One drive in the new 2015 Chevrolet Cruze (view photos) is all it takes to realize that the days of cost cutting and penny pinching at General Motors are gone. Smart spending, in ways that the customer notices and appreciates, are evident in the excellent Cruze, which replaces the adequate but unloved Cobalt as Chevy’s compact car.
The Cruze arrives just as gas prices have once again crested three bucks per gallon. The good news is that one of the five versions on sale – the Cruze Eco model – is rated by the EPA to get 42 mpg on the highway. However, based on our experience driving a Cruze 2LT with the same 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s installed in the Eco model, that figure is likely quite optimistic.
Nevertheless, the Cruze is unexpectedly refined, comfortable, and attractive, a small sedan that doesn’t feel small, and an affordable four-door that doesn’t feel inexpensive.
About Our Test Car
The 2015 Cruze is available in five different trim levels, ranging from the base Cruze LS at $16,995 to the luxury-oriented Cruze LTZ at $22,695. Chevy also sells a Cruze Eco model, designed to get 42 mpg on the highway according to the EPA, and starting at just $18,895.
Our test model was the Cruze 2LT equipped with optional 17-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, and a compact spare tire. The window sticker read $21,890. Highlights of 2LT trim include Bluetooth, a USB port, leather, heated front seats, remote engine starting, and cruise control. Key options include rear parking sensors, a navigation system, a Pioneer audio system, and a power moonroof. There’s also a snazzy RS Package with fog lights, a rear spoiler, rocker panel moldings, and an uplevel gauge cluster, but this extra is best left to people with spare change to burn.
Safety, Reliability and Value
Chevrolet is quick to inform consumers that the Cruze comes standard with 10 airbags. The count includes dual frontal airbags, side curtain airbags for both rows, knee airbags for the driver and front seat passenger, and side-impact airbags for front and rear seat occupants. Every Cruze is also equipped with traction control, stability control, and antilock brakes. Rear parking assist is available on the Cruze LTZ.
Combine this level of protection with a body structure designed to meet or exceed standards in a variety of world markets, and it’s not surprising that the Cruze is named a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and garners an overall 5-Star crashworthiness rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new, more stringent test procedures.
In the event of an accident, the Cruze is equipped with OnStar 9.0 telematics with Automatic Crash Response and Injury Severity Prediction. Free for the first year of ownership, these services can automatically contact an OnStar operator in the event of an airbag deployment, who can send rescue personnel to your exact location and give medical responders an estimate of your injuries even if you’re unable to communicate.
Because the Chevy Cruze is a completely new model, little quality and reliability data existed for the car when this review was written. Consumer Reports does not offer predictions for how the Cruze may perform, but J.D. Power and Associates says that Chevy’s new compact should provide above average reliability. More data should be available after the car has been on the market for a year, from these and other sources.
Prices for the Chevrolet Cruze (view photos) range from $16,995 for a Cruze LS with no options to $26,085 for a loaded Cruze LTZ. Automotive Lease Guide says that depreciation will be average for this car.
As this review is written, Chevrolet is not offering a free maintenance program on the Cruze. The bumper-to-bumper warranty is good for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first, and the powertrain is warranted for five years or 100,000 miles. In the event you need help, Chevrolet offers free roadside assistance for five years or 100,000 miles.