Versatility for Millennials: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

The Chevorlet Cruze hatchback has been available in foreign markets for a few years now, but 2017 marks the first time it’ll be available here in the United States. Hatchbacks have gained popularity in recent years, especially with Millennials. This generation is looking for versatility and Chevrolet is looking to appeal to their need by offering a compact, budget friendly vehicle that’s also capable of hauling plenty of gear.

At a quick glance, the Cruze hatchback reminds me of the Hyundai Elantra GT. Our tester came with the RS Package to give it a sportier look. It includes 18-inch wheels, front fog lights, a rear spoiler and body kit. The rear spoiler finishes off the overall look of the car. Without it, it appears unbalanced or unfinished. Other options on our tester included the Sun and Sound with Navigation Package, which adds a straightforward series of upgrades. Also spec’d was Chevy’s full set of driver aids. In all, over $4,000 in options make this top-trim Premier a fully-loaded example.

The interior of the Cruze is pleasant and inoffensive. The overall quality and materials used is miles better than the previous generation. There’s some hard plastics on the dash and doors but it manages to feel solid rather than cheap. The Cruze is a solid competitor, but it falls short of the textures and materials in the Honda Civic. Backseat passengers will be pleasantly surprised by the legroom. The rear cargo space, with the back seats folded down, is 47.2 cubic feet. That’s larger than some mid-size SUVs. The Premier Hatchback trim level provides you with the conveniences you’d expect like leather seating, remote start, plenty of safety features, satellite radio and a heated steering wheel.

The Cruze is equipped with a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Since it’s turbocharged, the low-end torque makes the car feel nimble and gives it the power to get out of its own way. Surprisingly, it’s still paired with a six speed automatic transmission instead of a more fuel efficient eight speed. We wouldn’t mind even more power in this 5-door RS model. It wouldn’t win over hot hatch owners, but may prove to be generally marketable. Over the course of a week, we managed to get 33 mpg combined. You’ll notice little road noise while driving down the road, even on rough winter roads. The Cruze’s ride quality is also exceptional. But the comfortable ride has its drawbacks, as there’s a significant amount of body roll in sharp corners. One pet peeve throughout the week was the inability to disable the engine stop-start feature. While sitting in traffic, there’s nothing more annoying than a car that’s constantly turning on and off, and Chevy’s system is very aggressive.

Chevrolet has delivered a great vehicle for the hatchback market. Up until this new generation, the Cruze has not been noteworthy; lackluster with a marginal quality rating at best. Thanks to a redesign and rethinking what consumers want, the Cruze hatchback is a welcomed addition to the GM umbrella. If you’re looking for more cargo space, a nice driving experience and a host of tech features, put the Cruze hatchback on your list.

-Danielle Assenheimer

2017 Chevrolet Cruze FWD Hatchback Premier
Enhanced Convenience Package $865
Sun and Sound w/ Navigation Package $1,995
RS Package $995
Driver Confidence Package $0
Driver Confidence Package II $790
Destination Charges $875
As Tested MSRP $29,465

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