Shut the Back Door! Cruze is a Hatch

By Sue Mead, November 5th, 2016

There really is something for everyone in today's automotive market. Hatchbacks have come and gone a few times -- but now they're back. We drove the new 2017 Chevy Cruze Hatchback, a small five-door model that sits in a compact footprint, wears midsize dimensions and has some fun ways to reconfigure the interior. It's a new branch on the Cruze tree.

Manufacturer photo: Developed with all the technologies and dynamic driving attributes of the Cruze sedan, the new 2017 Cruze hatch adds a functional and sporty choice for customers
Manufacturer photo: Developed with all the technologies and dynamic driving attributes of the Cruze sedan, the new 2017 Cruze hatch adds a functional and sporty choice for customers

Since its launch in the U.S. in September 2010, the Cruze has been Chevrolet's most popular small car in America; it was already Chevy's best-selling model worldwide since its launch in 2008, with over 3.5 million sales. The affordable sedan is the little brother to the Malibu, and is powered by a fuel-efficient -- but sporty -- powertrain, making it a high-volume seller in a very competitive segment that includes the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus, Mazda3 and the Subaru Impreza.

As many new car shoppers move away from the perennially popular sedan body style into more practical CUVs and SUVs, this GM brand strives to keep the Cruze competitive by adding an extra door and bringing more utility, despite the fact that it's slightly shorter than the sedan. With seating for five and 22.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat- and as much as 47.2 cu.-ft. when the rear seat is folded. It's a functional and sporty offering.

The hatchback is enhanced by an upgraded six-speaker audio system with Sirius XM satellite radio and steering-wheel-mounted audio and phone controls, daytime running lamps and foglamps up front, and special wraparound taillamps and a rear spoiler in the back, plus unique front and rear fascias and rocker panels, and special wheel and tire packages.

Under the hood, the Cruze hatchback is powered by a standard 153-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 117 lb.-ft. of torque mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission that has 0-to-60-mph acceleration in 7.7 seconds. Excellent fuel economy of 29 mpg city and 38 mpg highway with the auto transmission (manual transmission models drop those numbers by one mpg) comes thanks to direct injection and Stop/Start technologies; it's also 200 pounds lighter than the previous-generation model. A diesel engine with an all-new nine-speed automatic transmission and the six-speed manual goes on sale in the spring of 2017.

Manufacturer photo: Developed with all the technologies and dynamic driving attributes of the Cruze sedan, the new 2017 Cruze hatch adds a functional and sporty choice for customers

Inside, the compact hatch has comfortable passenger space, with 2 inches more rear legroom than its Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra competition. Standard equipment includes Chevrolet MyLink with a 7-inch diagonal color touch-screen; a rear-vision camera; standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility via the MyLink radio systems; and available 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot, plus Chevrolet's exclusive Teen Driver safety system that allows parents to set controls, review driving habits and encourage safe driving habits even when they are not in the vehicle.

Available features include a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, Athens leather-appointed seating surfaces with true French seams, and halogen projector-beam headlamps with LED signature lighting.

We drove the Cruze Hatchback on a recent ride and drive in Detroit, where its dimensions shine in city traffic; its low-end torque allows it to dart and lane-change with relative ease, after the turbo kicks in. When stepping in, its lower ride height will appeal to some-it is decidedly not an SUV or crossover, but has the look and feel of a small sedan with a larger, open trunk. The cabin has wide door openings, is light and airy with more elbow room than expected and good ergonomics to reach controls. Trims include an all-black interior or two-tones that come in black/grey or black/brown.

We appreciated the standard rear-view camera and loved the wireless charging. The new model benefits from a host of available advanced safety technologies to help prevent, protect, and respond in the event of a collision. These include front collision alert, rear cross traffic alert, rear park assist, lane-keeping assistance, and side blind zone alerts. Chevrolet's Complete Care owner benefit program boosts owner satisfaction for all 2017 Chevrolet vehicles with two maintenance visits, including two oil changes and filters, tire rotations, and 27-point inspection; five years or 60,000 miles of roadside assistance with courtesy transportation; and five years of the OnStar Basic Plan.

The 2017 Cruze Hatch LT is priced at $22,115 with the manual transmission, $22,795 with the automatic. The Premier trim is $24,350.

Specifications

Base price $22,115 (as tested: $22,990)
Curb weight 2,892 lbs.
Displacement 1.4-liter
Engine type 16-valve turbo 4-cyl. w/DI
Epa mileage rating 28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 13.7 gal.
Horsepower (net) 153 at 5600 rpm
Overall length 175.3 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 177 at 2000-4000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD compact hatchback
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