The 2017 Chevy Cruze adds a hatch to the family that retains the same good ride and ample space, without being boomy or loud.
The world is full of compact cars like the Chevrolet Cruze, so this year the Chevrolet Cruze becomes more like other global compact cars.
It does it in two ways. One, it adds a hatchback model, the cleverly named "Cruze Hatch." It marks the first time a five-door Cruze has been offered in the U.S. Two, it brings back the diesel to the Cruze lineup, in the sedan first (coupled to a 9-speed automatic) and to the hatch in 2018.
Sedans are offered in base L, LS, LT, and Premier trims, while hatchbacks are sold only in top LT and Premier trims. RS sport-appearance packages are available in both cars, but only on LT and Premier levels.
For now, the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze earns a 6.8 on our ratings scale, a reflection of its above-average fuel economy and styling. Performance may not be much to write home to the folks about, but it's above average in every respect. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The Chevrolet Cruze cuts a sleeker hole through the wind—in both hatchback and sedan form. There isn't much to separate the two versions from the rear doors forward, although the brute-force versatility of the hatch suffers a little from the curvier roofline.
Inside, the Cruze is decidedly modern without being too digital, an attractive layout that gets better in pricier trims.
Under the hood (for now) the Cruze is powered by a 1.4-liter turbo-4 that makes 153 horsepower. It's paired to a standard 6-speed manual is most trims, upper trims get the 6-speed automatic as standard. In all cases, the Cruze is a front-driver, suited more toward daily duty than quick sprints through canyons. We've found that there can be some hesitation in the Cruze's driveline; but it's hard to find a culprit: the small displacement turbo-4 or a juddery transmission.
The panacea for both may be a coming turbodiesel inline-4 that will significantly increase torque and a new 9-speed automatic. We haven't yet driven those models, so stay tuned.
Comfort, safety, and features
The Cruze may have the footprint of a compact, but its interior is certainly closer to mid-sized. Back-seat passengers get more than 36 inches of leg room, and the ample-sized trunk measures 13.7 cubic feet—near the top for the compact class. Opt for the hatchback and that rear cargo area balloons to 23.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up—47.2 cubic feet with the seats down.
That curvy roof line cuts into vertical space for the hatch, and even makes the smaller subcompact Sonic hatchback more spacious by the numbers. Nonetheless, it's a comfortable car for four, and something we wouldn't fear spending a day driving around town.
Curiously, safety is still somewhat of an unknown in the Chevy Cruze—there isn't much official data since it was new last year. Short of a comprehensive rundown of crash data from the IIHS or federal testers, the Cruze comes equipped with the standard suite of airbags and stability control systems. Advanced safety packages are available in the Cruze, including forward collision warning, blind-spot monitors, and rear park assist alerts. Notably missing from the list: automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
Both safety systems are noticeable omissions from Chevy, many other compact cars offer those features. Still, every Cruze comes with a rearview camera, which is some comfort.
Base cars are very spartan and lightly equipped, and not likely to be seen on the roads by most buyers—they're fleet kings and queens.
Most cars on dealers' lots will be LS and higher, which all feature a 7.0-inch infotainment display that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 16-inch wheels, Bluetooth, cloth upholstery, and GM's OnStar service that provides 3 GB/three months of 4G LTE mobile hotspot service before they start the monthly juice.
Top Premier and LT trims are shod with leather and other creature comforts such as an 8.0-inch infotainment screen or dual automatic climate controls. Most models will top out at $30,000, although upcoming diesel-powered cars could eclipse that mark.