2012 Chevrolet Cruze Review
The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze is praised by critics for its roomy cabin, great fuel economy and upscale feel for the price. That's why the Cruze is our Best Compact Car for the Money.
For 2012, Chevrolet adds a few more perks to a vehicle that’s already one of the most popular vehicles on the market. On lower trims, features like Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a USB port are now standard. Fuel-conscious shoppers will also be happy to learn that models with the 1.4-liter turbo engine will get two more miles per gallon on the highway, according to Chevrolet.
Though the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze has a starting price that's a bit high for the class, test drivers say it will appeal to shoppers because it does so many things well. "Chevrolet has produced a well-rounded compact sedan that easily holds its own with the best entries in this class,” writes Consumer Guide, “but its biggest challenge may be overcoming the buying public's preconceived notions about its brand. If you are shopping compacts, Cruze should certainly be on your shopping list."
Other Cars to Consider
For a more stylish sedan, consider the Hyundai Elantra. The 2012 Elantra starts at about $16,500, and like the Cruze, the Elantra has a reputation as a small car that drives and looks more expensive than it is. The Elantra has optional heated seats in front and back, which is a first in this class. The industry also thinks the Elantra is roomier than the Cruze. The Elantra also comes with some of the highest fuel economy ratings in the class at 29/40 mpg city/highway, regardless of which transmission you pick.
The Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra may not appeal to young buyers because they’re not as fun to drive as the Mazda3. It starts at almost $16,000 and has one of the sportiest interiors in the class with performance to match. Its base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 148 horsepower, and there is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder option that makes 167. Because the Mazda3 has better performance than the Elantra and Cruze, its fuel economy ratings aren’t as high. A Mazda3 with an automatic transmission gets 24/33 mpg city/highway, and that number drops to 22/29 with the 2.5-liter engine and automatic transmission.
Details: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze
The 2012 Cruze hasn’t changed much from the 2011 model. It’s still available in LS, 1LT, 2LT, LTZ and Eco trims and looks the same, but gains more standard features on lower trims. Navigation is now optional on the Eco trim, and the 1LT and Eco trims come standard with a USB port, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. These features were optional last year.
According to Chevrolet, all models with the 1.4-liter turbo engine and six-speed automatic get two more miles per gallon on the highway.
- “The Cruze's roominess, efficiency, quality and refinement bring Chevrolet into a whole new world of compact cars." -- Cars.com
- "When compared to this segment's traditional leaders, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, the Cruze is fully competitive (or even better) in terms of design and driving dynamics." -- Edmunds
- "Unless you’re determined to downsize, the LTZ doesn’t seem distinctive enough to rationalize its midsize price tag, not when you could have a larger Malibu for about the same money. But if you keep the price closer to $20,000, the Cruze is worth a second look, even if a first glance doesn’t stop you in your tracks." -- The New York Times
- "The Chevrolet Cruze doesn't have the time-tested records of the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla and therefore doesn't have as high a resale value." -- Kelley Blue Book