The Chevy Cruze was the second-best selling car in the U.S. in June 2013, just behind the Toyota Camry and up 73 percent versus the previous June. Something about this little car is suddenly resonating with consumers since its arrival as a 2010 model across the globe.
The 2014 Cruze is largely carryover aside from a new turbo-diesel engine option that can deliver huge fuel economy for only about $1,500 extra. And this isn’t your d9iesel engine from the 1990s, as this economical four-pot sprints nearly as well as the gasoline-powered models.
The rest of the line is still going strong with Eco trim levels for the 1.4-liter turbo and an RS package available on top LT and LTZ models that includes special wheels, badging, bumpers, a spoiler and sill extensions.
What buyers are discovering is an affordable four-door car with mechanical refinement the previous Cobalt and Cavalier couldn’t achieve even when turned off and in park. This latest Chevrolet compact sedan is highly dependent on specification and is pretty grim inside on the cheapest $18,000 models but very respectable in LT auto trim from about $20,500.
These better-equipped Cruzes come with a deep features and tech list that includes a Pioneer audio upgrade, MyLink with backup camera and navigation and even enhanced active safety pack that includes rear parking sensors, cross-traffic alerts and blind-spot assist.
All this in a cheap and reliable car is a strong incentive when many buyers are spending serious money to keep their older cars on the road with costly repairs. The Cruze presents a reliable package, but is that enough to fend off the Honda Civic , Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla ? How about the VW Jetta TDI ?
Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze lineup with highlights on desirable options and tech info on the new diesel engine.
The Cruze is still looking good nearly 3 years after its launch, a testament to the original car’s excellent proportions and lasting design quality. It does all this without any giant wheel and tire package or flashy LED lights – just a humble sedan that looks modern and has some tasteful paint colors to bring out its lines.
Up front, the Cruze sticks with the full-frame bowtie grille with a black honeycomb mesh that also appears in the lower bumper. The grille’s appearance is not as striking at the new Impala but it has road presence and blends nicely with the carved headlamp shapes.
These lights are basic halogen reflectors but have a noticeable top graphic that arcs along the fender near the corners of the vehicle. This fender-line then continues rearward and defines the lower window line and the trunk height out back. Another diving swage line runs down the shoulder-line of the Cruze and helps bring some sportiness to the conventional shape.
In profile, the Cruze looks really good with no tacky add-on styling elements, like body-side ribbing to disturb the smooth metal flow. The Cruze’s biggest design fault is the blanked-off rear quarter-window that is a pointless styling touch. The Cruze would look better with a painted C-pillar, but it is still a cute little car nonetheless.
Out back, the oversized taillights have four circular lamps for the internal optics but does not offer LED bulbs anywhere except the high-mounted brake light. The rear three-quarter angle is one of the Cruze’s best – its body smoothly frames the pert trunk overhang and rear wheelhouse. The suspension is totally covered by the body, in contrast to generations of previous small Chevy ’s where the rear axle was visible from behind.
The RS option pack looks nice and brings a fancier front bumper with chrome-trimmed fog lamps. The side sills and a few new paint colors, like Red Hot in these pictures, bring the Cruze up to date versus its most of its rivals. The Kia Forte offers LEDs up front and in back but overall is not as handsome a sedan as the Chevrolet.
2014 Chevrolet Cruze – Exterior Dimensions:
|Track - Front (in.)||60.7|
|Track - Rear (in.)||61.3|
|Weight (Pounds) 1.8-liter||3,082|
|Weight (Pounds) 1.4-liter Turbo||3,150|
|Weight (Pounds) 1.4-liter Turbo Eco||3,011 Man., 3,102 Auto|
|Weight (Pounds) 2.0-liter Clean Diesel||3,475|
2014 Chevrolet Cruze – Exterior Features:
- Wheels, 16-inch 5-spoke machined-face alloy
- Tires, P215/60R16, all-season, low rolling resistance
- Tire, compact spare and spare wheel, includes jack and lug nut wrench
- Headlamps, halogen composite with automatic exterior lamp control and delay feature; Lamp, LED center high-mounted stop/brake (CHMSL)
- Exterior mirrors power-adjustable, manual-folding (Deleted when 1LT Driver Convenience Package is ordered. Mirror caps are body-color.)
- Glass, solar absorbing, tinted
- Wipers, front intermittent, variable
2014 Chevrolet Cruze – Exterior Options:
- 17-inch wheels
- 18-inch wheels
- RS Package: Includes Unique front and rear fascias, Lower body moldings, Rear spoiler; On LT models, also includes fog lamps and uplevel instrument cluster with chrome trim rings; this content is already standard on all LTZ models ($650)
- chrome appearance package ($255)
- Rear spoiler (Dealer-installed $410)
- Z-spec grille (Dealer-installed $330)
The interior of the Cruze is another area that helps the car stand out versus some of the competition. Overall, satisfaction with the Cruze’s interior quality and features will go up dramatically as buyers climb the price list from LS to LT and LTZ trims. The LT and LTZ pack better sound deadening and numerous small features, like an auto-dimming mirror that is not available on the entry-level LS trim.
While everything is optional, there is logic in the pricing and it makes sense. The automatic will be the biggest stand-alone option that most LS and LT buyers will need: it costs about $1,000 and is standard on the LTZ and Clean Diesel.
The individual options such as the enhanced safety pack, tech pack with MyLink and MyLink Nav upgrade are all priced very reasonably. The tech pack is mandatory for most young drivers and offers excellent smartphone integration for audio and voice Bluetooth functionality. A backup camera also joins the MyLink fun fest.
The All-Star package bundles the upgraded Pioneer stereo system with a power moonroof for $1,400 extra. The Cruze diesel comes in just one trim level that roughly matches up with the LTZ models from the top of the range.
2014 Chevrolet Cruze – Interior Dimensions:
|Front Seating Capacity||2|
|Rear Seating Capacity||3|
|Headroom - Front (in.)||39.3|
|Headroom - Rear (in.)||37.9|
|Legroom - Front (in.)||42.3|
|Legroom - Rear (in.)||35.4|
|Shoulder Room - Front (in.)||54.7|
|Shoulder Room - Rear (in.)||53.9|
|Hip Room - Front (in.)||53|
|Hip Room - Rear (in.)||52.4|
|EPA Cargo Volume (cubic-feet)||15.0 (13.3 Diesel)|
2014 Chevrolet Cruze – Interior Options:
- 1LT Driver Convenience Package: 6-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with manual recliner; Illuminated vanity mirrors for both driver and front seat passenger; Auto-dimming inside rearview mirror to reduce nighttime glare; Heated, power-adjustable outside mirrors to melt away fog and frost; On the 1LT with an available automatic transmission, this package also includes the remote vehicle starter system. ($570)
- Tech package: Chevrolet MyLink Radio with backup camera and Bluetooth wireless streaming audio ($550)
- Chevrolet MyLink Radio with Navigation ($795)
- Pioneer premium 9-speaker system ($445)
- All-Star package: Pioneer premium nine-speaker system and Power sunroof ($1,345)
Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes
The Cruze is pretty peppy even with its base 1.8-liter engine and can reach 60 mph in 9.3 seconds. It’s not a potent unit but does have 138 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque – matching its main competitors for power and beating them on sprints.
The mid-spec turbo engine is the most popular. This 1.4-liter unit also makes 138 horsepower but gets there about 2,000 rpm sooner. The turbo four makes 148 pound-feet of torque and is noticeably more rapid than the 1.8 for a 7.8-second 0-to-60 mph sprint.
The Eco runs the 1.4-liter turbo through a manual or auto box. It weighs less than its siblings by about 100 pounds for the auto and 200 pounds for the manual. This weight saving comes mainly from less insulation and the manual Eco model’s smaller gas tank. The Eco manual is the only car that can hit 42 mpg on the highway and has a 13-gallon gas tank. The automatic Eco keeps the same 15-gallon tank as other Cruzes but can only achieve 39 highway mpg.
The newest Clean Diesel engine produces a massive wallop of torque right above idle for an 8.2 second 60 mph sprint. The Cruze Clean Diesel’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine produces 151 horsepower and up to 280 pound-feet of torque with the brief overboost function in the engine programming.
The biggest handling change comes from the Cruze diesel’s 300-pound weight gain over the other engines. It also has a slightly smaller trunk versus the gasoline sedans.
Base LS Chevy Cruze sedans come with a torsion-bar rear suspension that is far less capable than the Z-link independent rear suspension on the LT models and above. The base car feels less confident in corners and can bring some big bump impacts into the cabin – over the same bumps that would only lightly disturb the independent suspension.
2014 Chevrolet Cruze – Mechanical Specifications:
|Engine Size and Type||1.8-liter 16-valve I-4 With DOHC And CVVT||1.4-liter Turbocharged 16-valve I-4 With DOHC And CVVT||2.0-liter Turbocharged 16-valve Diesel I-4 With DOHC|
|Peak power (Horsepower)||138 @ 6300||138 @ 4900||151 @ 4000|
|Peak torque (Pound-feet)||125 @ 3800||148 @ 1850||280 @ 2600|
|Transmission||6-Speed Manual (6-Speed Auto Opt.)||6-Speed Manual (6-Speed Auto Opt.)||6-Speed Auto|
|0-to-60 mph||9.3 seconds, est||7.8 seconds||8.2 seconds|
|Top Speed||108 mph, est||108 mph, est||108 mph, est|
|Fuel Economy Estimates (City/Combined/Highway)||25/NA/36 Man., 22/NA/35 Auto||26/NA/38 Auto LT and LTZ, 28/NA/42 Man. Eco, 26/NA/39 Auto Eco||27/NA/46|
The Cruze comes with 10 standard airbags and a Top Safety Pick rating by IIHS across all categories. The car performs very well in crash tests and is now equipped with a new smart airbag design with new vents to lessen impact forces in a crash.
The Cruze is alone in its segment by including rear side airbags that are optional even on some pricey Audi models. These bags supplement the full-length curtain airbag that protects both rows of passengers in a side crash.
2014 Chevrolet Cruze - Safety Features:
- Optional Enhanced Safety Package: Rear Park Assist, which signals your proximity to objects behind your back bumper; Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, which lets you know when hazards enter your path of travel as you back up; Side Blind Zone Alert signals the presence of vehicles entering your blind spot on either side ($790)
- Ten standard air bags include side curtain air bags, which provide head protection for outboard passengers in the event of a side-impact or rollover crash; Rollover sensor: designed to deploy the side curtain airbags in the event of an impending rollover
- Driver and front passenger knee airbags: separate airbags in the lower instrument panel designed to minimize knee injuries in frontal crashes
- Rear Vision Camera display integrated into Chevrolet MyLink radio
- StabiliTrak electronic stability control system helps reduce the risk of rollover crashes by keeping the vehicle in the driver’s intended path by applying throttle, braking or a combination of both
- Power-assisted front and rear disc brakes are standard
- Four-channel anti-lock braking is standard and incorporates electronic brake force distribution, which balances braking performance based on such factors as road conditions and the weight of passengers and/or cargo
- Pre-tensioners minimize forward movement during a collision, and are standard on the front safety belts. Load-limiting retractors cinch the belt more tightly
- LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat attachment system, which is included in all second-row seating positions; emergency trunk release handle
- Tire pressure monitoring system on all models
The Cruze is priced from just $18,000 before options and higher trim levels. The base car is not worth considering unless price is the only concern. There is much more value in the better-equipped LT and especially LTZ trim.
Features like MyLink touchscreen audio and MyLink with navigation are worthwhile options that will make the car much more comfortable and capable during years of ownership.
|2014 Chevrolet Cruze – Trim Name||2013 MSRP|
The Cruze competes most directly with the segment-leading Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Ford Focus .
The Corolla is new for 2014 with a longer wheelbase to go along with dramatically improved exterior style and interior tech. The Corolla now offers a six-speed auto but still lumbers along with the same gasoline engines. It performs near the back of the pack for efficiency but is now more liveable, thanks to new LED headlights and an Entune touchscreen radio that is optional.
Gallery Toyota Corolla
The Jetta TDI is the only other value-priced diesel sedan available in the United States. It comes in at $24,000 for the base TDI with an automatic transmission but almost nothing else. The Jetta’s diesel is also frugal and beats the automatic-equipped Cruze Clean Diesel’s 39 highway mpg by an extra 3 miles. It is slower at 8.7 seconds to 60 mph and has 40 fewer horsepower in a heavier (but more roomy) sedan shape.
Gallery Volkswagen Jetta TDI
The Cruze is a small sedan that delivers excellent real-world mileage without the added complexity and expense of a hybrid system. The June 2013 demand spike certainly indicates there was a large unmet market of buyers looking for a simple and cheap high-mileage vehicle. Despite the Cruze Clean Diesel offering great efficiency and emissions stats, there is much more room for development with this engine.
All the engines have some value-oriented components like electronic fuel injection versus direct injection. The diesel is potent but can be noisy on cold startups and lacks variable valve timing altogether.
Part of the diesel’s weight gain goes to extra sound deadening that does an admirable job of keeping things quiet inside. The additions would be more than welcome inside the boomy Eco model.
Overall, the Cruze is a solid little car with a rigid structure for good handling, good performance and generally excellent efficiency stats. It is honest about what it offers and is a welcome breath of fresh air for a segment Chevy previously starved of design and engineering investment.
For first-time diesel shoppers, the instant torque and real six-speed automatic box will be a revelation. The relaxed driving style of the diesel is like a luxury car versus the Asian competition’s gutless, high-revving four-bangers with droning CVT transmissions.
|Driving||B||Perky Handling But Still Econo Levels of NVH Refinement|
|Performance||B||Not Too Slow In 1.4 Turbo Or Clean Diesel Trims|
|Look||C+||Elegant Overall Styling Could Uses Some LED Enhancements Front And Rear|
|Value||B+||Mid-Range LT Cars Are Best Value With Good Tech But Cloth Seats|
|Overall||B||Buyers Rejoice As Little Car Gets Big Diesel Power|
- Interior design still feels fresh and has great tech and connectivity features with Chevy’s MyLink
- Design is pretty sharp and looks acceptable even on small wheels
- Back seat comfort far better than any previous small Chevy: no more low base and upright seatback to scam legroom inches
- Taillights are a little goofy and need LED enhancement to ditch old Monte Carlo-style round brake lights
- Interior is pretty roomy but center console is narrow (as are the seats)
- Clean Diesel’s additional noise suppression materials needed on all other models
- Odd tractor shadow in press photo meant to emphasize torque but actually highlights diesel refinement issues
Gallery Chevrolet Cruze
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Offers New RS Appearance Pack And A New Clean Diesel Engine For 46 MPG Highway
Cruze features Chevrolet’s global signature face – a two-tier grille with the gold bowtie logo. An arching roofline connects a steeply raked windshield and fast-sloping rear pillars that provide a sporty, coupe-like proportion.
Prominent headlamp housings wrap around the corners and sweep upward into the fenders and hood. The short rear deck is typically found on sport coupes. Wheels are planted at the corners with minimal front and rear overhangs, which make the car appear longer.
Inside, the twin-cockpit motif is matched with high-quality interior materials and exceptional assembly tolerances. Grained, soft-touch components and low-gloss trim panels convey a level of quality uncommon in the segment.
The instrument panel features richly detailed instruments backlit with light-emitting diode (LED) technology. The integrated center stack houses the infotainment display, climate controls and radio controls, and blends harmoniously with the instrument panel.
The interior pillar and other moldings are color and grain-matched to the headliner, while the seat inserts are color-matched to the instrument panel accent trim, giving the cabin the detailed appearance of a larger, more upscale sedan.
New exterior colors for 2014 include Red Hot, Rainforest Green Metallic, Tungsten Metallic and Blue Ray Metallic.
Cruze standard and available features
All Cruze interiors include premium materials and unexpected standard equipment, including air conditioning, vehicle anti-theft system, USB port, adjustable steering wheel with audio controls, AM/FM stereo system with CD player, MP3 playback capability, six speakers, auxiliary jack for personal playback devices, two power outlets, remote keyless entry and a trial subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
- Cruze LS includes premium cloth bucket seats, 16-inch steel wheels, silver-painted center stack and instrument panel cluster accent rings, power windows with express down on all windows, power door locks, carpeted front and rear floor mats and Bluetooth for select phones
- Cruze 1LT adds cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power driver express-up window and 16-inch alloy wheels. The available All-Star Edition package includes a power sunroof and premium Pioneer nine-speaker audio system. The 1LT Driver Convenience Package includes driver six-way power seat adjuster with manual recliner, driver and front passenger illuminated vanity mirrors, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, outside heated, power-adjustable mirrors and remote vehicle start on automatic-transmission-equipped vehicles. An available Technology Package includes Chevrolet MyLink and a rear vision camera.
- Cruze Eco adds 17-inch lightweight aluminum wheels, color-touch AM/FM stereo, MP3 playback capability and seven-inch-diagonal color touch-screen display. The Chevrolet MyLink system features Bluetooth streaming audio for music and select phones; voice recognition for phone, music and radio; Pandora and Stitcher smartphone compatibility; Gracenote (playlist and album art); software updatable for radio software and Gracenote database. An available Eco Driver Convenience Package includes driver six-way power seat adjuster with manual recliner, driver and front passenger illuminated vanity mirrors, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, rear vision camera and outside heated, power-adjustable mirrors.
- Cruze 2LT and Diesel add Meridian leather-appointed front bucket seats, six-way power driver seat and heated driver and front passenger seats. Cruze Diesel also includes uplevel instrument panel cluster and chrome trim rings. The available Driver Convenience Package includes driver and front passenger illuminated vanity mirrors; auto-dimming inside rearview mirror; rear vision camera and outside heated, power-adjustable mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels.
- Cruze LTZ adds 18-inch wheels, automatic climate control, rear vision camera, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, uplevel instrument panel with chrome trim rings, driver and front passenger illuminated vanity mirrors, outside heated, power-adjustable, body-color mirrors, front fog lamps, chrome door handles and keyless entry/keyless start.
A sporty RS Appearance Package is available on LT and LTZ models. It includes unique fascias, rocker moldings, rear spoiler and fog lamps. An uplevel instrument cluster includes chrome accent rings in place of the standard silver finish, and opaque cluster bezels that allow the cluster’s ice blue backlighting to shine through for a sporty nighttime appearance.
Chassis and suspension
Cruze features a strong body structure and chassis system that enabled engineers to more precisely tune the chassis for comfort and driving control. StabiliTrak electronic stability control with traction control, rollover mitigation and anti-lock brakes are standard.
Additional features include a MacPherson strut front suspension and, available on 1LT and standard on 2LT, Diesel and LTZ, a rear suspension with a technically advanced Z-link design. It helps deliver a more balanced driving experience, as the rear suspension better follows the lead of the front suspension.
Rack-mounted electric power steering is standard on all models. It helps with Cruze’s excellent fuel economy because it removes the conventional power steering pump from the engine’s driven accessories.
Cruze is equipped with a family of 16-, 17- and 18-inch wheels.
Cruze 2.0L clean turbo-diesel details
Collaborating with Italian and German engineering groups, GM’s diesel experts in the United States adapted the engine to accommodate more stringent diesel emission standards and a wider range of driving conditions – including colder climates and higher altitudes – for the United States and Canada.
Cruze’s new 2.0L turbo-diesel delivers a segment-leading 151 horsepower (113 kW) and 264 lb.-ft. of torque (358 Nm). Peak torque is achieved at a low 2,600 rpm, for a sustained feeling of power on demand at almost all speeds – particularly when passing or entering a freeway ramp.
The engine also has an overboost feature capable of increasing torque to an estimated 280 lb.-ft. (380 Nm), for stronger acceleration periods of about 10 seconds.
The 2.0L turbo-diesel engine provides greater fuel economy than a comparably sized gasoline engine through greater thermal efficiency, a higher compression ratio and an un-throttled combustion process. It features an iron cylinder block and a forged steel crankshaft, each designed to stand up to the greater cylinder pressures that come with a turbo-diesel engine.
A lightweight aluminum cylinder head and aluminum intake manifold contribute to the engine’s 408 pounds (185 kg), helping the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel deliver a balanced ride with outstanding handling characteristics. Additional highlights include:
- Dual overhead camshafts with four valves per cylinder and maintenance-free hydraulic lifters with low-friction roller-finger followers
- Quiet belt-driven cams/valvetrain with high-strength belt material and tensioner rated for 100,000 miles
- High-strength aluminum pistons with reinforced top ring and integral combustion bowl design
- Central direct injection, with the injector positioned in the middle of the cylinder, with the bowl in the piston serving as the combustion chamber. This enables a high 16.5:1 compression ratio that enhances power and combustion efficiency
- Variable-swirl intake manifold design, which optimizes air charge mixture motion in the cylinders for a more-efficient combustion that enhances performance and reduces emissions
- Common-rail fuel system with Piezo fuel injectors that create multiple injections per combustion for greater performance, combustion efficiency and quietness
- Variable-nozzle turbocharger that broadens the engine’s overall torque curve. It is mounted close to the exhaust outlet of the engine for quicker “spool up” of the turbine and faster “light off” of the exhaust catalyst
- Intercooling system produces a cooler, denser air charge for greater torque and power
- Piston oil jets that help reduce friction and optimize piston temperature for greater performance and efficiency
- Turbocharger bearings are oil-lubricated and cooled via an oil cooler
- Variable-displacement oil pump helps save fuel by optimizing the oil pressure, which reduces friction
- Vacuum pump designed for lower engine friction
- Ceramic glow plugs, which provide greater cold-start performance over conventional metal glow plugs (an engine oil heater is offered for cold climates)
- B20 bio-diesel compatibility
Quiet, smooth performance is enabled by a number of features on and around the engine, including sound-absorbing features such as a unique dash mat, hood blanket and more.
A precise exhaust gas recirculation control system features a high-capacity cooler and bypass feature that enable the engine to meet United States and Canada’s tough diesel emissions regulations. The exhaust after-treatment system is similar to what is used on Chevrolet’s heavy-duty trucks and vans equipped with the Duramax diesel, including a diesel particulate filter and diesel emission fluid injection.
The 2.0L clean turbo-diesel engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission designed to accommodate the car’s higher torque.
Other Cruze models sold in North America are equipped with one of two efficient four-cylinder engines and a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
Standard on LS models is the 138-horsepower (103 kW) Ecotec 1.8L four-cylinder with continuously variable valve timing that optimizes performance and fuel economy across the rpm band. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 25 mpg city and 36 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission and 22 mpg city and 35 mpg highway with the automatic.
Standard on LT, LTZ and Eco models is an Ecotec 1.4L turbo. Its exhaust-driven turbocharger helps the engine perform like a larger engine when needed, but retains the efficiency of a small-displacement four-cylinder in most driving conditions.
Also rated at 138 horsepower (103kW) with 148 lb.-ft. of torque (200 Nm), the Ecotec 1.4L turbo enables a cruising range of more than 500 miles (800 km).
EPA fuel economy is 26 mpg city and 38 mpg highway on LT and LTZ, and 28 mpg city and 42 mpg highway on Eco when equipped with the manual transmission. With the automatic transmission, Cruze Eco highway fuel economy is 39 mpg.
Cruze is backed by GM’s five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty – the best coverage in America.