By on March 5, 2018

Christmas get-togethers across North America were ruined when we reported, last December, that the manual transmission would soon leave the Chevrolet Cruze stable. That sad bit of information came by way of VIN decoder documents submitted to the NHTSA by General Motors for the 2019 model year.

For now, the stick shift lives, both in gasoline- and diesel-powered Cruzes. However, an update to the 2018 VIN document suggests an early arrival for the continuously variable transmission.

The only change to this year’s doc is the addition of a “Chevrolet Cruze (CVT)” to the vehicle line category, joining L, LS, LT, Premier, and Diesel trim levels in both manual and automatic guise.

While a CVT would help drivers wring extra fuel economy out of the model’s 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder in the absence of a stick shift, it wouldn’t do anything to help the diesel model. That model loses the six-speed manual next year, docs show, leaving only a nine-speed automatic that sinks highway fuel economy from 52 mpg to a far less appealing 45 mpg.

The CVT’s belated appearance in the 2018 doc points to a mid-year introduction of the tranny, though the extent of its availability remains a mystery. Another mystery is the supplier. In 2016, Dan Nicholson, GM’s vice president of global propulsion systems, said the automaker was “fairly bullish” on CVTs for front-drive vehicles up to a certain weight limit, with future CVTs potentially manufactured in-house or though a partnership with Ford. GM tapped Nissan-owned Jatco for the CVT in its Chevrolet Spark.

There’s also a CVT found in the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid.

U.S. Cruze sales peaked in 2014 with 273,060 vehicles sold, sinking each year since. Last year, as the model’s Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant weathered a series of shutdowns designed to tame a bloated inventory, some 184,751 Cruze sedans and hatches found American buyers. Sales over the first two months of 2018 reveal a 32.8 percent drop from the same period in 2017.

Lordstown’s plant manager, Rick Demuynck, claims the automaker remains committed to the model.

H/T to Bozi Tatarevic!

[Image: General Motors]

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17 Comments on “Chevrolet Cruze’s CVT Coming Sooner Than Expected...”

  • avatar

    Another CVT? Ugh.

  • avatar

    I can’t see why the 9-speed’s such a dog on the highway compared to the stick. With nine gears to work with they should have a crazy high top gear, the motor could be nearly idling on the highway.

  • avatar

    Hopefully, they will copy Nissan and pair the CVT with a conventional 2-speed automatic. Expensive, but magical. Hwy cruising rpm under 2,000rpm in a sub-2-liter engine is sublime.

  • avatar

    There’s a lot wrong with the Cruze, but the current 6 speed isn’t one of them.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    It seems that with every new development, cars are going to be crushed at an bit young age.
    A CVT failure on a 8 year old Cruze will doom it.

  • avatar

    Is this solely a cost move?

  • avatar

    Dropping the diesel/manual combo?
    Other models get a CVT?

    How unfortunate.

  • avatar

    I mean you still can’t even get LED/HID headlamps on this turd. So many more important things they need to fix on this rental

  • avatar

    Longtime VW and German car owner here and someone who just got a Cruze diesel RS hatch. I see 51-53 miles per gallon on the highway often and don’t see why a CVT is really needed.

    CVTs just downright suck.

  • avatar

    So they’re sticking a CVT in a car that gets 52 and will drop it to 45. Makes sense to me (except it doesn’t).

  • avatar

    I will not own a car with a CVT. Chevy already is having trouble keeping my attention, this will just cross them off my list.

  • avatar

    The Cruze is a pretty good small car whose transmission choices or lack of a CVT are not the problem. It needs either an optional upgrade engine (the 1.5T from the Malibu comes to mind) or just make that one standard across the board to give it some more zip. It also needs about $15 more spent on the interior. I almost bought one until I saw the cheap cardboard-like headliner. Its sticker price is also a bit high though nobody actually should ever pay close to that, but it may turn casual lookers off the car.

  • avatar

    I am not sure that Jatco is really the best choice for a CVT supplier. Despite being owned by Nissan, Nissan and JATCO have had rather ugly and public spats over what they called “customer satisfaction issues”.

    If you’re going to go the CVT route at least get one from a reputable supplier.

  • avatar

    Hopefully this will end better than the CVT GM developed in conjunction with Fiat for the Saturn VUE and ION Quad coupe. Nearly a 100% failure rate at a low number of miles.

    This makes no sense. The entry level wants a car that’s reliable, good on gas and that can be inexpensively operated and repaired.

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