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2014 Kia Soul, Bright Silver, 11 mi., $18,015
Review of the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze
IntroductionCruze, an all-new five-passenger compact sedan, has replaced the aged Cobalt in the Chevrolet lineup for the 2011 model year. The Cruze, already a hit across Europe and Asia, comes to North America with a number of segment-leading features and details that seek to challenge defined notions about compact cars. It also affirms Chevrolet's commitment to building refined, fuel-efficient vehicles using new, small-displacement, four-cylinder engines. The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze is available in LS, LT, 2LT and LTZ trim levels. A gas-sipping Eco version of the LS will also be available. With a new Ecotec 1.4L I-4 turbo engine with variable valve timing, the Cruze Eco is expected to deliver 40 mpg on the highway.
Exterior Design and Special FeaturesThe Cruze offers leather and heated front seats, 16-inch aluminum wheels, XM Satellite Radio, OnStar, Bluetooth, a USB port for iPod, cruise control, power locks and power outside mirrors at a very competitive price. The LS is equipped with 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, an eight-way (manual) adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split rear seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, full power accessories, OnStar, and a six-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The LS Eco is characterized by its aerodynamic improvements, low-rolling-resistance tires and a version of the turbocharged engine. The LT comes in 1LT and 2LT models. Chrome wheel covers, a turbocharged engine, color-keyed power side view mirrors, floor mats and a one-touch-up driver's window are the highlights of the 1LT. The 2LT is loaded with alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a six-way power driver seat, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, remote vehicle start, cruise control, a USB/iPod port for the audio system and Bluetooth. The top of the line Cruze LTZ is equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, rear park assist, a sport-tuned suspension, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, illuminated vanity mirrors, and four-wheel disc brakes. The RS appearance package on LT and LTZ builds on the already bold face and coupe-like proportions of the Cruze with unique fascias, rocker moldings, rear spoiler, fog lamps and uplevel instrument cluster.
EngineA 1.8-liter inline-4 engine good for 136 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque provides power to the LS. The LT and LTZ (Cruze LS Eco also) are powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-4 rated at 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. The LS and LS Eco are equipped with a six-speed manual transmission system. The other trims come with a six-speed automatic (Optional on the LS/LS Eco). The Ecotec 1.4L turbo performs like a larger engine when needed, but retains the efficiency of a small-displacement four-cylinder in most driving conditions. The transmission systems contribute for excellent fuel economy. The Cruze Eco is estimated to deliver 40 mpg on highways. The Cruze is backed by GM's five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, the best coverage in America. The large trunk measures an impressive 15 cubic feet.
SafetyThe 2012 Chevrolet Cruze offers more standard safety features than any vehicle in its class. The standard key safety features include driver, passenger air bags, front knee bags, three-point safety belts in all five seating positions, OnStar package, daytime running lamps, traction control, StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensing, traction control and anti-lock brakes, vehicle anti-theft alarm, 4- Wheel ABS, tire pressure monitoring system and child seat latching system in the rear seat.