Let me join in with Joe and Phil: The Cruze looks great when compared with the Cobalt, Cavalier, and a host of other bygone American small sedans, but it's still playing catch-up to the segment leaders.
I find the interior of the Cruze to be well appointed. I don't mind the mesh/fishnet-stocking dash and door panels, the center stack is nicely laid out and attractive, and I love the instrument cluster. The pale blue nighttime lighting is also well done.
I wish the exterior styling were up to the level of the interior. The Cruze looks pretty good on profile, but coming and going it really looks too much like a face-lifted Cobalt. There is nothing about the car to attract attention or even announce the fact that it's a new model. The five-spoke alloys are very nice however. I also think Chevy should join the club and do something more attractive with the exhaust: the turbo Cruze has a single tailpipe hiding under one corner. It should be given a tip and integrated into the bumper skirt or something.
The turbo four pulls the Cruze nicely, peppy around town and decent on the highway, but in two tankfuls of mostly highway driving, I couldn't muster 30 mpg in this Chevy.
And I was shocked that this car -- with no sunroof or nav -- is priced over $23K. To put that in perspective, you could order a Hyundai Sonata without the sunroof/nav package for the same price.
Let me rephrase that: You can buy the Automobile of the Year runner-up for the same money and get a nicer interior, a far more attractive (and larger) body, and a warranty that's twice as long. Unless you draw a check from GM or insist on buying American (even though the Sonata is built in Alabama), there's not much reason to pick the Cruze.
- Matt Tierney, Art Director