Up until six years ago, when Chevrolet brought out the Cruze, the company's entries in the compact car class were undeserving of high honors. More refined entries from Asia easily surpassed the Cobalt, which was the Cruze's precursor. And the Cobalt's predecessor, the Cavalier, should have been made to sit in the corner of the showroom with a dunce cap on.
The first iteration of the Cruze earned much better grades than Chevy's previous compacts and made Chevrolet competitive in the segment. The Cruze was completely redesigned last year, and this latest version is yet another giant step up, boasting handsomely chiseled styling, solid driving dynamics, a much nicer interior, and the latest and greatest in technology. Let's just say that if you checked out a 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt and a 2017 Chevrolet Cruze back to back, you'd swear they were 20 years apart and made by two very different car companies.
It's certainly up to date: Every 2017 Chevrolet Cruze comes with a touchscreen audio system, a rearview camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot. The Cruze also offers top-notch safety features, such as blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning. Other commendations for the Cruze include a roomy backseat and a suspension that provides both a supple ride over bumps and responsive, even entertaining, handling in curves.
New this year is a hatchback body style, which provides added cargo-carrying versatility with an even smaller footprint than the Cruze sedan. If you are considering a Cruze sedan, you have four trim levels to choose from, ranging from L to Premier. Even the base L comes with the electronic conveniences already mentioned, as well as a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and automatic headlights. The Premier comes loaded, with leather seating and even a heated steering wheel among its standard features. In between sit the LS and LT. The hatchback comes only in the upper two trim levels.
Our quibbles are few and minor. You can only get one engine in the Cruze: a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder. It can be matched to a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. The EPA fuel economy figures are respectable: You?ll get 31 mpg combined (28 city/37 highway) for both a Premier hatchback with the automatic and non-Premier hatchback with the manual. The EPA says you can expect 34 mpg combined (30 city/40 highway) for a non-Premier sedan with the automatic.
However, the Cruze's performance is somewhat lackluster when compared with rivals in all-out acceleration tests. That said, it is perfectly acceptable in the real world as it furnishes ample passing and merging power, thanks to the turbo's torque and a responsive automatic transmission that quickly downshifts when needed. Oddly, cruise control can only be had on the upper two of the four available sedan trim levels.
All things considered, the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze stands as a worthy choice in a class of high achievers. Edmunds can help you find the Cruze that's just right for you.