2018 Chevrolet Cruze

2018 Chevrolet Cruze Sedan Review

The Cruze's appeal comes from its sporty demeanor and easy-to-use infotainment system.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Calvin Kim
Edmunds Editor

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 — Chevrolet is offering a Cruze hatchback diesel for the first time.

Continuing on are some of the Cruze's 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. At the same time, though, 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 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 making a final decision.



what's new

For 2018, the Chevrolet Cruze's optional diesel engine is offered on the hatchback as well as the sedan. Otherwise, the Cruze is unchanged.

we recommend

We're not fond of the standard 1.4-liter engine, but the significant price premium for the diesel engine (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. The diesel engine is only available as the LT Diesel trim in either body type. Powering most Cruze trims is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine (153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque).

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 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 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 everything above plus 17-inch wheels, an upgraded rear suspension, chrome exterior accents, ambient interior lighting and illuminated vanity mirrors.

Both the LT and 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 additionally available for this package on the Premier.

The LT and 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.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our First Drive of the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Premier Hatchback (turbo 1.4L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD)

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

3.5 / 5.0

Acceleration3.0 / 5.0
Braking4.5 / 5.0
Steering4.5 / 5.0
Handling4.5 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

3.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.5 / 5.0
Climate control3.0 / 5.0

Interior

4.0 / 5.0

Ease of use3.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.5 / 5.0
Driving position4.5 / 5.0
Roominess4.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.5 / 5.0
Quality3.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.5 / 5.0

Small-item storage4.0 / 5.0
Cargo space3.0 / 5.0

Technology

4.5 / 5.0

Audio & navigation5.0 / 5.0
Smartphone integration5.0 / 5.0
Driver aids4.0 / 5.0
Voice control3.5 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
The Cruze's performance appeal will largely depend on your commute. Lackluster acceleration on the low end and a mandatory engine stop-start system make it less than ideal for city dwellers. But those who typically traverse twisty roads will be impressed by its excellent handling.

acceleration

edmunds rating
Acceleration from a stop is tepid. The Cruze's turbo engine is more responsive on the highway, making overtaking slower cars a cinch. A zero-to-60-mph sprint time of 8.1 seconds is a little slower than average in this class. Very hot weather can further sap performance.

braking

edmunds rating
The Cruze has a nice, firm brake pedal feel, and the brakes respond as soon as you press the pedal. But they aren't touchy; they're just responsive. The Cruze hatch required 114 feet to come to a complete stop from 60 mph in simulated panic-stop testing. This is average for a compact hatch.

steering

edmunds rating
Like most compact cars, the Cruze's steering effort is fairly light, building up gradually as speed increases. The Cruze feels sportier than others thanks to its quick reactions to steering inputs and a little more feedback transmitted through the steering wheel.

handling

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The optional 18-inch tires provide good grip, so you can take turns reasonably quickly before the tires begin to howl. Body roll seems to be slightly more prevalent here than in the sedan, but compared to the rest of the class, the Cruze is well sorted.

drivability

edmunds rating
The transmission is intent on making those EPA numbers, so expect engine rpm to stay low unless you really mash the pedal. Even when you press past the halfway point, the transmission shifts at a conservative 3,000 rpm. The automatic stop-start system (which can't be defeated) can be annoying.

comfort

edmunds rating
The ride is comfortable overall, but the seats are far from the best in class. On the climate front, the stop-start mechanism reduces fan speed when the engine turns off, and the leather seats in our Premier model got swampy during a multihour trip.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
The front seats allow plenty of travel for tall drivers, but wider occupants might feel somewhat confined by the narrow seatbacks. There's no lumbar adjustment and the seat belt is not height-adjustable. The padding in the back row is surprisingly firm and the upholstery is pulled taut. Not great.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
Even with the largest wheels, the Cruze soaks up broken pavement and minor imperfections. Road bumps or an undulating surface will cause the Cruze to heave, which can be unpleasant. If you prize comfort over sportiness, you can get a lower trim or opt out of the Premier's RS package.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
At highway speeds, wind and engine noise is kept to a minimum, while road noise is present but not overwhelming. There's no wind buffeting when a single window is cracked at speed. A mild shock through the cabin can be felt when the Cruze's stop-start feature turns the engine off and on.

climate control

edmunds rating
You'll only really feel the front seats' heating function on the highest setting, and the heated steering wheel barely warms. Crazy that you have to order the Premier trim with an additional package to get automatic climate control, and dual-zone isn't even offered.

interior

edmunds rating
The Cruze isn't as roomy as the cavernous Civic, but four adults should sit comfortably without feeling claustrophobic. The small cabin means most controls are within the driver's reach, including the large touchscreen. Drivers of varying heights will be able to find an ideal seating position.

ease of use

edmunds rating
The instrument panel gauges are clear and easy to understand. Most of the controls on the center stack are easily within the driver's reach with the exception of the temperature knob. Manual gear selector buttons are awkwardly located on top of the shifter.

getting in/getting out

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

driving position

edmunds rating
The steering wheel and driver seat both have a good range of motion, so most people will find an agreeable seating position. The wheel's thumb grips on the 3- and 9-o'clock positions are a smidge too high. The seat bottom doesn't tilt back as much as we'd like, but this is common for this class.

roominess

edmunds rating
There's plenty of legroom for tall occupants up front, but rear passengers will feel the pinch. That said, short rear armrests allow you to splay legs if necessary. There's enough width to the cabin to keeps occupants from rubbing elbows, and there's ample headroom above the outboard seats.

visibility

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There's good forward and side visibility thanks to a low hood, tall windows and relatively narrow roof pillars. Visibility over the shoulder is decent, too. The rear window isn't very tall or wide, but a standard rearview camera and optional parking sensors help.

quality

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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 sun, and our tester had developed creaks. Not great for a car with 2,000 miles on the odo.

utility

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The Cruze hatch's cargo area is 7 cubic feet larger than the sedan's, and total volume is class-competitive. The cargo area's tall liftover height is disappointing if you're trying to load heavy objects. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to store small items inside.

small-item storage

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

cargo space

edmunds rating
With the rear seats in place, cargo volume measures 22.7 cubic feet; fold down the seats and the volume increases to 47.2 cubes. These figures are average for the class, but the Cruze's tall cargo liftover height and sunken load floor will make it difficult to load and unload heavy objects.

child safety seat accomodation

edmunds rating
The outboard rear seats each have 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; you'll have to remove the cargo cover or open the hatch (which tilts the cover) to access them.

technology

edmunds rating
Other than the sometimes wonky 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 & navigation

edmunds rating
Chevrolet's MyLink system is exceptionally easy to use. It's quick to react to user inputs and presets can be programmed with destinations for the navigation system or channels from any radio band. Cycling through favorites using the steering wheel buttons can be cumbersome due to lag.

smartphone integration

edmunds rating
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 adds a slot that you drop your smartphone into for wireless charging.

driver aids

edmunds rating
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. Adaptive cruise is not offered.

voice control

edmunds rating
The MyLink system is good at recognizing names in your phonebook, but it has a hard time understanding street names. Press and hold the voice button for longer, however, and you can do it via Siri or Google Voice on your paired smartphone, which generally work better.

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.