Test Drive: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze LT Hatch

Chevrolet launched its all-new Cruze sedan last year, and as a follow up we get a stylish hatchback version for 2017. As this move parallels what’s happening in the Honda Civic camp, perhaps the functional five-door is finding favour south of the border again.

Yes, it’s well-appointed for the money.

We Canadians, of course, have always embraced the hatchback, and this 2017 Cruze Hatch gives those who value refinement and comfort over sporty dynamics a worthy option.

The Cruze sedan’s base L and LS trim levels are evicted from the five-door line up, presumably because hatchback buyers are “lifestyle” types with more upscale tastes. As such, Hatch pricing starts at $20,695 for the LT with a six-speed manual transmission, 16-inch alloys, heated front seats, six-speaker audio, OnStar, LED running lights, 7.0-inch MyLink with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Sirius XM. So yes, it’s well-appointed for the money.

Tested here is the LT Auto that enters at $22,145 with a six-speed automatic. The $2,895 True North Edition jacks up the content with eight-way driver’s seat, blind-spot and lane-change alert, rear park assist and cross-traffic alert, proximity key with push-button start, 8.0-inch MyLink, Bose audio, ambient lighting, sunroof and colour driver info centre. Giving it some visual zing is the $695 RS Package (sport body kit, rear spoiler, fog lights).

The Cruze Hatch is 213 mm (8.4 inches) shorter than its sibling sedan, giving it a chunky and rakishly aggressive stance. It’s a handsome rig and distinctly nuevo-Chevrolet featuring the brand’s two-tiered grill and squinty headlights.

Developed mostly in Europe as a world car, the Cruze is a solid piece – the doors close with a reassuring thud and the cabin is impressively quiet. Chevy added extra sound insulation in the back to keep hatch resonance contained.

Contributing to the Cruze’s serene cabin experience is the standard 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder all-aluminum engine. It’s 20 kg lighter than the 1.4L turbo in the old Cruze, more powerful (153 hp vs 138 hp), and as would be expected, more fuel efficient – 18 percent improvement on the highway claim the Chevy folks. With 177 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 rpm, acceleration is mostly relaxed and drama free, although the Cruze is not particularly quick. The six-speed auto (with auto start/stop) is a smoothy too. A diesel option is on the way.

Handling is predictable and safe and the steering is nicely direct, but you won’t find any inspiration when tackling a twisty road. There is a toggle on top of the shifter for manual gear selection – you’ll try that just once and then forget about it.

What you won’t tire of is the Cruze’s plush ride and big car feel. On the highway it’s a fine… er, cruiser, tracking straight and true with barely a ruffle of wind noise.

The fabric seats in this LT are comfy and soft, and overall ergonomics are good. However, some of the plastics look cheap and the panel fits are inconsistent. The chintzy plastic chrome accents don’t do it any favours either – call that an old-timey GM hangover. But praise be, the 8-inch MyLink interface is clear, quick and intuitive, and there are four – count ’em – four rotary controllers covering audio and HVAC. Honda, are you listening?

GM’s OnStar is standard with any trim level of the Cruze, and that bestows, among other things, navigation and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot. These features are free for six months – after that pony up.

Rear seat room is adequate for two adults, and bonus, the rear 60/40 bench folds to make a flat floor. Cargo space is class average but access is somewhat compromised by a smallish hatch opening and high lift over. A VW Golf this is not.

After a week of piloting this Cruze Hatch, the on-board trip computer showed 8.3 L/100. It runs on regular fuel.

The 2017 Cruze Hatch might look a bit edgy, but don’t get fooled by the RS badge. This five-door is all about innocuous and comfortable transportation, topped with a healthy dose of value, utility and connectivity. There are no aspirations of hot-hatchness here, no matter how big that rear spoiler may look. And if you’re okay with that, this new Chevy hatch is worthy contender.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze LT Hatch Auto
Engine Displacement: 1.4L
Engine Cylinders: 4
Peak Horsepower: 153 hp
Peak Torque: 177 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 8.1/6.2/7.3 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space: 1,336 L
articles_PricingType 2017 Chevrolet Cruze LT Hatch Auto
Base Price $22,045
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,600
Price as Tested $27,830
Optional Equipment $4,085 – Kinetic Blue metallic $495; True North Edition $2,895; RS Package $695
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 7.8
8 Styling
7 Powertrain
7 Quality
8 Comfort
8 Practicality
8 Drivability
8 Usability/Ergonomics
8 Fuel Economy
8 Features
8 Value