January 26, 2013

Review: 2013 Chevrolet Cruze

Here's a surprise: Contrary to the trend, GM is offering the Chevy Cruze in the US with the smallest engine available for it, and only in the sedan version, not the hatchback or the larger wagon.

In South Korea, the Chevy is available in either sedan or hatchback, called the Cruze5 (for five-door vehicle, presumably). In Great Britain the Cruze is also available in those options, called Saloon and Hatchback, with a Station Wagon to arrive later this year.


Chevy Cruze in US, Great Britain, South Korea, Australia


Length 4603mm

Sedan Saloon Cruze Sedan

Length 4501mm

  Hatchback Cruze5 Hatch

Length 4681mm

  Station Wagon   Sportwagon

In Australia, where the Cruze is sold under the Holden brand, all three options, Sedan, Hatch and Sportwagon, are for sale. The Holden Cruze is classified as a "small car" (whereas in the US the Chevy Cruze is called a "compact car"; in Britain it is firmly in the "family car" category). Who knows, now that vast reserves of oil have been discovered in the outback, perhaps Australia will suffer the same nomenclature creep that's been taking the US. I mean, the Cadillac ATS (4.64m length) is now called a "compact" car: huh?

Even more surprising is that the US Cruze is available with the 1.4L Ecotec turbo gasoline engine, the smallest in the global lineup for this model, with a great fuel efficiency of 41 mpg as reported by users. That engine is also available in Australia, but not in South Korea, nor in the UK.


Engine US GB KR AU
Ecotec 1.4L turbo (41mpg) X     X
1.6L (30mpg)   X    
Ecotec 1.8L (33mpg) X   X X
1.7L VCDi diesel (52mpg ofc)   X    
2.0L VCDi diesel (39mpg) (42mpg ofc)   X X X

On the other hand, in those countries the Cruze is available with a frugal turbocharged engine running on clean diesel. The 2.0L VCDi turbodiesel gets a real-life 39mpg, a bit less than the official spec of 42 mpg (for the Hatchback). In the UK, the engine choices also include the newer 1.7L VCDi turbodiesel with an official fuel efficiency of 52mpg. In fact, the Saloon is available only with this engine, they don't bother trying to sell the less frugal gasoline engines. I estimate its real-life fuel efficiency to be in the range 46-48 mpg.

Personally I prefer not to throw a cello in the trunk of a sedan on principle; I like to feel the same air that the cello is exposed to: when it gets meltingly hot or freezing cold, I want to be aware of it. The back seat of the Cruze Sedan is is not overly sculted, so it would accomodate the cello, if you only have at most one passenger to carry. The flat seat bottom also means that the back row is amenable to three child seats, unlike highly sculpted ones where the child seats might end up tilted at an awkward and possibly dangerous angle.

The second-row back rest can be flipped down in a 40-60 configuration, but you don't get a flat bottom surface. This is one option to have the air in the trunk communicate with the rest of the car.

The Cruze dashboard is clean and uncluttered, and although the entertainment center has a touchscreen, there are also good old physical buttons, satisfyingly large, that you can jab at to change radio channels without taking your eyes off the road. Other than that, of course you can get this car loaded with all the latest in distraction technology.

Word has it that the US Cruze will catch up with the rest of the world this spring, when a diesel Cruze is expected to have its US debut at the Chigaco Auto Show in February, and will hit showrooms in the spring. For now, it will be only the 2.0L diesel, but as the pressure towards higher MPG from the CAFE2025 rules start to mount, my guess is that eventually the more frugal 1.7L diesel engine will also make it to these shores. Start clamoring for that one now: it will be less expensive to buy and sippier than the 2.0L diesel. It still has 50% more torque than the 1.4L Ecotec: what's not to love?


Chevrolet Cruze, US Sedan, GB diesel Hatchback

US Sedan, Ecotec
1.4L turbo gasoline

GB Hatchback,
1.7L turbodiesel

Type 1LT LT
Year 2013 2013
Emissions rating Euro V
MSRP $ 19,370

£ 17,945 OTR,
($ 28,350)

CelloMom Rating
Fuel Economy:
City/Hwy quoted 28 / 42 mpg 43 / 60 mpg
Avg. quoted 33 mpg 52 mpg
Avg. actual 41 mpg 46-48 mpg est.
Engine Ecotec 1.4L
turbo engine
1.7L turbodiesel
Power 138 HP @ 4900rpm 128 HP @ 4000rpm
Torque 148 lb-ft
@ 1850rpm
300Nm (221 lb-ft)
Transmission 6-spd man 6-spd manual
Fuel Regular unleaded Clean diesel
Length, mm(in) 181.0in 4510mm (177.6in)
Width, mm(in) 70.7in 1797mm (70.7in)
Height, mm(in) 58.1in 1477mm (58.1in)
Weight, kg(lbs) 1429 kg (3150lbs)
Trunk volume, liters(cuft) 15.0 cuft 413 / 833L
(14.6/29.4 cuft)
Turning radius, m(ft) 35.7 ft c-c 10.9m (35.8ft)
Top speed, kph(mph) 124 mph



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