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2017 Chevrolet Cruze: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2017

Once left playing catch up to cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze has come into its own, offering styling, power, features and economy on par with the very best foreign and domestic compacts. Joining the sedan this year is a sporty 5-door hatchback, helping the Cruze take on such popular rivals as the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda3.

So what's so different about the latest Chevy Cruze? For starters, there's the handsome, futuristic exterior, the spacious and well-appointed interior, the turbocharged powertrain with impressive gas mileage, and a lot more of the latest high-tech features and gadgets we've come to appreciate from the small-car segment. The Cruze is so dramatically improved over the previous generation that we think it easily deserves a spot on your shopping list.

What's New for 2017?

For 2017, a 5-door hatchback joins the Cruze lineup, while Teen Driver, now standard, allows parents to set controls and monitor how their kids are driving. The LT trim gets a separate charge-only USB port, and Chevrolet will offer a diesel engine option later in the model year.

What We Like

Handsome styling; large interior with superior materials; impressive array of technology; peppy 4-cylinder offers great gas mileage

What We Don't

Interior still not as large as in some rivals; steering feels a little numb; standard engine lags behind competitors in horsepower; no L or LS trim for hatchback; manual not available on top trim level

How Much?

$17,850-$30,000

Fuel Economy

The 2017 Cruze offers only one engine choice: a 153-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which can be mated to 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. On the sedan, fuel economy reaches as high as 28 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway with the manual, or up to 30 mpg city/40 mpg hwy with the automatic. The hatchback gets 28 mpg city/37 mpg hwy with the manual and 29 mpg city/38 mpg hwy when equipped with the automatic.

Standard Features & Options

The Cruze sedan comes in four trim levels: the L, LS, LT and Premier. The hatchback is offered only in the LT and Premier. L models are only offered with the 6-speed manual transmission, while the Premier is only available with the 6-speed automatic. LS and LT models come standard with the manual and offer the automatic as an option. All Cruze trim levels only offer front-wheel drive.

The base-level stick-shift-only Cruze L ($17,850) comes standard with air conditioning, 15-in steel wheels with hubcaps, Bluetooth, a backup camera, power accessories, Teen Driver, a 4-speaker stereo with Bluetooth, OnStar with a Wi-Fi hotspot and a 7-in center touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The LS ($19,400) adds only a front center armrest and carpeted floor mats but also allows drivers to order the automatic transmission, which is $1,000 extra.

Step up to the LT ($21,025, sedan) ($22,115, hatchback) and you get 16-in alloy wheels, steering-wheel-mounted phone and audio controls, cruise control, LED running lights, satellite radio and a 6-speaker stereo. The LT also offers a Convenience package with keyless ignition and push-button start, a power driver's seat, heated front seats and a remote engine starter.

Topping the range is the Premier ($24,350, sedan) ($24,820, hatchback), which comes standard with both an automatic transmission and the LT's Convenience package. The Premier also includes larger alloy wheels, a heated steering wheel and leather upholstery.

Other options (mostly for the LT and Premier) include an 8-in center touchscreen, a 9-speaker Bose audio system, a navigation system, heated rear seats, automatic climate control, a wireless-device charging system, a full-color driver information center, a power sunroof and a long list of safety options, including rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams, forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, rear parking sensors and a blind spot monitoring system.

Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze a 4-star overall rating, with five stars in the front crash test and four stars in the side and rollover tests. The Cruze offers a long list of safety features, both standard and optional. Standard equipment includes side-curtain airbags, a backup camera and anti-lock brakes, while options run the gamut from rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system to forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist and automatic high beams -- items you don't usually expect to find in the compact-car segment.

Behind the Wheel

On the road, the Cruze feels a lot punchier than its modest 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine's size might suggest. Chalk it up to minimal turbo lag and an efficient automatic transmission. Speaking of that transmission, it's impressively smooth, even under hard acceleration.

Inside the Cruze, there's a lot of room for passengers, especially in back. Materials are of the highest quality, meaning the Cruze's cabin offers about as much of visual delight as does its exterior design. As for cornering and handling capabilities, the Cruze feels as stable and composed as any other car in this segment, but it's not as quick-witted as sporty small cars such as the Mazda3, largely due to a slightly vague steering feel.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Honda Civic -- The Civic is among the best models in this class, touting standout styling, a high-class interior, a lot of the latest equipment and features, and impressive interior room.

2017 Hyundai Elantra -- The 2017 Elantra is fully redesigned and earns a spot near the top of the class thanks to a handsome look, a smooth, comfortable ride, a long list of high-tech features and a reassuring 10-year/100,000 mile warranty.

2017 Mazda3 -- The spry Mazda3 is among the sportiest models in this segment, and it's also one of the most technologically advanced. As a bonus, the Mazda3 offers a manual transmission on its top-line Grand Touring trim.

Used Chevrolet Malibu -- If you like the Cruze's design and technology, you might also want to consider Chevrolet's latest Malibu, which features more of the same in a larger package. It's pricier than the Cruze, though, which means you may want to consider a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

If we were getting a Cruze, we'd choose an LT with the Convenience package and a few safety options. For around $25,000, you'll have a well-equipped small car with a standout design, an upscale interior and an impressive array of convenience and safety technologies.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Chevrolet Cruze: New Car Review - Autotrader