2018 Chevrolet Cruze Review

author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The Cruze is a popular sedan for Chevrolet, and the company is doing its best to keep it competitive against some equally popular rivals. Just last year, Chevy introduced the Cruze hatchback, which offers more cargo-carrying versatility than the sedan and a new diesel-powered engine that can get more than 50 mpg on the highway. This year, you can combine both as Chevrolet is introducing a Cruze hatchback diesel.

This Cruze continues with core strengths, such as an appealing mix of technology and safety features, a premium-looking cabin, and a ride quality that is both sporty and comfortable. But there are some great small sedans and hatchbacks out right now. The Honda Civic, which was redesigned two years ago, is one of the best small cars on the market. The Hyundai Elantra and the Mazda 3 are also compelling alternatives if you want something with more sport or technology. Overall, we like the Cruze but suggest you also check out a few of these top rivals before purchasing.



We recommend

We're not fond of the standard 1.4-liter engine, but the diesel engine's significant price premium — at least when new — makes it hard to justify. As such, it's probably best to get the gas engine in the midrange LT trim. The LT has a decent mix of options yet remains competitively priced. Look for the optional Driver Confidence and Driver Convenience packages to get some extra safety and, yes, convenience features.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 Chevrolet Cruze is a compact sedan or hatchback. The sedan is available in L, LS, LT and Premier trim levels, while the hatch comes in LT and Premier only. Powering most Cruze trims is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine (153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque). The optional diesel engine is only available as the LT Diesel trim in either body type.

The L is only available to dealers through custom ordering. Standard equipment includes 15-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, remote locking and unlocking, air conditioning, a six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth connectivity, a four-speaker audio system with a USB port, OnStar (with 4G LTE connectivity and Wi-Fi hotspot), a rearview camera, and a MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch central touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone app integration. A six-speed manual is the only transmission available.

Much more common is the LS, which is similarly equipped but adds a front center armrest and carpeted floor mats. It can also be equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission and a range of dealer-installed options.

Our recommended trim, the LT, steps up to 16-inch alloy wheels, upgraded headlights with LED running lights, heated mirrors, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted phone and audio controls, a rear center armrest with cupholders, and a six-speaker audio system with satellite radio. Hatchback models also get a cargo cover and rear spoiler. A charge-only USB port is added to models equipped with the automatic transmission, while manual-equipped models have a front armrest with a sliding feature.

For the LT, the optional Convenience package adds keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver's seat and remote engine start (with the automatic transmission).

The LT Diesel is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder diesel (137 hp, 240 lb-ft) and adds the contents of the Convenience package minus remote start. The available Leather package adds a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery and a height-adjustable front passenger seat.

The Cruze Premier gets all of the above plus 17-inch wheels, an upgraded rear suspension, chrome exterior accents, ambient interior lighting and illuminated vanity mirrors.

Both the LT and the Premier offer an RS Appearance package (foglights, a rear spoiler, a sport body kit and 18-inch wheels for Premier models) and a Sun and Sound package that includes a sunroof, a color driver information center, ambient interior lighting, a larger 8-inch center touchscreen display and a nine-speaker Bose audio system. A navigation system is also available for this package on the Premier.

The LT and the Premier are also eligible for the Driver Confidence package, which consists of rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The Driver Confidence II package, offered only on the Premier, adds automatic high-beam headlight control, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning and intervention.

The Driver Confidence, Sun and Sound package, offered only on the LT Diesel with the automatic transmission, combines the contents of the Sun and Sound package with the Driver Confidence package. The Premier-exclusive Enhanced Convenience package throws in an auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic climate control, heated rear outboard seats, wireless personal device charging and a 110-volt, household-style power outlet.



Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.5 / 10

Driving

8.0 / 10

Acceleration6.5 / 10
Braking9.5 / 10
Steering8.5 / 10
Handling8.5 / 10
Drivability7.5 / 10

Comfort

7.5 / 10

Seat comfort6.5 / 10
Ride comfort8.0 / 10
Noise & vibration7.5 / 10
Climate control7.0 / 10

Interior

8.0 / 10

Ease of use7.5 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.5 / 10
Driving position8.5 / 10
Roominess8.0 / 10
Visibility8.5 / 10
Quality7.5 / 10

Utility

8.0 / 10

Small-item storage8.0 / 10
Cargo space8.0 / 10

Technology

8.0 / 10

Audio & navigation9.0 / 10
Smartphone integration9.0 / 10
Driver aids8.0 / 10
Voice control7.0 / 10

Driving8.0

With 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, the Cruze's turbocharged 1.4-liter engine should be competitive. But the power doesn't come on strong until high in the rev range, which blunts acceleration. Everything else, from the strong brakes to the adept chassis, is very well-sorted.

Acceleration6.5

Acceleration feels sluggish from rest; the dash from zero to 60 mph took 9.6 seconds at the track. But it responds reasonably well when moving — such as passing maneuvers on the highway — because you don't have to floor the gas pedal to trigger a downshift.

Braking9.5

The Cruze has a nice, firm brake pedal feel, and the brakes apply as soon as you press the pedal. They aren't touchy, just responsive. The Cruze needed only 110 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph, a very short distance for a compact sedan.

Steering8.5

The steering effort is fairly light, a typical characteristic in this class. The car feels sporty thanks to its quick reactions to steering inputs and the amount of feedback transmitted through the steering wheel.

Handling8.5

The Cruze feels balanced and coordinated. The optional 18-inch tires provide good grip, so you can take turns reasonably quickly before the tires begin to slip and howl. Driver confidence is further enhanced by a surprisingly low amount of body roll.

Drivability7.5

The Cruze doesn't immediately jump to the highest gear when pulling away from a stop, and it is smart enough to hold on to lower gears on uphill climbs. While mostly unintrusive, the automatic engine stop-start feature cannot be disabled.

Comfort7.5

Given the relative lack of seat adjustments and the forward-angled headrest, it might take some fiddling to feel truly comfortable behind the wheel. The ride is pleasant, even with our tester's 18-inch wheels (the largest the Cruze offers). Mandatory engine stop-start is far from seamless.

Seat comfort6.5

The front seats allow plenty of travel for tall drivers, while wider occupants might feel somewhat confined by the narrow seatbacks. There's no lumbar adjustment, the seat belt is not height-adjustable, and the headrests feel as if they are angled too far forward.

Ride comfort8.0

The Cruze expertly soaks up bumps and imperfections. Road feel is more pronounced with the RS package's 18-inch wheels, but the ride is rarely choppy or harsh. If you prize comfort over sportiness, lower trims, or even the standard Premier, are more compliant.

Noise & vibration7.5

At highway speeds, wind and engine noise is kept to a minimum, while road noise is present but not overwhelming. You'll feel a mild shock through the cabin when the Cruze's stop-start feature turns the engine off and on.

Climate control7.0

The Premier's automatic single-zone climate control works well to keep the interior at a comfortable temperature. In heavy traffic, the stop-start system frequently turns the engine off and reduces fan speed, causing cabin temperatures to rise while stationary.

Interior8.0

The Cruze might be classified as a compact car, but few will find the cabin confining. There's plenty of shoulder room for all outboard passengers. The raised center tunnel limits the usefulness of the narrow middle seat. The controls and gauges are mostly easy to get along with.

Ease of use7.5

We like the Cruze's clear gauges and intuitive steering-mounted controls. Most of the switches and knobs on the center stack are within the driver's reach; only the temperature knob requires a stretch to reach and turn. Manual gear-selector buttons are awkwardly located on top of the shifter.

Getting in/getting out7.5

The Cruze's wide door openings, high roof and minimal seat bolstering make it extremely easy to get into and out of the front seats. The slope of the roof makes back-row access a bit more difficult.

Driving position8.5

The steering wheel and driver's seat both have a good range of motion, so most people will be able to find an agreeable seating position. The front of the seat bottom doesn't raise up as much as we'd like, but this is common for this class.

Roominess8.0

The cabin has enough legroom to seat four 6-foot-tall people with few complaints. And the cabin is wide enough that occupants won't rub elbows. But, even with headliner cutouts, the sloping roof could compel tall rear passengers to slouch.

Visibility8.5

There's good forward and side visibility thanks to a low hood, tall windows and relatively narrow rear pillars. The high-mounted shelf reduces rearward visibility, but a standard backup camera and optional parking sensors and cross-traffic alert make this a non-issue.

Quality7.5

With a glossy black trim center console, faux leather surfaces on the dash and contrast-color stitching throughout, the Cruze's cabin looks and feels premium. Excessive chrome trim can be blinding in bright sunlight, and our tester's squeaky brake pedal was irksome.

Utility8.0

Like many compact sedans, the Cruze has a sizable cargo area with a flat load floor and little intrusion from the wheelwells. The 60/40-split rear seats fold down should you need extra space. Inside, there are numerous cubbies for you and your friends to store various small items.

Small-item storage8.0

Storage cubbies in each door can hold a water bottle and a few small items. There are two regular cupholders in the front row and two more in the fold-down rear armrest. The optional wireless charging slot eats up a significant amount of front console storage.

Cargo space8.0

The generous trunklid opens to reveal a deep well that feels big. But the volume shrinks from 14.9 cubic feet to a more typical 13.8 cubic feet (less than a Civic, more than a Mazda 3) if you buy an LT or a Premier because they come with a spare tire that takes up cargo space.

Child safety seat accommodation8.5

Each of the outboard rear seats has a pair of LATCH anchors hidden under clearly marked covers that are easily pushed aside. The three upper anchors are located on top of the rear shelf and are similarly accessible.

Technology8.0

Other than the subpar performance of its voice recognition software, the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system is one of the best in the business. The interface is attractive, uncluttered and, most important, easy to learn and operate. Standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is a major plus.

Audio & navigation9.0

Chevrolet's MyLink system is exceptionally easy to use. Drivers can program presets with destinations for the navigation system or channels from any radio band. It seems quicker to react to user inputs than earlier versions of MyLink.

Smartphone integration9.0

Pairing a phone to the Bluetooth system is simple and quick. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality are included on every Cruze, as are an auxiliary input and a USB port. Our tester's Enhanced Convenience package also adds wireless smartphone charging.

Driver aids8.0

Standard and optional safety features are in line with the rest of the class, which is a testament to how much tech is available in this segment. The Premier-only Driver Confidence II package adds lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring.

Voice control7.0

The MyLink system is good at recognizing names in your phonebook, but attempting to navigate to an address is an exercise in frustration. Press and hold the voice button longer, however, and you can do it via Siri or Google Voice on your paired smartphone.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.