Chevy Cruze Featured - XtremeRevolution

Behind the Wheel of the Chevy Cruze

Grab some popcorn and a soda, because this one long review. A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to review a 2012 Chevy Cruze LTZ for a week. GM dropped this off at my door as a courtesy so I could get some behind the wheel time with another Cruze. As some of you know, I’ve had a 2012 Chevy Cruze ECO since early January of 2012. I’ll be covering both of these cars in this review. I currently have 17,000 miles driven on this car, and as the Super Moderator of CruzeTalk.com, this is about as genuine and thorough of a review as you’ll find. This review will cover both my own Chevrolet Cruze Eco, and the Chevrolet Cruze LTZ that GM sent me.

Behind the Wheel of the Chevy Cruze

 

Interior

The interior of the Chevy Cruze is probably one of its greatest strengths. The common misconception among many is that the Cruze is nothing more than a Cobalt, on the same lines as the Cavalier or the Cobalt in quality and function. For this reason, most people may not even consider a Cruze when shopping for a car, as they don’t want to drive an “econobox.” The simple fact of the matter is that the interior of the Cruze makes the car feel significant more upscale than it is.

 Chevy Cruze LTZ Interior

Dash

The styling is world-class. The car features sharp edges and a futuristic, almost “transformers” type look about the console. It makes me feel sophisticated, without being business-boring. The dash has leather or cloth accents (depending on which model you choose), which break up the flow of the generally plastic dash you’ll find in cars. While this fabric is inexpensive, it doesn’t feel cheap. It blends well with the car and makes the dash feel softer, more comfortable, and warmer. It creates an atmosphere that separates this car from others such as the Kia Forte, Toyota Corolla, or Honda Civic, which in my mind are dull as bricks. The rest of the plastic dash is a semi-soft material that has a matte finish. The matte finish makes it look almost akin to leather; a surface that doesn’t shine like a cheap Chinese plastic. It also adds a bit of a soft feel to the dash, which further contributes to the overall feel of the car. The pillars are plastic, but textured, and they somewhat match the ceiling of the car and don’t feel out of place.

Chevy Cruze LTZ Interior

Chevy Cruze Eco Interior

 

The gauge cluster also did not feel cheap, sporting a retro but sleek look with silver accents and a very athletic appearance. The colors worked very well; primarily blue but with touches of red, found on needles and ends of some gauge markers. It looks very…proudly American.

Chevy Cruze Gauges

 

What impressed me was the feel of the steering wheel. This contributes significantly to the upscale feel of the car, and with good reason; it’s the same steering wheel used in other Chevy vehicles such as the Camaro and the Volt. This is a leather wrapped steering wheel that has excellent contours and a great no-slip feel. The ergonomics just…work. The shifter knob on the 1LT, Eco, 2LT, and LTZ is also leather wrapped.

Chevy Cruze LTZ Interior

Chevy Cruze LTZ Dash InteriorChevy Cruze Eco Shifter

 

Front Seats

In the Cruze LTZ, the leather seats were, in my opinion, excellent. A few of our older members on the CruzeTalk.com forums thought they were a bit stiff, but I did not get that impression. It is after all Chevrolet, not a Buick. They are stiffer than the seats in other cars I’ve driven such as my wife’s 2000 Buick Regal GSE, but that’s a given. Rather than calling them stiff, I would refer to them as supportive and secure, with a very sporty feel that doesn’t make you feel like you’ll make an imprint of your face on the glass should you take a tight turn. The model I test drove had ~7,000 miles on it, so the seats still had some breaking in to do. A particularly upscale accent for these seats is the gray stitching, which stands out above the black leather and creates a defined look that highlights the contours of the seats. Not what you’d expect in a car of this class. Support during cornering is excellent, and I didn’t find myself having to brace myself on various parts of the car while throwing it around corners to test its handling ability. My only gripe with the seats in the Cruze is the lack of lumbar support.  That said, the lower back support is excellent, and I did not find it at all fatiguing or uncomfortable on longer trips. The front seats slide farther back than any car I’ve ever seen. I do not believe that anyone, no matter how tall, would have an issue fitting in the front seats of the Cruze. I’m 6 feet tall and I could still move my chair back another 8-10 inches after I had adjusted it to a level that I would be comfortable with. Granted, this leaves no room for rear passengers, but it does allow a very tall person to drive it comfortably. The following pictures compare the factory Cruze LTZ leather (left) to the aftermarket leather I had installed in my Cruze Eco (right):

2012_Chevy Cruze LTZ Leather SeatsChevy Cruze Eco Leather Seats

Head room in particular was excellent. Prior to purchasing my own Chevy Cruze, I had test driven a few other vehicles, one of which was the Kia Forte Koup. What surprised me about this car is that, with a sunroof and the seat in its lowest position, the tips of my hairs were touching the ceiling when I sat up straight. In the Cruzes with the sunroof that I test drove, I did not have this problem. My friend Nick, who is 6 feet, 5 inches tall, also had no head clearance issues.

 

Back Seats

The back seats were one of the things I was particularly impressed with. Being an economy car, one would expect that the back seats would be limited to small children. While most car manufacturers will claim that you can seat people in the back comfortably, this isn’t always true. In the Chevy Cruze, the available leg room is ample enough that you really can fit people in the back comfortably, so long as they’re not freakishly tall. My brother in law is 6 feet, 4 inches tall and his hair was barely touching the ceiling, but I’m ~6 feet, 1 inch tall and did not have that issue. The only complaint I’ve had when I had 3 full grown adults in the back is the lack of shoulder room. Of course, I didn’t really expect to be able to comfortably fit 3 full grown adults back there. That said, two rear passengers no taller than 6 feet and one child would feel quite comfortable back there. In addition, the two back seats fold down should you need to carry long objects. I use my Chevy Cruze regularly to transport 3×4 foot sheets of MDF for building subwoofer boxes, and even then I have at least 6 more inches to spare in depth. As a note, there are only two head rests in the back seats.

Chevy Cruze Back Seats

 

Interior & Storage Space

Another one of the Cruze’s strengths is the amount of interior space. While this is a car that competes in the compact segment, it is technically classified as a midsize car due to the interior space. As I noted earlier, you will have no issues fitting in this car no matter how tall you are or how long your legs are. While the car doesn’t feel tall, it is very spacious. When I asked my friend, Nick, what things he liked most about his Cruze, his first response was “the roooooooooooom.”

Chevy Cruze Interior

In addition to the large interior space, the car has a few neat storage compartments. On the passenger side center console, there is a compartment for storing maps. Each of the front and driver’s doors hold a good number of items, with the front doors also having cup holders built in. There are two cup holders in the center console as well, and on all trims except for the ECO, there is a center armrest that folds out of the back seats with cup holders as well. In cars not equipped with the Pioneer sound system, there is a small compartment in the center of the top of the dash for items like receipts, a wallet, or a toll pass. Since the ECO trim does not have a spare tire (which is instead replaced with tire sealant and a tire pump), there is a large cavity in which to place additional items.

 

Road Noise

This is one area where GM went to great lengths to improve. The Chevy Cruze is by far the quietest car I’ve ever driven. In fact, it is quieter on the road than the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe that I drove while I was in Detroit. It’s quieter than my 2005 Bonneville GXP was, and quieter than my wife’s 2000 Regal GSE. While working on the sound system for my own Cruze, I discovered that the carpet actually sits on top of a layer of foam about 1.5” thick. This sound barrier significantly reduces road noise. In addition, CLD tiles are fitted on the door panels from the factory, which eliminate the howling that doors can exhibit due to vibrations. The plastic door trim panels have solid foam and acoustic poly wool affixed to the inside to further reduce road noise and vibrations against wiring. In the trunk, we have strips of rubberized foam laid out in patches that absorb vibrations in the trunk. The rear seats and rear deck are designed to block out a great deal of noise; something that you discover very quickly if you ever need to fold the seats down to carry longer cargo.

What I’d like to strongly express here is that Chevrolet did very well with the design of this interior,  using inexpensive components where possible without making the car feel cheap. The execution of materials and design in the interior of the Chevy Cruze makes one wonder why the car is so inexpensive and really puts competitors to shame.

One thing I would like to note is that experienced road noise will differ to some extent with the tires equipped on your Chevy Cruze. The Goodyear LRR tires on my ECO were notably quieter than the Michelin tires on the LTZ I drove.

 

Safety

Safety is a big one, and the Chevy Cruze shines again. The Cruze features 10 air bags, including side curtain air bags, and rear side airbags. Behind the rear seats is a very strong support beam that protects rear passengers from severe rear-end collisions. The head rests both in the front and the rear are positioned very carefully in order to minimize whiplash and neck injury during a rear-end collision. I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of these head rests as my Cruze was rear-ended two weeks prior to the writing of this article at a speed of around 20 mph, and I sustained absolutely no injury. I wholly attribute that to the effective design of those headrests.

Crash test ratings hit 5 stars, although given the collisions I’ve seen involving Cruzes in the past, I’d say it exceeds that rating. You see, crash test ratings are only designed to represent collisions with other vehicles in the same class, be it subcompact, compact, midsize, etc. I believe the Cruze will do very well in collisions with larger vehicles, which is certainly not something I could say of its competitors. I’m also not just pulling this out of where the sun doesn’t shine either. To prove this, I’ve provided a picture of a Cruze that was involved in a collision with a semi truck. As you can see in the below photo, the trailer of the truck rolled over and on top of the Cruze. The owner of this Cruze walked out of the wreckage with minor neck pain. The high-strength steel cage this car is built with really does its job in situations like this. I have a feeling the owner of this Cruze went out and bought another Cruze.

Chevy Cruze Semi Crash Chevy Cruze Semi Crash Chevy Cruze Semi Crash

 

Handling

Suspension & Tires

The handling of the Chevy Cruze is one of the bigger surprises that one finds when test driving the car. The Cruze is a very smooth-riding car that feels very well engineered and refined. To me, regardless of trim, the Cruze feels like a true driver’s car, composed, light, and confident in the corners. It begs to be thrown into S-curves and tight corners and does not for a second feel sloppy, loose, or uncontrolled. This is not something one would usually find themselves saying about an economy car, but it is one area where the Cruze really delivers.

Chevy Cruze LTZ

2012_Cruze_LTZ-52

The LTZ model felt different than the ECO model I own, but they shared many characteristics that make both of them a great deal of fun to drive. The ride on the LTZ felt a bit more predictable and secure in the corners thanks to its very sticky Michelin tires on 18” low profile wheels. The low rolling resistance tires on the ECO have a much softer feel, as they have softer sidewalls, and the tires lose grip under hard cornering conditions more quickly than the LTZ’s Michelins did.

Chevy Cruze LTZ

Of course, should one prefer the ECO for its fuel economy features, they could still replace the tires with ones that have stiffer sidewalls and a more sticky tread compound to significantly improve traction in the corners. All of the Cruze models aside from the ECO feature a z-link rear suspension to improve stability over uneven pavement. This was removed from the ECO to save weight and improve fuel economy.

Chevy Cruze Eco Side View

GM claims that the sport tuned suspension and sticky tires in the Cruze LTZ handles better than a BMW 3-series sedan, and I can personally attest to the truth of that claim. I made sure to throw the car around some corners, and without getting into specifics, it made my heavily modified project car (with large front and rear sway bars, all poly bushings, and custom coilovers all around) look bad.

If you’re looking for a softer ride, the LTZ may not suit you and you will want to look into the 1LT, 2LT, or ECO trims. However, if you’re looking for a road-hugging compact car that handles like its on rails, the LTZ will redefine what a “compact” 4 door sedan can do and will set a bar that nothing else in its class can reach.

Chevy Cruze LTZ

 

Steering

I’ve heard some people tell me that the steering feels a tad bit disconnected, and I can see where they’re coming from. The steering is electric assisted, which will feel notably different than your standard hydraulic steering. It is rather light in parking lots, but is very precise and responsive. During highway driving, it will take a bit of getting used to, especially if you’re moving up from an older car with hydraulic steering that is beginning to show its age with a mile-sized dead zone. It may at first feel a bit twitchy and sensitive, but it’s something I have become used to. Having had problems with hydraulic steering leaks in the past, I can certainly see the benefit to the electric steering. The removal of a power steering pump also reduces parasitic drag on the engine, which improves fuel economy.

 

Powertrain

Engine – Technology

The Chevy Cruze is equipped with a 1.4L Turbo engine in the 1LT, 2LT, ECO, LTZ and trims. For the purposes of this article, I won’t be covering the 1.8L in the LS model. The turbo on this car is not equipped primarily for performance, but rather for fuel economy. It is a small turbo that spools very quickly, made by a company called Honeywell, which also makes Garrett turbos. The turbo is engine oil lubricated (requiring the use of Dexos1 approved oil – preferably fully synthetic) and cooled by the engine’s coolant. The turbo has a thermo-syphon design that recirculates coolant through the engine and turbo once the engine has been shut down to prevent the oil from burning and to allow the turbo to cool. The turbo is built into the exhaust manifold, and is a bit hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for in the engine bay.

Chevy Cruze Engine Bay

The engine features a variable rate oil pump, an electronically controlled thermostat, and a variable rate A/C compressor that manages load based on fan speed; features implemented to improve fuel economy. The piston rings have a DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating, which allows for tighter tolerances, lower friction (increased fuel economy and power), reduced wear, and higher longevity. The pistons themselves are cooled by oil jets underneath the pistons.

 

Engine – Driving Impressions

The 1.4L Turbo engine is a bundle of surprise, and is another one of those features that require you to drive the car in order to fully understand. Since the turbo is small, it spools quickly and evenly. Unlike a Dodge Dart, for example, the power increase is very smooth and linear, and it’s easy to drive the car calmly. The power ratings of this motor are a bit misleading, as it comes in at only 138hp. You may find that the Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, and the Toyota Corolla are also rated for the same 138hp, but that they feel much, much slower than the Cruze. What is worth noting is the torque specification on the 1.4L Turbo engine, which is 148lb-ft. Contrast this to the Honda Civic, which has a torque rating of somewhere around 125lb-ft. Furthermore, the 1.4L Turbo makes 100% of that torque at 1850RPM – almost immediately, while the Honda Civic requires 4,400RPM to make peak torque. For this reason, the 1.4L Turbo actually feels more like a V6, with a very surprising amount of torque, or “pick-up” early on in the power band. While the naturally aspirated engines in the Civic, Elantra, and Corolla need to be revved up to make power, the 1.4L Turbo engine in the Chevy Cruze makes power immediately. One thing to note is that the power rating is taken with 87 octane. The tests our members on CruzeTalk have performed have shown that the car aggressively pulls timing to allow it to use 87 octane, but that there are significant power gains with the use of 91/93 octane fuel.

Chevy Cruze LTZ

 

Transmission – Automatic

The automatic transmission is available in the Cruze in all trims, with a manual-shift option. In my driving experience with the LTZ, the transmission felt firm, but a tad bit unpredictable at times. I believe this was mostly due to the adaptive nature of the transmission, which “learns” your driving style and shifts accordingly.

While the rest of a car defies the price tag of the Cruze, the transmission is the one aspect where the car brings you back down to Earth. Not that it’s bad; I could not find any fault in it, but it had a sense of “economy” to it. When slowing down and coming to a stop, the transmission continually downshifts in order to keep the RPMs up, and some of those downshifts are certainly noticeable. This is done in order to enable a feature called DFCO – deceleration fuel cut-off. When coming to a stop, the transmission uses the energy in the car’s momentum coming through the wheels to turn the motor, which allows the computer to cut off the flow of fuel from the fuel injectors and save fuel. While this is a feature that has been available in GM engines dating back to at least 1996, its implementation in the Chevy Cruze is a tad bit more aggressive.

When coming to a stop, the transmission also takes the car out of gear and leaves it in idle. Some may ask, “why not just cut the engine off completely like Toyota does?” The answer to that is that the fuel-saving features discussed earlier allow the engine to use very little fuel at idle. The recorded numbers I’ve found over on the CleanMPG.com forums indicates that, at idle, the engine uses ~0.2 gallons of fuel per hour.

All in all, I would not complain about using this transmission on a daily basis. Keep in mind, I am a bit biased since I own an ECO with the manual transmission…

 

Transmission – Manual

The Chevy Cruze is available with two distinctly different manual transmissions. The LS, 1LT and 2LT are available with a more conventional 6-speed manual, while the ECO is available with a 6-speed manual that has significantly different gearing ratios. I will not be able to review the standard 6-speed, as I have not driven it, but I will provide my impression of the ECO transmission.

The ECO’s manual transmission uses much taller gears and admittedly takes some getting to used to. Some have noted that it has a bit of a “European” feel to it. The taller gear ratios exist because the last 3 gears are all overdrive gears. The reason this is done is for fuel economy purposes. This allows the engine to cruise at a significantly lower RPM. More on that fuel economy later. The large ratio gap in 1st through 3rd gears will require some practice before you can shift them smoothly.  It can be a bit annoying at times, but I wouldn’t say there’s a loss of power.

The clutch on the manual transmissions in the Cruze is soft. It doesn’t take a whole lot of man-power to get that pedal down, and the shifts are butter smooth.

 

Electronics

The Cruze is all about technology, and all about electronics. In fact, nothing is really directly controlled anymore. For example, the window switch doesn’t directly control the window. Instead, the switch sends a command to the car’s BCM (computer), which then commands the window to go up or down. Everything from the exterior light delays to the traction control system and the push-button start (where available) is all controlled by computers.

Chevy Cruze LTZ Remote Start

Chevy Cruze LTZ Window Switches

Chevy Cruze LTZ Interior

 

Audio

The base system consists of four 6.5” door speakers and two silk dome tweeters in the pillars, while the optional Pioneer speaker package includes an external amplifier, 6×9 subwoofers in the rear deck for additional bass, and a center channel speaker at the top of the dash where a small storage compartment would normally go. Having heard them both, I can say that I was impressed, for factory sound at least. The tweeters are not harsh, but pleasant, and even though they are directed completely off-axis, they maintained a decent frequency response. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the factory system has a pre-set equalizer (transparent to the driver) that compensates for the loss of top-end frequency response on the tweeters, as well as the inherent compromises the system is required to make. A lot of thought went into the sound system, and it shows.

Chevy Cruze LTZ Interior Navigation

2012_Chevy Cruze LTZ Pioneer Speaker

For attachments, the Cruze has a 3.5mm jack through which you can plug in a phone or MP3 player, a CD bay, and a USB port. The USB port can be used to plug in a flash drive containing music, an MP3 player such as an iPod, or a smartphone. The music on any of these devices is then controlled using the radio’s navigation controls.

Chevy Cruze Eco iPod USB

 

Communications & Controls

All retail Cruze models in the US* are equipped with Bluetooth hands-free calling, as well as turn by turn navigation through OnStar. In fact, if using a smart phone, the car will actually connect to your phone book and allow you to dial numbers directly through the car without having to even touch your phone. The steering wheel controls allow you to easily place calls using either steering wheel buttons or voice commands, as well as end calls and navigate your phone book. I found the interface to be quite intuitive and the voice recognition to be flawless. I never once had an issue with the car understanding what I was telling it to do.

*As a note, Cruzes in the US with the 1FL package (for fleet and government use) do not have Onstar/Bluetooth as standard equipment. In addition, fleet and government vehicles in Canada can be ordered without OnStar and Bluetooth on the 1SA/1SB models. OnStar and Bluetooth are not standard on all retail models in Canada.

 

Driver Information Center

The driver information center in the Chevy Cruze is controlled by the turn signal stalk. The available screens in the menus vary a bit between models, but they generally offer the same information. In my own Cruze, I have two sections. The first section allows me to scroll through an instantaneous and average fuel economy, two separate trip odometers, fuel used, a timer, and a couple of other screens related to driver and fuel information. The second screen provides me with technical information, such as tire pressure (reported by TPMS sensors), coolant temperature, remaining oil life, and battery voltage. It is certainly the most advanced and fully-featured driver information center of any of the cars I test drove before buying the Cruze.

 

Navigation (2LT & LTZ)

The satellite navigation system in the Cruze LTZ was pretty impressive, in my opinion. I personally prefer to use the Google Maps app on my Android phone for navigation purposes, so this was a bit of a change from my usual needs, but I gave it a try for the week I used it. Navigating the unit felt natural and comfortable and had a shallow learning curve. The one thing that did impress me about it was the alerts. During my daily commute, I would often drive over a narrow bridge. It was something I expected and adapted to. As I was approaching this bridge from about a quarter of a mile away, the navigation system notified me, saying “caution: narrow road ahead.” Sure enough, the road narrowed as I expected it. Later that week, I needed to drive on the highway, and as I began to approach the onramp lane, the navigation system notified me again, saying “Caution, construction on I-55.” Sure enough, as I passed over the highway, there was heavy traffic. While these notifications can be turned off, it was a nice surprise to be warned about my surroundings and be offered alternate routes should I run into any traffic.

Chevy Cruze LTZ Radio Controls

 

Climate Control

My Cruze Eco has a fairly basic climate control system, with four fan speed settings and a manually adjusted temperature setting. There are a few dials to select where you want the air to go, a recirculate button, and A/C button, and that’s about it. It’s fairly basic and straightforward, which is what one would expect for a $19,000 car. The LTZ, however, integrates some fairly impressive features. Everything is digitally controlled, with the large color navigation screen showing any changes in settings. Like many significantly more expensive cars, you can set your desired temperature for the interior of the car and the computer will ensure that the temperature stays the same. The car’s climate control computer will also maintain interior humidity at a comfortable level, automatically engaging the A/C compressor to dehumidify the cabin. Unique to the higher end models is an “AQS” feature, which stands for air quality sensor. This sensor monitors the amount of pollutants entering the vehicle, such as in cases of heavy traffic. When air quality sensor detects pollutants above a certain level, it automatically switches the air to recirculate mode to ensure that you don’t pump concentrated exhaust fumes into your car. This is, of course, in addition to a cabin air filter that can be found in all trim levels.

Chevy Cruze LTZ Climate Controls

 

Fuel Economy

Our last topic for this article is fuel economy. I’m sure many of you would love to know how the Cruze stands up against the competition. Unfortunately, I won’t be comparing it to the competition, simply because that wouldn’t be a fair comparison. A year ago, the Cruze was compared to the Elantra, but the EPA later smacked down on Hyundai and Kia for falsifying fuel economy ratings and forced them to lower them. The beauty about the Cruze is that people actually get better than rated fuel economy. For reference, I always point people to Fuelly.com, where people report their real-world calculated fuel economy. For all 2012 Cruzes reported (including those with the 1.8L engine, which doesn’t do as well as the 1.4L Turbo engine), the average for all owners is 33.1MPG. Let’s break that down a little.

 

Automatic Transmissions

The Cruze LTZ I drove (equipped with the automatic transmission) is rated for 26MPG city and 38MPG highway. I did not have a chance to fill the car up at the pump before GM took it away to determine the exact fuel economy, but during the week I drove it, I averaged just over 30MPG, all of which consisted of in-town driving. I do have to be truthful, however, in that I drove the car quite “spiritedly.” By that, I mean there were frequent acceleration runs at wide open throttle to “test” performance and handling, if you catch my drift. If you had been in the passenger seat, you would be beyond impressed that I was able to break into the 30MPG average range. On CruzeTalk.com, we have reported averages for the 2012 and 2013 Cruzes in the range of 29-40MPG, depending on conditions and driving habits. As a whole, we have discovered that the automatic transmission Cruzes all achieve fuel economy in the advertised range.  The Cruze ECO with the automatic is rated for 39MPG on the highway; a mere 1MPG more than the non-Eco automatics, but real-world reporting has shown that the number is significantly higher, with members reporting from 38 to 42MPG highway fuel economy.

Chevy Cruze LTZ

 

Manual Transmissions

This is where the fuel economy magic happens. My experience has been that no matter what a manufacturer tells you, a manual transmission will have a higher potential fuel economy than that of an automatic transmission, due to weight and parasitic loss. This is certainly the case with the Cruze 1LT and 2LT. However, I don’t think there’s really anything special about those trims with regard to fuel economy. What is special is the fuel economy of the Cruze ECO with the manual transmission. As I noted earlier, the gearing here has been changed to maximize fuel economy, and the verdict is that it works. GM very conservatively rates the ECO MT6 at 28MPG city and 42MPG highway, but rarely does an owner of this car not beat that mileage. My personal average (which you can find here on fuelly.com) is 39.3MPG with a 74% city, 26% highway driving split. Note, that’s 74% city, not highway. On the highway, this car is a road trip warrior. On my tour out to Detroit and Lordstown, my Cruze averaged 49.2MPG, hand calculated at the pump, with a 85% highway driving split due to the city driving I did in Detroit. I wasn’t drafting trucks or implementing any crazy “hyper-miling” techniques either; this was 62-65mph driving in the right lane consistently. We have members who consistently hit 50-55MPG calculated at the pump with 100% highway driving conditions, depending on speed. Keep in mind, this is on a $19,000 Cruze, not a $24,000 Prius.

Cruze Eco Fuel Economy

 

50MPG? Seriously?

GM doesn’t advertise 50MPG, but talk to their employees that drive this car, and they’ll tell you there it doesn’t take any crazy tricks or voodoo magic to get those numbers. Surely by now, you’re thinking to yourself “but this has to be hybrid technology, right?” I’m here to inform you that there are no hybrid batteries or technologies inside the Cruze ECO MT. The car achieves this with the aforementioned manual transmission gearing, and a variety of improvements. Here’s a list of them:

Front lower grille shutters that close at highway speeds to reduce drag
Unique front fascia with a larger air dam to reduce under-body drag
Smaller upper grille opening to reduce drag
Relocation of license plate to force more air into the grille shutters
10mm lowered springs to reduce drag on the tires
Rear lip spoiler to reduce drag and separate trailing air wake
Low rolling resistance Goodyear FuelMax tires
10-spoke forged alloy wheels (the 10-spoke design reduces turbulence across the wheel, and the forged alloy wheels are as a whole ~21lbs lighter than the 16” cast alloys on the Cruze 1LT)
~220lbs weight reduction over the Cruze LTZ (Eco curb weight is estimated at 2940-3011lbs)
Under-body aerodynamic skid panels that extend to the back of the car to reduce under-body drag
 
Chevy Cruze Fog Lights
Chevy Cruze Tail Lights

GM took the fuel economy of the Cruze very seriously, and owners are getting serious fuel economy that makes Prius owners wonder if the price premium they paid actually translates to overall savings. Comparing the base Prius to the base Cruze 1LT, it would take you about 11 years or 160,000 miles just to break even on the costs, but you unfortunately can’t break even on the cost of driving a wedge of cheese, if you know what I mean.

 

Nuances

There are a few issues that I was less than thrilled about with the Cruze, and I’ll wholeheartedly admit to these.

  • Lack of lumbar support. Seriously GM, what were you thinking? A mechanical lumber adjustment couldn’t have been that difficult or expensive to fit into these seats. People with particularly sensitive backs would have loved this option.
  • Lack of a leather option on the ECO trim. I had to have mine reupholstered at a shop to have leather put in. Impressively high fuel economy and leather seating shouldn’t be exclusive.
  • Automatic transmission smoothness. This could have been tuned a bit more finely. I wouldn’t say it was bad, and you are free to call me spoiled, but it could be a tad bit better. I will note, however, that the car I drove was a review car, so who knows whose driving it was accustomed to before I got it.

 

Wrapping it up…

As my contacts at GM have told me and as I’ve seen first-hand, all you really need to do is get someone in a Cruze, and the car does the rest of the work. It’s a salesman’s dream; because the moment you sit inside and drive the Cruze, it sells itself and leaves the competition in the dust. GM has had no trouble selling these cars, and has even reduced incentives and deals with rental companies to keep resale value up. If you are in the market for a new car in this segment, I recommend you start with the Cruze, and drive its competitors afterward. At the end of your search, every other car simply will not come close to the Cruze and you’ll find yourself back where you started with the keys to a new Chevy Cruze in your hands, wondering why you even bothered test driving anything else.

Oh, and did I mention the Cruze is proudly built here in the United States, in Lordstown, OH?

Chevy Cruze Eco Lordstown

Chevy Cruze Front View

Chevy Cruze Eco Tail Lights

Chevy Cruze LTZ

Chevy Cruze LTZ

Chevy Cruze LTZ

Chevy Cruze LTZ

Chevy Cruze LTZ

Chevy Cruze LTZ

 

If you have any questions or want more information, feel free to ask either here, or create an account on CruzeTalk.com and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have and provide you with the information you’d like. Don’t forget to hit “like” and share this with friends and family!

– XTR

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