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.

Best Value

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

Performance Pros

Chevy Cruze
  • 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.

Performance Cons

  • Electric power steering feels numb.
  • Lacks the zippiness of some competitors, like the Mazda 3.

Interior Pros

  • 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.

Interior Cons

Chevy Cruze
  • 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.

Right For

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.

Wrong For

Chevy Cruze

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.