2012 Chevrolet Cruze Eco Sedan (1.4L 4-cyl. Turbo w/opt 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 5/15/2012
The Chevrolet Cruze is a solid performer, albeit a nicely styled one at that. It's comfortable, fairly quiet and handles well. The interior isn't as nice as some competitors, but the price is right. Just go easy with the throttle or your fuel mileage will suffer.
PerformanceThe Cruze Eco is certainly not intended as a performance machine, but because the regular Cruze is at the top of the compact segment, the Eco is competent as well. Acceleration is only about average, but handling is a strong suit.
Acceleration from the turbocharged four-cylinder is on the higher side of average at 9.2 seconds to 60 mph. The automatic transmission can be resistant to downshifting.
Despite its Eco-intended low-rolling-resistance tires, the Cruze still exhibited reasonable panic stopping distances, and the pedal has a firm, confidence-inspiring feel.
Good steering. Has a natural and responsive feel to it. Surprisingly sprightly turn-in for a car with less-than-spectacular tires.
Even with its mpg-intended tires, the Eco showed similar agility to the LTZ model. It's that final bit of grip that's missing, but a 66.4-mph slalom run is still respectable.
The Cruze's daily drivability is hurt by the engine's turbo lag and lack of power below 3,000 rpm, along with the aforementioned automatic's poor performance.
ComfortWithin its class, the Cruze ranks as one of the more comfortable cars, with the Ford Focus being the notable leader. The Cruze is quiet, has fairly plush seats and the little turbo-four is hardly thrashy.
Front seats are wide and supportive and offer plenty of comfort. Rear seat also is decent for the segment.
Despite its good handling, the Cruze is a relaxed and comfortable car in normal driving, soaking up rough road surfaces almost as well as the majority of full-size sedans.
The Cruze is exceptionally quiet for a compact car. It's clear GM paid considerable attention to sound-deadening materials. Minimal wind and road noise.
InteriorThe Cruze's interior is a significant step up from the Cobalt it replaced. There's still too many hard-touch surfaces, but it should be remembered this is an economy car--especially so the Eco version. In general, it's very livable.
The Cruze features knobs where there should be knobs (HVAC, stereo volume) and liberal usage of large, well-labeled buttons for everything else.
Ingress/egress is easy in the Cruze, especially the front seats (a little less so in the rear seat).
Drivers and passengers with wide shoulders will find little place to put their arms, as the door panels encroach into the seat space more than other cars in the class.
Rear outward vision is a problem in the Cruze, admittedly as it is in the majority of cars these days, what with wide B- and C-pillars restricting view and causing blind spots.
The Cruze has a decent-size trunk along with a 60/40-split rear seat that folds nearly flat. Door pockets, center console and cupholders are all on the small size.
ValueThe Cruze offers a lot of features for its price point, similar to the Hyundai Elantra, better than the Ford Focus. But the Focus and Elantra have higher-quality interiors. The Cruze's real-world mileage doesn't live up to its EPA rating.
Build Quality (vs. $)
We're giving the Cruze Eco high marks here. Not because its quality is so good (it's only fair), but because its price is so reasonable.
Bluetooth, USB and aux-in jacks, cruise control, satellite radio and floor mats all come standard at the Eco's $19,245 base price. But the automatic transmission costs $995.
The Cruze, whether Eco model or otherwise, offers quite a bit of stylish car for the money, with plenty of handy standard features.
The Cruze Eco is rated at 26 city/39 highway/31 mpg combined. We averaged 24.8 mpg in varied driving. The problem with turbos is that a heavy right foot hurts mileage greatly.
The Cruze's 3 years/36,000 miles basic warranty and 5 year/100,000 mile drivetrain coverage are about equal to the Ford Focus, but well below that of the rival Hyundai Elantra.
The Cruze has roadside assistance 5 years/100,000 miles. This is slightly better than the Ford Focus, which is only covered to 60,000 miles. The Cruze does not have free scheduled maintenance.
Fun To DriveIf you're not expecting much in terms of driving dynamics from your economy car, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the Cruze Eco. Between its turbo four-cylinder and lively handling manners, the car is, dare we say, a bit fun to drive.
Overall the Cruze, even the Eco version, is a pretty decent-driving machine for an economy compact. We especially like the sporty handling manners.
How much personality are you expecting here from a car with an automatic transmission? But, shocker, the auto blips the throttle on manual downshifts. Cool.