In addition to my wife’s car, during my recent visit to Omaha, I got the chance to sample my Father in Law’s 2013 Chevy Cruz LT. Contrary to our perceived anti-GM Bias, I have to say it’s really good.
How good? Let’s open with; if you are looking at a Hyundai, Kia and especially the Civic or Corolla, you should reconsider, that good. TTAC liked it in 2010, and TTAC liked it 2011, and 2012. I did not receive a press car or a tank of gas, and like the website promises; the truth is, I like it now.
I will admit I do not like American small cars; partially because my step-Dad owned three Pintos in a row, but mostly because my experience since. After the Pintos, I drove every version of the Chevy Cavalier when they were new, including the Z24s. They were born awful and aged worse. The Escort was marginally better but suffered the same fate. Dodge had the Colt, but they were built by Mitsubishi. That perception stayed with me the better part of 20 years.
It was still with me when I slipped behind the wheel of the Cruz. It was 4 months old with barely had 1,500 miles on it. My Father in Law got it after his 3rd PT Cruiser lease. Knowing he is a man who voluntarily drove three of them added to my negative outlook.
The first impression was the instrumentation. Simple, uncluttered, centered in the pod and illuminated in soft blue light. A big attraction for FIL who doesn’t care about “all that other crap”. The seat is adjustable in all of the same ways as my BMW, albeit manually. Once settled and adjusted I fired up the engine.
The Ecotech surprised me. The Cruz is on par with anything I have driven in the last 5 years. No buzzing, vibration or drama, even by modern standards. You don’t expect neck snapping power, but the Ecotech 1.4 turbo makes easy work of entrance ramps, traffic merges or left turns from secondary roads. This is not my thoughts in comparison to old Cavaliers; this is my perception straight out of my wife’s BMW X1.
The interior is plain, as you would expect, but the standard appointments a younger demographic would expect car are all there; satellite radio, MP3 with USB, steering wheel controls, A/C, power doors windows and locks, etc.
The chassis is solid but not punishing, the brakes are the same. Shifts are smooth and don’t jar the car. It tracks straight, offers great visibility and is a genuinely pleasant place to be. Of course all of these things can be said of the Cruz’s competition, but what has impressed me was this car has the same and in many cases, a cheaper entry threshold.
This particular Cruz was $21K and change on the window before my wife got to haggling. GM’s website lists the Cruz starting at $17 and the LS Auto starting at $18.2. A quick search of the Omaha area Honda, Toyota and other import dealers put the right under the competition. Less money for a car that is easily as good and I would argue better than the established players in this price segment.
More so with the lease options; GM has a Cruz lease of $156 an month. Even a Hyundai Accent will set you back $18.5. A stripper Corolla stickers at $19.2 (new 2013s are on sale at $18.3). The Civic starts at $21.
Electing to forgo any down payment, my FIL has this one in his garage for $199 a month; just under the cost of his last PT Cruiser. He is getting well over 30 MPG with almost exclusive city/suburban driving.
I promise you, Reuss hasn’t gotten to me. If you have read my other meager offerings you know I am not a “lifestyle” blogger or a sellout. No, you know me; I am a 42 year old A-type with a heavy left foot and a penchant for bad ideas.
It’s just the Cruz is actually a really good car. That was news to me; I didn’t think GM could make a good small car. It may not be the best value out there, but if you’re looking for a new car and browsing the usual suspects, give the Cruz a look. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised.
Disclaimer: The prices for the vehicle mentioned were done using the internet searches from Omaha area new car dealers. You could most certainly get a better deal using all the tricks you have learned here and elsewhere. But I have driven most of the offerings discussed above; I still think it’s the better car and the better deal. Your mileage may vary.