2014 Chevrolet Cruze

LS FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4 man trans

2014 chevrolet cruze Reviews and News

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Front Right View 3
Hardly anyone uses a car's trip computer to keep track of mpg. If consumers did, more of them would buy the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel.
It's not fashionable to say anything nice about the Chevy Cruze in any form, but this turbocharged, 2.0-liter, DOHC inline-4 turbodiesel seems pretty good in this car. Its output is respectable, as this iron-block engine delivers 151 hp @ 4000 rpm and 264 lb-ft of torque @ 2600 rpm. To get things really rolling, you have to rev it a little harder than you would the fractionally less powerful 2.0-liter Volkswagen turbodiesel, but this is not a chore. Besides, you get ten seconds of turbo overboost for 280 lb-ft of torque, which is worth the effort. At the same time, why would you think about revving a turbodiesel very hard? Isn't the point supposed to be mpg, not mph?
Sure, we know that if you want fuel efficiency, you pick a hybrid for great city mpg and a diesel for great highway mpg. When you're cruising down the interstate in the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel, you're pretty happy, because there's enough acoustic insulation to isolate you from the diesel's clatter of combustion (though it's loud if you're standing outside the car), and the real strength of the Cruze chassis compared to its competition lies in its composure on the highway. Plus, you can theoretically get down the road some 717 miles between fill-ups in the Cruze Diesel if you reach the 46-mpg EPA highway number that the government sticker promises.
But the thing that makes the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel really terrific is its six-speed automatic transmission. The VW Jetta TDI diesel is also pretty wonderful on the highway, but when you're driving in stop and go traffic, its dual-clutch automated manual transmission gets on your nerves. The VW transmission engages slowly as you get rolling after a stop, shifts slowly, and cycles clumsily to a tall gear ratio whenever it registers any lightness on the throttle pedal. And when you call for more power from the engine room, the kickdown in gear ratio creates a big torque reaction from the Jetta's softly calibrated, long travel suspension that feels awful.
In comparison the Chevy Cruze Diesel drives like a regular car, since it has a plain old automatic transmission like a regular car. It smoothly leaves a stoplight, churns through its gear ratios inoffensively, and never does anything nautical in the ride motions department.
So the funny thing is, the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel makes its statement not simply in its mpg capability but also in the way you can easily live with the car in around-town driving where a diesel is often at its worst.

2014 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ Diesel Specifications

Base price $24,985
Price as tested $28,220
Engine 2.0L DOHC I-4 turbodiesel
Power 151 hp @ 4000 rpm
Torque 264 lb-ft @ 2600 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Drive Front-wheel
Length x width x height 181.0 x 70.7 x 50.1 in
Wheelbase 105.7 in
Curb Weight 3471 lbs
Cargo Capacity 13.3 cu ft
Fuel economy 27/46 /33 mpg city/highway/combined
8 Compact Sedan   Day Three   4 Car Group Image 1
This is Day 3 of Automobile Magazine’s 2014 Compact Sedan Comparison Review, a comparison test that is meant to help you find an affordable, compact, multipurpose sedan that you’d be happy to drive to work, to the pick-up zone at school, or to the big-box store for a weekend errand.
As we noted in our Day 1 introduction, we put together eight of the best compact sedans and drove them at the same time on the same roads. We made our notes and organized our facts. Then we argued about the results.
The way we see it, these are the best compact sedans in America right now. We’ve tried to ensure that our test vehicles represent a useful level of features – nicely equipped, as they say — yet don’t cost too much. Given the practical realities of acquiring so many test vehicles at the same time, they aren’t all priced exactly the same, but we did our best.
The cars we’re testing are the Chevrolet Cruze, Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Kia Forte, Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla, and Volkswagen Jetta. To make our comparisons as direct as possible, we organized a scheme wherein we matched the vehicles in brackets, just as you would see in an athletic tournament (think March Madness). The losers will be knocked out one by one until the winner presents itself.
As we did yesterday on Day 2 of this comparison, we will present an accounting of four vehicles, and two contenders will be eliminated. Tomorrow, on Day 4, we’ll present excerpts from our test notebook on the final four and will select our two finalists. On Friday, for Day 5, the two finalists will go head to head, and we will declare a winner.
Today’s match-ups:
  • 2014 Chevrolet Cruze vs. 2014 Volkswagen Jetta
  • 2013 Honda Civic vs. 2014 Toyota Corolla

2014 Chevrolet Cruze vs. 2014 Volkswagen Jetta

2014 Volkswagen Jetta And 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Front View

2014 Chevrolet Cruze 1LT

2014 Chevrolet Cruze 1LT Front Three Quarters View
When the Chevrolet Cruze first appeared as a 2009 model, it knocked us out. Compared with the small, coarse sedans that Chevrolet had produced dating back to the Cavalier (and even the Vega of the 1970s before that), this car seemed like a miracle of international breeding, combining the best of a European chassis, a Korean drivetrain, and American styling, not to mention American development and manufacture. But, tough luck, the Ford Focus stole the spotlight.
Nevertheless, the Cruze has turned things around for Chevrolet in the compact sedan segment, and the appearance of the 2014 Cruze diesel shows how serious General Motors is about this small car. We have liked the Cruze in general because it handles so well (really), delivers such good fuel economy (really), and makes so many features available for so little money (really).
Compared with the other sedans in our comparison, the 2014 Cruze 1LT aspires to be a large car, not a small one. It wants to be refined and sophisticated, a Chevy that has been to charm school.

More than you expect

When you put the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze next to the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta, there’s more to it than you might expect. There’s more to the styling, that’s for sure, although we’d argue that Chevy’s corporate twin-grille look makes it seem as if there are about three grilles too many. More surprising is the sheer size of the Cruze. It measures 181.0 inches in overall length on a wheelbase of 105.7 inches and has a total passenger volume is 95 cubic feet. Front-seat passengers get most of the benefit, with 42.3 inches of legroom; rear-seat passengers get 35.4. (Probably this is the right proportion, since kids will be the ones to occupy the back seat most often.)
The interior presentation is pretty stylish in terms of architecture, but the execution depends on the model that you pick. This particular test car didn’t make us feel particularly charmed, and we picked it apart as a result. The short bottom cushions of the front seats made us feel as if we were in a small car, not a large one. The array of electronic features and connectivity options was pretty good, but most of us couldn’t get along with the Chevrolet MyLink interface, as the lack of haptic feedback made the system feel unresponsive and clumsy, no matter how quickly the electrons raced around.

Less than the big car we were promised

As compact sedans go, the Cruze actually feels sporty rather than big, and its lively responses and balance in the corners set it apart from most of the competition. If you set the Focus as a standard, the Cruze’s suspension calibration helps it feel better isolated from cracked pavement even as it delivers a reassuring balance of grip from the front and rear tires in the corners.
For all this, however, we didn’t get the big car benefits that we hoped for from this $23,540 Cruze 1LT. We could hear the road too well even through the flaccid tires, and the ride never delivered the gracefulness that we to find in any car, large or small. The 138-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter engine felt coarse at anything other than cruising speed, perhaps because the slow-shifting, six-speed automatic transmission seemed to conspire against performance. The powertrain seems meant for freeway cruising, where the engine’s 148 lb-ft of torque proves adequate. This powertrain is EPA rated at 26 mpg city/38 mpg highway.
The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze didn’t make any enemies during our drive to Kalamazoo and home again, but neither did it make any friends.
–Michael Jordan

2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE

2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE Rear Three Quarters View
When the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta came ashore from Germany, it promised both more and less. Its stretched exterior dimensions promised more interior passenger space than the Jetta of the previous generation, and a stripped-down complement of features and trim (plus the promise of U.S.-based manufacture in Tennessee), meant a lower price. Sadly, we felt that lowering the bottom line resulted in less car, as the Jetta no longer drove with the European spirit that had formerly made it stand out from its competitors.
But three years along, the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta seems like a different proposition. The new 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes this car feel far more powerful than you might expect from 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and delivers an EPA-rated 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway. (Oddly enough, this is better fuel economy than you can get from the 115-hp, normally aspirated, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.)

Ach, it looks so German

Compared with some of the smaller, snappy-looking sedans in our test group, the 2014 Jetta comes across as big and square-rigged, more like the mid-size VW Passat than an affordable compact sedan. When the bodywork is stripped of its adornment, this is not such a good thing, as the Jetta looks like something that you might find at a taxi stand in Frankfurt. Fortunately, Volkswagen of America has backed off some of visual austerity (or maybe we’re just getting used to it) in this $23,985 Volkswagen Jetta SE (with connectivity and sunroof).
On the other hand, there are some advantages to looking like a taxi, because the VW Jetta feels very spacious when you’re behind the wheel. Partly this is because the passengers are packaged fairly upright, as the car’s overall height of 57.2 inches suggests. Partly this is because rear-seat passengers have 38.1 inches of legroom. And partly this is because the car is pretty big, offering 94.1 cubic feet of interior passenger volume.
But then when you look at the largely unadorned dashboard, you’re right back there in taxi-land. That said, VW has made some strides in its array of features for electronic connectivity, and indeed the connector for the MDI cable has at long last made its way from the glovebox to the center console.

And it drives German, too

Now that the former five-cylinder engine has been replaced by the turbocharged four-cylinder, the drivetrain feels smoother than before, and the Jetta cruises effortlessly on the highway. Strangely, the engine feels like a diesel, because the six-speed automatic has been programmed to shift smoothly (although slowly) to ride the wave of torque at low rpm. It even sounds a bit like a diesel, thanks to a resonator box behind the dash that enhances engine sounds from this otherwise very quiet car.
The Jetta rides and handles like a big car. A wheelbase of 104.4 inches delivers reassuring straightline stability, and the long-travel suspension smoothly strokes up and down over the bumps in the road. There’s plenty of body roll in the corners, yet there’s never a loss in composure. Oddly enough, the multi-link independent suspension helps the car respond to steering inputs with more liveliness, and you don’t mind the new electric-assist steering system at all.
When it comes to compact sedans, there are small, sporty ones and big, comfortable ones, even though this is frequently a matter of tuning rather than simply the car’s physical dimensions. The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta is a big, comfortable one, and we prefer the way it goes about its business compared with the Chevrolet Cruze LT1, which has similar aspirations.
– Michael Jordan

Winner: 2014 Volkswagen Jetta

2013 Honda Civic vs. 2014 Toyota Corolla

2014 Honda Civic And 2014 Toyota Corolla Front View

2013 Honda Civic EX

2014 Honda Civic EX Front Three Quarters View
Everyone knows about the Honda Civic. When you’re behind the wheel, the view seems familiar, since Honda has carefully formatted the driving position to make the car as easy and natural to drive as possible. You know that you’ll get where you’re going with great fuel economy along the way. This is what makes the Civic the segment’s bestselling car year after year, including 2013. Recommend a Civic to someone and there’s never a question about it; they just give you a thumbs-up and set off for the nearest Honda dealer.
Such trustworthiness has its downside, though. When Honda tries to change the Civic, people resist. After the introduction of the current-generation Civic for 2012, a kind of scandal brewed when Honda enthusiasts worried that the car’s presentation had been compromised in the name of a cheaper price. Honda responded quickly, and the 2013 Civic sedan incorporated not only nicer interior trim but also acoustically insulated glass for the windshield and front windows, higher quality dampers, and a chassis reinforced to withstand new federal standards for crashworthiness. Enthusiasts were satisfied.

Déjà vu all over again

For better or worse, climbing into the Civic is like traveling back in time. Honda’s design maxim has long been “Man Maximum, Machine Minimum.” So it’s no surprise that the Civic sedan feels roomier than any other car in this comparison, even though its interior passenger volume of 94.6 cubic feet is much the same as its rivals. It’s remarkably easy to see the road from the driver’s seat, which is quite an accomplishment in an era of demanding crash standards that create thick roof pillars and thick doors. Thanks to a perfectly flat floor, even an adult who forgets to call shotgun and is exiled to the back seat can ride in relative comfort.
All this good design comes with hardly a lick of style, though. Even after the 2013 interior makeover, the plastic surfaces still look a lot like, well, plastic. The driver’s seat is one of the most comfortable in the test but wears cheap-looking fabric that, according to one of us “screams 1993.” Most important, the era of the Apple iPhone seems to have passed by the Civic, whose digital instrument panel appears to have been inspired by an Atari video-game console of the 1980s. None of us could get comfortable with the two-tier display, which always seems to obscure the speedometer readout behind the rim of the steering wheel, no matter how tall or short you might be.

Transcendental meditation at 65 mph

The Civic remains one of the easiest cars to drive in the compact class, but it has lost much of the zippiness that import tuners loved in the 1980s and ’90s. The 143-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder sings smoothly at any rpm. The 2013 Civic we drove still had a five-speed automatic, but it doesn’t matter—the Civic cruises quietly on the highway and achieves 32 mpg, combined. (The 2014 Civic now uses a CVT, which improves to 33 mpg combined).
The steering is sharp and quick for effortless around-town maneuvering, but it doesn’t offer much feedback. The ride from the Civic with its 105.1-inch wheelbase is surprisingly supple for a Honda, yet this isn’t a lively car -- we sometimes found ourselves zoning out behind the wheel. Still, we’re mature enough to realize most of the people who buy compact cars are not enthusiasts. The $21,605 Honda Civic EX is perfect for most of them, as it has been for decades. As West Coast editor Michael Jordan says, “This car still expresses all the Honda values – simplicity, reliability, fuel economy.” He’s so old that he remembers when the Civic was invented, so probably he should know.
– David Zenlea
2014 Toyota Corolla S Plus Rear Three Quarters View

2014 Toyota Corolla S Plus

Akio Toyoda, the CEO of Toyota Motor Company, has talked a lot about making mainstream cars more exciting and youthful. Sounds great to us, since we’re the crowd that believes in “No Boring Cars.”
The 2014 Corolla promises newness, including a new look inside and out, a roomier passenger package, a more fuel-efficient powertrain, and a livelier personality with some fizz. At the same time, the Corolla is also a car with traditional values – QDR, or quality, durability and reliability. This is the eleventh generation of this nameplate, and it celebrates more than 40 million Corollas sold since 1966. Some 1.1 million versions of the Corolla are built around the world every year, including in a new U.S. assembly plant in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Altogether, this business of making compact sedans reminds us of the cola wars; the repackaging of a familiar formula for a new generation. But whereas Honda has distilled the Civic to its essence, like Coca-Cola in a classic glass bottle, the 2014 Toyota Corolla tastes a bit like a can of New Coke.

Déjà vu all over again, but not in a good way

The first word that comes to mind in describing the new 2014 Corolla is “confused.” The exterior design has lots of overdone details, but the basics are bland. Meanwhile, the interior design architecture is a mess of randomly intersecting, cheap-looking plastics. “The door panels have, like, fifty different lines,” observed associate web editor Jake Holmes.
Still, there are some nice elements in the interior, notably in Corolla models with the more expensive trim, such as our test car. One of us raved about the flat, horizontal instrument panel, and a few editors liked the yellow stitching on the seats. Nevertheless, these elements don’t coalesce into an attractive whole, and the Corolla looks conspicuously old, not new. “How did all this get past the final design committee?” wondered deputy editor Joe DeMatio.

Really, they meant well

Fortunately, somewhere under all of this is a pretty good small car, now with a wheelbase stretched to 106.3 inches to afford an impressive 97.5 cubic feet of passenger volume, including 41.4 inches of rear-seat legroom. The backseat is roomy and easy to climb into. Slim A-pillars provide excellent forward visibility.
The engineers probably intended excitement. The CVT has been electronically calibrated to do a good impression of a seven-speed automatic, and this Corolla S Plus even has shift paddles on the steering wheel. But there’s only so much the transmission can do with the 1.8-liter four-cylinder’s anemic 132 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. As the noisy protests from the CVT make clear every time you get serious about acceleration, the mission here is fuel efficiency, not fizz. At least the Corolla S Plus delivers efficiency with 29 mpg city/39 mpg highway.
Entry-level versions of the Corolla don’t aspire to much, but this $22,870 Corolla S Plus adds rear disc brakes and 17-inch wheels, so it’s trying. Sadly, the combination of a torsion-beam rear suspension and 45-series tires noticeably compromises comfort, the suspension calibration feels floppy, and the electric-assist steering requires lots of attention to keep the car from wandering. Asking the engine to work hard just seems wrong, even with just 2865 pounds to pull. “I don't get the sense that I'm in control of the car,” said Jake Holmes. “It’s all over the road,” added road test editor Christopher Nelson.
Time has caught up with the Toyota Corolla. The others cars in this comparison are no longer pushovers that can offer only tasteless generic-brand flavor. These days, everyone has got fizz. The Toyota Corolla takes a half-hearted stab at repackaging its familiar formula and fails to deliver.
—David Zenlea

Winner: 2013 Honda Civic

2014 Honda Civic And 2014 Toyota Corolla Front View
2014 Automobile Magazine Compact Sedan Comparison   Day One   8 Car Group Image 1
If you can’t build a good car for $200,000, probably you should just quit trying. It’s actually much harder to build a great $20,000 car, one with a spacious cabin, everyday comfort and convenience, plus thrifty performance, all without forcing people to turn their wallets inside out to find the last dollar. Really, it’s much easier to build a Bentley than a simple compact sedan.
These days, the average compact sedan must be as roomy as a Honda Accord from the last decade, deliver an array of features that any high-style Bentley would be happy to offer, and let you sail past the gas pumps. You can get a stripped-down compact sedan with a washable interior and funky steel wheels if you want, but you can also slide into a compact sedan equipped with voice-activated features, an array of active safety measures, and a chassis agile enough to make the drive to the store feel like a trip to France.
In fact, compact sedans are getting so uniformly good that it’s harder than ever to pick out the best. Nevertheless, Automobile Magazine’s comparison review of the best compact sedans in America will lead you to the final answer. Although some blood was spilled in the process, we have begun our compact sedan comparison by selecting eight cars that are making news in the marketplace right now: Chevrolet Cruze, Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Kia Forte, Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla, and Volkswagen Jetta.
Over the next five days, we’ll compare and contrast these cars in our own, unique bracket-style format and then present the winner.

Compact sedans, Automobile Magazine-style

Our comparison begins with a broad selection of compact sedans, which we define as five-passenger, four-door vehicles priced within hailing distance of $20,000. Such cars are meant to be driven to work, pick up kids from school, run errands, and occasionally make cross-country trips on the open road. They are multipurpose vehicles in a convenient size and are affordably priced. For some households, it is a second vehicle, but for many it is the only car at the curb.
These eight finalists represent the best aspects of the category, whether that means packaging efficiency, simple drivability, or electronic connectivity. By choosing one winner, we hope not only to define the current state of the compact sedan in America but also the character that people who read Automobile Magazine want in a practical, everyday compact car.
Just as you’d expect, we’ve picked models with thrifty engines, a useful array of convenience and safety features, and a spark of personality.

Compact sedans, bracket-style

We can’t pretend to be the average buyer, because, well, that would be impossible. Just like you, we are who we are. If you want complete objectivity unconfused by education, enthusiasm, experience, and just plain good taste, well, good luck to you.
We’ve again based our comparisons on bracket-style, head-to-head matchups, just as we did with our comparison of mid-size sedans. We’re not going to dumb down the process into some kind of SAT test, where like geeks we carefully add up the points scored in a thousand little categories of performance. When you do that, you reward broad-based mediocrity, not excellence. And at Automobile Magazine, we’re all about excellence.
We think the question of choice is personal and powerful, and a one-to-one confrontation between vehicles reveals character in a way that giant test groups do not.

Driving around pointlessly

Every car usually has a place to go, but when it comes to compact sedans, the destinations vary from the big old superstore to the nearest freeway on-ramp. So we didn’t overthink our route selection and simply headed to Kalamazoo, Michigan, from our editorial office in Ann Arbor. We took the back way there, running through fallow cornfields on the two-lane roads of America and then hammered home on the concrete slabs of Interstate 94.
As we’ve done in the past, we made our lunch stop at one of the local brew pubs for which Kalamazoo is known these days, and once again we picked Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Café. Naturally, no actual brew for us (rats!), but we did enjoy a selection of the usual organic stuff that you find in a college town, much of which involved bread, cheese, and potatoes. Ah, well, Kalamazoo is not exactly the Paris of western Michigan.

The map of the road ahead

Just like any road trip, it will take a while before this comparison test reaches its destination.
We begin the trip today by selecting the vehicles for our comparison: Chevrolet Cruze, Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Kia Forte, Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla, and Volkswagen Jetta.
For Day 2 and Day 3 of Automobile Magazine’s compact sedan comparison, there will be head-to-head matchups, with four vehicles involved each day. On Day 4, we’ll sum up some of what we’ve learned in our testing with excerpts from our big book of notes. On Day 5, we’ll stage the final head-to-head comparison and determine the winner.
If you want to compare our winner to a $205,825 Bentley Flying Spur, well, that’s up to you.
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Front Left Side View 3
I don't usually go in for follow-ups and sequels. Blues Brothers 2000? Sacrilege. The Star Wars prequels? I stopped after Episode One. The Datsuns' Outta Sight, Outta Mind? Nowhere as invigorating as the band's debut album. That said, when I was given a chance to relive a weekend spent out on the road, visiting baseball stadiums, salivating over freshly baked apple pies, and downing a hot dog (or several), I was willing to make an exception.
A brief recap: two years ago, I was facing a three-day Memorial Day weekend with no real plans or commitments. I also found a bright red 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible sitting in Automobile Magazine's parking garage. A light bulb went off in my head. If this is America's weekend, why not spend it enjoying baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet? After all, those elements were what Campbell-Ewald suggested made America great during a famed ad campaign launched in 1974.
Decades later, Chevy still regularly references that very ad, most recently as part of its "Chevy Runs Deep" campaign, which again tried to stir up nostalgic memories of vintage Chevrolets. If Chevy can revisit that idea, we can too -- but with a twist. Although we would have loved to crisscross the Midwest in the new Corvette Stingray, a muscle-bound 2014 SS, or the redesigned Silverado, one new addition to Chevrolet's lineup seemed ideal for our trip: the 2014 Cruze Diesel.
As we've previously reported, the Cruze Diesel is virtually identical to the Cruze 2LT with the exception of what's nestled between the front fenders. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel I-4 designed and supplied by GM of Europe. Its 151 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque aren't big news, but its fuel economy figures are. The EPA rates the car at 27 mpg in the city, 46 mpg on the highway, and 33 mpg combined, besting every other Cruze variant sold here. Just because we're aiming to be gluttonous doesn't mean our road trip vehicle has to be.


Once again, our journey starts in the Motor City when I pick up the Cruze Diesel from our offices in Ann Arbor. There's little to indicate it's a diesel; its lone badge modestly bills the car as a "2.0 TD," not a diesel. Crank it over, however, and the diesel identity is immediately apparent. The engine clatters away nosily even at idle, although the din is far less apparent inside the cabin. I venture across town to pick up photographer Ian Merritt, who just rode in from Chicago on Amtrak's Blue Water. I toss his luggage and camera case into the Cruze's trunk, something that would have been much more difficult with the Camaro's constricted aperture. I didn't know if a guy who regularly shoots exotic and luxury cars would be excited by a weekend filled with sports, junk food, and driving a compact car, but my doubts are quickly eliminated -- minutes into our trek, he's already coined a bespoke Twitter tag for our trip (#ballparkspietubularmeat ) and is eagerly talking up our food stops. No surprise, really, given the fare on Amtrak's overpriced café car.
The Tigers' home game against the Cleveland Indians isn't until 7 pm, but we waste little time heading for downtown Detroit in search of a proper lunch stop. One regret I hold from my last trip is that I never managed to squeeze into Lafayette Coney Island. I mean that literally -- even hours after a Tigers game, the tiny restaurant was packed with baseball fans looking for a meal after the final inning. I ended up next door at the larger American Coney Island, which offered immediate seating and no wait -- but I wondered what I missed.
Crowds aren't a problem at Lafayette this time around, as we slide into a booth around 2 pm, well after the lunch crowd. We order up a pair of Coneys and a plate of chili cheese fries; our waiter quickly shouts the order to the kitchen staff located just over my shoulder. The food arrives almost instantly, and we quickly find ourselves in Coney heaven. Interestingly, Lafayette's dogs are no longer drastically different from American's, but its chili is a little more flavorful than next door. We're both blown away by the chili cheese fries: the potatoes are perfectly crisp, and the shredded cheddar on top is beautifully melted. We wholeheartedly approve; our arteries, however, aren't as amused.
From there, we head south to find dessert. We've heard rumblings of a good pie place just north of the Michigan border -- Kate's Kitchen in Flat Rock -- but we cross over into Ohio. Sacrilege, maybe, but Schmucker's Restaurant in Toledo (a city that was once briefly considered Michigan territory) is worth it. I stumbled upon this little diner last year, and haven't forgotten it. How could I? The place offers a full menu, but with more than twelve types of pie baked fresh daily and proudly placed in a display case at the front of the restaurant, it's hard not to skip straight to dessert. I stare at the vanilla ice cream vapors rising off my warmed slice of Dutch apple while Merritt nearly faints from the sugar rush provided by his mountainous piece of chocolate peanut butter pie.
How we escaped slipping into diabetic comas is beyond us, but we make the hour-long drive north to Detroit in time to ease into our seats at Comerica Park. Our upper club seats hardly feel like nosebleeds; in fact, our position over home plate affords both a good view of the game and of the Detroit cityscape. Tigers pitching ace Justin Verlander has a solid start, while Victor Martinez, Brayan Pena, and Ramon Santiago cross home plate in the second inning. Avasail Garcia and Andy Dirks score in the fourth. The Indians gain momentum in the fifth inning, driving in three runs. The Tigers enter the eighth inning up four runs, but controversial closing pitcher Jose Valverde -- who was released by the team after a subpar 2012 season but brought back earlier this season in a desperate attempt to find a decent closer -- doesn't find those margins wide enough for comfort. Cleveland squeaks in two runs in the top of the ninth before Indians first baseman Nick Swisher grounds out to end the game. Tigers win, 7-5.
We leave quickly afterwards, and hit the road towards our layover in Kalamazoo. Valverde, on the other hand, is sent down to the Tiger's minor league team -- in Toledo, ironically -- two weeks later.


My original goals were clear: have a hot dog, slice of pie, and a baseball game in each city on each day. But I'm forced to bend slightly in the name of amazing hot dogs. Although we were spending most our time Saturday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we stopped in Chicago on our way -- and for good reason.
Hot Doug's, located in the Avondale neighborhood, is the stuff of foodie legend. Featured in virtually every food TV show and publication you can name, it combines old standards (Chicago-style hot dogs, Andouille sausage, etc.) with gourmet ingredients (foie gras, anyone?) and some exotic meat choices. Don't be surprised to see venison, alligator, or even buffalo on the menu. It's clearly the stuff that hot dog dreams are made of. And it's not open on Sunday, when I've scheduled our other Chicagoland activities.
No matter. We pop in early Saturday, shortly after the restaurant opens at 10 am. There's already a line around the block, but the wait is welcome; I'm stuck between at least six menu choices, and cannot make up my mind. By the time we finally approach owner Doug Sohn behind the counter, I have my order ready: a chicken Cordon Bleu dog (chicken sausage, asiago cheese, and fried prosciutto) and a Luganega sausage topped with garlic pesto aioli, slow roasted tomato slices, and a generous heaping of burrata cheese. Merritt orders up a portabella mushroom and Swiss cheese pork sausage that's topped with smoke blue cheese and sage mustard, along with a red wine and demi glace venison sausage buried beneath Mufaletta mustard, Pate de Campagne, and goat cheese.
Oh, and an order of French fries cooked in duck fat, for good measure.
If that sounds overwhelming, imagine trying to eat it all. Two bites into the Cordon Bleu dog, and two things are apparent: Doug's team doesn't skimp on the toppings, and they also don't skimp on the tubular meat -- the dogs are large and dense. By the time I've finished the cordon bleu, I'm stuffed. I'm only able to get through about half the Luganega before waving the white flag. I'm done eating for the time being, but the Cruze is finally feeling a little thirsty. Its first fill-up comes after 530 miles on the road, and we need to put only 12.9 gallons in the 15.6-gallon tank. Despite averaging about 80 mph on the freeways, we're getting 40.9 mpg thus far. That's pretty impressive.
My stomach is starting to quiet down by the time we reached Milwaukee, and after we spend a few hours roaming around the city and photographing the Cruze, it's even starting to feel a bit hungry. We head to the city's Bay View district, located south of the downtown area, and stop by the Honey Pie Cafe. In addition to lunch and dinner entrees, the joint serves up a wide variety of fresh desserts, but true to its name, there are always a handful of pies to choose from. I order a slice of apple walnut and Merritt picks out a slice of millionaire's pie. While our server runs to the kitchen, we observe others eating what appear to be giant-sized dinner portions, and cast each other worried glances. Sure enough, our pie slices are incredibly large. My slice looks much like a crumb top pie, but has flakes and chunks of walnut mixed in with the sugars and spices. The apples are tarter than the saccharine-sweet pie I had at Schmucker's the day before, but it's a refreshing change; it also pairs well with the walnuts' flavor.
We make our way to Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, with a couple hours to spare, fearing we'd be twiddling our thumbs until the game began. We shouldn't have worried. As soon as we pull into the parking lot, it's as if we somehow teleported to Green Bay. Tailgating, it seems, isn't just a football tradition; in Milwaukee, it's also tied to MLB games, and is a social event in its own right. The parking lot is flooded with people grilling hot dogs (what else?) and brats, downing a brewski (or six), playing cornhole, and having a grand time, possibly unaware there's a baseball game taking place across the lot.
But there is. As tonight's game pays tribute to Hispanics in Major League Baseball, the team's jerseys replace the Brewers script with "Cerverceros." Clever. The Brewers -- I mean Cerverceros -- allow the Phillies to take a one run lead in the top of the second before tying the game later that inning. After loading the bases in the bottom of the sixth, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez score, then a single from Braun in the seventh allows Jean Segura to reach home plate. The Phillies threaten again with two runs in the eighth, but Francisco Rodriguez replaces Brandon Kintzler on the mound and walks away with the save. Cerverceros barely win, 4-3.
We don't leave the park until well after 10:30, by which time we're munchy enough to seek out a late-night hot dog. Luckily, The Dogg Haus, tucked in the city's lower east side, is just the ticket. Conveniently located near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a slew of vibrant watering holes, the Haus likely makes its keep catering to non-sober clientele, but that doesn't mean we need to be sloshed to enjoy their fare. All dogs on the menu start with a Vienna Beef frank and get creative from there. Merritt's Wisconsin dog is buried beneath three types of cheese, while my Rome dog hides the frank beneath a pile of seasoned Italian beef and thermonuclear giardiniera. Even completely sober, the food hits the spot, and we call it a night shortly thereafter.


I stumble out of bed in the morning, roused by an unhappy stomach. I'm unsure if I want to consider eating anything heavier than saltine crackers today, but the story must go on. We pack our bags and point the Cruze Diesel south, in the direction of the Windy City.
Like we did in Milwaukee, we opt to lead with dessert, and seek out Hoosier Mama Pies, an unassuming little shop in the Ukranian Village district. Squeezed between stores and devoid of any large, boastful signage, first-time visitors are apt to drive right past it, as we did. Twice.
Hoosier Mama prides itself on its old-time, country-style approach. And indeed, standing in line to place my order, I feel as if I'm in a farmhouse kitchen somewhere near Terre Haute, not in a modern bakery. There's little room for more than a half-dozen eat-in customers, so I quickly order a slice of apple pie, a glass of milk, and take a seat at a small table near the front door.
After two days of outstanding pie, I'm not expecting to be blown away by anything but I couldn't have been more wrong. More than anything, Hoosier Mama's pie envelops you in a cinnamon-rich embrace, and doesn't want to let go. Merritt says his slice of pie, a cream-laden concoction of some sort, is also amazing, but I can't pay much attention to what he's saying -- I've already reached pie-vana.
Despite our previous day's Hot Doug's visit, we were not done sampling hot dogs in Chicago. "Oh, we have to do Superdawg," Merritt insists, and I have no objection. Sure, it may just be a drive-in fast-food joint, but ever since I fought my way through a snowstorm to make my first visit several years ago, I've been hooked. The combination of unique atmosphere (which hasn't changed much since Superdawg's inception in 1948) and incredibly tasty food makes it hard to beat. We both go with a Superdawg itself -- a proper Chicago-style hot dog (all-beef frank with pickle, neon relish, onion, and hot peppers) placed in a box and hidden beneath crinkle-cut fries. It's an old tradition, but it's amazing every time I visit.
Speaking of old traditions, it's time to head to Wrigley Field to catch the afternoon Cubs game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wrigley is by far the oldest stadium on this tour, and it's also the oldest stadium I've ever been to. Time advances slowly here: there's a live organist, for starters, and even the scoreboard is operated by hand (although a new high-definition electronic board will replace it in time for the 2014 season). The building is a bit grimy thanks to nearly a century's worth of use, but it's not the cesspool Cubs haters will have you believe. The atmosphere created by a charismatic building and an equally charismatic (and sizable) audience is unlike any other in the Midwest.
The game is fairly evenly matched for the first three innings. No runs are scored until the top of the fourth, when the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen doubles and is then driven home by a single hit by Garret Jones. The Cubs finally get a run of their own in the bottom of the sixth inning, then come alive in the seventh when Cody Ransom hits a home run, allowing Julio Borbon and Darwin Barney to round the bases and score. Those three runs were enough to earn the Cubs a 4-1 win, and their lone victory in a three-game series against Pittsburgh.


Merritt says goodbye, catches an L-train home, and I fight post-game traffic before finally making my way to the Skyway and then back home to Michigan. I get in just before midnight, and make my second and final fuel stop of the day. After 508.5 miles, the Cruze Diesel takes on another 12.8 gallons of diesel. Mileage this time works out to 39.7 mpg, a mild decrease I blame mostly on stop-and-go driving. On the bright side, it's still far better than the EPA's combined rating of 33 mpg. And for an even shinier silver lining, we averaged 40.3 mpg for our entire trip.
I enjoyed finding new and amazing places for pie and hot dogs in two of my favorite cities, but I also came away from this trip impressed with the Cruze Diesel. Is it as entertaining to drive as the Camaro SS? Heavens, no -- I would have loved to soak up the sun on Lake Shore Drive with the top down -- but it proved a composed and comfortable travel companion.
And there's also the matter of the fuel economy. It's an apple to oranges comparison, certainly, but we drove 305 miles further with the Cruze than I did with the Camaro two years ago, but used only 25.8 gallons of fuel. The Camaro, on the other hand, drank 37.6 gallons of premium gasoline. Had we used the Camaro SS this time around and gotten the same 19 mpg average as last time, we would have consumed close to 37 gallons of gas, and spent nearly $212 filling up -- $100 more than we spent to fuel the Cruze Diesel.
Perhaps you may not have room left for another $100 worth of pie or frankfurters, but that money would easily buy a seat or two at any of the games we attended, and that's entertaining in its own right. Play ball.


AVERAGE MPG: 40.3 mpg
TOTAL FOOD COST: Can you really put a price on culinary happiness?
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Side In Motion
2014 Chevrolet Cruze

New For 2014

The addition of a diesel engine option is the biggest change for the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze, but the Cruze also receives a few minor cosmetic revisions, including a pair of new paint colors.

Vehicle Summary

Chevrolet's small-car attempts have always trailed competitors in style and substance, but the Cruze, which launched in late 2010, was a conscious effort to break that cycle. Although North American models are built in Ohio, the Cruze was largely designed and engineered abroad, namely in Germany and South Korea. Overseas, the Cruze is offered in attractive hatchback and station-wagon forms, but North American models are sold only as four-door sedans.


As it's now approaching its fourth birthday, it's easy to forget about the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze -- but it's not quite so easy to dismiss it from consideration. Sure, there are newer, flashier -- and perhaps more enjoyable -- compact sedans available these days, but the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze is handsome, well-behaved, and rides quite nicely.

Perhaps the addition of a diesel-engine option will help the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze stand out from the ever-increasing crowd of compact cars. The 2.0-liter turbo-diesel I-4 cranks out 151 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque and helps the Cruze Diesel earn EPA ratings of 27/46 mpg city/ highway. That highway rating is 4 mpg better than the Cruze Diesel's lone competitor, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. The Chevy's diesel isn't a silver bullet, however -- the engine commands a $3000 premium over a comparable Cruze 2LT model, and despite the inclusion of upscale interior appointments, the diesel engine is incredibly noisy, especially from outside of the vehicle.

Buyers who don't take the diesel plunge will likely find themselves choosing between the base 1.8-liter four-cylinder or a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-banger. The latter makes the same 138 hp as the 1.8-liter but delivers more torque while returning improved fuel economy. Although it needs to be wound up to deliver all of its power, we've found that it is fairly quiet and refined at highway speeds.

You'll like:

  • Refined ride quality
  • Stylish appointments
  • Diesel's highway fuel economy and range

You won't like:

  • Diesel engine is quite clattery
  • No true "sport" model
  • Overboosted steering

Key Competitors

  • Dodge Dart
  • Ford Focus
  • Honda Civic
  • Volkswagen Jetta
2014 Toyota Corolla S Front Three Quarters In Motion
The Toyota Corolla retook the number-one sales spot from the Honda Civic this past month, selling 30,883 units to the Civic's 30,038. The Hyundai Elantra again came in third place, with sales of 22,213, but improved its performance from last month.
Chevrolet Cruze One Millionth At Lordstown Complex
General Motors will invest another $50 million to upgrade its Lordstown, Ohio plant, which produces the Chevrolet Cruze, in preparation for the next-generation model. This comes after a previous announcement of a $220 million investment for this model, and some construction has already begun on the new flexible trim shop and upgraded press room at the Lordstown complex, which has manufactured the Chevrolet Cruze since the car launched in 2010.
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel Rear Three Quarters
General Motors delayed its usual sales figure reporting after computer troubles precluded it from releasing the data at 9:30 a.m. as normal, but announced this afternoon a positive sales gain of 4.1 percent compared to March 2013, with a total of 256,047 vehicles sold last month.

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25 MPG City | 36 MPG Hwy
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2014 Chevrolet Cruze Specifications

Quick Glance:
1.8L I4Engine
Fuel economy City:
25 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
36 MPG
138 hp @ 6300rpm
125 ft lb of torque @ 3800rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats (optional)
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control (optional)
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer Rear (optional)
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation
36,000 miles / 36 months
100,000 miles / 60 months
100,000 miles / 72 months
100,000 miles / 60 months
24,000 miles / 24 months
Recall Date
General Motors (GM) is recalling certain model year 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Cruze vehicles equipped with manual transmissions (MF3/MR5) and manufactured January 24, 2013, through August 1, 2013. On the affected vehicles, the right front half shaft may fracture and separate.
If the half shaft fractures and separates while driving, the vehicle would lose power and coast to a stop. If a vehicle with a fractured half shaft is parked without the parking brake applied, the vehicle could move unexpectedly. Either condition increases the risk of a crash.
General Motors has notified owners. Dealers will replace the half shaft assembly, free of charge. The safety recall began on October 15, 2013. Owners may contact General Motors at 1-800-521-7300. This is General Motors campaign number 13276.
Potential Units Affected
General Motors LLC

Recall Date
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2014 Buick Regal, LaCrosse, Verano, and Enclave, and Chevrolet Impala, Malibu, Cruze, and Traverse, and GMC Acadia vehicles equipped with automatic transmissions. In the affected vehicles, the transmission shift cable adjuster may disengage from the transmission shift lever. As such, these vehicles do not conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 102, "Transmission Shift Lever Sequence, Starter Interlock, and Transmission Braking Effect." They also fail to conform to FMVSS number 114, "Theft Protection and Rollaway Prevention."
If a vehicle's shift cable disengages from the transmission shift lever, a driver may be unable to shift gear positions and the indicated shift position may not represent the gear position the vehicle is in. Should a disengagement occur while the vehicle is being driven, when the driver goes to stop and park the vehicle, the driver may be able to shift the lever to the "PARK" position, but the vehicle transmission may not be in the "PARK" gear position. If the vehicle is not in the "PARK" position there is a risk the vehicle will roll away as the driver and other occupants exit the vehicle or anytime thereafter. A vehicle rollaway increases the risk of injury to exiting occupants and bystanders.
General Motors will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and replace any affected transmission shift cable adjusters, free of charge. The recall began on April 10, 2014. Chevrolet owners may contact General Motors at 1-800-222-1020, Buick owners at 1-800-521-7300, and GMC owners at 1-800-462-8782. General Motors' number associated with this recall is 14048.
Potential Units Affected
General Motors LLC

Recall Date
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Cruze vehicles equipped with a 1.4L turbo engine, and manufactured between November 28, 2012, and March 7, 2014. On the affected vehicles, the right front half shaft may fracture and separate.
If the half shaft fractures and separates while driving, the vehicle would lose power and coast to a stop. If a vehicle with a fractured half shaft is parked without the parking brake applied, the vehicle could move unexpectedly. Either condition increases the risk of a crash.
GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and replace the right half shaft, as needed, free of charge. Parts for the remedy are not currently available. GM will send an interim letter to owners in May 2014. A second owner letter will be mailed when parts are available. Owners may contact Chevrolet at 1-866-694-6546. GM's number for this recall is 14079. This is an expansion of recall 13V-452. NOTE: Some vehicles subject to this recall were subject to the recall campaign initiated in 2013. Some of those vehicles were repaired using defective parts. Those owners will be advised that they must have their vehicles remedied again under this campaign and that having the earlier recall completed did not remedy their vehicles.
Potential Units Affected
General Motors LLC

Recall Date
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2013-2014 Chevrolet Cruze vehicles. In the affected vehicles, the driver's front air bag inflator may have been manufactured with an incorrect part.
In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the driver's air bag, the air bag's inflator may rupture and the air bag may not inflate. The rupture could cause metal fragments to strike and potentially seriously injure the vehicle occupants. Additionally, if the air bag does not inflate, the driver is at an increased risk of injury.
GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver side air bag, free of charge. The recall began on June 28, 2014. Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020. GM's number for this recall is 14305.
Potential Units Affected
General Motors LLC

Recall Date
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2013-2014 Buick Encore all-wheel-drive vehicles manufactured August 23, 2012, to September 9, 2013; Verano vehicles manufactured August 8, 2012, to June 20, 2013; Chevrolet Cruze vehicles manufactured August 7, 2012, to August 16, 2013, and 2012-2014 Chevrolet Sonic vehicles manufactured May 10, 2011, to August 16, 2012 equipped with a Calix oil pan/block heater. In cold temperatures, the insulation on the engine block heater cord can become damaged, allowing the wires to be exposed.
Exposed wires increase the risk of electrical shock and personal injury if the cord is handled while it is plugged in.
GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the engine oil pan/block heater cord with a new cord that is rated for temperatures of minus 40 degree Celsius. The recall began in August 2014. Owners may contact Buick customer service at 1-800-521-7300 or Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020. GM's number for this recall is 14257.
Potential Units Affected
General Motors LLC

Recall Date
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2014-2015 Chevrolet Cruze vehicles manufactured November 8, 2013, to March 12, 2015, and 2015 Chevrolet Volt vehicles manufactured April 11, 2014. In the affected vehicles, the inner tie rod may not be tightened to specification allowing the tie rod to separate from the steering gear.
Separation of the tie rod from the steering gear could result in the loss of steering, increasing the risk of a crash.
GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the steering gear assembly, free of charge. The recall began on July 28, 2015. Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020. GM's number for this recall is 15386.
Potential Units Affected
General Motors LLC

IIHS Front Small Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
NHTSA Rating Front Side
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
NHTSA Rating Overall
NHTSA Rating Rollover
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength

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