On the podium at last
The automotive press was never really kind to General Motors in regards to their compact-car offerings. At least, those sold in North America. Yes, we liked the Saturn Astra, but it was overpriced, wasn’t available as a four-door sedan and was sold under a failing brand. The General’s volume sellers, the Chevrolet Cavalier/Pontiac Sunfire twins and Chevrolet Cobalt/Pontiac G5 twins, couldn’t hold their own against the competition.
The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze may actually be the best small car General Motors has ever sold here. Why? It’s comfortable, it’s refined, it’s fuel-efficient, and dressed in the RS Appearance Package, it looks hot.
Get the RS (if you can afford it)
The Chevrolet Cruze’s design was presented back in 2008, but the car’s sporty styling remains fresh and modern today.
The RS Appearance Package, however, is the cherry on top. It adds lower-body aero trim, a subtle rear spoiler, beautiful 18” alloys with P225/45R18 tires and, on the LT trim, 4-wheel disc brakes, a sport suspension and fog lamps.
Some designs age more quickly than others, but I think the Cruze will age gracefully; which doesn’t mean GM should leave it untouched for a decade.
A 136-hp, 1.8L 4-cylinder stands as the base engine in the Cruze LS, but every other version benefits from a turbocharged 1.4L four good for 138 horses. In this application, the turbo supports the engine in a mission to save fuel, not to burn rubber. Still, you’ll feel the 148 lb-ft of torque at launch, as they peak at a low 1,850 rpm with the 6-speed automatic.
The 0-100 km/h dash takes 10.4 seconds, which doesn’t sound very quick. On the other hand, the generous amount of low-end torque compensates nicely in stop-and-go traffic.
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