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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
dont 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]

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  • 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.

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    • 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.

  • Arthur Dailey When I grew tired of the T-Bird trying to kill me by refusing to start at the most inconvenient times/places, I replaced it with a '79 fullsized Dodge (Sportsman) van. Similar to this but with a different grille and rectangular headlights. The 4 'captains' chairs in my van were pretty much identical to the ones in this van. Mine certainly was not as nicely finished inside. And it was a handful to drive in snow/ice. One thing that strikes me about this van is that although a conversion it does not seem to have the requisite dark tint on the windows.
  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.
  • AMcA The '70 Continentals and Town Cars may have been cousins to the standard body Fords and Mercurys, they didn't have to be disguised, because they had unique, unbelievably huge bodies of their own. Looking at the new 1970 interior, I'd say it was also a cost savings in sewing the seat. Button tufted panels like the 1969 interior had require a lot of sewing and tufting work. The 1970 interior is mostly surface sewing on a single sheet of upholstery instead of laboriously assembled smaller pieces. FINALLY: do I remember correctly that the shag carpet shown under these cars was a Photoshop? They didn't really go so peak '70s as to photograph cars on shag carpets, did they?
  • Inside Looking Out Toyota makes mass market cars. Their statement means that EVs are not mass market yet. But then Tesla managed to make mass market car - Mode; 3. Where I live in CA there are more Tesla Model 3s on streets than Corollas.
  • Ltcmgm78 A lot of dirt must turn before there's an EV in every driveway. There must be a national infrastructure plan written by other than politicians chasing votes. There must be reliable batteries that hopefully aren't sourced from strategic rivals. There must be a way to charge a lot of EVs. Toyota is wisely holding their water. There is a danger in urging unplanned and hasty moves away from ICE vehicles. Do we want to listen to unending speeches every election cycle that we are closer than we have ever been to 100% electrification and that voting for certain folks will make it happen faster? Picture every car in your town suddenly becoming all electric and a third of them need a charge or the driver will be late for work. This will take a lot of time and money.