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 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."
1 person out of 4 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."
1 person out of 1 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
By Andy on Friday, August 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Cons: "Poor Quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I purchased my 2012 Cruze new in December 2011. I have the Eco model with 6-speed manual. It looks nice & is fun to drive as long as the air conditioning isn't on. Once you put the air on, it's very difficult to accelerate. I have to shut the air off, get up to speed and then turn it back on. Otherwise, everyone is passing me by. (Oh look nice riding lawn mower passing me by!) Also, every December since I purchased it the camshaft cover cracks. The car sputters, traction control lights go on and Onstar confirms four or five different engine error codes are reported. The first time I had to have the car towed to the dealer. The next December the same thing happened. It's been covered under warranty. The car is already showing signs that it's doing it again. With the mileage I have on it, I will likely get one more repair and have to trade it next year. I won't be trading it in for another GM product. The first time this happened the car was at the dealer two days before for an oil change. The dealer accused me of having someone else tampering with the car. While the hood wasn't opened since they performed the oil change."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By justme99 on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I want this caroverall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles Well"
Cons: "I thought the gas mileage would be better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I own a "07 Cobalt trading it for the "14 Cruze. Handles well, gas mileage not what I thought, but ok for my use. Remember folks, its a compact car, not suppose to have the room a larger car has. So don't put this car down because you think it's small... buy a larger car !!"
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By rcampbell on Wednesday, July 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Cons: "everything else"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I traded my ford in for this car and that could be one of the reason that I have never liked this car. It is not comfortable, the cups holders are so low that what ever you are driking ends up with coat tails, shirt tails, dust and everything else possible all in it. The styling is not great, it is very plain and not turn your head worthy. It drives ok and the turbo does provide a little pep but I only notice this when I get out of my PRIUS and get in this car. Gas mileage is not that great. The value is ok I guess. I miss my FORD."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful