The Chevrolet Cruze has made a name for itself by offering a lot of bang for the buck. I’m testing the LTZ RS version which is supposed to be add a sportier look as well. So did Chevy pull off the tough task of creating a car that is fun to drive and packed with features all at a great price? Let’s find out…
Safety is a big factor when considering a car and the Cruze certainly does not disappoint. It comes standard with 10 air bags. Front passengers get frontal, knee, side impact and head curtain airbags. Rear passengers get side and head curtain air bags.
Traction control and four wheel disc anti lock brakes are also standard on the LTZ. You also get the added safety and convenience of GM’s Onstar. Operator’s are always waiting in the event of an emergency, or just to help out with directions or even a restaurant reservation.
With a starting price of $21,975 the LTZ also offers a lot of conveniences that are usually optional, as standard equipment. A six way power adjustable seat for the driver, dual heated leather seats, air conditioning, auto climate control, 18″ alloy wheels, cruise control and XM radio just to name a few.
The optional $695 RS package adds rocker moldings and unique front and rear fascias, fog lamps and a rear spoiler. Other options include a $445 premium audio system, $325 metallic paint and a real spare tire for $100. Even with all of that you are still out the door for $24,260 including destination.
The entry level Cruze starts out at $16,275 which is in line with its competition like the Volkswagen Jetta, Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla. Of course even the entry level Cruze comes packed with a lot of standard equipment.
The exterior shape of the Cruze is modern, but certainly not overstated. The RS does spice things up a bit and the bigger wheels certainly accentuate the look. I’ve always thought that sometimes the wheels make the car, and the Cruze’s alloys look great.
The Cruze gets its cruising power from the 1.4 liter Ecotec VVT DOHC engine mated to a six speed automatic. That should get you to 60 mph in about 9 seconds, but it feels a bit quicker than that.
Fuel economy is good, and you can expect to get 24 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with an average of 28 mpg overall. The Eco version of the Cruze will average over 40 mpg on the highway!
Inside you are greeted by leather seats that look quite similar to those in the more pricey Buick Regal, and that’s a good thing! I find the heated black leather seats with white stitching to not only look great, but they are also comfortable over long journeys. For and aft seat movement is power activated, but you’ll have to set the back’s angle manually.
I’ve noticed some similarities between many of GM’s models when it comes to many of the controls on the steering wheel and the dash. This is a good thing to me and adds a bit of brand recognition to the lineup. Overall the materials feel nice and all of the buttons and knobs seem ergonomically correct.
Out on the road the Cruze feels solid and dependable. It’s no track star, but it is plenty quick enough for every day driving It has a great overall feel, and it even manages to feel like it costs more than it really does.. It’s also roomy and can carry up to 5 people, or with the rear seats folded down it’ll carry a lot of cargo.
I must admit that over the past decade or so I felt that American cars seem to be lagging behind the rest of the worldwide competition. Japanese cars seemed to have the edge on reliability and European cars just tended to have an overall better feel than what was coming from American automakers.
Thankfully we seem to be in a new era of automotive refinement, and judging from my recent test drives of the Buick Regal Turbo, the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon and this Chevy Cruze; I’m glad to say that American cars are back and are truly competitive with anything else on the market in their segments.
The Cruze does have tough competition in the form of the Honda Civic, Volkswagen Jetta and Toyota Camry but if you are considering any of these cars, then you owe it to yourself to drive the Cruze. I think you will be glad that you did.
The bottom line is that even in the tough mid size sedan class, the Cruze definitely stands out from the pack with its own unique character. So overall, I thnk Chevy has done an excellent job of coming up with an all around great car that is safe, practical, luxurious and actually pretty fun to drive as well.