By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
One of the most competitive and lucrative segments in the auto industry is that of the compact car. Until recently, foreign competitors dominated the market, with Ford, Chevy and Dodge offering weak or sub-par offerings. But domestic manufactures have begun turning the tables on their overseas rivals and regaining the trust and confidence of American buyers. One example of this turnaround is the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze, a sleek and efficient compact that offers impressive features, handsome styling and fuel economy figures even the staunchest tree-hugger would concede are pretty darn good. Because of the wide model range and options list, the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze possesses a broad price spread that ranges from around $17,000 to just under $27,000 when fully loaded. That's quite a chunk of change for compact car and it might be a tough sell, especially when compared to the equally attractive and fuel efficient Hyundai Elantra and Honda Civic. But, the Chevrolet brand is on fire right now. So while models like the Elantra and Civic may provide many of the same features as the Cruze they don't feel as solid or connected to the road, an attribute many budget-minded enthusiasts look for in a compact sedan.
If you're shopping for a compact car with a more refined look, ride and interior quality than the average economy sedan, the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze sedan is sure to win you over. The Eco model's 40-mpg highway fuel rating also can't hurt.
The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze sees a two-mpg increase in the highway fuel economy on models equipped with the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine. A 6-speed manual is now standard on LT trims, while the Connectivity Plus Cruise package is made standard on 1LT and Eco trims. LTZ trims gain keyless entry and start as well as fog lamps.
Driving Impressions The 2012 Chevy Cruze sedan offers two engine choices: a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder and a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. While the 1.8-liter engine is bigger, it is only available on the base...LS Cruze and is nowhere near as fun to drive as the smaller turbocharged engine. Despite the smaller displacement, the 1.4-liter Ecotec engine is quiet and smooth, and actually produces the same horsepower as the 1.8-liter but with stronger low-end torque. If the turbo has one drawback, it's the momentary lag experienced upon acceleration, a result of the few seconds it takes the turbocharger to wind up and do its power-boost thing. We were equally impressed with the Cruze sedan's driving dynamics which are best described as sporty and fun, but not overly harsh. The adept suspension does a good job smoothing out small pavement irregularities, and during aggressive driving, it keeps the car fairly level and free of body roll. Added to save weight and fuel, the electric-assist power steering delivers good feedback and generally feels direct and well balanced.
1.4-liter Ecotec Turbo Engine
The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze sedan's 4-cylinder turbocharged engine not only delivers ample torque for a fun drive, it's also quiet and fuel efficient.
The 2012 Chevy Cruze RS features bold rocker panels, fascia, lamp treatments and a spoiler on the outside, while inside chrome accents, ice-blue backlighting and an up-level instrument cluster complete the sporty look.
Chevrolet spent a lot of time and effort the get the 2012 Cruze's interior right, and it has paid off handsomely. The quality of the materials combined with their design and execution are far and away above anything else in this price range. Seat comfort, both front and rear, is another area where the Cruze sedan shines. Legroom up front is excellent while the rear seats offer a comfortable place for two adults – as long as the front seats are not fully extended. Attention to safety is evident by the Cruze's 10 airbags, including front and rear seat-mounted side airbags and front knee airbags. Ample use of sound deadening material makes the Cruze sedan's cabin one of the quietest in the segment.
Chevrolet gave the 2012 Cruze sedan an aggressive hood and front fender treatment connected to a split front grille that has become the company's new "face." The Cruze's wide stance and big wheel and tire combo impart a solid, stable look that makes the car seem larger than its compact status. Base models ride on 16-inch rims, with the more expensive models owning 17- and 18-inchers. For those who might prefer a more stylized ride, Chevrolet offers a number of exterior and interior appearance packages that add machine-finished wheels, a rear spoiler, body-colored mirrors and door handles, and fog lamps.
The base Chevrolet Cruze LS comes equipped with a 1.8-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder engine, a 6-speed manual transmission, 10 airbags, air conditioning, keyless entry, and power windows and door locks. Opting for the 1LT model brings a 6-speed automatic transmission paired to a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, cruise control, Bluetooth, a USB port, power mirrors and steering wheel audio controls. The 2LT Cruze adds leather seating surfaces, a 6-way power driver's seat and heated front seats. The top-of-the-line LTZ trim further enhances the Cruze sedan with rear park assist, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and dual-zone climate control.
Options on the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze vary by trim and include a Connectivity Package with Bluetooth, a USB Port for portable music devices and steering-wheel-mounted stereo controls. A sporty RS Package is also available, offering front fog lamps, rocker panel moldings and a rear spoiler. Stand-alone options include a power moonroof, rear parking sensors, GPS navigation and a Pioneer premium audio system.
Two engines are offered on the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze: A naturally-aspirated 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that produces 138 horsepower and 125 lb.-ft. of torque (standard on base LS models) and a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 138 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. of torque. This year, addition of the 6-speed manual to the turbo models makes them ultimately more fun to drive, but we know the vast majority of Cruzes will go out the door with the very capable Hydra-Matic 6-speed automatic transmission. Using a combination of lighter materials, better aerodynamics and low-rolling-resistance tires allows the Cruze ECO to achieve hybrid-like fuel economy that exceeds 40 mpg.
1.8-liter in-line 4
138 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
125 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/36 (manual), 22/35 (automatic)
1.4-liter in-line 4 Turbocharged
138 horsepower @ 4,900 rpm
148 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2,500 rpm (manual), 148 lb.-ft. @ 1,850 rpm (automatic)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/38 (manual), 26/38 (automatic), 28/42 (manual, ECO), 26/39 (automatic, ECO)
By prybar on Sunday, March 01, 2015
I don't own this caroverall rating 5 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"No space in rear seat area. Key fob is way too small causing trunk to open when trying to unlock car. Handles well in snow and bad weather. The I.P. is poorly designed and buttons difficult to use when driving."
By Chiefhighliner on Thursday, February 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Agility, comfort, speed, braking, economy, price"
Cons: "No coupe available"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I looked at the Toyota Camry, Corolla and Honda Accord and for the price the 2014 Cruze was the best deal. From the very first time I drove it, I knew it was the right car for me. Sleek, agile and very fun to drive with excellent fuel economy and acceleration, the Cruze is perfect for my driving style. Handles corners like its on rails. Virtually no road noise. The sound system has 12 speakers and its better than any that I've ever had. I can't believe you can get this much fun and technology for $18,500! Mine came with the MyLink and touchscreen. All the features make you feel like you're in control of Iron Man or a sleek spaceship. Could not be happier."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By KK on Thursday, February 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,800overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "Awesome and sporty ext and comfortable interior"
Cons: "Poor make of the vehicle motor"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I bought this car in January of 2014 and for the first year it was a great car... until the next winter came along. The car has a cold start problem where all the check engine lights and traction control lights come on, it won't shift, and the car will barely start. It has now been in the shop since the end of December of 2014 and it is now almost March of 2015 and the dealership says they can not find the problem. I have asked other Cruze owners about theirs and everybody seems to have problems. Maybe mine is a lemon but I would strongly advise to NOT BUY THIS CAR!"
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Bill on Sunday, February 22, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "very economical to drive with comfort"
Cons: "blindspots but sensors alert to avoid collision"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This was an early release Chevrolet Cruze Diesel. I purchased it in May 2013. I dive this car for work and mostly on highways. My average MPG is 47 and cost 5-8 cents a mile for fuel cost. On one trip to Louisiana I got 50 MPG over a distance of 797 miles. It is comfortable on long trips. In my opinion, this vehicle best the Volkswagon TDI since dealerships are abundant for service. It is a pity that Chevrolet has not made this car's presence known in its commercial advertisements. I have had one recall which was handled promptly. There have been no significant issues with engine or drive train. I have enjoyed owning it."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By CB on Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks nice"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I leased this car for the MPG and to transport my mother around. It is comfortable and well designed. However, with the recall for axles, I was told by my service rep "use it as little as possible until the parts are available and it is fixed". This took 6 months waiting on parts. I parked the car and made other arrangements for my mother. Since that time I have received 5 letters from GM advising me of various defects; which GM has no intention of fixing "until they occur"; some of which are overheating, loss of power steering, loss of lights, leaking coolant, bad battery connection; all of which are simple fixes, but have diminished my confidence in whether or not this car will break down on me and leave me stranded unable to get to where I'm going or get me back home. This is why it only has 7000 miles on it, in 18 months, and has been serviced only once, based upon time verses mileage. It is also why I am looking at trading it in for another brand of car, even if it costs me a bunch of money to get out of. The worst part for me is in 44years of driving all 37 of my vehicles have been GM."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Lee on Sunday, February 15, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 57,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "good sound system."
Cons: "cheap interior; visibility stinks; underpowered"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"the reason i have a measly 57K is that this joke has spent entirely too much time in several dealerships for recalls/repairs. based on this vehicle, i will NEVER purchase another GM product"
11 people out of 26 found this review helpful