While crossovers may be the new, popular kid on the block, compact vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze are still extremely popular. With the addition of a new hatchback body style last year and an available diesel engine, Chevrolet’s compact offering should now appeal to those looking for a fuel-efficient car that’s easy and enjoyable to drive.
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2018 Chevrolet Cruze Overview
What's New for 2018
Not much changes for the 2018 Cruze. Satin Steel Gray Metallic is a new exterior color, while the hatchback body style is now offered with the 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine.
Choosing Your Chevrolet Cruze
Available as either a sedan or a hatchback, the Cruze is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. The engine can be paired to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Power is put down through the front wheels regardless of trim.
With the six-speed automatic, the Cruze is capable of returning 29 miles per gallon in the city, 40 mpg on the highway, and 33 mpg combined. Vehicles with a manual transmission can muster 29 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on highway, and 32 mpg combined.
While compact cars of yesteryear were stripped out models without any convenience features, the new Cruze is packed to the gills with high-tech goodies, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The latest edition of Chevrolet MyLink, offered in both seven- and eight-inch screens, brings new apps to the vehicle, while the latest safety features are available through optional packages.
The Cruze is also available with a 1.6-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder and is listed separately.
The Cruze comes in four different trims:
With the hatchback’s more fluid lines, more accessible cargo area, and improved cargo space, it’s the body style we recommend. The LT trim comes with some great features as standard, while the Driver Confidence Package is worth the extra $495, simply for the peace of mind blind-spot monitoring provides.
2018 Chevrolet Cruze Review
In the same vein as the Cavalier of yesteryear, the Chevrolet Cruze attempts to clear Chevy a spot in the hearts of young, growing families in the vast compact market led by Toyota and Honda.
With its newer hatchback and diesel models now well established, the 2018 Cruze gives young families a few more reasons to consider it. This comes on top of its desirable features, comfy ride, efficient character, and other niceties that make this compact model feel more premium than its price tag alludes to.
Just because it’s Chevy’s inexpensive compact sedan doesn’t mean you have to settle for the Cruze’s base trim (although there's nothing wrong if that's the case – even the base Cruze comes with a seven-inch MyLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, OnStar 4G LTE wifi connectivity, and Bluetooth, to name a few goodies).
In fact, the best value in the Cruze lineup is the upper-midrange LT trim in the sedan body style. This trim starts from a still-affordable $21,025 and comes standard with a few more desirable features than the lower trims, including a six-speaker audio system, 16-inch alloy wheels, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, and a spare tire. That price includes a six-speed manual transmission, which might be an issue for some consumers – add $1,300 for the automatic variant.
The LT trim also opens the door to the Convenience Package ($850), which adds valuable features like an eight-way power driver’s seat, keyless entry and ignition, and heated front seats. We also suggest adding the inexpensive RS Package ($695) to make this not-so-expensive sedan look a little more premium with its rear spoiler, fog lights, and sport body kit.
- Model:2018 Chevrolet Cruze Sedan LT
- Engine:1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
- Output:153 hp / 177 lb-ft
- Transmission:Six-speed manual
- Exterior color:Red Hot
- Interior color:Jet Black cloth
- Options:Convenience Package ($850, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, eight-way power driver’s seat), RS Package ($695, sport body kit, RS lettering, front fog lights, rear spoiler)
- Base Price:$21,025
- As Tested:$22,570
- Optional turbodiesel engine delivers up to 37 miles per gallon combined – up to 52 mpg on the highway! – and low-end punch.
- Ride quality is better than average.
- Slick-shifting six-speed manual has a light and easy clutch.
- Excellent highway cruiser with great stability at higher speeds.
- Electric power steering feels numb.
- Lacks the zippiness of some competitors, like the Mazda 3.
- Clean cabin layout with limited, but well-placed, buttons.
- Standard seven-inch touchscreen elevates the interior.
- Plenty of options to really gussy up the interior.
- Nearly 14 cubic feet of trunk space in the sedan and more than 24 cubic feet of cargo room in the hatchback with the seats up.
- Even the base L trim is not lacking features for its class.
- Some interior options add a lot to the bottom line pricing.
- The middle seat in the rear is a tight fit for most.
- Range-topping Premier trim is missing some staple items, like dual-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, and a head-up display.
- Most advanced safety equipment only available on Premier, while adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking aren't available full stop.
Our Favorite Thing
We love the Cruze’s ride quality. Not only is it super comfortable for its class, but the cabin is also well insulated from most outside noise, making the Chevy feel like a more premium vehicle.
Our Least Favorite Thing
The pricey Premier trim’s lack of certain upscale features left us scratching our heads. Why would Chevy not offer dual-zone climate control and ventilated seats on this range-topping trim level? And what about automatic emergency braking? Come on, Chevy.
Young, growing family: With its relatively low price, the option of getting a sedan or hatchback, and roominess in both body styles, the 2018 Cruze is perfect for a younger family looking for a new car to haul the kids to practices and recitals.
Families looking to upgrade: Yes, the 2018 Chevy Cruze is better than most in its class in terms of comfort and features, but it is not a premium model that would satisfy a family's urge to move to a more upscale model.
The Bottom Line
With its combination of comfort, responsiveness, roominess, high-end options, and relatively low price, the 2018 Cruze is a must-try for any growing family. Will it fall short in some areas? Of course – it is still an inexpensive compact car, after all – but its benefits far outweigh the negatives.