The Truth About Cars » cruze review The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:28:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » cruze review Capsule Review: 2013 Chevy Cruze Tue, 03 Sep 2013 12:00:52 +0000 Picture lifted from GM's website

Picture lifted from GM’s website

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.

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Review: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LT Wed, 20 Oct 2010 16:37:55 +0000

About once per decade since the 1960s, GM has introduced a compact car that was going to slaughter the imports, only to have it flop miserably: Corvair, Vega,  Cavalier, Saturn (Chevrolet focused on trucks during the 1990s), Cobalt. Okay, including the last isn’t quite fair. It was introduced with much less hype, and ironically didn’t fare too badly. And now, the Chevrolet Cruze. Not too much hype—that’s for the Volt. But has GM finally figured out how to build a class-leading compact sedan?

A couple years ago at the Detroit auto show (NAIAS) I was puzzled by the presence of an Audi A4 in the Chevrolet area. Then I realized it was actually the new Cruze. Shod with 19-inch five-spoke alloys and painted candy apple red, the small sedan really grabbed the eye. With 16-inch steelies and painted appliance white, like the car I drove for this review, not so much. Make that not at all.  One detail the car would look better without: the (Sebring-inspired?) chrome-underlined black triangle aft of the rear door. When the designers want to go one way and the engineers want to go another, this is not a viable solution.

The real story is inside the car. The Cruze’s interior is not only infinitely better than that of the Cobalt, but easily best-in-class. The plastics look and feel very high in quality. And, thanks to the fabric trim panels on the doors and dash, the ambiance isn’t one of plastic, plastic, and more plastic. The doors even close with a Teutonic whumpf (that continues to elude Cadillac) and feel rock solid in the process. The Kia and Mitsubishi compacts I drove the same afternoon felt like junk in comparison. Even the much more expensive Audi that provided design inspiration could learn a thing or two.

And that’s not all there is to love about the interior. The front seats are outstanding, moderately firm without being too firm and providing support in all of the right places. Why don’t the CTS and Corvette have seats this good? Front and rear seat height is separately adjustable—for both seats. While these adjustments used to be common for the driver’s seat in affordable cars, bean counters have been hunting it to extinction. The seating position is low, so all but the tallest drivers will want to take advantage of them. Unfortunately, there’s no such solution for GM’s typical ultra-thick A-pillars. The leather wrapped steering wheel, which tilts and telescopes, is a joy to grip. The HVAC and audio controls have a quality feel and are well-designed, with knobs for major functions. For once, the General truly seems to have sweated the details.

The worst thing about the interior? The rear seat is low to the floor, and rear knee room is in short supply. I’m only 5-9 but had at most an inch to spare when sitting behind myself. Trunk space is better, but if you want a hatch you’re SOL.

The only engines currently offered are a 136-horsepower 1.8-liter four and a 138-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter four. The point of the latter? Torque—148 pound-feet from 1,850 rpm rather than 123@3800—and (to a lesser extent) MPG—24/36 instead of 22/35. A special “ECO” variant manages 40 on the highway test when pairing the turbo 1.4 with a six-speed manual. But that’s a late intro—initially there’s only a six-speed automatic, manually shiftable in the LT. During a spirited suburban test drive I observed 24. High 20s should be the norm in casual driving about town, with 30s on the highway.

The Cruze weighs over 3,100 pounds, so the tiny turbo four has its work cut out for it. Though free of lag, this engine vibrates at idle (an exception to the generally high level of refinement) and often sounds like it’s working hard. The transmission shifts frequently in a failed bid to make the engine seem energetic, but does not react promptly to manual inputs. Let’s just say there’s little here that the powertrain from the Cobalt SS wouldn’t fix.

Handling similarly begs for the SS treatment. As is, the Cruze feels compact but heavy. Agility isn’t part of the equation. The steering is fairly quick, but numb. The suspension has a commendable tautness to it thanks to well-tuned dampers, but the priority was clearly on a smooth, quiet ride. Mission accomplished: the Cruze thoroughly insulates the driver from the driving experience.

Chevrolet clearly did not intend the Cruze LT for enthusiasts. But auto makers have learned the hard way that there simply aren’t many enthusiasts who truly appreciate—and will pay for—communicative steering and an agile chassis. The typical car buyer would much rather have a high quality interior, refined ride, and fuel economy. In these respects the Cruze is a shockingly good car. After decades of failed attempts, GM has finally managed to out-Toyota Toyota.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of car reliability and fuel economy information.

Get more Chevy Cruze news and info at

blue skies for the cruze? take that, corolla cramped a bit challenged all downhill from here? audi-esque with the nice wheels ready to thwunck knee room shortage full frontal cruze 3 ]]> 171