Reviews

2018 Chevrolet Cruze Driving Impressions


According to Chevrolet, the Cruze sedan can accelerate from zero to sixty in less than eight seconds, which is adequate. The engine is fairly smooth, but there is a hesitation in the acceleration when you floor it, probably from the automatic transmission. If you had the manual transmission you’d have to shift down; but the shift action will be smooth and the clutch light and easy. We actually got seat time in a bare-bones L model, and it makes good efficient transportation.

Having lost 250 pounds in that redesign two years ago, the Cruze is now responsive, nimble, and fun to drive. The chassis is planted. The rack-mounted electric power steering isn’t too light at low speeds, and nicely weighted at high speed. It’s no sport sedan, but the Cruze handles better and with more confidence than some of its Japanese and Korean rivals. And a Cruze with the RS or Redline package, with a more sophisticated rear suspension having a Z-link design, brings poise to the cornering.

Still, there’s no denying that Mazda and Hyundai offer more sport than the Cruze.

The Cruze is quiet and comfortable on the highway, with excellent stability. The comfortable ride is one of the best in a compact car, even with the big 18-inch wheels; we’d go so far to say it rides like a little luxury car.

The standard rear suspension is torsion beam, but the Premier gets an improved setup for crisper cornering. The Cruze also comes with four-wheel disc brakes, using long-wearing Duralife rotors.

The 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine is a gem, for the most part. It was added last year for the sedan, and in 2018 becomes available with the hatchback; it comes with either the nine-speed automatic or six-speed manual. It fills a void left by Volkswagen who ran from the market after their diesel emissions fiasco. With only 137 horsepower it’s no cheetah, but that 240 pound-feet of torque compensates by making it a jackrabbit. The engine is nearly silent and the broad torque band endows it with easy acceleration. And the 9-speed automatic shifts with little hesitation.

Shorter overall by eight inches, the hatch fits into small parking spaces easier than does the sedan.

We’ve tested a number of different version of the Cruze, and the one we like is the most expensive: Premier Hatchback with the RS package. It handles the best, while being smooth and compliant.

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