Introduced in 2011, the second-generation Chevrolet Cruze rolled out five years later. Lighter, larger and more polished than the original, no encore is needed. But don’t tell that to Chevrolet as the first compact hatchback since the Cavalier joins the sedan for 2017. We think the new body style will be well received as customers discover the extra measure of versatility hatchbacks provide.
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2017 Chevrolet Cruze Overview
What's New for 2017
Yes, a hatchback joins the sedan this year. This five-door model sits on the same roomy 106.3-inch wheelbase as the sedan, but comes in nine inches shorter overall. Where the sedan’s trunk measures a generous 14.8 cubic feet, the hatchback offers a whopping 47.2 cubic feet of cargo space when the second row is down. The new model is designed to appeal to a variety of people, including pet lovers, do-it-yourselfers, and campers.
Also new for 2017 is the second-generation Cruze Diesel, offering a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel that returns up to 52 miles per gallon on the highway.
Choosing Your Chevrolet Cruze
You have your choice of four trim levels with the sedan and two trim levels with the hatchback. All models are powered by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Except for the top trim levels, a six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic transmission is available.
Models equipped with the automatic transmission get better fuel economy, making an EPA-rated 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. Manual transmission-equipped Cruzes are rated at 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.
The new diesel model uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder to produce 137 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. Fitted with the standard six-speed manual, it returns 30 mpg in the city and 52 mpg on the highway (!). The optional nine-speed automatic improves the city rating to 31 mpg while dropping the highway figure to a still thrifty 47 mpg. Regardless of transmission, the EPA rates the Cruze Diesel at 37 mpg combined.
Technology savvy customers will be drawn to the Chevrolet Cruze as this model offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The latest Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system is available and you can opt for Wi-Fi, turning your Cruze into a hotspot. Available safety features include rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, and forward collision alert.
America’s earlier love affair with hatchbacks may be on the return. Consider this body style, especially if you prize the versatility found in SUVs, but prefer a more affordable substitute. Chances are the extra room when the back seat is folded will prove most welcoming when you need it.
2017 Chevrolet Cruze Review
After redesigning its front-drive compact sedan for the 2016 model year, Chevrolet launched a new hatchback body style for 2017. Less upright than the first-generation Cruze, the current model looks more modern and shapely, with a sportier demeanor.
Pricing and Equipment
Chevy offers the Cruze sedan in four trims – base L, LS, LT, and top Premier – while limiting its new, low-volume hatchback to just the LT and Premier levels. Starting at $17,850 (destination charge included) for the base L sedan, the Cruze tops out at $24,820 for a Premium hatchback. In between, the well-equipped LT trim starts at $21,025.
All Cruze models get the same powertrain. A 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 153 horsepower. In lower trim levels, a six-speed manual transmission is standard, with six-speed automatic optional. The automatic is standard only on the top-of-the-line Premier.
The Cruze LT sedan's standard features include:
- 7.0-inch infotainment screen
- Rearview camera
- 16-inch aluminum wheels
- 10 airbags
- Six-speaker audio
- Satellite radio
- Space-saver spare tire
- Manual or optional automatic transmission
An RS sport-appearance package spices up the looks of higher-trim cars.
- Passengers can expect a pleasantly comfortable ride in the Cruze, regardless of trim level. Ride comfort ranks close to best-in-class.
- Handling. Reduced weight, compared to its predecessor, makes the current Cruze more nimble and responsive. More enjoyable to drive, too, though it doesn’t rank as sporty. Steering is well-weighted at both low and higher speeds.
- Fuel economy stands out. With the automatic, the Cruze sedan returns an EPA-estimated 30 miles per gallon city, 40 highway, and 34 combined. The hatchback dips to 29 city and 38 highway for a 32-mpg combined rating.
- In ordinary driving, the Cruze powertrain can seem indecisive, shifting sluggishly, and not quite fully responsive.
- No other factors about the Cruze warrant a full “con” designation, but few of them – like engine noise – can't quite manage to climb above average, either.
- Generous interior space comes closer to that of a mid-size model, rather than a compact. Back-seat riders get 36 inches of leg room, as well as ample hip space.
- Unlike some compact-car competitors that lean a bit too far into contemporary trends, the Cruze dashboard is neither especially stylized nor excessively digital.
- Sedan trunk space, totaling 13.7 cubic feet, ranks near the biggest for the compact category.
- The hatchback’s stylish but curvy roofline cuts into interior space, which is otherwise sizable and versatile.
- Also in the hatchback, at least if equipped with the RS option package and bigger wheels, sounds can resonate in the back seat.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
Ride comfort is the one area in which the Cruze truly excels. We’re also pleased to see that a rearview camera is installed on all models – a welcome safety feature.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Active safety features are available, at least as part of option groups, but adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking are not among the offerings. Of course, Chevrolet is not alone in limiting availability of the latest safety technology for its less-expensive and smaller models. Note, too, that the base model has only a minimum of standard equipment. Both are tough pills to swallow when Honda is selling its entire Sensing suite for just $1,000 on nearly every Civic.
The Bottom Line
Slotting between Chevrolet’s Sonic and Malibu in size, the Cruze faces a lot of competition. Even if many of its traits don’t quite stand above the compact pack, an excellent ride can make up for a few modest deficiencies. Chevrolet soon will introduce a Cruze with a turbodiesel engine, which should yield even more tempting fuel economy.