Putting a hatchback setup on the Cruze affects the back end, of course, giving you some extra storage room and allowing for seats to fold down. The resulting vehicle is actually quite attractive on the exterior (definitely more so than the sedan), and features an impressive design both inside and out. For what is technically still a compact car, it looks and feels like something more than that.
Spacewise, you get as much as 47.2 cubic feet of storage in the Cruze hatchback (with rear seats down). And rear seating is among the best in segment as far as leg room and general comfort.
If you go to the higher trim levels (which is what the hatchback comes in), materials on the Cruze’s interior were pretty high quality in comparison to the rest of the segment.
HOW’S THE RIDE?
There is only one engine choice on the Cruze: A 1.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine, and it comes with either a 6-speed automatic transmission, or a manual if you prefer. The Cruze produces 153 horsepower, and 177 lb.-ft. of torque
It’s a front-wheel drive vehicle, so like most small cars it’s not going to be your best choice in bad weather. But overall the ride is very quiet and not noisy like some small cars can be. The ride is smooth, but not exactly sporty, this isn’t a “hot hatch’, even though you can add an RS appearance package to it for looks.
Despite that, it’s still something you’ll enjoy driving if you have realistic expectations. Acceleration is adequate but not overly impressive. In the overall ranking of compact vehicles, I would rank the Cruze about mid-pack in terms of pure driver experience.
Technology is an area where the GM family of vehicles does shine.
The infotainment system in the Cruze is well-designed, responsive and features compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Teen driver mode is included so parents can set controls and monitor what their teen driver is doing in the vehicle even when they’re not there -- great for parents, but a bummer for the teens.
On a somewhat ironic note, if you choose the sedan version of the Cruze, and choose a lower trim level, you won’t get cruise control.
All Cruze models have the touchscreen infotainment system, option for 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, a rearview camera, Apple/Android compatibility, stability control, ABS, 10 airbags, OnStar, Teen Driver and more.
To get higher-end safety features, you have to go up to the top two trim levels -- LT or Premier. Those are the only two trim levels the hatch comes in. LT gets you option to add Rear Park Assist, Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. On Premier level, you can add: Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Following Distance Indicator.
Official fuel mileage numbers are 28 city/37 highway/31 combined; not best-in-class. but close to the top. High marks here. The start-stop system on the Cruze, which shuts off the engine when you are not moving and starts again when you get going after a light turns green, helps achieve these numbers.
My top-end test Cruze hatch was just over $26,000; base price of the sedan starts about $17K, with the hatchback starting just over $21K. The Cruze has strong reliability rankings, for those worried about possible repair costs down the road.
It’s a bit more pricey than other hatches in the segment, so time will tell how that affects sales of the hatch version of the Cruze.
The 2017 Chevy Cruze, especially with the new hatchback option, is a compelling vehicle to consider for those exploring the small car marketplace, especially among those who want to remain on the domestic side and are fans of the hatchback setup and the versatility it brings. It’s prime domestic competitor is the Ford Focus, another strong vehicle with a hatchback offering, and each have their own strengths.