In no segment is the unfortunate trend of incremental growth of dimensions and curb weights more apparent than the small-car segment that the Cruze and the Ford Focus play in. Both of these domestic offerings weigh a few hundred pounds more than their rivals and have pricing that seems more fitting for a mid-size sedan. At least Ford offers buyers a dual-clutch transmission instead of a rather sluggish automatic as in the Cruze.
Personally, the Cruze does nothing for me because it doesn't come as a hatchback. For that reason alone I'd be heading to a Ford, Mazda, or Volkswagen dealer if I were in the market for a compact car. If the hatchback isn't a requirement for you, a Hyundai Elantra will be a little easier on the wallet, eyes, and monthly fuel tab. Yes, the Cruze is a big step forward for GM in the small-car segment, but it doesn't advance the small-car segment itself. There's no technology to rival Sync, no reduction in curb weight like the Elantra, nor great driving dynamics like you'd find in a Mazda 3 or a Volkswagen Golf.
As David says, the Cruze is a bit bigger than the competition, but I'm not sure that's a good thing in this segment. Some people want small cars but aren't willing to move down to a B-segment vehicle that offers virtually no difference in fuel economy but requires a big sacrifice in power and generally a sacrifice in comfort on long highway drives. If you want a bigger car, it's smarter to shop a lightly used mid-size sedan than a brand new plus-size compact.
- Phil Floraday, Senior Web Producer