Chevrolet Cruze saloon (2009-2015)
"It's spacious, well equipped and offers strong value for money, but the Chevrolet Cruze can't quite live up to the promise of its name – it's too uncomfortable."
- Bargain price tag
- Smart, attractive styling
- Lots of space and equipment
- Not very exciting to drive
- Not as practical as the hatchback
- You can't buy a brand-new one any more
The Chevrolet Cruze saloon was a compact family car intended to feel more like a big car while only costing as much as a small one. It has the interior space, standard equipment and exterior dimensions of a Ford Focus, but a list price closer to a Ford Fiesta supermini.
Launched in 2008, the Cruze was targeted at the Volkswagen Jetta and Skoda Octavia and used a lot of the same parts as the Vauxhall Astra. But that wasn't enough to turn around the fortunes of its maker, leading Chevrolet to stop selling cars in the UK, so you can only buy a used Cruze today.
Read on to see what we though of the Chevrolet Cruze saloon in 2014...
MPG, running costs & CO2
The 123bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine in the Cruze saloon returns fuel economy of 62.7mpg while emitting 117g/km of CO2. That means annual road tax and insurance won’t be very much, but the fuel economy figure is only average. That sounds like a good deal, but the catch with the Cruze is that resale values on the used-car market are very low.
Engines, drive & performance
The Cruze saloon only comes with a 123bhp 1.7-litre diesel engine with a six-speed manual gearbox, but it just isn't much fun to drive. It's certainly responsive and composed through corners, but you don't get much feedback through the steering wheel, which leaves you feeling disconnected from the car.
Body lean in corners is kept to a minimum, though, and the car never feels out of your control. In the end, the Cruze saloon isn't that bad to drive, but it just doesn't do enough to be interesting or entice you away from any of its rivals.
Interior & comfort
Ride quality in the Cruze is bumpy because of the car's overly firm suspension: it actually fidgets when driving over rough roads, so you have to be constantly alert, making tiny steering adjustments to keep going in your intended direction.
The big-car feel Chevrolet promised sadly only applies to the interior, with sheer space seeming to have been the company's main focus. In compariosn, overall comfort and luxury aren't that great, with too much wind noise audible inside and the engine getting quite loud on motorways.
Thankfully, the driving position is decent, with good reach-and-rake adjustment in the steering wheel. The view out the back is also pretty good for a saloon car.
Practicality & boot space
In this area, the Cruze is very similar to the Vauxhall Astra, with which it shares many parts. There's 450 litres of boot space on offer, but the opening is too narrow, which makes loading bulky items awkward
Split-folding rear seats are standard, so you can expand luggage space a bit, but not to the same extent as you can in the Cruze hatchback. Rear legroom is decent, but the saloon's roofline reduces headroom quite a bit, so tall adults will find it difficult to get comfortable.
Also, the narrow dimensions and big central tunnel make it hard to fit three adults in the back, with the middle seat's legroom in particular being very cramped. The hatchback model is far more practical and is the one we'd recommend.
Reliability & safety
Chevrolet went from not featuring at all in our Driver Power 2012 customer satisfaction survey to ranking 20th out of 32 brands in the 2013 manufacturer rankings. The Cruze itself didn't feature in the top 150 car that year, but the Astra on which it's based came 103rd, which doesn't inspire confidence.
The interior is well constructed and certainly feels durable, while the Vauxhall Insignia-inspired dashboard is actually quite upmarket, with an appealing centre console and blue-backed dials. Why so much of it is made from dull grey materials isn't clear, however, while some of the plastics feel cheap and nasty. Having said that, quality has taken a big leap compared to other Chevrolets we've driven.
In terms of safety, front, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and ISOFIX child-seat mounting points all come as standard. The Cruze was also awarded the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests.
Price, value for money & options
With only one model on offer, the Cruze saloon can't really compete with its rivals or the hatchback model on price. There's a decent amount of equipment and accessories on offer in the saloon at least: you get all-round electric windows, automatic headlights, automatic windscreen wipers, a stop-start system, climate control, front foglights, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, a six-speaker CD player with USB connectivity and steering-wheel-mounted controls, sat nav, a rear parking camera and 17-inch alloy wheels as standard. Electronic stability control is standard across the range, as are six airbags.