My colleague Phil Floraday succinctly hits the nail on the head in regard to the Chevy Cruze with this comment: 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.
I cannot agree more. I would point out, though, that there are a lot of people who really prefer to purchase an American-branded car, and their choices in small cars were embarrassingly limited in the past. I used to pity people whom I'd see driving a Chevy Cavalier or Cobalt, because those cars were so vastly inferior to their competitors. I will never pity anyone I see driving a Cruze, because it's a seriously good car. It's just not one that has any particular attributes that exceed those of its competitors.
That said, I think the Cruze is very handsome both inside and out, and that's worth a lot. Also, the 1.4-liter turbo powertrain is smooth, refined, and impressive. I don't see the need for a dual-clutch transmission here, quite frankly. Good ride comfort, good steering, overall an impressive, if not groundbreaking, car.
- Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
As my colleagues have noted, the new Chevy Cruze is not a class leader, but I would say that it ranks solidly in the middle of the compact-car pack, which is more than Chevy has been able to say for a long time. The interior is designed well and, as Matt said, it features very nice materials. I also concur with his negative feelings about the car's exterior styling. Fortunately, the little Chevy drives well, although during my commute the transmission exhibited a couple unsmooth moments of turbo-related uncertainty.
- Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor