If you parked this 2017 Chevrolet Cruze next to it's first generation brother, you'd never think the two share the same nameplate. To say the second generation Cruze is a big improvement is an understatement. While you see plenty of the Cobalt replacements on the road today, this new chassis certainly looks better. Keeping with a familiar design language shared with other Chevy models, this GM vehicle has similar styling cues from the new Volt and Malibu models.
As a compact car, the 2017 Cruze competes directly for buyers looking at vehicles like the Honda Civic, or Hyundai Elantra. In fact the compact car market is highly competitive, with every major manufacturer producing a vehicle in this segment except for Chrysler, so buyers have a lot to choose from, which means GM needs to do a lot to get buyers into their showrooms to push the Cruze. There are plenty of models to choose from, depending on whether or not you want a sedan or hatchback, gasoline engine or diesel, manual transmission or automatic. Our test vehicle was a Premier trim, with the 6 speed automatic transmission and no additional options. This is likely to be the most popular choice over the base model as it provides a number of upgrades over the base trim.
One thing you won't be getting are LED lights with any trim or package on the Cruze. It seems we have two crusades with TestDrive, parking sensors and headlights. Halogen headlights are the only option for the Cruze. The absolute base model are old-school reflector halogens, whereas the Premier gets you projector-based halogens and no fog lights. We have some video of the night time performance of this versus LED lighting, so you can head on over at the bottom of the article to watch the video and see the differences.
The Cruze as-tested cost just over $26,000, and even with another $4-5k in options you'll never get LED lights with this car. Let's check the competition to see what trim and price you need to pay to get LED headlights.
Toyota Corolla CE 6MT: $18,804
Honda Civic Touring: $29,241
Nissan Sentra SL: $27,773
Hyundai Elantra: Unavailable
Kia Forte SX: $28,970 (Xenon HID)
Ford Focus: Unavailable
Toyota is definitely ahead of this, and hopefully the other auto manufacturers follow suit.
The Premier trim ads heated leather front seats and a heated steering wheel. Unfortunately it's ben mostly 30º weather here over the past week so we didn't have the chance to try the heated options out, but air conditioning was cold and comfortable. The seats felt rather flat throughout, and while we didn't go on any long road trips we can see the seats would start to get uncomfortable and warm on hot summer trips. We also felt that overall visibility was slightly strange with this car, the side mirrors were too low and small for the size of the windows. We'd like to see some improvements on this front.
The one feature we were very excited to try out with the Cruze was Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. While we touch on these systems briefly during our Spotlight on the Cruze, we're saving the true review of these infotainment centres for a future episode of Showdown. We found both systems to work well on the Cruze, and the Chevy infotainment system was simple and functional, without any added fluff or vapourware to clutter up the system. Considering this is the same system offered on the base LS model, we're quite pleased that many people will have the opportunity to use a good system in their cars.
As far as compact cars go, the Cruze drove well without any issues. We did find the cabin noise levels were higher than we've experienced with some other cars, at speeds around 90kph we started having issues with our audio recording equipment to get consistent quality sound for our video. The braking system worked as expected, getting the car stopped within a short distance under heavy braking without any trouble or feedback, and without having to activate the ABS.
This is certainly going to be a popular car for an already popular nameplate. Canada was the 5th highest selling market for the Cruze in 2014, and we expect that trend to continue with this generation. The exterior and interior styling are big improvements, and if Chevrolet adds LED lighting and makes some tweaks to their side mirrors, we can see this car being even more popular. While GM wants to market this car towards millennials, we've found that buyers of all ages will be looking at the Cruze as an option in the small car segment.
Check out our TestDrive Showdown on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto due on October 2nd. For now you can watch our full Spotlight on the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Premier on YouTube: