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 harvini on Saturday, September 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gets great gas mileage. Good electronics pkg."
Cons: "Some blind spots for short driver."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I was never a fan of Chevy's over the years, but when it came time to buy a new car a couple of years ago, when all of the comparisons were made, it came down to the Cruze or a Fit. I liked the Cruze better after some test drives, and so bought it. This car has gotten us through some winter weather that was so severe that even FWD vehicles were having trouble. Rain, snow, hot, cold, this car has handled them all without a single problem. In daily commute service, it gives a solid 37 MPG. It is very sensitive to driving technique. If you drive it conservatively and use some hypermiling techniques it will reward you with astounding mileage. I have had stretches of 20-30 miles where it was showing more than 50 MPG. On the other hand, if you drive like an agressive leadfoot, the mileage will drop to a very disappointing number in the low 20's. Its up to the driver. So far, at 15K miles, the only thing it has needed was oil changes and tire rotations. No other maintenance of any sort has been required. When the 2nd car in the family needed replacement a few months ago, we biought another Cruze."
8 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Cruzer on Friday, September 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,900overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "Rear Seat leg room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought the vehicle to be a commuter to and from LA. The vehicle is an excellent car. Excellent gas mileage and able to maneuver in and out of traffic with ease."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Dan on Tuesday, September 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "45-47mpg on highway; 30-35mpg in town"
Cons: "Poor A/C"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought the car new in 2011. We are a single-car retired household and the Cruze has served us well--very comfortable for the two of us and very economical."
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By nylady on Tuesday, August 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "good gas mileage"
Cons: "not good in snow"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"although a comfortable car with good gas mileage in New York winters it is too light in the snow and slides a lot."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Cruseowner on Tuesday, August 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "great gas mileage. with the eco we average 32mpg"
Cons: "Mechanical problems"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"We loved our Cruze for the first year of owning it but after that we have had nothing but mechanical problems. We have had to change the water pump, radiator fan and regulator and now there is a whistling nose that we can not figure out when we are on the highway and it is hot out. The radiator fan would only run in the high setting and the car seems to burn fluid as if there is a leak. I would not recommend the 2011 Cruze to anyone.... Hopefully the newer models have these problems figured out."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By John on Tuesday, August 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Value - MPG, Dynamics, Quality, Fit and Finish"
Cons: "Seats are lacking in the comfort department"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought this car to replace an SUV When I was commuting between VA and Washington D.C., where traffic and parking can be a challenge. The car has good driving dynamics for what it is - a smaller commuter-type vehicle that can accomodate 4 adults when needed (plus the trunk is pretty large). I have a manual ECO version and get 30+ MPG on trips around town. I have regularly exceeded 45 MPG on longer hwy trips (actual calculated) doing 70+ MPH. I put gas in it and change the oil, that's about it. No tires or brakes or anything else as I approach 40,000 miles."
12 people out of 16 found this review helpful