- Comfortable, stylish interior with a roomy back seat.
- Available diesel is powerful and fuel-efficient.
- Many available tech and safety features.
- Slow acceleration from the 1.4-liter turbo engine.
- Base trim lacks cruise control, Bluetooth streaming audio.
- Not as agile or fun to drive as rivals.
Would We Buy One? Maybe.
Vehicle Type: Compact five-person sedan and hatchback.
Price Range: $17,850-$24,820, including destination but before options.
Powertrain: A 153-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine paired with six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel-drive is standard; a 137-horsepower diesel engine and automatic transmission are optional.
Overall Score: 7.1/10
Safety Features: 6/10
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2017 Chevy Cruze sedan a four-star overall crash rating. That's very good but not ideal. Competitors like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla received perfect five-star ratings. The Cruze also received a four-star rollover score.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did not complete the Chevrolet Cruze test, only giving it a few ratings. The two crashworthiness ratings given were both 'Good,' which is the organization's highest award for those tests. Meanwhile, the child seat anchors were not easy to use, and on that point, the Cruze got a 'Marginal.'
The Cruze comes with crucial safety features such as ten airbags, traction control, stability control, and a backup camera, but it lacks standard advanced driver technology. The LT trim level offers a Driver Confidence Package that includes parking sensors, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. The Premier trim makes available Driver Confidence Package II, which has all of the above, plus automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, forward emergency braking, a follow-distance indicator, and lane-keep assist.
The optional driver safety features available are comprehensive, but the 2017 Toyota Corolla comes with most of these items standard.
With one of the lowest starting MSRPs in the compact sedan segment, the Chevy Cruze is off to a good start as a value buy. Add to that good fuel economy and a reputation for reliability, and the Cruze shapes up to be a great choice.
Some rivals do have cases to make over the Chevy. The Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla have as-good-or-better expected reliability, plus they have improved depreciation rates thanks to their venerable nameplates. The Corolla also comes standard with many safety features only available optionally on more expensive trim levels of the Cruze, as well as LED headlights.
The Cruze offers a class-exclusive diesel engine with 240 pound-foot of torque and 37 mpg overall. This variant starts at $24,670 and is unique, fuel-efficient, and more fun to drive.
Tech Features: 7/10
The Chevy Cruze comes standard with a few tech features, like Bluetooth phone connectivity, an aux input, four speakers, and a WiFi wireless Internet hotspot. Air conditioning is also standard. The base Cruze L trim lacks an infotainment system or touchscreen, though, whereas rivals come with one standard.
Stepping up to the LS trim changes things, adding a seven-inch touch display, Bluetooth audio streaming, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The Chevrolet Cruze LT has six speakers and satellite radio, and the top-end Cruze Premier trim get heated seats and ambient lighting.
The technology inside the Cruze is intuitive and well-designed, with straightforward menus that allow for quick access. While the base trim lacks critical infotainment equipment, the upper trims have systems that rival any competitor, with easy-to-use features and standard smartphone apps.
The Chevy Cruze Sedan is an efficient compact car. It offers drivers manual or automatic transmissions, and the powertrain is smooth for everyday driving. The fuel economy is competitive for its class. It has a spacious interior and a large 14.8-cubic-foot trunk behind the rear seats. The lack of standard cruise control on the base trim dings its practicality argument a little. Still, upper trims have cruise control and offer driver safety features that provide additional peace of mind while on the road.
There is also a Chevrolet Cruze hatchback model. Cargo space is 22.7 cubic feet, which bests any compact sedan in the segment. Having all of that space in the back makes the Chevrolet Cruze a useful everyday driver, as comfortable managing the morning commute as it is with stops at the hardware store.
Styling & Design: 8/10
From its handsome front fascia to the long wheelbase, the Cruze nicely balances a functional design with an attractive body style. It has a tidy and modern exterior, with subtle styling cues reminiscent of the larger Chevy Malibu and Impala sedans. The sleek proportions give it the effect of being shorter and lower to the ground than it is, and sweeping body lines conceal excellent outward visibility.
Step into the interior, and it is clear the Cruze has one of the most upmarket interiors in its class. Cabin build quality feels about par with rivals, but the design is thoughtful and intuitive, while the styling is handsome. The two-tone color scheme is excellent, especially in the Premier and Diesel trims.
The Cruze has one of the roomiest interiors in its segment, despite having virtually the same exterior dimensions as some big-name competitors. The seats are very comfortable, though the bolsters are not very useful. The back row has excellent legroom.
Fit and finish are good for a new car, though rivals like the Honda Civic, Volkswagen Jetta, and Toyota Corolla seem to use heavier plastics in certain places. Many of the plastics used around the Cruze's cabin feel a bit lower-quality. But everything fits together well, and the Cruze feels refined and quiet at highway speeds. The interior feels as premium or better than that of a Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, and Kia Forte.
Driving Experience: 7/10
The 2017 Cruze has a smooth six-speed automatic transmission, but the base four-cylinder engine feels underpowered when going up hills or passing other cars. The available diesel is much more engaging to drive, with plenty of torque for any driving situation. The diesel is also available with a 6-speed manual transmission, making the Cruze more fun to drive.
The Cruze has a 38.7-foot turning diameter, which is larger than some rivals. It's not quite as maneuverable around the city and entering small parking spaces, but it's adequate. The steering feels secure, and the Cruze feels planted when cornering. Its low center of gravity and wide footprint help with handling.
It's one of the most comfortable cars in its class, with a spacious cabin and supportive front seats. The Cruze also has a warm and welcoming cabin with straightforward controls, making any drive more relaxing. The steering wheel is large and comfortable, and the available heated steering wheel is great for winter driving.
Fuel Efficiency: 9/10
The EPA estimates an overall fuel economy of 32 mpg with the manual transmission, which is on par with other cars in the segment. The hatchback should return 31 mpg. Meanwhile, the turbodiesel engine increases efficiency to 37 mpg combined. Considering that the Cruze has a 13.7-gallon fuel capacity, the diesel version may be able to squeak out 500 miles on a single tank.