Car Review: 2012 Chevy Cruze 2LT Turbo

Highlight: A Cruze wagon is being added to line up outside of North America.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $24,305 (Base Model starts at $17,595)

Seating Capacity:  5

Standard Safety Features: Stability control system; ABS; daytime running lamps; tire pressure monitoring system; 10 air bags, which include front, side, head and knees impact airbags

LS Standard Equipment: 16-inch wheels; a 6-speed manual transmission; tilt/telescopic steering wheel; power windows; power door locks; manual adjustable cloth seats; rear seat center armrest with cup-holders; and a 6-month turn-by-turn navigation radio-based system

Standard Audio: 6-speaker AM/FM/CD with a limited XM satellite radio subscription

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 100,000 miles

Bluetooth Compatibility: Available

MP3 Capability: Standard

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.4-liter, 4-cylinder/138-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage: 26-city/38-hwy

Trim Levels:

LS

1LT

Eco

2LT

LTZ

What’s New: With the exception of a few package tweaks, Chevy’s best-selling vehicle is basically a carryover for the 2012 model year.

Pros: This is one of the best compact vehicles GM has built. Consumers rewarded Chevy last year by gobbling up this vehicle. Not only does GM offer a premium-class interior with a number of high grade features, but a great ride too. In fact, the Cruze actually feel and ride more like a midsize vehicle, as opposed to a compact.

Moreover, depending on the trim level selected, the Cruze can be outfitted with leather seats, a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, a leather wrapped steering wheel, 17 (or 18)-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch screen to view the navigation system, a remote start system, a self-dimming rearview mirror and steering wheel audio control.

Furthermore, the rear occupants also have access to a center armrest with two integrated cupholders.

As one can see, there are a number of features in the midsize Cruze that will rival many of today’s midsize vehicles.

Cons: Chevy’s wildly popular compact, like a number of competitors, is a little too pricey. In fact, our pricey $24,000 Cruze bumps up against the Malibu, its midsize big brother.

Furthermore, the $24,000 price tag in the Cruze we reviewed didn’t include a sunroof, illuminated vanity mirrors or a rearview camera.

Moreover, the rear cargo area can be an extremely tight fit for most adults.

The Verdict:

Overall, this is the best compact vehicle GM has ever built.  Buyers in the market for a well-built, reliable, comfortable riding, fuel-efficient compact no longer have to turn to the imports. GM has proven that they can build big trucks as well as small cars too.

Competition: Ford Focus; Honda Civic; Hyundai Elantra; Kia Forte, Mazda3; Nissan Sentra; and Toyota Corolla

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him http://twitter.com/#!/JeffCars/.