Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 1.7L Diesel I4
Power:
131 HP / 221 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
0-60 Time:
10.2 Seconds
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,250 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
17.7 / 52.2 CU-FT
MPG:
36.2 as-tested
Sampling Chevy's New Overseas-Only Wonder Wagon



Since it came on the scene in 2009, General Motors' first truly global modern-day product, the Chevrolet Cruze, has become the company's best seller. Over 1.5 million deliveries – admittedly 46 percent to rental fleets, 12 percent to company car fleets and 42 percent as private purchases – have helped firmly establish the Cruze in people's minds worldwide.

And we've really liked our Cruze experiences so far. It won't necessarily win all the comparison battles going head-to-head with competitors (it did win one of ours – Ed), but it could well win the whole sales war, which is ultimately the best sign of a well-done mass-produced small car when it carries a Chevrolet Bowtie.

We've had drives aplenty in the original four-door sedan, and in 2011 we tooled around in the five-door hatch. Now it's the station wagon's chance to impress us. Besides the Cruze wagon's above-average load lugging credentials for everyday practicality, this li'l Chevy is important enough to warrant the simultaneous launch of a new range of turbo-diesel engines as well as the Euro-launch of the 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline four-cylinder we've had from the start. The packages we tested definitely take the Cruze's game up a notch or two.
2012 Chevrolet Cruze Wagon side view2012 Chevrolet Cruze Wagon front view2012 Chevrolet Cruze Wagon rear view

This is the most efficient Cruze powertrain yet, delivering an estimated average on the European cycle of 52.3 mpg.

And then came the announcements of mass recalls right after our recent drive. Ah, well, it's gotten to the point where automakers' quality control people are using voluntary recalls with near enthusiasm, doubtlessly in an effort to fend off ugly court cases and/or government fines later on. But, all in all, this is a good trend toward corporate responsibility. May those 413,418 Cruze sedans in North America have their engine shields fixed post-haste and get back on the road to happy motoring.

This time around, the majority of our time was spent with the all-new 1.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Ecotec diesel powerplant developed at GM of Europe's studios in Turin, Italy. The engine is built at the Tychy factory in Poland – the same plant that formerly built all Isuzu diesels before GM took it over. Taking the pleasant Euro-ness of this drive to the max, our tester's compact 131-horsepower 1.7-liter with 221 pound-feet of torque arrived attached to a likewise new and solid six-speed manual transmission. With the start-stop feature chiming in at seemingly every lit intersection, this is the most efficient Cruze powertrain yet, delivering an estimated average on the (routinely over-optimistic) European cycle of 52.3 miles per U.S. gallon. Driving our accelerated version of 'average,' though, we realized actual consumption of 36.2 mpg, a decidedly more ordinary figure. Acceleration to 60 miles per hour is just fine at 10.2 seconds.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze Wagon engine

If the Cruze were already doing well in Europe, this powertrain in a wagon bodystyle should help sales zoom off the charts. GM Europe anticipates that just over 25 percent of Cruze sales on The Continent will be wagons, and that around 90 percent of those vehicles will rely on diesel propulsion.

Room behind the passengers ranges from a minimum of 17.7 cubic feet to a full 52.2.

The finest aspects of the Chevrolet Cruze station wagon as tested, besides the new engine and shifter, are the sheer space for cargo and the upmarket comfort we noticed in this top LTZ trim. Room behind the passengers ranges from a minimum of 17.7 cubic feet with rear seats up and a load that stops sensibly at the windows. Drop all seatbacks and load it like a collegiate, however, and those cubed feet rise to a full 52.2.

Driving the 1.7 Cruze LTZ wagon is an altogether sober and sturdy experience. It is not particularly nimble, nor is it surprisingly uppity under hard acceleration. Forget about it, but also don't criticize this noble little wagon for these issues. We left the little green Eco light on almost the entire time and were determined to simply drive more or less like an owner who obeys laws and such. Taken in this context, it's easy to understand why the Cruze is a runaway success. Cruising at 85 miles per hour at a smooth and quiet 2,200 rpm is a right good feeling. And the livability factors are huge here. In this trim, the 3,250-pound wagon is lovingly built like a tank. At least thus far, its dependability record – recent self-induced precautionary recalls aside – has been very good, too.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze Wagon headlight2012 Chevrolet Cruze Wagon front seats2012 Chevrolet Cruze Wagon rear cargo area2012 Chevrolet Cruze Wagon rear cargo area

This configuration of the Cruze lineup is, for us, the best yet.

What we mainly noticed by switching from the strong diesel over to the equally strong little 1.4-liter turbocharged gas engine is its throttle response behavior, which is much cleaner and smoother, and with almost no turbo lag. Acceleration to 62 mph (100 kmh) with this little gas unit in the wagon is a commendable 9.5 seconds with the standard six-speed manual transmission.

As far as the energy-efficient electric power steering goes, there are no surprises here, either: it's soft to the hands but it's also precise heading down the road. GM of Europe reps are freely comparing this Cruze estate evolution to the sensation caused by the two-door, compact Nomad station wagon of 1955. Sadly, there is no V8 or six-cylinder available(!) and no evocative fins in the metal, but we get their point. This configuration of the Cruze lineup is, for us, the best yet, as it fills out the body and makes the front end's edginess feel more balanced with the design as a whole. The 17-inch wheels and tires that come with the LTZ trim don't hurt either.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze Wagon headlight2012 Chevrolet Cruze Wagon wheel2012 Chevrolet Cruze Wagon roof spoiler2012 Chevrolet Cruze Wagon taillights

The little Eco button governs just the Start & Stop deal, so it's not terribly sophisticated in the end.

We asked the engine guys on hand in Germany for this test what exactly happens when one switches on or off the Eco function. It felt as though more was going on than just the advertised Start & Stop deal. Well, we were wrong; the little Eco button governs just the Start & Stop deal, so it's not terribly sophisticated in the end. Having tested our fair share of diesel-powered cars and trucks with this technology aboard, the restart moment doesn't really bother us anymore like it used to. It used to feel slow, and in commuter stop-and-go traffic it could eat at us after a while, but either these implementations are getting slicker or we're getting duller. Maybe both.

Living inside the ample cabin of the Cruze wagon is a truly comfortable experience, and there's plenty of space for above-average-sized humans in front and back. Keeping with the tradition of the old Nomad, visibility for all aboard is terrific, though not quite so tour-bus expansive as on the Nomad, which didn't have to answer to the same crash regulations as today's Cruze.



By the time this model launches in Western Europe in September, LTZ wagons will not only come equipped with standard navigation and a backup camera, they will also be available with Chevrolet's MyLink integration system for smart phones and portable music players. We played with a demo version of this enhanced display and it's good, friendly tech that shouldn't actually jack the price by much. That price, could you get an LTZ trim Cruze wagon here, would most likely begin at around $25,000.

Stateside consumers will receive the larger 2.0-liter diesel that's already on sale in other markets.

So, the Cruze station wagon completes the lineup in this first generation of Chevy's successful compact – no convertible model is planned. GM has already confirmed that it will market the Cruze in the U.S. with a diesel in 2013, but it won't be this new 1.7-liter engine. Instead, Stateside consumers will receive the larger 2.0-liter diesel that's already on sale in other markets. Under the hood of Australia's Holden Cruze, the 2.0 generates 160 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, both numbers that compare favorably with its most natural rival, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI (140 hp/236 lb-ft).

Here's hoping that America's re-acquaintance with this diesel goes swimmingly enough that GM reconsiders bringing over this wagon, too. After all, not everyone who needs space and frugality wants to ride high in an Equinox.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 157 Comments
      Jon Acton
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here's to hoping Chevy will debut the wagon with the 2.0L diesel here in the US for 2013. It would be a nice competitor to the TDi Wagon.
      Kumar
      • 2 Years Ago
      Looks like a competent replacement for my '06 Subaru Outback. A diesel wagon would be a nice combo, not to mention the perfectly dog-sized back end. This is purely speculation, but a Cruze wagon probably wouldn't be cannibalizing anything else Chevy makes these days. If anything, it will pick up Subie and VW buyers and maybe a few sobbing Saabies like my brother.
        FuelToTheFire
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Kumar
        Diesel wagon?!?!?!?!?! Diesel- higher fuel costs, higher cost of vehicle. More pollution, higher tendency for the mileage to be way below what is on the vehicle sticker. Wagon-modern CUVs are just as efficient, whille being more spacious, more fashionable, better looking, safer, and more pracitcal, with an optional 3rd row. But who am I to tell you what to buy? Enjoy your mediocre car knowing you could have gotten a much better one.
          ilmhmtu
          • 2 Years Ago
          @FuelToTheFire
          Troll Alert
          jtav2002
          • 2 Years Ago
          @FuelToTheFire
          Not sure what gas CUV's you're driving to claim they're more efficient.
      mikemaj82
      • 2 Years Ago
      an american wagon? You had your shot with the Dodge Magnum, people. Remember how that went.
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mikemaj82
        SRT8 Magnum owner right here. Apparently, the Magnum did well, it was just killed off due to one Chrysler executive, who is no longer with the company.
          NightFlight
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          I don't remember the Magnum doing that well at all.
          Justin Campanale
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          When compared to the sedan, it didn't do too well. When compared to other wagons, it did quite well, pushing 30-40k units a year. No, that isn't a huge amount of wagons to sell, but there was still a market for that type of car, and it was idiotic to kill it.
        robert
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mikemaj82
        Then how come the Magnum and the Mazda 6 wagon command a higher price than their sedan counterparts? Hotrodders and custom car makers love them too!
        aatbloke1967
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mikemaj82
        The Magnum was indeed an American wagon - and a bloody good one at that. This isn't an American wagon; only the badge is.
      Rico
      • 2 Years Ago
      I had read somewhere (might have been here on Autoblog) that the forthcoming U.S.-spec Cruze diesel was planned to only be offered with an automatic. Is that still true? A diesel plus a 6-speed manual in this package would be a win for me, but I wouldn't go for it if it was automatic-only.
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rico
        Automatics still hold the majority of sales here, and certifying powertrains is expensive, so it wouldn't be a surprise.
      Justin
      • 2 Years Ago
      Way better looking than the bubbly roof sedan imo. Would make a nice family hauler.
      JohnM
      • 2 Years Ago
      Cant help but think this looks a lot like the last 9-3 Combi.
      T-Mille
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why do the Europeans get all the nice things?
      raymo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh, GM, why oh why do you not sell this car in the USA??? I would totally buy one of these, especially with the larger 2.0L turbodiesel and a 6-speed manual. Bring it, GM! Please!!
      Cool people
      • 2 Years Ago
      High volume winner Chevy ! All the indications show a return of "The wagon market." GM ,keep up build quality and price low so you can make this a success. Nice family hauler the only short coming is no 3rd row seating.
      FuelToTheFire
      • 2 Years Ago
      I seriously don't get all the hype over wagons. Crossovers look much better, they're trendy, they are more fashionable, they have more space, they get just as good mileage as wagons. Plus, you won't look like a radenck/soccer mom driving a crossover. They perform better than wagons in poor road conditions, and offer a 3rd row of seating. They offer increasedd visibility from the higher ride height. Plus, you feel more secure with the ride height, as if you're commanding the road. They also probably do better in crash testing. Not to mention that there is more incentive to make a CUV than a wagon-higher profit margins. There is absolutely no reason to buy a wagon and I simply don't get how so-called "car-enthuiasts" love them so much. Yes, they were great back in the 60's, but that was the 60's. They've had their day;CUVs in today's day and age are always the better choice. For $25k, this is a complete ripoff, especially since the Cruze really isn't a very good car in its class- it is overweight, it is overpriced, the interior quality is questionable, and it fails to meet its mileage estimates in road tests. If I wanted a mommy mobile at this price, I'd much rather have a CR-V, Escape, or Forster. If I really didn't want a CUV type vehicle, I'd get an Impreza XV and save some cash.
        S.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        STOP. FEEDING. THE. TROLL. Ignore it and it'll crawl back under it's bridge.
        jtav2002
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Trendy and fashionable? Get off an auto enthusiasts site and go buy some purses. How can enthusiasts like wagons, you ask? Please refer to the CTS-V wagon. If I could afford, that would be the only model I'd consider of the CTS-V. Besides, CR-V's are for women.
          FuelToTheFire
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jtav2002
          Okay,great-ONE wagon that isn't a complete bore-mobile. Do you want a cookie? Point is, almost all wagons out there are just as slow and bland as CUVs. The CRV is for women----and wagons aren't? WTF are you smoking?
          FuelToTheFire
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jtav2002
          Yes, I know about those wagons. What's so special about them? THEY ARE BORE-MOBILES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          LoneWolf
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jtav2002
          @FuelToTheFire: Learn a bit about automotive history and about Chevrolets, Mercedes, BMWs, Buicks, and then come back and say that the wagons they did produce (not all of them) were bore-mobiles...srsly...and this on a car blog.
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Stupid comment after stupid comment after stupid comment. First you claim that the next MX-5 needs to have 260 hp and AWD "in order for it to be a real sports car" Then you say on the FT86 article that since the FT86 has less than 250 hp it can't possibly ever be fun to dive and said that if Toyota took anything seriouly they would make it an Evo competitor. Now you're claiming that CUVs are better than wagons because "you feel more secure with the ride height, as if you're commanding the road" You seriously are one of the most annoying people on AB.
          FuelToTheFire
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          Funny, Justin, you're the one defending POS Hyundais on the Hyundai/Kia pages.
        ilmhmtu
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Troll Alert
        BLSully
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        "Crossovers look much better, they're trendy, they are more fashionable, they have more space, they get just as good mileage as wagons. Plus, you won't look like a radenck/soccer mom driving a crossover. They perform better than wagons in poor road conditions, and offer a 3rd row of seating. They offer increasedd visibility from the higher ride height. Plus, you feel more secure with the ride height, as if you're commanding the road. They also probably do better in crash testing. Not to mention that there is more incentive to make a CUV than a wagon-higher profit margins." That's a good one. Center of gravity and frontal area (drag) are both against the SUV/CUV compared to a wagon. The only thing that made sense in there was the better visibility from higher ride height. And before you get on my case for being anti-truck, my wife and I drive an SUV and a HD pickup as our dailies. That said, I'd still prefer a (theoretical) Jetta Wagon in GLI trim over the Cruze.
          FuelToTheFire
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BLSully
          You've never taken a physics class before, have you? When 2 cars are in a crash, the one with the highest center of gravity will ALWAYS win out. You can't defy physics. Think about it. If Yao Ming and a 5 year old were to run into each other, who do you think would be more hurt?
          Hazdaz
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BLSully
          @ FuelToTheFire "the one with the highest center of gravity will ALWAYS win out" What the F are you talking about?! Its one thing to state a personal opinion about something like styling... ok fine, if YOU like the look of crossovers better, then so be it. But to spout out nonsense about crash tests and physics like that is down right moronic. Do you even know what center of gravity even means, because I really don't think you really do.
        FuelToTheFire
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        *Forester* The lack of an edit button on this blog is just stupid.
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        "Plus, you won't look like a radenck/soccer mom driving a crossover." Where do you live? I am not sure about the radnecks, but exactly what demographic do you think buys crossovers in most USA suburbs?
          FuelToTheFire
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BG
          Crossovers- affluent, prosperous young people who want a vehicle with more space. Wagons-I was in Alabama a month ago and most of the redneck-type women drove wagons-the men drove pickup trucks.
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BG
          So you're basing the customer base of wagons one what you saw in ONE state? That is retarded and you know it.
        foxtrot685
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        The hype car enthusiasts have over wagons stems from the fact that you have less compromises with a wagon versus a crossover. A wagon pretty much keeps the driving dynamics of its sedan counterpart since there is no change in center of gravity or coefficient of drag. Theres a minimal increase in weight; usually a couple or few hundred pounds unlike a CUV which can weigh THOUSANDS MORE than the car upon which it is based. You get the same, if not close, MPG as the sedan. Usually the same drivetrains carry over as well (except the TSX Wagon doesnt get the 6-speed that the sedan does, sadly). All the while, you get added versatility and space. It really is a have your cake and eat it too situation. No hit in gas mileage, no change in driving dynamics, same drivetrain as the sedan which sometimes includes a manual transmission (see Jetta Sportwagen), minimal weight increase, but the cargo carrying capability of a CUV. Whats not to like??????
          FuelToTheFire
          • 2 Years Ago
          @foxtrot685
          Youre not very bright, are you? 1) There is just as much weight added to a wagon as a crossover. Take for example, a Chevy Malibu-3400 pounds. A hypothetical wagon version would add 300 pounds. 3700 pounds is the SAME weight as a CR-V. Even if weight is gained, the weight is put to use- a 3rd row, for example. 2)No hit in gas mileage? See #1. Wagons gain just as much weight as CUVs do from their sedan counterparts. That means that the mileage would be hit just as bad. 3) Driving dynamics? Again, see #1. The added weight of a wagon in relation to its sedan counterpart is the same as a CUV. Which means that driving dynamics would be affected just as much. 4) Same cargo carrying capacity??? Go sit inside any CUV and then sit inside a wagon. CUVs have MUCH more cabin space, especially usable space, than wagons. They also sometimes have the option of a 3rd row which can be helpful in so many ways.
          foxtrot685
          • 2 Years Ago
          @foxtrot685
          HAHA, I'm not the one whose bright? Does your "example" include you comparing the weight of a Honda CR-V to that of a Malibu? You do know that: 1. The CR-V does not ride on a malibu platform? 2. The CR-V is a compact CUV and that the Malibu is a Midsize sedan? Your example would be better if you compared it to a Civic, UPON WWHICH IT IS BASED!! The Civic weight is 2641 lbs for an LX sedan, which is what most people buy. The curb weight for a CR-V?? 3305. Now, 3305-2641=664 pounds. Not quite thousands of pounds more, but a hefty ammount. Keep in mind that the weight i quoted is for a FWD Base LX CR-V, so if one should add AWD or step up to an EX-L, the weight difference will increase. Are you seriously going to sit here and tell that if Honda produced a civic hatch for the US (They do in the UK) or even a wagon, that it would handle THE SAME as a CR-V?? Apparently, im not the one who's not "very bright"..........
        lasertekk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        More secure with the ride height? Commanding the road nonsense? No, I don't think so.
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Screw off.
      dee8817
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is actually not a bad looking wagon. I don't understand why Chevy won't bring this car over to the U.S. this would make a good Vw Jetta wagon fighter. I would get the cruze wagon with the turbo engine
        Hazdaz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @dee8817
        The reason is fairly simple. Chevy would rather sell you a small crossover like the Equinox at about $25k and going up into the $30k range, than a wagon Cruze which would probably have to top-out at about $25k. And Chevy isn't the only one that does that. In fact most car makers take a similar stance. That's why Honda and Toyota doesn't offer wagon versions of their Accord or Camry anymore. The Crosstour and Highlander are based on those sedans, but carry about a $5k higher price point, while a wagon version of those sedans could probably only realistically get $1-2k more than the sedan. VW is one of the few carmakers that offer wagon versions of their "regular" cars.
          davebo357
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Hazdaz
          Sir Duke, as you said that was "years ago" and now a lot more people are struggling to afford new cars. Families that previously went with SUV's simply because there were more to choose from and could afford the higher price at the time, would most likely consider wagons nowadays, thinking it's really not worth and extra 4-5k for the ability to go offroad which they likely wouldn't do. I think the relatively low cost of gas right now is enough to maintain new and used suv sales, but it's only a matter of time before it goes back up and people actually consider the long term when buying a vehicle. If there were a Fusion or Optima wagon right now, I'd have probably bought one.
          Sir Duke
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Hazdaz
          Funny you mentioned, the Camry wagon. Years ago I sold Toyotas, including the Camry wagon. I worked there for 6 months, I sold close to 250 Camrys, I sold EXACTLY 2 wagons. The dealership sold approximately 10 or 12 units. The CTS-V wagon is an evil being, which endears it to people who don't even like Cadillacs. I'd be curious to know how many regular wagons Caddy manages to move every month. By a w-i-d-e margin, more americans prefer an SUV/CUV over a traditional station wagon. Enough car manufacturers have tried and failed selling wagons in the US. How many times do they need to fight that battle?
          brian
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Hazdaz
          Actually, the reason is CAFE Wagons are cars - So they would have to figure into Corporate fleet mileage averages for sedans and coupes. SUV's/CUV's are Trucks - Their lower mileage helps balance out the corporate fleet mileage for all those huge FSuperRanchSilverDenaliRamurangos
          Kumar
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Hazdaz
          Sad, but true. Don't forget that Chevy can probably also still get away with worse mpgs on that CUV than on the smaller sedan-based wagon, making it a double win for Chevy (and the rest) and your loss.
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Hazdaz
          I don't like the Equinox (or any crossover) that much. Sadly, only stuff sold under the Chevy banner that I honestly like is the Corvette and the Silverado, even though I have little need for either (I love the Zeta platform, but as pony cars go, I'm a Mustang guy).
          Hazdaz
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Hazdaz
          @ Sir Duke Well its a good thing that the auto industry is unchanging in every way and never goes through cycles where consumers prefer one make or body style over another. Oh wait. Its the exact opposite. As demographics change, as the economy changes, as incomes go up or down, the type of car/body style en vogue changes rather dramatically. Over HALF of all Focus and Fiestas are sold as hatchbacks, yet just a few short years ago, Detroit steadfastly held onto the erroneous belief that Americans didn't like hatchbacks. Apparently it looks like there are still many old-timers that hold onto those outdated beliefs.
      stumpy
      • 2 Years Ago
      the ford fiesta and focus are both proof that americans are warming back up to hatches/wagons... both models hatch versions account for half of the sales.
        Steve
        • 2 Years Ago
        @stumpy
        I was talking to a GM R&D engineer and he said the same thing..... GM needs a hatchback version of the Cruze.
          Jonathan Knapman
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Steve
          There is a hatchback version of the Cruze on sale in Europe, however it's an awkward looking thing. It's one of the rare cases where the Saloon is in better proportion than the hatchback, and I get the impression that the Cruze was designed first as a Saloon, when with most small cars (designed primarily for European markets) it's the other way round.
        stumpy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @stumpy
        i really do want the 3-door fiesta though :)
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