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Chevrolet Cruze

Finally, a good small car from General Motors.

The Cruze is a solid effort that stacks up well in the highly competitive small-car class, which recently has seen all-new or heavily refreshed cars from Honda (Civic), Hyundai (Elantra), and Ford (Focus) added to its ranks. Where the Cruze really shines is inside. Its cabin is user-friendly, attractive, and nicely trimmed and comes in a close second to that of the class-leading Elantra. Under the hood, the Cruze offers a choice of two 138-hp engines. The base 1.8-liter four is adequate, but we’d recommend stepping up to the optional turbo-charged 1.4-liter. That in-line four — exclusive to the North American market — is lively around town and moves the Cruze effortlessly at highway speeds. Either engine can be paired with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. To compete with the fuel-economy ratings of its competitors, Chevy has managed to eke out another 2 mpg from the turbo engine when paired with the automatic, for a rating of 26/39 mpg. The Eco version sheds a few pounds with lighter-weight parts, aerodynamic aids, and low-rolling-resistance tires to achieve 39/42 mpg highway (auto/manual). Although the Cruze has some shortcomings — light but somewhat artificial steering feel is its most egregious — its excellent interior, quiet ride, good body control, and supple suspension make it a legitimate contender in the small-car segment.

COMPETITORS

Ford Focus

Honda Civic

Hyundai Elantra

Mazda 3

new for 2013

MyLink now includes Bluetooth streaming audio, voice recognition for the radio and select phones, and Pandora, Stitcher, and Gracenote capability. A seven-inch touchscreen display is standard. There are four new option packages, including the enhanced safety package with rear park assist, side blind-zone alert, and rear cross-traffic alert.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front, side, knee, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and OnStar are standard. Rear parking assist is standard on the LTZ, optional on Eco and LT models, and unavailable on the LS.

High Mileage

MPG

CITY 22–28

HWY 35–42

PRO

Nicest interior Chevy makes

Eco manual gets 42 mpg highway

Refined highway cruiser

CON

Overboosted steering

Overweight

Unsupportive seats

Base Price: $17,800–$24,000 (est.)

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Front-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: Eco, LS, LT, LTZ

BODY STYLE: Sedan, 5-passenger

ENGINES: 1.4L turbo I-4, 138 hp, 148 lb-ft

1.8L I-4, 138 hp, 125 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: 95.0 cu ft

CARGO SPACE: 15.4 cu ft

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