2019 Chevrolet Cruze Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
October 16, 2018

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze gains some good content, but its advanced safety tech should be more accessible.

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze compact car finally gets with the times. This year, the Cruze sedan and hatchback sport revised styling, updated technology, and a raft of collision-avoidance gear it lacked last year. 

The 2019 Cruze, available in L, LS, LT, and Premier trim levels, can be had with either a 1.4-liter turbo-4 gas engine or a 1.6-liter turbodiesel, paired to 6- or 9-speed automatic transmissions. Last year's manual transmissions have bitten the dust due to slow sales. 

We rate the 2019 Cruze at 5.4 out of 10 points, a decent score bolstered by its good feature set and pleasant demeanor. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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GM has added some new features to the 2019 Cruze, on certain trim levels. On the most expensive Cruze Premier, Chevy now offers a full suite of safety technology, including automatic emergency braking and active lane control. That’s a shame, especially because most rivals make those features available across their entire lineups. Safety advances should be made available across the board, in our view.

This year’s nip-and-tuck gives the Cruze a new front bumper and grille, plus LED accent lighting on some trim levels. The sport-styled RS trim package available on higher Cruze trim levels now features black wheels and emblems. Oddly, leather upholstery is no longer optional—what looks and kind of feels like real hides is synthetic. 

Overall, the Cruze acquits itself well as a refined and competent compact car. With the exception of its thrifty turbodiesel, the Cruze does little to stand out among other compacts, but its list of demerits is equally short. Its roomy interior features good materials and an attractive design, and commendable road manners deliver good handling and a composed ride.

The Cruze turbodiesel delivers hybrid-level fuel economy, but its engine is short on refinement and can feel exceptionally slow away from a stop.

5

2019 Chevrolet Cruze

Styling

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze gains a light styling update this year that works well.

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze has a new look outside, but it’s hardly a game-changer for this lineup of compact cars.

Overall, we rate the Cruze about average: a 5 out of 10 overall on our updated scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Outside, the Cruze is taut and toned, with few wasted lines—aside from a busy front fascia that’s new for 2019. The Cruze hatchback’s wheelbase stretches the same 106.3 inches as the sedan’s, but its truncated rear end shaves a hefty 8 inches off of its overall length. So much for hatchback utility.

A pair of appearance packages—the RS and Redline—add a hint of spice with unique wheels and design cues. This year, the RS package includes blacked-out alloy wheels and emblems.

Though its interior is well laid-out, the Cruze can appear inexpensive. We liked the French-stitched trim found on some higher-trim Cruzes, but the fabric Chevy puts on the dashboards of models with cloth seats strikes us as a little beneath its admittedly entry-level pricing.

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5

2019 Chevrolet Cruze

Performance

We commend Chevrolet for offering a turbodiesel in the 2019 Chevy Cruze, but we wish it was a little cheaper.

Quiet and capable, the 2019 Chevrolet Cruze has a secret weapon: an optional turbodiesel engine that endows it with stellar fuel efficiency.

Overall, we rate the 2019 Cruze’s performance at 5 out of 10; for a compact car, the Cruze rides and handles well, but it does little to stand out. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The vast majority of Chevy Cruzes, regardless of body style, feature a 1.4-liter turbo-4  rated at 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. The small engine is smooth, but hardly quick with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission. A 6-speed manual was once offered, but it wasn't a big seller.

The available 1.6-liter turbodiesel inline-4 engine comes in at 137 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque, but it suffers from some turbo lag especially with the available 9-speed automatic transmission. Once warmed up, the turbodiesel is quiet and smooth. On a cold morning, however, it clatters and vibrates the entire vehicle.

Quick power steering delivers good response around town and the Cruze settles into a comfortable, uh, cruise at highway speeds. Its tires let in more road noise than we’d like to see from a compact car that can hit $30,000 with a few options, but overall it’s a hair more refined than most rivals.

Higher-spec Cruzes—Premier and LTs with the RS or Redline package—feature a more sophisticated rear suspension setup that delivers sharper handling. However, no Cruze has the quick reflexes of the Mazda 3 or the Honda Civic.

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5

2019 Chevrolet Cruze

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze is roomy and well-appointed inside.

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze has an interior that punches above its weight class, at least in terms of roominess.

We grant the Cruze a solid 5 out of 10 here, with a point above average for its spacious interior that we take back for so-so front seats. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All four outboard passengers have good space for stretching out. The cloth upholstery fitted to most Cruzes is durable and tough and we prefer it to the synthetic leather in the Cruze Premier. That's right, the range-topping Cruze is no longer available with leather seats. 

For cargo, the Cruze is fairly roomy—but its hatchback can’t swallow as much as we’d like for it to. The sedan’s trunk is rated at 14.8 cubic feet for L and LS trims, but that dips to just under 14 cubes on LT and above. The hatchback’s 22 cubic feet rating is more commodious, but its sloping roof means that it won’t swallow big items as easily as it should.

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2019 Chevrolet Cruze

Safety

The 2019 Chevy Cruze offers advanced safety tech, but you’ll have to pay extra for it.

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze corrects a big flaw: it now offers automatic emergency braking.

Unfortunately, we can’t assign it a score here until the IIHS finishes with its barrage of crash-testing. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Federal testers scored last year's Cruze at a concerning four stars overall; most new cars rate five stars overall. The IIHS has performed its moderate overlap frontal and its side impact tests, and in both the Cruze performed well.

This year, the Cruze offers a new Driver Confidence II package that features automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, and active lane control. The caveat is a big one, though: the package is optional only on the range-topping Cruze Premier.

Kudos to Chevy for finally offering what’s standard or at least widely available on every single Cruze rival.

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6

2019 Chevrolet Cruze

Features

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze boasts an exceptionally wide lineup.

Once we know more about the 2019 Chevy Cruze, we’ll be able to update this section with more detail. For now, the compact car rates a decent 6 out of 10 thanks to its good standard infotainment system. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Cruze is available in a wide array of trims: L, LS, LT, and Premier. All but the base Cruze L can be had as either a sedan or a hatchback and most trims offer both gas and diesel engines. 

The sedan-only Cruze L is aimed at fleet buyers, but it's not lacking much for an entry-level model. It has power features, air conditioning, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, two USB ports, Bluetooth, and GM's OnStar concierge and safety service. The Cruze LS is far more common on dealer lots as either a sedan or a hatchback and it's basically an LS available in more colors and with optional cruise control, alloy wheels, and steering wheel audio controls.

Cruze LTs add remote start, a split-folding rear seat, and a few other features. It can also be upgraded with Bose audio, heated seats, a moonroof, and a few other items. The Cruze Premier tops the line with most of those features plus synthetic leather upholstery. Real leather isn't available any longer on the Cruze.

You’re spoiled for choice with the Cruze, but it’s a tough decision to make. Only the Cruze Premier is available with automatic emergency braking, an essential safety technology that will be standard on nearly all new cars within a few years—but it can be expensive with options.

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6

2019 Chevrolet Cruze

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze is a fuel-miser.

The most popular versions of the 2019 Chevrolet Cruze are reasonably fuel-efficient, but the available turbodiesel is the real sipper of the group. 

Our score 6 out of 10 here is based on the most popular versions of the Cruze, gas-fueled models that are rated at 28 mpg city, 38 highway, 32 combined. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Notably, those figures slide to 28/37/31 mpg for the Cruze Premier hatchback due to that model's slightly less aerodynamic body and the larger wheels included with the range-topping trim level. 

Where the Cruze is an ace is with the turbodiesel under its hood. Those models are rated at 31/48/37 mpg in sedan configuration and 30/45/35 mpg as a hatchback—enough to rate 7 on our scale and a little hypermiling short of the 8 usually reserved for the most miserly hybrids such as the Toyota Prius. 

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$17,995
MSRP based on 4-Door Sedan L
 
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5.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety N/A
Features 6
Fuel Economy 6
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2019 Chevrolet Cruze Pricing Insights

  • 2019 Cruze supplies improving; 2018s remain in stock
  • $2,500 rebate on 2018s; $1,500 on 2019s + Costco bonus
  • Lease a 2018 from $199 for 39 months
  • $750 down payment assistance on 2018s
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