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Loaner Time ! - 2018 Chevrolet Cruze LT


regfootball

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Since my dealer thought my oil pan might be leaking again on my 16 Malibu, I brought it in for them to fix it (turns out they said it wasn't but after an ECU update my autostop doesn't work now either) but in any case they gave me a loaner sedan Cruze which I didn't drive the tar out of but logged about 50 miles driving home and back.  It was an LT with basic wheels (not sure if 16" or 17") and cloth heated seats.  The small 7 inch touchscreen also and driver's power seat also.  No blind spot or cross path or any other notable newer equipment.  Engine was the 1.4t gas and likely the 6 speed automatic.  It is also interesting to see how my thoughts match or contrast when i did my original drive impression of the new gen Cruze awhile back.

HIGHS:

-Quiet for a small economy sedan; quiet powertrain and quiet from road noise for its class.

-Apart from the plain grain on the GM legacy plastic it actually has a nice mix of texture, soft touch surfaces and materials on the interior, for its class.  I even like the cloth inserts on the dash.  Overall this interior is trimmed out nicer than the one in my Malibu.

-Very very good sightlines and visibility in the vehicle to the outside from all angles (which is rare for GM vehicles these days).  Nice big perfectly place side mirrors which really help what is going on outside.  This combined with a non obstructive dash design really gives you confidence driving.

-Capable of big mpg (I pulled 44.4 mpg including dead stop and go freeway time on almost 25 miles on return trip to dealer)

-Decent front row space for this class of car.  Center console is narrow and shifter moves back such that one has good place to put their gas leg and have room and comfort.  Center armrest is plush and well placed.  Back seats have good shoulder and hip room as well.

-This may be an instance where it makes sense to get the sedan over the hatch.  The trunk is huge...very tall, wide, and deep and simply but nicely trimmed.  Whereby the trunk in the hatch is seemingly much less useful when the rear seats are up, in comparison.

-Nice to have cloth heated seats available.

-In highway cruising mode, or situations where you don't need power or are going stoplight to stoplight, the tiny turbo is sprite and when settled in, cruzes extremely well.  This makes this car a great road car for its class.

-Some nice styling details on the headlight and taillights.  Nice beefy door handles.  

-In fact, overall the whole car feels solid, secure, and smooth.....great for this class of car (and way nicer than my old Cobalt!)

-Nice size car for those who have space concerns....a lot of interior and trunk space for this size of car.

LOWS:

-Styling is a bit tame overall and lacks overall excitement.  The target seemed to be to play it down to the last gen Civic or Toyotas in general.

-6 speed automatic is klunky at times, particularly on the downshift.  I should verify it was in fact the 6 speed.  Whatever the case, it wasn't completely smooth with the small engine if you needed to do anything besides undisturbed cruising.

-Overall then, i might recommend the 1.5t is made standard or at least optional and that a 1.8t or 2.0t is made optional for those that want actual performance in lieu of the mpg only 1.4t.

-Perhaps due to trim / tire and suspension package; no real driving thrill.  The steering feel was mushy and neither connected or disconnected.  The suspension probably got its cushion more from the soft and higher profile tires than anything.  There's a nice opportunity here for a vehicle with sharply tuned steering and handling that is practically begging for some excitement and unless the upper trims and other tire packages are giving it the wow, it's quite bluh to drive in that regard.

-Some of the bounciness of ride of a smaller car seems evident at times.  Not really a huge knock, but these days it doesn't take many extra dollars to move up to the midsize class for a more stable ride on the highway.

-Rear leg room is in fact tight, but this is economy car.  The drivers seat was not amazing comfortable.  Something more substantial and supportive in the front buckets would be nice, I think.  Upgrade the cloth a bit too while you are at it.

-I know this is the LT trim but the market is moving to gauges and displays with more bling and more color.  Time for Chevy to bling the displays up some, and maybe even make the 8.4 standard.

-The first ever Cruze had a swagger or edge to it, inside and out,that helped its popularity.  This 'second ever' Cruze seems to do what it can to not carry any of that over (which in addition to crossovers may be why its not selling big).

-Really CHEAP of GM to have not leather wrap wheel here when the car has heated seats and a power seat.  LT's should have leather wheels.

-Need a way to turn off autostop when you want.

-Some manufacturers are including blind spot and cross path as standard on their cars.  I missed not having it here (as it have it on both our vehicles now).  In 2019 I would expect even Chevy Cruze and all Malibu and all Buicks to have at least those two safety features standard.

SUMMARY:

I maybe would temper the enthusiasm of my previous new gen Cruze review here after some more miles and less of the 'all new' factor in mind.  I still think the Cruze is a great entry though.  I think apart from the crossover craze, the exterior styling is not as sharp as the last gen was.  Chevy could figure out a way to spice it up and refresh it....the basic greenhouse on the sedan is good.  And despite cool looking headlights and grille, it just doesn't have the overall presence it maybe needs.  Likewise inside, it is nice but doesn't have the same bling it used to.  The car benefits from the maturity by being a better overall car...just not as sporty or edgy.  Anything GM can do to sex up the car will help.  I think additional engine options, better trannies, more bling inside, handling packages, value equipment packages etc.  Nothing should be off the table.  They can't really increase the interior size to match the newest Civic on this platform, but they should at least try to make it kind of sporty like the new Civic is in overall feel.  The next all new Cruze should be made larger to keep up with the size of the Civic.

If i didn't love the extra width and space of my current 16 Malibu, I'd have no issue driving the Cruze daily... I may be interested in a diesel though.  And then there is the notion I can get a Volt that is the same size too.  If Chevy doesn't try to keep this car interesting, it will be left to sell with the way it is now ....a solid car with good value but no edge.  And many other choices on the market.

I'll still give it a B+ but i challenge Chevy to do some real work here and not just let the car die without attention.  I mean, maybe its time to Beretta or Grand Am this thing and even throw some cladding on it too.

 

 

Edited by regfootball
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Are you 7 feet tall? The entire front seat back is in the 'back seat' area.

The front fascia is clearly recognizable & nicely done, but that rear 3/4-angle could be any of a half dozen brands. I think I agree that the 1st gen was more distinctive & a bit more appealing (exterior).

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On 4/1/2018 at 5:39 PM, balthazar said:

Are you 7 feet tall? The entire front seat back is in the 'back seat' area.

My kids hate to sit behind me when I'm driving for that reason.  Though there appears to be more leg room in the above pics than I leave. 

 

Edited by Scout
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