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 Burns on Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 68,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Price, Quick, Fuel Efficient"
Cons: "Not remote start"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is the 3rd car i've ever bought and i love it, Its pretty quick and great on gas! Great price for the quality and year, i only paid $12,900. Huge trunk, and comfortable seating, I have a newborn and the car seat fits just fine."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Radyckle on Sunday, February 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,300overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Pros: Good looks LTZ RS. Great Power for a small engine. Great MPG. Good handling. Good stereo and hands free operation. Cons: High road noise. Voice commands are often misinterpreted due to the road noise. The climate controls are in a bad place and get bumped by passengers knees which turns off the auto climate control. This is annoying to constantly have to keep an eye on. Brake pedal has allot of travel and was this way from new. I drove a few and they were all this way, takes some getting used too. Engine lacks power at first but after it's broke in it has plenty for a 1.4 liter. I noticed a power increase after about 7,000 miles. Overall a great MPG car for the price but obviously some things could be improved."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By RR on Friday, February 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Purchased new Cruze ECO 10/12. As of 2/14, I have 65,000 miles on this car. I get 50 mpg + on the highway and average 40 mpg overall. This car has a 6 speed manual transmission. I have purchased a wheel and tire as this car comes with only a inflation pump with a sealant canister instead of a spare. The other oddity about this car is that it has drum brakes on the rear. Turbo provides excellent acceleration while maintaining gas milage."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Shelly on Friday, February 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,200overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cute and Fun to Drive"
Cons: "Lost it's reliability far too soon."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"4K Miles - Brake pad issues. Did some research, found out there was a recall for the same issue on the VIN before mine. Clearly, the issue isn't corrected. 6K Miles - Dealer didn't secure cap after doing oil change, air got into the fuel tank. No longer does my reading go over 500 to empty when I put gas in my car, but doesn't go past 490 14K Miles - Suspension. Dealer greased the balljoints, sent me on my way. 16K Miles - Engine Misfire, Stabilitrack and Traction Control check engine light come on. Dealer told me that Cylinder 1 Misfired and that it was in "history" when he did the reading. 16K Miles -Day after Engine Misfire, squeak in suspension comes back. Solution. Trading down my car for Toyota, not going to do this after it loses too much value. Already upside down, but will take it as a loss now, instead of a bigger loss in the future."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Victor's mom on Thursday, February 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Cons: "too new for all the mechanical problems."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car is a nightmare to own. Before the 36,000 mile warranty even went out, the water pump failed. I have had 2 recall repairs done and the battery replaced along with a purge valve for the exhaust. I just recently had an oil leak that was thankfully covered under the drive train warranty, but this car is in the shop all the time. I hate this car. I will never own another Chevy. EVER. I never know when I get in, what sensor will go off on the dashboard. Please for the love of all that is holy, do not buy this car."
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Brash1 on Tuesday, February 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good ride, good gas mileage"
Cons: "Terrible nav system. Pooring designed center arm"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Having the naviagation in the 2012 Cruze is worthless. It is not accurate. Been dealing with Chevy and Dealership for over 18 months. There is no setting that gets us to the correct shortest distance or fastest time. ETA is always wrong. It is not a map update it issue. It is part of its core function. When evaluating the value of the ascribe $0.00 to the navigation. Have been very dissapointed with response from Chevy and dealership."