- New diesel engine being introduced for 2014, expected to deliver 46 mpg highway
- Roomy interior for a compact car
- 10 standard airbags; full five-star rating from the NHTSA and an IIHS Top Safety Pick award recipient
Though the Chevrolet Cruze competes with other compact cars that sport older, more recognizable names like Civic, Corolla, and Focus, it returns for 2014 with a brand new, super-efficient diesel engine that should return 42 mpg highway.
Debuting in 2011, the Cruze is slowly shedding its “new kid on the block” status and as the years have gone on, small additions have turned into a real contender in this hotly contested segment. The Cruze is only offered as a sedan in the United States and its styling is on the conservative side when placed alongside competitors like the Hyundai Elantra and Dodge Dart. But conservative doesn’t mean boring; we actually like how the Cruze looks, especially from the rear, with good proportions and crisp lines.
Under the hood, you now have a choice of three engine options, two gasoline and one diesel. Both gasoline engines produce 138-hp, but go about it in different ways. The base engine is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, while a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder is optional. The turbocharged four-cylinder is the peppier of the two, offering more torque (148 pounds-feet vs. 125) and better acceleration, while also offering more fuel efficiency. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed automatic is available. But the big news is the brand-new diesel engine, a 151-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cyilnder diesel that makes 264 pounds-feet of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic only. An “overboost” mode on the diesel can also temporarily increase torque to 280 pounds-feet for quick getaways.
Fuel economy numbers check in at 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with the base engine (22/35 with the automatic), while the turbocharged engine returns 26/38 mpg city/highway. A specialized ECO version of the Cruze is also available, which adds a few suspension/aerodynamic tweaks and unique transmission tuning to top the charts at 28/42 mpg city/highway. But the granddaddy of them all is the diesel and 27/46 mpg city/highway.
Inside, the Cruze splits its features across six trim levels (LS, 1LT, 2LT, LTZ, ECO, and Cruze Turbo Diesel). Interior volume is good for a car of its size, but the Cruze really excels when it comes to cargo volume (15.4 cubic feet). Standard features include a 60/40 split folding rear seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, power windows and locks, air conditioning, auxiliary audio input, and keyless entry. Upgrades are available, including leather upholstery, a navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port, heated front seats, and Chevy’s MyLink entertainment system. MyLink adds voice command recognition and a plethora of other streaming services like Pandora internet radio.
Safety comes standard on the 2014 Cruze, which got a full-five star crash test rating from the NHTSA and an IIHS Top Safety Pick Award. Standard safety features include 10 airbags, antilock brakes, and electronic stability control. The new Enhanced Safety Package offers blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and rear park assist.