Not all that long ago, a fuel-efficient compact car typically dictated boring styling and undesirable performance. This is definitely not the case anymore; at least not with the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze on the scene. This is a lively car that is fun to drive, looks great, and will not break the bank, when it comes to your monthly payment and stops at the gas station. The base engine is a 1.8-liter inline-4 that offers 138 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy with the six-speed manual is impressive at 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. LT and LTZ models get a turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-4. It bumps performance to 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque and fantastic fuel economy, yielding 26 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Acceleration is a little slow, taking 9.2 seconds to reach 60 mph. There is also an Eco trim that gets the same turbocharged engine, but yields a laudable 28 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway. The ride is compliant and handling is responsive. It is an overall comfortable and fun vehicle to drive. The only flaw really is the automatic transmission that can be a little reluctant to downshift when you need it to for passing and merging.
• Chevy MyLink - This updated electronics interface provides smartphone integration for Pandora and other applications.
• Audio - The base six-speaker system is surprisingly decent. It includes a USB port, satellite radio, and CD/MP3 player. Upper trims have the option to add a nine-speaker premium sound system by Pioneer.
• Navigation - The available navigation system gives you voice-guided directions that can be downloaded and stored in your car.
• Bluetooth - With Bluetooth you never have to take your eyes off the road to answer, end, or send a call.
• Satellite Radio - Every new Cruze comes standard with a three-month trial of commercial-free music, talk, sports, and news radio.
Chevrolet always seems to come out on top, when it comes to safety; the 2013 Cruze is no exception. It earned a -Good- rating in roof, front, and side-impact crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It also boasts better than average braking abilities on all models, taking 122 feet to stop from 60 mph. Standard on Cruze is OnStar, which includes on-demand roadside assistance, automatic crash response, stolen vehicle assistance and more. Cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring is optional. Standard safety features include:
• Stability control
• Post-collision safety system
• Electronic brakeforce distribution
• Dusk sensing headlamps
• Child seat anchors
• Tire pressure monitoring
• Emergency interior trunk release
• Traction control
• Engine immobilizer
• Front seatbelt pretensioners
• Remote anti-theft alarm system
By looking at the exterior, you would never know that Cruze has such a low starting MSRP. This is one sharp-looking sedan. Its bold exterior design offers the perfect blend of sport and sophistication. It is available in 10 fantastic colors and although the base 16-inch steel wheels are attractive, it is the available 18-inch alloy wheels on LTZ that attract all the attention.
Chevy did a fantastic job of creating such an upscale cabin at an affordable price. Of course, this is mostly due to the two-tone color scheme that adds a great amount of depth. There is a lot of hard plastic but it is easily overlooked. Everything on the dash is well placed and the electronics interface is more user-friendly now. On the downside, the seats are not as comfortable as they could be. Some may find the front seats to be too narrow, and rear seat passengers do not have as much legroom or thigh support they might like.
Legroom may be lacking, but there no shortage of cargo space. The trunk offers 15.4 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than generous for this segment.