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What cars did you cross shop before choosing the Cruze?

3692 Views 32 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  Aranarth
Hi everyone,

After driving my wife's Hyundai Elantra over the weekend I was reminded why I chose the Cruze for myself. Before buying our pre-owned Cruze eco, I was the one driving the Elantra. When it was time to finally upgrade her ride, I (selfishly) wanted something nicer than the Hyundai so she can inherit it and I could enjoy the new(er) ride. Now, the Elantra is a nice econobox and is reliable, but it has zero performance appeal. For example, the engine sounds like it came out of a lawn mower and has no torque, despite the bigger displacement compared to the Cruze (1.8 vs 1.4). The handling is also forgettable, offering no confidence in corners or off/on ramps. There are some nice features, like the strong brakes (better than the Cruze), good amount of standard features and TONS of interior space. I don't know how that's the case, when the two cars are parked side-by-side they have similar exterior dimensions. But the Cruze is basically a 2 door coupe inside - which I happen to like since nobody goes in my car - but I feel that it's a huge strike against it for people with families.

When I drive the Cruze and Elantra back-to-back, I feel a huge difference in driving dynamics. It also gets even better mileage to boot. The first time I drove a Cruze was a rental earlier this year, and it blew away my expectations. I was expecting something more along the lines of the cobalt and cavalier, but not even close. I also looked at the jetta, which admittedly has a nicer interior, but sketchy reliability. I'm glad I chose the Cruze. I don't feel like I settled or had to compromise on what I wanted.

What rides were you looking at before deciding on your Cruze?
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· Moderator
2,143 Posts
I drove a few vehicles before settling on the Cruze.

-2015 Ford Fiesta 1.0 turbo 3cyl 5-speed manual
The car was pretty bland all around, steel wheels and hubcaps, no opt extras inside. (I didn't want anything extra except I couldn't stand the steel wheels) Light beige interior, which I wasn't a fan of. The engine was pretty under powered which was to be expected, but I needed to drive it to make sure I didn't want it. It had a surprisingly big trunk. The appeal of fuel mileage was tempting but the lack of power, weird ford chimes, interior color, wheels, new DI tech, and lack of incentives kept me away.

-2014 Ford Focus 2.0L NA 5-speed manual
Good power, much faster than the Fiesta and faster than the Cruze. The particular one I looked at was well equipped with sunroof 17" alloy wheels, and the sync radio. It was pretty nice, but I didn't want all the extras for the price. The gearbox was nice and it drove great. The price, the looks, and the DI tech kept me away.

-2015 Honda Civic 1.8L NA 6-speed manual
Decent build quality, the double dash layout was neat, and it had a lot of technology. It drove really great, but it wasn't very powerful on the low end, not too bad on the top end. Pretty comfortable. The dealer wasn't willing to negotiate at all on price so that kept me away. It was the most expensive vehicle I tested. Also coming from a GM family, it felt wrong to drive it. I just couldn't get over my brainwashed domestic vehicle bias.

-2015 Honda Fit 1.5L NA 6-speed manual
I didn't like this car at all. Sales guy talked me into driving it. I hated the way it looked, I didn't like the interior, the wheels, the drive, the engine note, or the lack of speed. And to top it off, it was more expensive than the Cruze.

-2014 Jeep Compass 2.0L NA 5-speed manual
Driving this solidified my hate for crossovers. It had awful handling, way too much body roll. No power at all, very heavy, and mediocre gas mileage. It was kind of spacious, and it was pretty comfortable. They were offering some pretty good incentives but it couldn't beat the Cruze.

-2015 Chevy Sonic RS 1.4L turbo 6-speed manual hatch
Came pretty much fully loaded, mylink package, sunroof, etc. I liked the way it looked on the interior, all of the RS touches were neat. The wheels looked good but it was a hard ride. I didn't like the gauges. There was much more engine noise than any of the other vehicles, which is a plus for me. The handling was good. Since it was pretty new, they weren't taking any money off of it, so the price kept me away, I ended up getting my Cruze cheaper.

-2014 Chevy Cruze 1LT 1.4L turbo 6-speed manual
I decided on this vehicle for many reasons. The biggest reason was it was cheaper than all of the above vehicles. I got GMS discount, and 4K cash back since it was a model year old, the new grill for the '15 was out, and it sat on the lot for over a year. They also gave me more for my trade-in than I was expecting. I love the way it looks, especially the front end, and I love the interior. I love the way it drives, the 16" wheels with thick sidewall tires gave it a comfortable ride. I love the engine and it's low down torque, it's also insanely efficient. I love the way it sounds, especially the rare times I can hear the turbo spooling.

The things I don't love: The transmission isn't my favorite, the 2nd gear grind was annoying until I changed the trans fluid, and the gear changes and clutch are very numb but it gets the job done and it's still a ton of fun to drive. The seats could be more comfortable, and I miss my adjustable lumbar support. The back seats could offer a little more space, but it's better than my Cobalt. I don't like filling it with premium fuel to get the best efficiency and power, but it sips fuel so I can handle an extra $4 per fill especially as it gets 400-500 miles per tank. My final out the door price after taking off incentives and GMS discount, then adding taxes and fees came out to $15,765 for a brand new Cruze. I've had it for 20 months and put 34,000 miles on it with no issues other than the 2nd gear grinding at WOT which was solved by changing trans fluid.

· Moderator
2,143 Posts
That is quite the list of cars you've looked at. I gotta agree about some of the pitfalls. I've had many jettas and passats that were manuals, and their clutch feel was night and day better than the Cruze. It just feels so numb and hard to gauge the release point. Getting used to it though. Other thing I don't care for is the piano black on the console. While it does look nice, it gets dirty and scratched just by looking at it.

Keep 'em coming!
Sorry, I didn't intend to write a book, it just happened haha. When looking for a car my order of things I had to have from most important to least important was:

1. Manual transmission
2. Affordability
3. 4-Door (I loved the Cobalt coupe but each door was as wide as an entire parking space)
4. Has to look good
5. Real alloy wheels, no hubcaps

I didn't want to buy another GM, but it's a nice freaking car. I sure as heck wasn't buying another GM manual after my experience with the 12.

There's something fundamentally wrong with the getrag M32 in paticular. The getrag F23 5-speed in my Cobalt was VERY different. It actually felt like the shifter was connected to the transmission despite the cable linkages. It felt very robust, and it could take abuse. It offered positive feedback and it never fought back. It never ground gears unless you messed up the timing. And the gearing was perfect other than 5th could have been taller. I loved the transmission/engine combo in the Cobalt. The Cruze is so vastly different in comparison.
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