Cruze catching up to competitors with hatchback

Friday, February 10, 2017, Vol. 41, No. 6
By Ann M. Job | For the Associated Press

Chevrolet has brought its Cruze hatchback to the U.S. for the first time, offering buyers more storage space and standard features than the four-door version of the compact.

In fact, the 2017 Cruze hatchback has 24.7 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seatbacks, which is more than the 14.8 of trunk space in the Cruze sedan and more than what’s in larger sedans. When its rear seats are folded down, the compact has an SUV-like 47.2 cubic feet of cargo space.

The new Cruze hatchback comes with standard features that today’s drivers want, such as hands-free Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity with control buttons on the steering wheel, rear view camera, cruise control, remote keyless entry, floor mats and XMSirius satellite radio with a free three-month trial.

Not all these items are available on the base Cruze sedan, so it’s no wonder that the more stylish hatchback costs more. The starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $22,115 for a 2017 Cruze LT hatchback with six-speed manual transmission and $22,795 with six-speed automatic. This compares with the $17,850 starting MSRP with destination charge for a base, 2017 Cruze L sedan with manual transmission and $20,400 for a 2017 Cruze L sedan with automatic.

The National Highway Safety Administration gave the 2017 Cruze five-door hatchback an overall four out of five stars in crash tests, which was the same rating as the Cruze sedan.

The Cruze is Chevrolet’s second best-selling car, after the larger Malibu, with U.S. sales last year of 188,876. But this was down from 226,602 in 2015.

Competing small cars, such as the Ford Focus, have been sold as hatchbacks in the U.S. for years. This is the first time they’re for sale in the U.S.

Both the Cruze hatchback and sedan come with one engine – a 153-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder that provides good pickup and comfortable cruising power. Its torque peaks at 177 foot-pounds and comes on quickly by 2,000 rpm, and the test-driven Cruze, which was a top-of-the-line Premier model, felt powerful and responsive in all kinds of driving.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback Premier

BASE PRICE: $21,240 for LT manual; $21,920 for LT automatic; $23,945.


TYPE: Front-engine, front-wheel drive, five-passenger, compact hatchback.

ENGINE: 1.4-liter, double overhead cam, turbocharged, direct injection, inline four cylinder.

MILEAGE: 29 (city), 38 (highway).

TOP SPEED: 130 mph.

LENGTH: 175.3 inches.

WHEELBASE: 106.3 inches.

CURB WEIGHT: 2,917 pounds.

BUILT: Mexico.

OPTIONS: Sun and sound package with navigation (includes navigation system, 8-inch touch screen, Bose premium audio system) $1,995; RS package (upgraded 18-inch wheels, sport body kit, fog lamps) $995; enhanced convenience package (includes express down driver side window, automatic air conditioning, automatic dimming rearview mirror) $865; driver confidence II package (includes rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, forward collision warning) $790.


The Associated Press

The six-speed automatic transmission in the Premier worked through its gears smoothly. But hot-footed driving took a toll on fuel mileage, which averaged just 28.3 mpg in travel that was done the majority of the time on highways. The federal government ratings for this Cruze model are 29 mpg in city driving and 38 mpg on highways.

The hatchback also is available with a six-speed manual transmission, which has a fuel economy rating of 28/37 mpg.

The Cruze is easy to maneuver. Steering in the test-driven car had good on-center feel and was comfortable.

Passengers felt road vibrations much of the time, but the ride was comfortable overall and quieter than expected.

The front and rear seats don’t offer a lot of thigh support, and the manual lever for raising the front passenger seat rubbed on the seat cushion.

The back seats are a squeeze for three adults, but two can do OK if front-seat passengers move seats up some to help apportion the legroom between the first and second row seats.

The test-driven car had an apparent electrical problem. During one highway drive, the car twice alerted the driver that an airbag, park assist and other features were suddenly disabled. As this occurred, the speedometer needle was swinging back and forth between zero and 80 mph.

On another occasion as the car was parked and turned on, the driver was inexplicably alerted that the car could not locate the remote keyless fob, which was in the driver’s pocket.