edmunds expert review
Put the preconceived notions to bed, because Chevrolet has a quality small car in the form of the 2014 Cruze.
Handsome interior design
Two satisfying high-efficiency engine choices
Useful electronics interface
The impact of the Chevy Cruze can't be underestimated. Introduced in 2011, this small economy sedan has made Chevrolet a brand to consider once more in the compact-car market, as the overall refinement, efficiency and packaging of the Cruze make it a serious rival for the Japanese-brand cars that have dominated the segment for a generation.
Points in the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze's favor include a lineup of solid-performing, high-efficiency four-cylinder engines, a sophisticated ride and handling balance, and the car's sharp, non-gimmicky design inside and out. Passenger quarters are a smidge tight for this class, but most consumers will find them adequate. The Cruze also offers an unusually large trunk for a compact sedan.
Chevy has added some spice to the Cruze line for 2014 with the introduction of the Cruze Diesel. Equipped with a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine and rated at 33 mpg combined by the EPA, this model directly targets the only other diesel-powered compact sedan in the U.S.: the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Though closely matched in terms of overall performance and fuel economy, the diesel Jetta does have a larger backseat and starts out a little less expensive than the Chevy. In fairness, however, the Cruze diesel comes with a few more standard features, such as remote starting and leather seating, making their base prices essentially the same.
Of course, there are a bunch of worthwhile compact cars in this price range, and it's now hard to pick a loser in this ultracompetitive segment. If top-of-the-world fuel economy isn't your priority, the 2014 Honda Civic is a can't-lose proposition, thanks to a spacious, high-quality interior and likable road manners. The 2014 Hyundai Elantra and its cousin the Kia Forte provide solid performance and plenty of standard and available upscale features. You might also consider the Ford Focus, which looks and feels more sophisticated than most of its rivals, or the similarly refined 2014 Mazda 3, which offers the sportiest handling in this class.
Although the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze doesn't dominate in this group, it's on equal footing with most of its competitors and certainly worth a look if you're shopping for a well-rounded compact sedan.
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