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 Nikkiee on Sunday, January 25, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "gas mileage, features, look, Remote Starter"
Cons: "No space, too many recalls."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I bought this car on August 9 2013. I really regret it. This car has so many recalls and you feel every numb while driving. I love the gas mileage but there is no space in back seat. If you're looking for a roomy car pleas don't purchase this car.overall it is a nice car."
By Liz on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This vehicle is the worse vehicle we have ever owned. In the shop multiple times. Would never recommend buying a Cruze."
By Nate on Friday, January 23, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,400overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "handles Excellently in the Snow"
Cons: "only lets me bluetooth phone calls but not music?"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Way overpaid for this car- my own fault i guess can't see anything backing up has the worst blind spots of any car i've ever driven catches rocks like they were magnetized to the Windsheild. great on road trips seats are comfy and gas mileage is amazing but forget about tall passengers getting any sleep while you drive theres no room to recline if more than two people in the car. large spacious trunk handles like a dream provided you can find a way to see where your going. wish i could trade it in for something bigger but somehow i'm 20,000 in the hole for a car this site says is only worth 10,000 7 months after buying it."
By Moonglow on Wednesday, January 21, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"After driving this car for almost 2 years I do not like it. It is slow, drives like a truck, takes bumps badly. The inside is small. The steering wheel obscures one of the heater vents. Driving on an expressway, it is VERY noisy. I am sorry I ever bought it !!!"
7 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Frank on Monday, January 19, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price, fun to drive"
Cons: "no cons."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I got a good deal $ from the dealer. So far its good. First week 32.3m/g, second weeks 29.6m/g. free 2 years maintenance. Specially 1LT came with cool features like Bluetooth, Remote start, & back up camera. I bought this car for my wife. Seem she like it."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Derek on Friday, January 02, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price, sporty look, plenty of room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this car. I'm 6'7" 310 lbs & I'm actually really comfortable in this vehicle. I've been searching for a good gas mileage car that I can fit into. It's perfect for my wife, 5 year old, baby, & me to cruise around in. Really excellent safety ratings. I got a great deal on it. Excellent bang for the buck! I recommend the LT for a little extra money it has some really cool features like Bluetooth, Remote start, & back up camera. The exterior is so sexy looking. The interior is descent for the price. 1.4 liter turbo is plenty of power for this vehicle."
28 people out of 51 found this review helpful