The nifty compact Chevrolet Cruze sedan, which hit the ground running when it was introduced two years ago, is the third-best-selling vehicle in its class so far this year, behind perennial favorites the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
This fall, the stylish and fun-to-drive Cruze sedan enters its third year with a starting price range of $17,130-$23,550. The car is assembled in Lordstown.
Trim levels are LS, 1LT, 2LT, LTZ and the economical Eco, which has a highway EPA rating of 42 mpg when equipped with a manual transmission.
Not yet available is a diesel model of the Cruze, which Chevy has promised for sometime during calendar year 2013. The Cruze diesel already is available in Europe.
For 2013, there are new infotainment and safety features available for the Cruze, including the Chevrolet MyLink system, which is standard on 2LT, Eco and LTZ models and available on the 1LT.
There are also two new audio systems for 2013, including one with GPS navigation and a seven-inch color touch-screen.
Also available on LT, Eco and LTZ models is the Enhanced Safety Package, which includes such crash-avoidance features as a blind-spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking assist.
The MyLink system brings such items as Bluetooth audio streaming audio for music from certain smartphones; voice control for phone, music and radio; Pandora and Stitcher smartphone compatibility; and Gracenote (playlist and album art) capability, Chevrolet says.
The 2LT tester (base price $22,325) came with the new 2LT Driver Convenience Package, which added driver and front passenger illuminated vanity mirrors; an auto-dimming rearview mirror; backup camera; and power/heated outside mirrors.
The test car also had the Enhanced Safety Package, as well as the Pioneer Premium Audio System, with 250 watts and nine speakers.
The Cruze is roomier and more fuel-efficient than its key competitors, and also has more standard safety features. Even though it’s priced to compete in the compact-sedan class, its interior has the space of a midsize.
Fuel economy ranges as high as 28 mpg city/42 highway for the Eco model with the six-speed manual transmission, and 26/39 with the six-speed automatic.
The Cruze has more capacity than the Corolla — 95 cubic feet of passenger space and a trunk of 15.4 cubic feet in the Cruze, compared with 92 cubic feet for passengers and a trunk of 12 cubic feet for the Corolla. It also has more interior space overall than the current Honda Civic, which has 95 cubic feet for passengers, but a trunk of only 12 cubic feet.
Other competitors in this big segment include the Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra, Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mitsubishi Lancer, Subaru Impreza, and Volkswagen Jetta.
The base LS model comes with a normally aspirated (non-turbo) 1.8-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission, and has EPA ratings of 25 mpg city/36 highway; with the optional six-speed automatic, the ratings are 22 / 35.
Among standard equipment even on the base model is GM’s OnStar system with turn-by-turn navigation; air conditioning; power windows/mirrors/door locks with remote; a driver-information center; and XM satellite radio.
Next is the 1LT manual model for $18,560, which comes with a turbocharged 1.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine and the six-speed manual. With the six-speed automatic transmission, the 1LT is $19,655. Both have 16-inch wheels.
The 2LT model comes with the automatic transmission and turbo engine, as well as 17-inch alloy wheels.
Top of the line is the LTZ, which includes the 1.4-liter turbo and automatic gearbox, along with a six-way power driver’s seat, leather seats/steering wheel/shifter, cruise control, Bluetooth connection, USB port with audio interface, steering-wheel audio controls, remote starting, automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear parking assist, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
For those wanting the best fuel economy, there is the Eco model, starting at $19,680 manual.
It comes with the 1.4-liter turbo engine, as well as 17-inch alloy wheels.