By on December 15, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback LT Interior, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

After a year of good news (McDonald’s all-day breakfast came to Canada), it seems only fitting that 2017 will end in tears.

The Chevrolet Cruze, one of a shrinking number of models in which one can easily find a manual transmission, appears set to lose that option after the 2018 model year. As the owner of a manual-shift Cruze, no words can ease the pain.

The glaring product shift appears in General Motors’ 2019 VIN decoder document, posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration late Thursday. As of yet, we haven’t heard back from Chevrolet to confirm the document shows the full range of planned 2019 models.

For buyers of 2018 models, the Cruze offers a six-speed manual transmission on numerous trims — from the L, LS, LT, and Diesel sedan, to the LT and Diesel hatch. That’s a fair bit of stick availability in a world that’s rapidly shedding the third pedal. For 2019, however, the option disappears. Added to the lineup, however, is a continuously variable transmission.

2019 Cevrolet Cruze VIN, Image: NHTSA

It looks like the row-your-own lifestyle is leaving the Cruze lineup in favor of the efficient, shiftless experience afforded by a CVT, though we don’t know where exactly that tranny will appear. A conventional automatic, assumed to be the existing six-speed unit, continues throughout the Cruze line. (Diesels carry a nine-speed.)

As for powertrains, the model’s second-generation turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder carries over into 2019, as does the 1.6-liter diesel introduced for 2017. What’s new is a CNG version of the 1.4, as well as a 1.5-liter offering. The latter engine is a turbocharged unit that serves as the entry-level engine in the Chevrolet Malibu, making 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque in that application.

If 2018 is truly the last year for the manual-shift Cruze, its mourners could probably fit in a small bus. Stick-shift take rates in North America hover in the low single-digit range. Still, the Cruze always seemed to lead the U.S. compact pack in the “Save the manuals!” parade. When it debuted back in late 2010, the model’s Eco variant advertised 42 miles per gallon on the highway, all thanks to a long-legged six-speed manual with triple overdrive gearset. A 2018 1.4-liter model with stock six-speed currently rates a 40 mpg highway figure.

The diesel model, however, rates an impressive 52 mpg highway figure when equipped with a six-speed stick. That number drops to 45 mpg when matched with the nine-speed automatic.

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32 Comments on “Say It Ain’t So! Docs Suggest Chevrolet Cruze Losing Manual Transmission...”


  • avatar
    badreligion702

    Is this of any concern to anyone? It is a Cruze. It is not as if the 911 is losing it’s 7MT.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      “Enthusiasts” can actually afford the Cruze though (and used ones are always cheap) so that makes it more important

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Gee, when I bought my first car, like 99% of other Americans, it was a Porsche 911 with a manual transmission. It was a Ford EXP with a manual transmission where I learned to drive manual and love it.

      So ya, cars that young drivers cut their teeth on “to save the manuals” means they might grow up to want to row their own.

      • 0 avatar
        badreligion702

        Those kids will grow up disappointed as more and more manuals fade out of existence. Hell, in 20 years, we will be lucky if we are still able to drive ourselves.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Sad. I am going to show them the finger by buying EVs from now on. That’ll teach them! No transmission, no problem.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Whew! For a moment there, I was afraid I was going see something about a CVT showing up in these…

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’m actually on the fence about a 6MT diesel Cruze right now. I will be driving significant distances, and it is appealing, but it’s up against Mazda’s unlimited-mileage warranty.

    It’s actually a really nice car, but the 6MT shifter is unpleasant next to Mazda’s

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    Docs, huh? I guess rowing you own CAN lead to onset elbow tendonitis…

  • avatar
    hamish42

    Why is it when well over 90% of the motoring public purchases automatics (including at the extreme upper performance end) that well over 90% of auto journalists continue to moan about it? It was a done deal years ago. Get over it, or buy a Miata. Oh – they have autos too? Oh dear.

    • 0 avatar
      robertdavidlee987

      Manuals haven’t really been popular in the US in the last 20-30 years. But most cars sold globally are still manual. I’ve been to Europe and it’s mostly manual. An automatic is more expensive to rent too. Having said that I hope the Cruze somehow keeps its manual transmission, which might happen if it is offered in other markets.

    • 0 avatar
      Heino

      Automatics are creeping into the motorcycle world. You can get a Honda Africa Twin with a DCT. The reviewers were impressed.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    The Cruz is a nicer car than I thought it would be. When it debuted it had a better interior than the Corolla. The 2nd generation car looks great, has a hatch and a stick, wow! But, I see far fewer 2nd gen cars than when it debuted. Sad that there’s so little uptake on a pretty competent little car.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      I suspect that a lot of Cruz intenders get upsold on a Silverado or at least a Malibu when they see the tiny difference in monthly payments. Chevy and the dealer make nothing on selling a Cruz.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Plus, the fuel economy (of the 1.4T) isn’t much better than the Malibu, either. It is a nice car, but it and the Malibu much too close for comfort.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        It’s the opposite in Canada. Cruzes sell well because the payment is equal to or less than the payment for a Spark or Sonic so it’s an easy upsell, and not many people need something as big as a Malibu. So it’s usually Cruze or Equinox.

        I’ve alwaya said the Cruze is probably one of the best cars for people who don’t care about driving right now. Great pricing, roomy, comfortable, good amount of tech and infotainment, logical interior, great ride, nonsense fuel economy, reliable for at least the period of the lease, no CVT (since I’ve found that even people who know nothing about cars grow to dislike them if you show them the differences between a CVT and conventional auto). The only negatives are bland cheap looking styling, unwillingness to corner. terrible headlights, and underpowered engine, but people who truly don’t care won’t notice at least two of those and only a few people take test drives at night.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I wish my 2013 Cruze (well, technically the wife’s 2013 Cruze!) was a manual. I really like the car, but the wife is kind of over manual transmissions. Yes, the “RS” package is largely a visual/appearance package, but that, coupled with the leather interior and sunroof make it a genuinely nice car. A manual would have made it that much more fun for me, but it wasn’t my car to choose. Sad to see one more manual go the way of the dodo.

  • avatar
    Reino

    Manuals have in the past been bought over automatics for only two reasons:

    1.) they were cheaper than automatics in economy cars
    2.) they were faster than automatics in performance cars.

    Today, neither is the case. Therefore there is no more case for manuals.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      And 3) they were more fuel efficient in diesels

      The “fun” argument only appeals to a very small subset

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      3.)they were faster than automatics in economy cars too, and everything in-between
      4.)they were more efficient than automatics
      5.)they were more reliable than most automatics
      6.)they allowed the driver greater control over the powertrain operation
      7.)they communicated wheel slip better and allowed finer modulation of it.

      At one time they were better in every way, for anyone who could be bothered to operate one. That’s no longer true, especially for the average user, but there are still a couple reasons left for those who care.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      From most cars I’ve priced, the manual is usually about $1000 cheaper. If that’s not the case, cite an example.

  • avatar
    ecovelli66

    Can we get away from the term manual or manual transmission? Almost all modern cars can be automatic or manual, especially performance cars. What we are really talking about is a manual clutch.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      No, and no. It’s this kind of thinking that drives me absolutely bonkers whenever I go searching used car listings for a true manual gearbox (yes, as in “stick shift”). So many sellers, especially dealers, select the option “manual transmission” for any automatic with a semi-manual mode, like flappy paddles. If the clutching is handled for you, no matter how many clutches there are, it is still an AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION. Even a DCT/DSG is still an automatic gearbox. Stop calling flappy paddles “manual”! /END RANT

      • 0 avatar
        ecovelli66

        I see manual as who is deciding what gear the tranny is in. It doesn’t matter to me if I’m pressing a paddle or moving a stick. But I don’t like the term manual for either. I prefer stick shift and paddle shift or plain Jane automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      In that case, any three speed PRND21 automatic is a manual.

      I’m sticking with this definition: manual transmission = transmission that cannot shift itself under any circumstances.

  • avatar
    Raevox

    When I was shopping last year, I gave the Cruze as serious of a shot as I could. I found a decently equipped hatch with the RS package (hey, I like the look!) in that nice red, with a manual. But that interior… oh man.

    It didn’t necessarily look low-rent, but the dash did, and the color (that weird brown they like to use with the black interiors) and texture of the plastic surrounding the infotainment screen was borderline barf-worthy. After a few minutes of tire-kicking, I decided that the interior just wasn’t a place I wanted to spend any time in, and declined the test drive. I doubted that even if it drove nicely, that it could get me over my hangups over interior ergonomics and styling.

  • avatar
    skotastic

    I really want to jump on the ‘new automatics are better – sticks are for dinosaurs’ bandwagon. I really do.

    But then I actually drove them. Does any enthusiast actually enjoy a modern automatic in a 4-banger and think they are better than a stick in real world driving? I mean they are frustrating, often in the wrong gear, often searching, and just a general PITA.

    I mean, if I were in heavy daily traffic, I’d got with a slushbox, no doubt, as the convenience outweighs the frustration, but from a pleasurable driving experience perspective, I just don’t get it, even though I want to.

  • avatar
    Moments Of Inspiration

    I find the Cruze automatic works really well, albeit revs up a little high when pressing the pedal moderately.
    I would have preferred the Cruze to run more stoic at mid acceleration, and rev lower, than rev higher at lean burn.

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