port and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.

The Eco is equipped similarly to the LS but is optimized for maximum fuel efficiency with aerodynamic improvements, lightweight alloy wheels, low-rolling-resistance tires, a smaller fuel tank and a few minor feature deletions to further reduce weight.

The LT actually comprises 1LT and 2LT subsets. The 1LT comes with a turbocharged engine, cruise control, color-keyed power outside mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and the contents of the Connectivity package.

The 2LT differentiates itself with 16-inch alloy wheels, remote vehicle start, cruise control, a sport-tuned suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a six-way power driver seat. The Cruze LTZ adds 18-inch alloy wheels, rear park assist, keyless ignition and entry, automatic climate control, premium interior trim and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Many of the standard features found in the upper trim levels also can be had on lower trims as options. A hard-drive-based navigation system, a Pioneer nine-speaker premium sound system, a sunroof and an RS appearance package (unique front/rear fascias, foglights, rear spoiler) are all available on the upper trims.

Powertrains and Performance

The Cruze LS is powered by a 1.8-liter inline-4 that makes 136 hp and 123 pound-feet of torque. The Eco, LT and LTZ are fitted with a turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-4 that generates 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. On the LS, LT and Eco, power flows to the front wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is optional on those trims and standard for the LTZ.

In Edmunds testing, the turbocharged Cruze accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, which is an average time for this class.

EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined for the Cruze LS with the manual transmission and 22/35/27 mpg with the automatic. The turbocharged engine (LT and LTZ) with either transmission receives 26/38/30 mpg estimates.

The fuel-economy-focused Cruze Eco earns a laudable 28 mpg city/42 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined with the manual transmission and 26/39/31 with the automatic.

Safety

All 2012 Chevrolet Cruze models come with stability control, antilock brakes, full-length side curtain airbags, front knee airbags and front and rear side impact airbags as standard. All trims except the 2LT and LTZ have a front-disc/rear-drum brake setup; those models are upgraded to four-wheel disc brakes.

In government crash testing, the Cruze earned a top five-star rating for overall safety performance, with five stars in both frontal and side-impact categories. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Cruze received a top score of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact testing.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Cruze LTZ stopped from 60 mph in 122 feet, a good distance for this class of car. Even with its fuel-economy-friendly tires, the Cruze Eco stopped in just about the same distance.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Cruze's "twin cockpit" interior design and two-tone color schemes deliver an upscale ambience. There are a lot of hard plastic surfaces and we'd like more armrest padding, but the application of cloth or leather-look trim to the dash and doors improves both the look and feel. The layout of the Cruze's audio controls is a little too convoluted, but the climate controls couldn't be simpler, and the revised navigation system for 2012 is a big improvement in terms of functionality.

The Cruze's front seats are a bit narrow, which might be an issue for some drivers, but they offer plenty of adjustment and are both supportive and comfortable. A low cushion for the backseat diminishes comfort for longer-limbed riders, whose thighs will have minimal support. Actual legroom is only average for the segment; you'll find more space in the Civic and Volkswagen Jetta. Considerably above average, however, is the Cruze's large trunk, which measures an impressive 15.4 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

The most surprising characteristic of the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze is its combination of genuinely athletic handling with a comfortable, controlled ride quality. The Cruze's chassis isn't particularly sophisticated as far as economy cars go, but its design ensures secure handling and a compliant -- but not mushy -- ride. The standard suspension rides as well and as quietly as just about any compact car, while the sport suspension on the 2LT and LTZ is firmer, though without harshness.

Most drivers should be satisfied with either of the Cruze's engines. The upscale turbocharged engine is pretty average in terms of outright acceleration, but it's peppier around town thanks to its increased torque. The main issue, however, is the automatic transmission. Programmed for maximum fuel economy, it's reluctant to downshift for quick acceleration and passing unless you really boot the throttle.

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What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

45k update for manual eco

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Eco 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

My overall mileage is 37.5 MPG (computer) for 45,000 miles which is about 35 MPG actual. Not a single issue; just routine maintenance. On one leg of a 1500 mile trip last summer the DIC showed 52.4 MPG driving 5 MPH over Virginia's 55 MPH and 65 MPH limits with the A/C on. I added the Trifecta tune which adds 30% HP and 40% torque and, combined with the nimble handling, makes this car a lot of fun to drive. Overall, I highly recommend the Cruze Eco manual. Two of my BMW driving friends were very complimentary after a test drive. One wanted to trade his 5 series for it and the other, a 3 series driver looking for a sporty & fuel efficient American four door, is making this his next car.



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Safe, reliable, efficient

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Vehicle: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Eco 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

My '12 Cruze Eco is sneaking up on 30,000 miles, and I have no complaints. To date, I've driven it all over the South and Midwest; over its lifetime, it is averaging 33.4 MPG, and that's with a LOT of city driving. With one exception, I haven't had it in the shop once for service other than routine and recall work. That one exception was no fault of the car - an adult buck whitetail deer ran out in front of me while I was going 70 MPH, and even then, the car excelled - there was no frame damage, I was completely unhurt, and though it cost my insurance company a good chunk of change, the car was repairable to factory spec.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Loved my cruze until now!

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Vehicle: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze LT Fleet 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

Traded my piece of crap dodge avenger in for another piece of crap. thought maybe getting a chevy would give me a better piece of mind. Got my cruze used with 32k miles and ive had it for 7 months now. The gas mileage is a complete joke! Ive never gotten over 35MPG even driving highway! Lately it lags shifting gears and take a few minutes to actually do so and it has also had alot of idling problem! chugging while sitting at red lights and drive-thrus. each dealership i go to tells me there is nothing they can do about it, but ive seen so many people with the same problems! please save your time, energy, and money




Scared for my life at

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

bought my car March 2012, been having hard shifting problems and just last month the transmission module failed completely and had to be replaced (9,500 miles). I was sitting in the car on idle and it felt like a brick was dropped into my engine with a thud, engine light came on and trying to drive it to the side was like driving a golf cart. Still having hard shifting problems, got it back from the dealership yesterday and apparently the hard shifting is a "feature" of the car, I don't even feel safe driving this car anymore because I'm scared of getting rear ended when the car hard shifts on the freeway and pulls so hard back that if there was somebody tailing me they would crash into me.



7 of 16 people found this review helpful

2 years 44.5k mile review

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Vehicle: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

My vehicle is a black fully loaded ltz rs with nav. The paint has a bit of eggshell reflection so it is not the highest quality but it still looks nice and has minimal chips considering the ammount of highway driving that I do. My front seat used to make noise. Dealer tightened the bolts and replaced a clip. No squeaks or rattles after that. No mechanical problems in nearly 45k miles with only basic maintenance done on the vehicle. Ride quality is smooth and predictable. Acceleration is good enough to get on the highway with no problems and pass slow vehicles. When not stomping on the gas and driving normally the mpg is in the upper 30s to low 40s unless going up hill.



2 of 30 people found this review helpful

Gm makes horrible vehicles

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Eco 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

Horrible vehicle. I have had nothing but problems. Car revives up and has problem shifting in automatic. I was able to move to manual one time and noticed that going 35 miles an hour the computer had me in 5th gear when I was in automatic. I almost rear ended a semi because the car lunged forward. Sometimes anti freeze smell leaves the engine and comes into the cabin of the car; I have three small children and it's either smell the anti freeze or freeze in the winter. I have had the car overheat on me and have to shut it off for no reason at all; fluids were all at normal levels. I have had the breaks decide to not work on me and ended up in a middle of an intersection and three months later



Talk About The 2012 Cruze

Read more about the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze

Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 26
  • cty
/
  • 38
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
Reliability

Identifix Reliability Ratings

Rating unavailable for this vehicle

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