The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze continues essentially unchanged after an upgrade last year, especially to its infotainment and connectivity offerings. This year, the sole changes (apart from the new Cruze Diesel model) are a handful of new paint colors.
The base-level Cruze LS makes do without any of last year's upgrades, and cost-cutting to reach an attractive entry-level price shows up in its less sophisticated, less fuel-efficient 1.8-liter engine, its lack of rear disc brakes, and so forth. It does, however, come with keyless entry; power windows, locks, and mirrors; air conditioning; and a six-speaker sound system with auxiliary input.
Most buyers will start shopping with the LT trim level, to add items like a USB port, Bluetooth, remote start, chrome wheels and power rearview mirrors. The LT trim level can be upgraded to the 2LT to add 16-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, a power driver's seat, heated front seats, cruise control, a USB port, Bluetooth, remote start, and steering-wheel audio controls.
The top-of-the-line gasoline Cruze is dubbed LTZ, and the Cruze Diesel--priced at about $25,000, and with very few options available--is more or less an LTZ with a different engine. Either of those models gets automatic climate control, heated mirrors, park assist, and a snazzier gauge cluster, 18-inch flangeless alloy wheels, as well as optional heated seats.
Last year, the Chevrolet MyLink system was made standard on 2LT and LTZ Cruze models (and optional on the LT). Based around a color touchscreen in the center of the dash, it will likely lure busy parents and younger shoppers for whom seamless smartphone connectivity is crucial. MyLink offers voice control for hands-free calling, music, and radio functions, plus built-in Gracenote to grab playlists and album-art graphics. Built-in Pandora and Stitcher apps let you stream music over your smartphone's data connection.
You can still get a traditional touch-screen navigation system as an option on the Cruze LTZ. All versions of the Cruze come with a six-month subscription to OnStar's Directions and Connections services--but you'll have to subscribe after that. It lets you dial an operator, who can beam travel directions to the car--which will then guide you if you miss a turn. Overall, we've found it to be a tremendously useful feature.