2012 Chevy Cruze Review Expert Car Review 2012 Chevy Cruze

There is a lot to love about the new 2012 Chevy Cruze, and depending on what is most important to you, this could easily be the best car to buy this year.

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Auto Sales > Car Advice > Car Reviews > 2012 Chevy Cruze Review

2012 Chevy Cruze Review

Bruce Sheridan

2012 Chevy Cruze Review


Not too long ago the small car market was a no-brainer. Fortunately for us this is no longer the case, since competition in this ultra popular car segment leads to better quality choices. Until 2011, when the Cruze debuted, Chevy has really been nonexistent in this market. That's no longer the case, and now with the surprisingly successful 2012 Chevy Cruze, Chevrolet has a legitimate contender.

No doubt this car had an advantage over the last year when Japanese supply was short, but it was no coincidence that the Cruze enjoyed so much critical and sales success. It can claim competitive pricing, excellent gas mileage, high ride quality and high quality design. To stick around and enjoy long term success in this segment, you need every advantage you can get.


There are certainly more sporty and capable options, but when it comes to practicality it's tough to beat the Chevy Cruze. There is no way to say that one specific car is the clear cut best in this segment, but depending on your priorities in your new car deals, the Cruze could easily be the ideal choice.

2012 Chevy Cruze
Starting MSRP Max City / Hwy MPG
$16,800 28 / 42
Pros Cons
Great fuel economy Unexciting drive
Solid, quiet ride Bland exterior design
Well designed interior
Excellent safety scores

2012 Chevy Cruze Trims

The 2012 Chevy Cruze comes in five different trims; the LS, the 1LT and 2LT, Eco and the top end LTZ. The 1.8L engine is standard in the LS and all others start with the 1.4L turbocharged engine. All trims but the LTZ can come with either the six speed manual or six speed automatic transmission, but both are tweaked for maximum gas mileage.

Choosing which trim depends on the amount of optional equipment you would need, but the Eco trim stands out as the clear choice for the best fuel economy possible. The Eco trim is surprisingly affordable, and you can get this car for under $20000.

Cruze Trims
Name MSRP Engine Best MPG City / Hwy
LS $16,800 1.8L 4-cyl 25 / 36
1LT $18,555 1.4L 4-cyl 26 / 38
Eco $19,325 1.4L 4-cyl 28 / 42
2LT $20,685 1.4L 4-cyl 26 / 38
LTZ $23,190 1.4L 4-cyl 26 / 38

2012 Chevy Cruze Performance

The Cruze is designed to cruise. Although the 4-cyl engine will struggle to leave anyone in the dust off the line, this car handles great and is responsive and agile enough to never leave you feeling limited in your everyday driving.

The base 1.8L 4-cyl engine in the LS gives the Cruze 138 horsepower and 125 lbs-ft of torque and with automatic transmission gets 22 city / 35 hwy mpg, but it's hard to recommend this engine over your other choice. The 1.4L turbocharged 4-cyl engine is clearly the better option. It gives 138 horsepower, 148 lbs-ft of torque and gets 28 city / 42 hwy mpg in the manual transmission Eco trim.

2012 Chevy Cruze Interior / Exterior
Interior / Exterior

The Cruze's interior design has garnered a great deal of praise for its upscale feel and abundant front passenger space. It has just about as much interior room as any other car in the class, but has a higher quality design that looks and feels better than almost any other.

The exterior is not quite as thrilling. It certainly looks more conservative than the edgy and sporty looking Hyundai Elantra or Mazda 3, but on the same note it isn't quite as conservative as the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. The design does give it one thing the rest of the competition does not have; an incredibly quiet interior, even at highway speeds.

2012 Chevy Cruze Features

Chevy has placed an emphasis on offering more standard and optional equipment on their lower level vehicles, and the Cruze is no exception. Every trim comes with keyless entry, power locks and windows, air conditioning and a sound system with auxiliary input. Moving up the trims gets you things like USB ports, remote starter, heated leather seats and touch screen navigation, among many others.

2012 Chevy Cruze Safety

One of the things that the 2012 Chevy Cruze does the best is keep you safe. The list of safety tests that the Cruze has aced goes on for quite a while. It earned a perfect overall score in government testing and in its IIHS tests, and it was also named a 2012 IIHS Top Safety Pick. It not only got perfect ratings in America, it has also aced every other major market's tests. The added weight and structure give it an extra level of security.

Also consider

Car Name Starting MSRP
2012 Hyundai Elantra $15,345
2012 Ford Focus $16,500
2012 Honda Civic $15,755
2012 Toyota Corolla $16,130
2012 Volkswagen Jetta $15,515
2012 Mazda 3 $15,200

Previous 2012 Honda CR-V Review

Next 2012 Toyota Corolla Review

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