Don't Expect to See Many 2019 Chevy Cruzes With a CVT

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
don t expect to see many 2019 chevy cruzes with a cvt

General Motors, inventor of the modern automatic transmission, is only just recently warming up to the idea of shiftless driving. There’s a continuously variable transmission on offer with the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu, which our own Chris Tonn spent some time flogging last week ( in mildly sporty RS guise).

Despite the availability of eight- and nine-speed automatics for transverse GM front-driers, a VIN decoder document and even EPA fuel economy ratings pointed to the existence of a CVT-equipped Cruze for 2019, despite a lack of flouting on the part of GM. Turns out, you’ll have trouble getting your hands on one.

According to CarsDirect, the 2019 Cruze, which undergoes a facelift just like its bigger Malibu sibling, won’t appear in any showroom with a CVT. That particular model will, however, appear in fleet lots.

“There were a small number of Cruzes built with a CVT for fleet use only which is why the option is disclosed on the EPA website,” said Chevrolet spokesperson Katie Minter. GM order guides do not show a CVT option.

Instead, retail buyers will face fewer transmissions than last year, not more. The six-speed manual transmission disappears in the U.S. for the 2019 model year, though it just barely hangs on in Canada. All Cruzes sold to individual customers with a 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder under the hood will boast a six-speed automatic. Diesel buyers see a nine-speed unit.

It’s too bad about the CVT, as dropping the stick shift already means non-diesel customers can’t hit (or pass) that vaunted 40 mpg figure on the highway. The six-speed auto returns an EPA-rated 28 mpg city/38 highway/32 combined, whereas the CVT model sees a 1 mpg gain on the combined cycle. A 2018 Cruze manual returned 27/40/32.

[Image: General Motors]

Join the conversation
10 of 12 comments
  • Jeffjeffmurray Jeffjeffmurray on Aug 29, 2018

    I will never understand the hatered for CVT’s. I owned a cvt in my 2012 Legacy sedan. My thoughts about it were always that I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but only for the exact same reasons i dont enjoy all automatics- lack if engagement, sluggish response, ect. However, the cvt came with 2 benefits at least over a conventional automatic, namely better efficiency and extremely smooth (technically zero) shifting. If i cant have a stick, I would much prefer to have a CVT than an automatic.

    • See 6 previous
    • Packardhell1 Packardhell1 on Aug 31, 2018

      "...namely better efficiency and extremely smooth (technically zero) shifting...." I have not owned one of these, but I rented a 2014 Legacy sedan with the CVT. It is still my only experience in a CVT and it was a pure joy to drive. Maybe they can be a nightmare to own, but I was impressed! I was on a business trip to Great Falls, Montana. I wanted to see friends in Canada (Crowsnest Pass in Alberta), but I couldn't take the company rental car across the border, so I rented my own. I drove it from Great Falls up to Lethbridge and over to Pincher Creek in Crowsnest Pass. I had to come back to Montana 2 days later, so I drove west to Fernie, BC, and then down into Montana (Whitefish to Kalispell to Flathead Lake). I jetted down to Missoula and Helena and then back up to Great Falls. That was a long day of driving. Google Maps says it is 9 hours 14 minutes and 835km (around 518 miles). The CVT was amazing in the Canadian Rockies. Most of that exposure happened in BC. I loved the way the tranny never had to "shift" - I just kept it at a certain RPM and I could easily maintain or increase speed. I could also easily pass on the flatter 2-lane roads. Even though the car was a four cylinder, it felt like it had plenty of power, even while rocketing up some pretty steep roads. I averaged 28 MPG on that trip (I did the return part in one day). The next weekend I went to Yellowstone with some co-workers. I drove another rental and it was a Nissan Altima with a CVT. The drive from Great Falls to Yellowstone is around 300 miles. It was a day trip, so we left at 4:00 AM and got back around 11:00 PM. Round-trip was about 600 miles, plus whatever we drove inside the park. The Nissan's CVT did just fine and I thought the lack of "shifting" was nice while creeping along at Yellowstone-speeds. As I said, I've never "owned" one and maybe I would feel differently if I had to live with it every day, but I think I have enough miles in them to make a judgement call. I'd consider one in my next sedan with the right service history!

  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Aug 30, 2018

    So in 30 years you'll stumble on a "one of 250" Cruze fleet special survivor with the coveted CVT at a classic car show?!? Fridge white with gray cloth, no doubt. Good grief, why would GM bother?

    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Aug 30, 2018

      It's a CVT beachhead, GM succumbing to madness. I'm sure somewhere on an accountants spreadsheet there's a justification for this.