It’s now or never to make an impression
If you’ve picked up a car magazine in the last few months, you’re probably aware that Ford is getting out of the car business in the U.S. and GM is now focusing (see what I did there?) on crossovers, trucks, and electric cars. So you’d think that the people at Chevy’s small car division would be putting their best product forward in an attempt to change Mary Barra’s mind about killing off the Cruze.
Well, the Cruze isn’t the worst thing on 4-wheels, but at the nearly $23,000 price point in this LT trim, it should lean more towards “WOW” than “whatever”. The base L version has a MSRP of $19,000 minimum and can go over $30K with the 9-speed automatic diesel with a few option packages and accessories. It’d take A LOT of miles to break even and justify the diesel’s jump in price even with 48MPG highway rating.
The base 1.4L turbo 4 had a class typical 8 second 0-60 time with a not-so-typical EPA besting 40mpg on the highway on our 225 mile day trip. I hope the tuners will try to up the boost and make an unsuspecting sleeper pending of course if the engine block can handle it.
For 2019, the Cruze gets a mild styling refresh to differentiate itself a little more from the slightly larger Malibu, but the similarities are still there.
I thought the rear end was a little too similar to the Corolla & Sentra. How about some narrow LED taillights to set it apart?
The trunk was surprisingly large for a midsize car and even more surprising was the spare tire that has already seen some use. I didn’t need the trunk at all during my day with the Cruze, so I left it alone.
After I turned it back in, I wonder if a previous renter hadn’t done some damage to the car. There was a fairly loud ‘clunk’ coming from the rear at take-off that made me suspect that it had sustained some suspension damage that wasn’t visible without being on a lift.
The dark cloth front seats were comfortable and supportive and I had zero fatigue after 90 straight minutes of driving. The passenger seat was not power operated and could only go 4 ways manually.
The cabin was quiet even during a brief passing moment of 80mph. Judge all you want, but I didn’t want to be in the way of a fast approaching fully loaded semi truck.
The handling was pretty good considering the tires could have been better. They seemed noisier than they should have been on less than perfect road surfaces. Granted, GM got a gigantic volume discount since that was the standard issue tire across the entire fleet, but I’d be curious to see the difference on a set of high quality Michelins.
The driver’s seat surround was acceptable at this price point, but the dash and door panels screamed cheap to the touch and the eye.
Since I’d already driven and scoped out a Malibu and Impala, the radio and HVAC controls needed no learning curve. It was odd to be in a car so new that there was still a never used radio station preset. I liked that the USB and power outlet were prominent and not in the center storage compartment.
On this particular rental I purchased the prepaid gasoline option since the tank was about 3/8 full at pickup and that was exactly the amount I planned on using for the day. The dashboard went from “53 miles to empty” to “Fuel level low” so I don’t know exactly how close I was cutting it, but I definitely came out ahead since the prepay was 29 cents per gallon less than the pumps in town AND the needle was below obviously below “E”. It’s a similar feeling when your GPS says “7 hours to destination”, therefore I accept the challenge to make it there in 6 1/2 hours or less.
The dashboard is an obvious sibling to the Impala and Malibu and just as easy to read at a glance. The 160mph speedometer is just plain silly. If this car could reach 125mph on a flat road or even downhill, I’d be very surprised.
Things of note:
Don’t procrastinate if you want one, they probably won’t be around much longer.
EPA states 28City/38Highway and I achieved shocking 40mpg in mostly highway driving.
Would people consider a Trax instead of this?
Buy it? Rent it? Avoid it?
I liked the Cruze ok, but I have a few friends that have had one and they were maintenance and repair nightmares with very few miles. I wouldn’t bother mentioning that fact if they drove like a Nascar driver, but that’s not the case. Replacing the radiator once before it hits 100,000 is not ok, but replacing it before 50,000 miles is completely unacceptable. I’d like to think that was a single model year problem or a bad batch of plastic that had built-in defects. No way I’d buy a new one, but I’m curious what condition a well-maintained version would be with 75,000+ miles. Since it was so super efficient and comfortable for two people, I’d rent it again, but only if a similar Corolla wasn’t available to scope out for a day.
Chevy if you’re listening . . .
What will fill the affordable fuel efficiency void if the smallest thing made is a crossover or an expensive hybrid?
On a scale from 1-100: (1- never / 100- now and forever!)
Buy it now – 15
Buy it later at half the current price – 45
F.E.D. (Fun, Efficiency & Desirability) – 50 (file most of those points under ‘efficiency’)
Oooh and ahhh factor – 20
Recommended to rent – 55
RIGHT UNDER THE WIRE before midnight.
Happy New Year! ! ! !