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in Used Small Cars $14K and up

Avg. Price Paid: $12,929 - $16,708
Original MSRP: $17,130 - $23,550
MPG: 22 City / 35 Hwy
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2013 Chevrolet Cruze Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Test drivers report that the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze doesn’t have the most powerful engines in its class, but they are pleased with the Cruze’s good fuel economy, smooth ride and responsive steering.

  • "Most drivers should be satisfied with either of the Cruze's engines. The upscale turbocharged engine is pretty average in terms of outright acceleration, but it's peppier around town thanks to its increased torque." -- Edmunds
  • "As for the Cruze's driving dynamics, we mostly found them pleasant and even a bit sporty. The ride is impressively stable and smooth and the steering, although a bit numb in the corners, is nicely weighted." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "On the road, the Cruze really scores over its competition in two areas: refinement and ride quality." -- Car and Driver (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Chevrolet Cruze has two available engines: a base 138-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a 138-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 23 pound-feet of torque more than the base engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional. With the base engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, the 2013 Cruze averages 22/35 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA. The Eco model has the highest ratings in the model line, achieving up to 28/42 mpg with the manual transmission. 

While the 2013 Cruze has good fuel economy ratings, particularly as one of the larger models in the class, reviewers do complain about its engines and automatic transmission. They prefer the optional turbocharged engine because its additional torque improves its passing abilities at highway speeds. However, more than one test driver says that even though the turbocharged engine performs well on the highway, it is still sluggish from a stop. A different test driver pinpoints the slow-shifting automatic transmission for the Cruze’s slow acceleration.

See the full 2013 Chevrolet Cruze specs »

  • "Cruze is far from the quickest compact, owing mostly to lackluster-for-the-class horsepower and torque. It is adequate in most situations, and turbocharged models are reasonably confident for highway passing and merging. The manual transmission's shifter can feel clunky and awkward at times, though the clutch is light. The automatic transmission has seen steady improvement since the car's debut in 2011. It now shifts smoothly and decisively." -- Consumer Guide
  • "While we love the turbocharged engine, we did find some lag upon acceleration from a dead stop, a characteristic we blame on the somewhat sluggish 6-speed automatic's inability to downshift with any authority." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "I also find the powertrain surprisingly strong for a wee 1.4-liter four-cylinder. Thanks go to the turbo, which really punches up the power, even if it comes with a little lag. There's also some delay in engine decel on throttle lift--not continued acceleration or anything out of control, mind you, just a tendency to wind down a little slower from high revs." -- AutoWeek (Eco model, 2011)
  • "The main issue, however, is the automatic transmission. Programmed for maximum fuel economy, it's reluctant to downshift for quick acceleration and passing unless you really boot the throttle." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Reviewers don’t say the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze has best-in-class handling or braking, but they’re still impressed with its abilities. The Cruze’s steering is precise, there’s little body lean and its ride is smooth. With the optional sport suspension, one car reviewer mentions that the Cruze picks up more bumps in the road, but finds that overall, passengers will be comfortable.   

Reviewers don’t comment on the 2013 model’s braking abilities, but in test drives for previous model years, they call the brakes strong.

  • "The 2013 Chevrolet Cruze deftly combines responsive handling with a comfortable, compliant ride. The sport suspension on the 2LT and LTZ is firmer but still provides an agreeable ride." -- Edmunds
  • "Even when the road ahead gets a bit twisty, the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze manages to remain poised, with minimal body roll and lean. The electric-assist power steering, which weighs less than hydraulic types and thus enhances fuel economy, delivers good feedback and generally feels direct and well balanced." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The steering is direct and confident." -- The New York Times (2011)

Next Steps: 2013 Chevrolet Cruze

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