Chevrolet’s great little sedan got even better.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Click on any picture to see a larger version.
Pricing: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze
Base price (Premiere trim): $23,895
Options: $495 Kinetic Blue metallic paint; $150 block heater; $3595 True North Edition
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $29,835
The Cruze is Chevrolet’s entry-level sedan, and can be had for as low as $15,995. The last generation Cruze did a great job at getting a lot of people from point A to point B, and Chevy took its redesign very seriously. The 2017 Cruze is a very good vehicle. I spent a week in the top-level Premier trim and came away very impressed.
The new Cruze’s styling is significantly more aerodynamic and modern, which gives it a sportier look. The LED daytime running light signature is highly visible as the car is driving toward you, and looks great.
The design isn’t ground-breaking in any way, but it’s a good-looking vehicle and the newly chiseled lines give it an athletic appearance. Handsome rims fill the wheel wells and complete the package.
I really liked the new Cruze interior. It’s spacious, simple, relatively clean and it works well. There are still plenty of hard plastics, but they are nicely textured. Many of the touch points, where your hands might fall, are soft-touch, particularly around the dash. I especially liked the panels on the dash and the doors that are upholstered in stitched leather-like material. Fit and finish appears to be very good.
The heated leather-appointed front seating is highly comfortable, and looks great with its contrasting stitching. The centre of the dash is home to a crisp and bright 8-inch MyLink touchscreen with navigation, and this upper trim gets a 9-speaker BOSE sound system that sounds quite good. There is full Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility for true integration of your smart phone. The Cruze also has standard 4G LTE OnStar wifi which is free (for the first 3 months or first 3 GB used) and allows you to connect up to 7 devices.
I enjoyed some of the nicer touches, such as the push-button ignition, the remote start, a sunroof overhead, automatic climate control and the heated leather-wrapped steering wheel which felt excellent in hand.
The new Cruze is available with a significant suite of driver assistance technology – my review sample came with a backup camera with rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, automatic high-beam headlights, forward collision alert, following distance indicator and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. Everything worked very well, and none of the technology felt intrusive.
The easy-to-access back seats are quite comfortable, particularly the two outboard ones which are heated as well. There’s no lack of room either – I’m 5’10” and sitting behind my own driving position, I found plenty of leg and foot room, as well as about two inches of head room to spare. The middle seating position does not get a headrest, and it’s cramped for adults. All three of our kids fit very nicely back there and found it comfortable. You’ll find two LATCH anchors for child seats if that’s something you need.
There’s a very handy 120V household plug at the back of the centre console, and the middle seatback folds down to become an armrest with a couple of cupholders.
There are a few places in and around the centre console to drop your stuff, including a drop-in bin at the front along with 12V, auxiliary and USB plugs. But my favorite is the vertical wireless charging slot – it securely holds your smartphone in place, and if it’s compatible, will charge it wirelessly.
Pop the trunk lid remotely from the dash or the key fob, and you’ll find a reasonably sized 420L trunk. The trunk arms are not shrouded, so you need to watch your stuff so it doesn’t get pinched under them when you close the lid. If you need more room, you can fold down the read seats in a 60/40 split. My personal preference in the Cruze line would be the brand-new hatchback Cruze that just came out.
Under the Hood
The front-wheel drive only sedan comes standard with an Ecotec engine – in this case, an impressive little 1.4-litre turbo inline-4. It churns out 153 HP at 5600 RPM and 177 lb.ft of torque at 2000 RPM. A 6-speed automatic ties everything together.
Fuel economy is a big part of the Cruze’s appeal, and Chevrolet rates it at 7.8 L/100 km (30 US mpg) in the city and an incredible 5.9 L/100 km (40 US mpg) on the highway. I ended up with an average of 8.3 L/100 km (28 US mpg) after a week of mostly city driving – which was mostly slow commuting. Not bad at all. And I saw some very impressive instant mileage readings for the few times I hit the freeway – I think the Cruze would be an outstanding performer when it comes to highway range.
The tiny engine is a bit soft off the line, but almost immediately overcomes that lag to feel plenty powerful in every driving situation. Nobody is going to mistake the Cruze for a quarter-mile monster, but it does exactly what it promises. It has enough jam to get off the line, to comfortably merge into fast-moving traffic and to pass on the highway, yet provides its power efficiently and without drama. I really liked how freely the Cruze revved up, and its engine was always happy to play. What more can you ask for in a great every-day car?
The transmission is surprisingly smooth and was usually in the right gear. If you like shifting gears manually, you can do so with a thumb toggle on top of the gear selector. I’m not a fan of this arrangement from an ergonomic standpoint, but frankly the transmission is good enough to be left to its own devices anyway.
Where Chevy really blew me out of the water was in the suspension department. The Cruze’s ride is really good – I mean world-class. For an entry-level sedan, I was very impressed with how refined its road manners were. On top of that, the Cruze handles very well and the engineers have coupled great suspension with an excellent steering system that feels very direct and makes the car fun to drive.
Sound dampening got a lot of attention, and while I did catch a little bit of road noise (particularly over certain surfaces which made me think it’s the tires, not the car), the Cruze was incredibly quiet on the highway when it came to wind noise.
Chevrolet has put together a nice-looking, modern car that drives exceedingly well, performs admirably at the fuel pumps and is full of current, usable technology. And it does it all while remaining surprisingly refined.
WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was high. She said it kind of blends into the crowd in terms of styling, but it does look good, and she said it drove like a more expensive car.
If you’re in the market for a compact sedan, the 2017 Cruze should be on your shopping list. It’s competitive in every way, and it would be certainly be on mine.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Don Wheaton.
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