Overview

Overview

For years, buyers looking for a solid, fuel-efficient compact car had the choice of a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, even a Mazda3 if more nimble handling was desired. Since the debut of the Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan for the 2011 model year, however, the small car landscape changed with the addition of a nimble handling, sharp looking sedan that also boasts top safety scores and is one of the most fuel-efficient sedans in the market (depending on model). For 2013, the Chevrolet Cruze continues its stellar track record, adding enhanced safety and infotainment features to keep consumers coming back.

What Experts Think

When it comes to the opinions of automotive experts, consumers have a wealth of good advice and comments from those who make their living testing and evaluating new vehicles. All things considered, these experts find that the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze has really come into its own and is a formidable competitor in the compact sedan market.

"The Cruze brings a compelling mix of elegant styling and fuel economy to the compact-car ranks. The rear seat isn't as big as those of some competitors, but the Cruze does feel more substantial than many of its market mates. Go for the Eco model to stretch every gallon a little farther." (Car and Driver)

"When it comes to ride, handling, interior appointments and overall drivability, Chevy's 2013 Cruze sedan is a step above most other compacts." (Kelley Blue Book)

"Put the preconceived notions to bed, because Chevrolet has a quality small car in the form of the 2013 Cruze." (Edmunds)

Consumer Guide editors are solidly in the camp that finds a lot to like about the 2013 Cruze. "Cruze shines for its refined drivetrains, solid body structure, and inviting cabin. New safety and technology features for 2013 are welcome additions, too."

Of course, the Cruze is not without some slight criticism. Consumers looking for racy, heart-pumping exterior styling and super-powerful engines may need to look elsewhere. Maybe the likes of the Ford Focus, Honda Civic Si and Mazda Mazda3, for example, would be more appealing in this regard.

But for a solid, attractive, affordable car, most reviewers agree that the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze is an excellent choice for a compact family sedan.

What Owners Say

People who have plunked down their money to buy the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze small sedan are quite vocal in their comments. From an examination of owner reviews in Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, Yahoo Autos, and more, it is clear that a few things stand out.

Owners almost universally praise the exterior design, fuel economy, roominess, powerful engines, quiet ride and overall comfort.

Kelley Blue Book user reviews average an overall rating of 8.6 out of 10, with owners lauding the Cruze for its value, beauty, savings on gas, fun to drive character and more.

Edmunds owners give the Cruze five stars in seven published reviews, commenting that the Cruze is "worth every penny," that it is a "great little car" that is "a kick to drive" "highly recommended."

Nitpicks include comments that the back seat seems a little stiff, that there are no rear cup holders, and that a navigation screen should be standard.

Model/Trim Lineup

The 2013 Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan is available in four models: LS, LT, Eco and LTZ. Essentially, buyers can choose a well-equipped model even in base trim, or dress it up with extra-cost options, or go for a higher-priced but more fully-equipped trim.

The base LS model includes 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, air conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, trip computer, full power accessories, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, a 60/40-split rear seat, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a six-speaker sound system with CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, USB port and auxiliary audio jack, and OnStar.

The Eco model is the Cruze's most fuel-efficient offering, complete with turbocharged engine, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 7-inch touchscreen display, and the Chevrolet MyLink system (a bundle that includes Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice control and smartphone integration). Buyers can add the optional Driver Convenience package which includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a six-way power driver's seat, a rearview camera, and heated mirrors. The Chevrolet Cruze Eco also has aerodynamic features that include low-rolling-resistance tires, a smaller fuel tank, and some minor features that help to reduce weight and provide maximum fuel economy.

The LT model includes two sub-trims: 1LT and 2LT. The 1LT Chevrolet Cruze gets a turbocharged engine, 16-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and cruise control. Buyers and also add the same Driver Convenience package available on Cruze Eco.

Moving up to 2LT means 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, leather upholstery, four-wheel disc brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, a six-way driver's seat, a 7-inch touchscreen display and Chevrolet MyLink.

The top-of-the-line Cruze LTZ sports 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, keyless ignition and entry, fog lamps, heated mirrors, premium interior trim, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a rearview camera.

In all except the base LS, the Enhanced Safety package is available. This includes blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert and rear park assist. Other standard features on the upper-level Cruze trims, including a rearview camera and Chevrolet MyLink, can be added as options on lower trims. Upper trim options include a nine-speaker Pioneer premium sound system, sunroof, a hard-drive-based navigation system, and an RS appearance package (including unique front/rear fascias, fog lights and rear spoiler).

Performance

Most reviewers are impressed with the solid engine choices in the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, especially the four-cylinder turbocharged engine that has plenty of torque for a fun driving experience and is quiet and fuel-efficient.

Power for the base Cruze LS is a 138-horsepower 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine that delivers 125 pound feet of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy for this engine is 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway/29 mpg combined (with manual transmission) and 22/35/27 mpg (with automatic transmission).

The Cruze Eco, LT and LTZ are powered by a turbocharged 138-horsepower 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 148 pound-feet of torque. The LS, LT and Eco have a standard six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic transmission is optional on LS, LT and Eco and is standard for the Cruze LTZ.

Fuel economy is EPA rated at 26 mpg city/38 mpg highway/30 mpg combined with either the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission in turbocharged LT and LTZ models. The fuel-economy leader of the Cruze lineup is the Cruze Eco, which earns an EPA-estimated 28/42/33 mpg with manual transmission and 26/39/31 mpg in automatic transmission configuration.

Interior

Riding in the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze is an experience in comfort and quietness, in the view of most automotive reviewers.  It is considered one of the quietest cars in the compact segment, thanks to a triple-sealed laminated windshield and ample use of sound-deadening material throughout in 29 other acoustical treatments.

There's plenty of shoulder room for all passengers, and headroom is good even for six-footers - even with optional sunroof. The interior feels and looks expansive. In addition, the good fore-and-aft seat travel, along with the tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, makes it easy for the driver to find a comfortable driving position.

Some reviewers go so far to say that the quality of the Cruze's materials, combined with their design and overall execution, is miles ahead of anything else in the compact sedan's price range. The soft-touch materials, rich colors and available heated leather-appointed front seats all combine to give the Cruze a premium feel that's uncommon in an affordable compact sedan.

Some minor dislikes from the press include the small door openings that make it more difficult for tall occupants to enter and exit, and that the power driver's seat has a power-operated bottom cushion, but the back rest requires manual adjustment.

Consumer Guide says the Cruze "does exceptionally well" in cabin quietness, saying: "The car capably quashes road and wind noise, even at highway speeds. Both the 1.8- and 1.4-liter engines produce refined growls during acceleration and are virtually silent on the highway."

Safety & Reliability

The 2013 Chevrolet Cruze is an exceptionally safe car, achieving top marks in crashworthiness from the two major safety organizations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Cruze a top five-star rating in overall safety performance, with five stars awarded in both frontal and side-impact testing. The Cruze was also recognized with the Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), receiving the highest score of "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact, and roof-strength testing.

Included in every 2013 Chevrolet Cruze model is a full complement of 10 standard airbags: driver and front passenger airbags, including an industry-first flexible-venting driver airbag, full-length side-curtain airbags, front and rear side impact airbags, and front knee airbags. Other standard safety equipment includes stability control and antilock brakes.

OnStar is also standard on every Cruze model. The OnStar system includes automatic crash notification, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance, and on-demand roadside assistance. Optional safety features on all models except the base LS include blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert and rear park assist, part of the Enhanced Safety Package.

As for reliability, according to the J.D. Power and Associates Predicted Reliability rating, the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze achieves a three-circle predicted reliability score. This puts the Cruze about average in reliability.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Sedan - FWD
LS Sedan LS (Manual) 4 Cylinder FWD 17130
LS Sedan LS (Automatic) 4 Cylinder FWD 18225
1LT Sedan 1LT (Manual) 4 Cylinder FWD 18560
1LT Sedan 1LT (Automatic) 4 Cylinder FWD 19655
ECO Sedan ECO (Manual) 4 Cylinder FWD 19680
ECO Sedan ECO (Automatic) 4 Cylinder FWD 20875
2LT Sedan 2LT (Manual) 4 Cylinder FWD 21040
2LT Sedan 2LT (Automatic) 4 Cylinder FWD 22325
LTZ Sedan LTZ 4 Cylinder FWD 23550

Comparison of 2013 Chevrolet Cruze with Similar Cars

2013 Chevrolet Cruze MSRP Invoice
2013 Chevrolet Cruze $17,130 $16,530
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2013 Honda Civic $17,965 $16,707 2013 Chevrolet Cruze VS 2013 Honda Civic
2013 Ford Focus $16,200 $15,269 2013 Chevrolet Cruze VS 2013 Ford Focus
2013 Toyota Corolla $16,230 $15,338 2013 Chevrolet Cruze VS 2013 Toyota Corolla
2013 Hyundai Elantra $16,695 $16,208 2013 Chevrolet Cruze VS 2013 Hyundai Elantra
2013 Nissan Sentra $15,990 $15,423 2013 Chevrolet Cruze VS 2013 Nissan Sentra

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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