$12,845 - $19,215

2018 Chevrolet Cruze Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Chevrolet Cruze was new.


Performance: 7.8

The 2018 Chevrolet Cruze is a polished small car with a smooth, quiet ride and handling that feels sportier than most in the class. Its engine takes a little time to get up to speed, but once there, it's fuel-efficient and relatively energetic.

  • "The Cruze's performance appeal will largely depend on your commute. Lackluster acceleration on the low end and a mandatory engine stop-start system make it less than ideal for city dwellers. But those who typically traverse twisty roads will be impressed by its excellent handling." -- Edmunds
  • "It's still not as athletic or lithe as a Mazda3 or even the new Honda Civic, for that matter. But if I had to choose one for a cross country road trip, I'd grab the keys to the Cruze." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "The turbo four-cylinder sounds refined when accelerating, even under full throttle, and power builds smoothly. Acceleration is adequate; it feels about as swift as the 2016 Honda Civic with the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Still, the turbo four-cylinder does have some reserve power at highway speeds for passing." -- Cars.com (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The standard engine in the 2018 Cruze is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder, which comes with a six-speed manual transmission or an available six-speed automatic transmission. With this 153-horsepower engine, the car is slow to accelerate but feels smooth and peppy once you get going. It's also very fuel-efficient. With the automatic transmission, the sedan gets 29 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. This drops to as low as 27 mpg in the city (with the manual transmission or the hatchback body style) and 37 mpg on the highway (with the hatchback model and the automatic transmission).

Chevrolet also offers a 137-horsepower turbodiesel engine for the Cruze, and you can pair it with a six-speed manual or a nine-speed automatic transmission. Gas mileage for the turbodiesel ranges from 30-31 mpg in the city to 47-52 mpg on the highway.

The Cruze's frugal fuel economy is due in part to its stop-start system, which comes standard. Reviewers lament that you can't turn this system off, as you can on some cars, but say that the system feels much smoother than others when the engine re-engages.

  • "Acceleration from a stop is tepid. The Cruze's turbo engine is more responsive on the highway, making overtaking slower cars a cinch. A zero-to-60-mph sprint time of 8.1 seconds is a little slower than average in this class. Very hot weather can further sap performance." -- Edmunds
  • "The 1.4-liter 4-cylinder is a gem, quiet and smooth, and while it won't wow you with its acceleration, it's hardly slow. It also plays very nicely with the 6-speed automatic transmission that is far and away the most popular choice." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "Acceleration is best described as adequate. Both the new, direct-injection, variable-valve-timing 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4 and the six-speed automatic save weight—44 pounds and 24 pounds, respectively—but the transmission clearly is geared for best-possible fuel economy. The start/stop feature, which has no defeat button, on this drive felt less smooth switching the engine back on than it did during [the] preview at the Milford Proving Grounds. Still, it's smoother than in German luxury cars, for example." -- Automobile Magazine (2016)

Handling and Braking

The Cruze feels a little sportier than most. Its suspension is firm enough that you'll get little body lean in the corners yet smooth enough to be comfortable over uneven pavement. The steering feels light, and the brakes are solid.

  • "Like most compact cars, the Cruze's steering effort is fairly light, building up gradually as speed increases. The Cruze feels sportier than others thanks to its quick reactions to steering inputs and a little more feedback transmitted through the steering wheel." -- Edmunds
  • "Smooth, quiet and comfortable, the 2018 Chevy Cruze is satisfying to drive around town and it feels substantial on the highway with a composed ride and a confident locked-in quality." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Cruze is a seriously smooth car, from its slippery shape to the way its doors shut with a muffled wumpf. In large part, the Cruze's smoothness is derived from its impeccably compliant suspension. In car terms, it is refined." -- Car and Driver (2016)

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