General Motors recently announced the Chevy Cruze would be among six vehicles getting the axe and taking down their respective assembly plants with them. For the Cruze, that means thousands of employees in Lordstown, Ohio. But, before you think the Cruze was a piece of crud deserving of execution, my recent drive in a very base model proves bad things sometimes happen to good cars.
Handsome Updated Exterior
It’s a handsome car with a wedgy cab-forward design that begins with the dual-element Chevrolet grille and flows through chiseled fenders and traditional four-unit taillamps. There’s a bit of Camaro up front and a lot of Malibu aft – all very nice. Proving Chevrolet wasn’t planning to kill the Cruze, it was updated for 2019 with restyled front end, grille, and headlamps for an edgier look. Tail lamps were also revised. Even with 15-inch steel wheels and hubcaps, it looks pretty suave.
The interior is handsome too, dominated by a central 7-inch touchscreen, large analog gauges, and nicely sized sport steering wheel. Sure, in base cars the steering wheel is rubber, seats are cloth, and there’s plenty of hard plastic on the dash and doors, but upholstered trim panels return some panache. Lower lumbar isn’t great, but seats are comfortable enough. All cars come standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, software for 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and rearview camera. Unlike some competitors, the cabin is incredibly quiet underway.
Smooth Turbo Power
If first impressions are good, then driving the Cruze adds affection. Step down to enter a freeway, or pass trucks on the Interstate, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The base 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers a spirited 153 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque. Smooth assistance from the turbo will put a smile on your face as the car rolls 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds, which is quick for a base economy car. The efficient engine and 6-speed automatic transmission enable a frugal 30/40-MPG city/highway.
The powertrain is matched with a chassis that’s simple, but more than gets the job done. The suspension consists of an independent front and torsion beam rear set-up, which doesn’t sound all that sophisticated, but does a phenomenal job of keeping the car composed on almost any road and is tuned for the right balance of ride comfort and handling. The car rumbles over rough pavement with complete solidity. Steering is also nicely balanced for a compact sedan.
Our test car was in no way special, but in every way acceptable. It is a handsome car with a comfortable interior, even with hubcaps and cloth seats. The turbo engine and transmission are delights, sweeping the car into the left lane and up to almost any rational speed. The chassis was engineered to hit a price point, but complements the powertrain well. Even in base form, the Cruze is quite enjoyable to drive.
Chevrolet will end production of the Cruze by March, but it proves the point that bad things sometimes happen to good cars. The Cruze is not dying because it is a heap of crud, but rather because the market has shifted from compact sedans to sub-compact crossovers. Get one while you can. With a base and as-tested price of $17,995, competitors include the VW Jetta, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, and Kia Forte.
2019 Chevy Cruze
- Five-passenger, FWD Sedan
- Powertrain: 1.4-liter T4, 6-spd auto trans
- Output: 153hp/177 lb.-ft. torque
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Torsion beam
- Wheels f/r: 15”/15” steel
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Value, Powertrain
- Fuel economy: 30/40 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Lordstown, OH
- Base/As-tested price: $17,995/17,995