The new Chevrolet Cruze is a respectable compact vehicle that delivers what most shoppers in this segment are looking for. It’s reasonably priced, extremely efficient and more refined than you might expect.
For these reasons and more, it’s become the bow-tie brand’s best-selling car. Globally, more than 3.5 million Cruzes have been sold since it was introduced back in 2008. Undoubtedly helping pad that impressive figure is the totally redesigned model that debuted last year.
In 2016, this car lost a significant amount of weight, gained new technology and even grew a little bit, changes that make it an even stronger offering. Further broadening this car’s appeal, a hatchback version is now being offered in the U.S., bringing inimitable style and an extra dose of versatility to Chevy showrooms across America.
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Room to Spare
Arguably, this Cruze’s biggest appeal is its generously portioned cargo area. With the rear seats up, it provides nearly 25 cubic feet (699 liters) of storage space. Fold the backrests down and that number grows to more than 47 (1,337 liters).
Making the trunk even more versatile is its nearly flat load floor. With those seats down the surface is quite even, free of any major humps or lumps, which further increases this car’s versatility.
When it comes to hauling people instead of groceries, flat-pack furniture or crates of irregularly shaped but still edible citrus, this hatchback Chevy also excels. Its back bench is cushy and large enough to accommodate a couple six-footers, though three adults would probably be cramped (as they would in any compact car). There’s more-than-decent legroom to be had, though a touch more head-space would have been nice.
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Leather seating surfaces spruced this example’s interior up nicely compared to other versions of the new Cruze that I’ve tested. The cabin is almost exclusively constructed of hard plastic, but it looks quite nice thanks to its premium texturing.
Unfortunately, there are a couple unabashedly chintzy things inside this car, chiefly the control stalks. They feel like rotten tree branches, ready to snap off with the slightest pressure. I’m also no fan of the front seats, which are low and lack lumbar support.
Sippin’ and Scooting’
The Cruze hatchback shares a drivetrain with its less-spacious four-door sibling. For now, the only engine offered in this car is a smooth-running 1.4-liter four-cylinder. Thanks to turbocharging and direct fuel injection, it delivers 153 horsepower (114 kW) and 177 lb-ft (239 Nm) of torque.
Drivers have two different six-speed transmissions to choose from; you can get either a manual or an automatic. Unfortunately for enthusiasts, top-trim Premier models are only offered with the self-shifter.
ALSO SEE: 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Review
Later this year, the Cruze will be offered with a diesel engine, ostensibly one that’s compliant with U.S. emissions regulations. A brand-new nine-speed automatic will also be available, which should further improve this car’s efficiency, though, truth be told, there’s nothing to complain about when it comes to fuel economy. It stickers at 28 miles per gallon (8.4 L/100 KM) in city driving and 37 on the highway (6.4 L/100 KM). According to the EPA, it should average 31 mpg (7.5 L/100 KM), though I had no issue beating that rating, averaging a claimed 35 (roughly 6.7 L/100 KM) without even trying.
That combined rating ties Ford’s Focus hatch powered by their 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine and it bests the Volkswagen Golf by two mpg. However, the new Honda Civic five-door is a bit more efficient, averaging a claimed 34 miles per gallon (6.9 L/100 KM) when equipped with a continuously variable transmission.
Thrift may be one of this Cruze’s strongest virtues, but it’s also quite affordable. Base price in the U.S. for a hatchback model is $22,000 and change ($22,395 Canadian). That’s about four grand more expensive than the most affordable sedan version of this car.
As for the model we evaluated, it stickered for $26,870, including $875 in destination charges (about $35,207 Canadian). At that level, it included niceties like keyless entry with push-button start, leather seats and 17-inch aluminum wheels. Of course, several options groups inflated the price to its final total. The Enhanced Convenience Package added $865 to the bottom line but brought an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, wireless device charging and more to the party. The Driver Convenience II Package added automatic high beams, lane keep assist and forward collision alert for a reasonable $790. Finally, luscious-looking Cajun Red Tintcoat paint cost 395 bucks.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay were also included. However, if you want a proper navigation system, which our car lacked, you’ve got to sign on for another package, one that costs $1,995, though it also includes a sunroof and Bose nine-speaker sound system.
The Cruze Hatchback is by no means a fast car, but it’s got plenty of hustle, hitting 60 in a claimed 7.7 seconds. This probably makes it one of the quicker models in its segment, with abundant low-end torque.
Providing a more enjoyable driving experience than you might expect, this powertrain is commendably refined, smooth and silent in its operation. In addition to this, the standard stop-start system (a fuel-saving feature that kills the engine when waiting at red lights or sitting in traffic) is as good as you’ll find in any car.
Curiously, velocity can creep up on you while driving this machine; sometimes you don’t realize you’re speeding by a rather large amount since its interior remains so hushed. Like a luxury car, the Cruze confidently subdues wind, tire and engine noise.
The transmission’s performance is similarly smooth, never missing a shift or behaving badly. This is a welcome improvement over the sedan model I drove last year, which sometimes felt clunky.
Dynamically, the Cruze’s worst attribute is its over-boosted steering. Aiding maneuverability, the ratio is pretty quick, but the tiller is completely uninvolving, which is exactly how I’d describe the chassis. It’s nowhere near as entertaining as what underpins a Mazda3 or even Honda’s new Civic.
The Verdict: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback Premier Review
The 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback is a welcome addition to the bow-tie brand’s small-car lineup. Efficient, spacious and refined, it’s a completely rational choice. However, this machine does have one glaring fault: it doesn’t know how to have any fun. For the typical motorist, its driving experience is just fine, but there’s absolutely nothing here for an enthusiast lust after.
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