2015 Cruze New Car Test Drive
Chevrolet Cruze is an excellent choice among compact sedans, and is one of the best-selling cars in the Chevy lineup. It has a roomy interior, admirable fuel economy and a long list of standard features. This front-wheel-drive, four-door sedan seats up to five people.
New for 2014 is a diesel model that achieves a notable, EPA-estimated 27/46 mpg City/Highway, fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder engine that makes 151 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. The Cruze diesel comes standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Other Cruze models carry over unchanged for 2014.
Launched as a 2011 model, the Cruze is a compact sedan developed jointly by GM tech centers in Asia, Europe and the United States to compete with the stylish Hyundai Elantra, sporty Mazda3, and affordable Kia Forte, as well as the sales-leading compacts, the Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla.
Styling of the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze is conservative, though it's a well-designed, handsome car. Its interior is one of the roomiest in its class, and it's also one of the nicest. Its trunk is also one of the largest in a compact sedan.
Cruze is offered with a choice of two four-cylinder gasoline engines: Cruze LS models get a 1.8-liter inline-4 that makes 138 hp and 125 lb.-ft. of torque. Cruze LT, LTZ and Eco models are powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder good for 138 hp and 148 lb.-ft. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic.
Fuel economy is admirable from the turbocharged 1.4-liter, at 26/38 mpg City/Highway with both transmissions. Fuel economy for the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze with the base 1.8-liter engine is an EPA-rated 25/36 mpg City/Highway with manual transmission and 22/35 mpg with the automatic. Cruze Eco, the most fuel-efficient regular gasoline model, rates 28/42 mpg with the manual transmission and 26/39 mpg with the automatic.
Ride quality is quite good, and we found the Cruze handles well. It is slower compared to many cars in its class, but for everyday driving, the average person won't notice. The Cruze Eco is perhaps the biggest compromise; though it achieves a high fuel economy rating, efficiency comes with a penalty in the form of even slower acceleration, longer stopping distances and poorer handling compared to the less fuel-friendly Cruze models. Those who drive long distances at highway speeds would do well to opt for the Cruze diesel. Although it has a higher starting price, its superior range and highway fuel economy makes for a better value long-term.
Cruze comes well-equipped with features that are not always standard on cars of its class, such as a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. On all trims but the base, the wheels are made of alloy, and are not only lighter than steel, but quieter. Prices climb by nearly $10,000 from the base model to a loaded, top-of-the-line LTZ. True, the latter comes swathed in leather and loaded with technology, but for that kind of money, the alternatives include larger, very nicely equipped midsize sedans. For this reason, we think the midrange Cruze LT hits the sweet spot in this class.
The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze is slightly bigger than many compact cars, yet not quite as big as those in the midsize segment. Competitors include the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3 and the new Toyota Corolla. Those considering the 2014 Cruze Diesel might also want to look at the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, which starts at about $1,800 less and gets slightly better combined fuel economy with an EPA rating of 30/42 mpg City/Highway. But the Cruze diesel wins when it comes strictly to highway mpg.
The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze is available in five trim levels: LS, LT, LTZ, Eco and Diesel. All models are front-wheel-drive, four-door sedans.
Cruze LS ($17,270) is powered by 1.8-liter inline four with 138 hp and 125 lb.-ft. of torque, with a standard 6-speed manual transmission. Standard features include air conditioning, power windows/door locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, 60/40-split folding rear seat, trip computer, a six-speaker audio system with CD player, Bluetooth phone connectivity, an auxiliary jack, USB port and satellite radio capability. The standard wheels are 16-inch steel.
Cruise 1LT ($18,815) is powered by the turbocharged 1.4-liter engine and comes standard with the 6-speed manual. Additional features include leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, body-color power side mirrors and 16-inch alloy wheels. Cruze 2LT ($21,295) upgrades further to leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat, heated seats, a 7-inch touch screen with Chevrolet MyLink, a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels and four-wheel-disc brakes.
Cruze LTZ ($23,805) comes standard with the 6-speed automatic transmission, the contents of the 2LT package including leather upholstery, plus further upgraded interior trim, automatic climate control, keyless ignition, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear-parking assist, fog lamps, heater mirrors and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Cruze Eco ($19,935) is optimized for fuel economy. It's powered by the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and is nearly 200 pounds lighter than other Cruze models, with aerodynamic aids that make in slipperier through the air and a smaller gas tank, among other minor changes that save weight. Standard features those found on the 1LT plus the Chevrolet MyLink system and lightweight 17-inch alloy wheels with low-rolling-resistance tires.
Cruze Turbo Diesel ($24,985) is powered by a 151-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged clean diesel engine and includes everything on the LS and 1LT models plus leather upholstery, heated front seats, 6- way power driver's seat, remote start, a sport-tuned suspension, 4-wheel disc brakes and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Safety features on all models include stability control, antilock brakes, full-length side curtain airbags, front knee airbags and front and rear side impact airbags. Cruze LS, 1LT and Eco models use a front-disc/rear-drum brake setup. The 2LT, LTZ and diesel models use disc brakes on all four wheels. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance. Blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert are optional for all Cruzes except the LS.