A new model in 2011, the Chevrolet Cruze comes into 2012 with better mileage (25 city and 36 highway) and more standard features at lower trim levels. This is definitely an affordable small car with pocketbook appeal, opening at $16,720 and climbing to $23,110. Highly popular from its introduction, the Cruze is comfortably placed in the top quarter of its class, and should sell well this year.
Given the ongoing recession and continued fluctuations in gasoline prices, little cars are more popular than they’ve been in years and there are many appealing choices to be had. Comparison shoppers should look at the Hyundai Elantra, which opens at $16,500. With a roomier interior and mileage of 29/40, the Elantra is a definite contender for consumer dollars.
Younger drivers will be drawn to the Mazda3, which is just plain fun to drive. Opening at $16,000, it returns better performance than the Elantra or the Cruze, but comes up short in terms of fuel economy. With the base 2.0-liter four cylinder paired to an automatic expect 24/33. Opt for the 2.5-liter with an automatic and you’re just going to get 22/29. When everything is evened out, many people will find the Cruze to be the better mix.
The Cruze is available in the LS, 1LT, 2LT, LTZ, and Eco trims. There are two engine options, a 1.8-liter inline four cylinder on the base and a 1.4-liter turbo charged version on the 1LT trim and above. Paired with a six-speed automatic, the engines return a pleasing amount of acceleration but can lag a bit when passing (and reviewers have found both engines to be unpleasantly loud). Expect to make zero to 60 in about nine seconds. The brakes are strong and support the Cruze’s accurate steering for controlled stops and minimal body lean going into turns.
As for the body itself? Well, think conservative. This isn’t a little sports car and it certainly doesn’t look like one. The Cruze is, however, solid and well built. Once you’re inside, however, spacious quality takes over where the sedate exterior left off. Chevrolet paid attention to detail and achieved superior noise control. There’s 95 cubic feet of passenger volume, which beats the Ford Focus at 93 and the Toyota Corolla at 92. While the seats get mixed reviews, they’re more than acceptable.
Standard features on the base include keyless entry, power windows an AM/FM deck with MP3 capability, Sirius, and a driver information center delivering data on fuel use, tire pressure, and oil levels. Moving up through the trims, you begin to pickup things like Bluetooth, a USB port, audio on the steering wheel, cruise control, keyless start, and touch screen navigation.
Although the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze has not been tested by the federal government or the insurance industry, the 2011 model was a top performer and little has changed. In fact, most reviewers are in agreement that the Cruze raises the bar on standard safety in the affordable small car class.
The 2010 Chevrolet Cruze is an excellent choice in a small, high-performance, fuel efficient car. With a good range of trim and option choices, a truly spacious cabin, and a high safety profile, this little sedan will be a reliable day-to-day performer with just enough zip to make weekend driving fun. A definite “must test drive” and highly recommended as a final buying choice.