The 2018 Chevrolet Cruze gets good safety ratings and outstanding mileage, making it a smart choice for buyers looking for value in exchange for their hard-earned dollars. And buyers get lots of possibilities with the Cruze: sedan or hatchback, manual or automatic transmission, gas or diesel engines.
The 2018 Cruze comes in L, LS, LT and Premier trims. My test car for the week was the hatchback version of the Cruze LT with a 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine and a 9-speed automatic transmission. It was EPA-rated at 45 highway miles per gallon and stickered at less than $27-grand. You can drive a base L trim Cruze for less than $19,000.
I had fun tooling around town in this little hatch. The leather interior was nice, and the Cruze was roomier than I’d expected. Front seat headroom is 38.9 inches, and in back it’s 37.8 inches. At 6-foot-1, the rear seat headroom is about the minimum I’d need to be comfortable. At 36.1 inches, legroom was good in the 60/40 split second row. Cargo space in the hatch is a generous 47.2 cubic feet.
The Cruze comes standard with a turbocharged 4-cylinder gas engine that develops 153 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque. My test diesel kicked out 137 horses and 240 lb.-ft. of torque.
EPA mileage figures vary slightly depending on whether you select the sedan or hatchback, and manual vs. automatic transmission. The best fuel economy available in the Cruze comes with the Cruze diesel sedan with the manual transmission, which promises up to 52 mpg on the highway. My diesel hatchback was rated at 45 mpg on the highway, 30 mpg in the city and 35 mpg combined.
Available transmissions include a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual. The 9-speed automatic is available only in the turbodiesel.
The torquey turbodiesel may be a 4-cylinder, but it had plenty of grunt when I needed it for passing on two-lane roads up in the Felicianas. When I mashed the pedal, the diesel Cruze responded with gusto. Steering was precise and on-center, and the car remained flat in hard cornering. The Cruze also performed well on the interstates, with surprisingly little road noise filtering into the cabin.
The cabin was roomy and comfortable, although I found the heated front seats a bit on the soft side, and a little light on side bolstering. The connectivity and infotainment system is MyLink, which comes with a standard 7-inch radio system with an 8-inch system available. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported. The vehicle is also a WiFi hotspot. The Cruze is well-equipped and has everything you need when it comes to technology.
Even the base L trim (6MT) comes with power windows and doors and mirrors, A/C, a USB port and Bluetooth. The top end Premier trim has all the bells and whistles, including leather seats that are heated in the back row as well as the front. Standard wheels in lower trims are 16 inches, while the upper trims get 17-inchers.
When it comes to safety, the Cruze gets five stars in the government’s safety testing program. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t yet finished its testing of the 2018 Cruze, but the sedan version earned the top score of “good” in initial IIHS moderate overlap and side crash tests.
The Cruze has 10 airbags, including driver and front passenger knee airbags. A rearview camera is standard equipment, as are anti-lock brakes and all the required stability and traction control systems.
Optional safety technology includes rear park assist, side blind zone alert, lane change alert and rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams, forward collision alert and active lane control.
The bottom line: the 2018 Cruze is an affordable ride that presents buyers with value and lots of choices.
2018 Chevrolet Cruze LT diesel hatch
Engine: 1.6-liter turbodiesel
Horsepower/Torque: 137/240 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Price: $26,990 plus freght
EPA mileage estimates: 30 mpg city/45 mpg highway/35 mpg combined
Estimated highway range: 607 miles