Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze car test drives chevrolet
Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze car test drives chevrolet
Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze car test drives chevrolet
2014 Chevrolet Cruze. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Tom Sedens

The spiritual successor to Chevrolet’s Cavalier and Cobalt had small shoes to fill in terms of … well, pretty much everything. But I think Chevrolet did a darn good job showing the world that it’s come a long ways since then.

The improvements started on the exterior. The Cruze’s design is grown up and doesn’t come across as entry-level. Though it’s unremarkable in most aspects, I think that this is the safest path to take in this class. So while the simple, strong lines have never got second looks, its well-rounded sophistication (for this segment) has aged well and while it is starting to get a tad dated, it remains a subtle, good looking car.

My review car was nearly entry level, which means it had 16-inch rims with wheel covers. Though these aren’t horrible to look at, I obviously prefer some of the handsome rims that come on higher-trim Cruzes. Of note, my Cruze was also Red Hot. Probably not the colour I’d end up buying, but it sure got some attention.

You’ll appreciate a generous amount of headroom as you sit down in the Cruze. The manually-adjustable fabric seats are supportive, but I had a tough time getting totally comfortable due to the pronounced upper cushion pushing into my shoulder blades. Seats are highly subjective things, so your mileage may vary.

The Cruze’s dash styling is well done. The two-tone combined with what appears to be a high level of fit and finish comes across as upscale and looks good. The materials are a bit of a mixed bag. The dark areas are nicely textured but use a hard plastic, which comes across as a bit cheaper than what the competition is using these days, whereas the lighter accents are soft-touch padded plastic.

The main gauges are large and clear, and they’re separated by a driver information screen. It is saddled with a terrible crunchy, blocky font from the 1980s, but other than looking gross, it works well. The media and phone display screen in the centre of the dash gets the same unfortunate text and low-resolution graphics. Speaking of media, the sound system is passable and lets you grab your tunes from AM, FM, satellite, CD, auxiliary and USB sources. You won’t find Bluetooth streaming in this trim level. The steering wheel has controls for your phone as well as the sound system – including a much-appreciated mute button.

The console houses the gear selector, a pair of cupholders, a 12V plug and a traditional parking brake lever and a small armrest. The Cruze has a nice big glove compartment. Other than that you get door bins, which are basically giant bottle holders, a deep rubberized drop-in bin in the centre of the dash and a couple of strangely-shaped cubbyholes in the console. There is a small bin under the armrest, where you will also find the auxiliary and USB plugs.

Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze car test drives chevrolet Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze car test drives chevrolet Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze car test drives chevrolet
2014 Chevrolet Cruze. Click image to enlarge

The car is started with a key – a bit of a rarity these days. The fob has remote locking and unlocking, as well as a handy trunk opener. In this trim, the Cruze is somewhat remarkable for what it doesn’t have. A couple of things that I’ve come to take for granted were missing here. The mirrors are adjusted via a little joystick. Remember doing that? My kids had a blast with these things. Also, the lack of cruise control took me by surprise. That omission might not be a big issue to urbanites, but we’re on the highway a lot and use cruise control often.

There is seating for three in the back. Getting into the rear felt a bit tight, but once you’re in, the two outboard seats are relatively comfortable with sufficient legroom – it is average for this segment. Those are the only two seats you’ll want to be sitting in anyway – the middle position is hard, narrow and raised, and it straddles a tunnel on the floor. Headroom was good for my height at 5’10″.

Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze car test drives chevrolet Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze car test drives chevrolet Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze car test drives chevrolet
2014 Chevrolet Cruze. Click image to enlarge

In terms of convenience, it’s pretty sparse. There’s a 12V charging plug at the back of the centre console and the middle seatback folds down to become an armrest with a couple of cupholders in it.

Our three kids felt the accommodations were pretty tight, width-wise. There are two sets of LATCH anchors for kids’ seats if you need them.

The Cruze sets itself apart with its trunk – it is surprisingly large for a compact sedan at 425 litres. The arms aren’t shrouded, so your luggage could end up getting pinched underneath them, but it’s a highly useful cargo space. The rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split if you need to add to that.




About Tom Sedens

Tom Sedens is an Edmonton-based automobile journalist, husband, dad and driving enthusiast, as well as an accredited member of AJAC.