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Outside, the Cruze’s look is toned and crisp, especially with the optional RS package that adds a sporty-looking body kit. That package can be fitted to certain LT and Premier models, depending on other options. The Cruze hatchback is particularly neat-looking at the rear, with its pert tailgate and mock diffuser rear bumper design.
One caveat: The base Cruze L and LS trim levels come standard with dinky 15-inch hubcap-clad wheels that look pretty downmarket. More and more rivals are eliminating hubcaps in favor of standard alloy wheels, and given the Cruze’s somewhat premium pricing, it’s a surprise to see these basic wheels as standard.
Inside, all Cruzes boast a simple, clean dashboard design. Buttons and switches are sparse, but are laid out in a convenient manner. A 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard across the lineup, which further elevates this small car’s interior. Higher-spec trim levels like the Cruze LT and Premier can be ordered with saddle-colored leather upholstery that looks especially rich—as it should at a sticker price that can top $30,000 with every option selected.
Most Cruzes are fitted with a 1.4-liter turbo-4 rated at 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. It’s fairly smooth, but doesn’t endow the relatively lithe Cruze with exceptional grunt when mated to the optional 6-speed automatic. A 6-speed manual is standard and it offers good shift action paired with a light, easy clutch.
A 1.6-liter turbodiesel inline-4 engine was added last year and is now available in both the sedan and hatchback bodies with either a 6-speed manual or a 9-speed automatic. The turbodiesel attempts to fill the vacuum left by Volkswagen’s departure after the disastrous admission that it intentionally cheated the EPA’s emissions testing. For the most part, this little diesel motor is a gem. With 137 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque, it’s not a rocket, but the engine is nearly silent and the broad torque spread endows it with easy acceleration. The 9-speed automatic shifts with little hesitation; we’ve yet to drive the 6-speed manual, however.
All Cruze models have the same suspension tuning regardless of wheel and tire package. They take bumps in stride, almost like little luxury sedans. Electric power steering delivers little road feel to the driver, but it is nicely weighted and helps the Cruze cut through a twisty road well.
Competitors from Mazda and Hyundai are sportier, but the Cruze fulfills its middle-of-the-road mission well.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.