Emma Jayne Williams

Chevrolet’s 2017 Cruze Premier sedan is at the top of the line for this compact

The Chevrolet Cruze sedan, which was completely redesigned for 2016, delivers up to 40 mpg on the highway. It comes with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. A diesel engine option will arrive in spring 2017.
The Chevrolet Cruze sedan, which was completely redesigned for 2016, delivers up to 40 mpg on the highway. It comes with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. A diesel engine option will arrive in spring 2017.

The Chevy Cruze is a five passenger compact commuter car available in two configurations for 2017 – sedan and the new hatchback.

Sedan versions include four trims – L, LS, LT, and Premier. The hatchback offers two trims – LT and Premier.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard on L, LS and LT, with LS and LT available with a six-speed automatic, and Premier available with only the automatic.

The turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, with 153 horsepower and 177 foot-pounds of torque, comes with stop/start technology on models with automatic transmissions, and front-wheel drive is standard. There will be a diesel engine available this coming spring as an option on the Cruze.

Redesigned just a year ago, the Cruze sedan has a few new options for 2017. The makeover included sharper exterior styling; a new dashboard with upgraded materials and fresh technology; and larger, lighter body.

The newly standard Chevrolet MyLink Infotainment system has clear graphics and intuitive, easy to use menu structure, featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and enhanced performance for quicker responses. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay allow smartphones to integrate apps, maps, music and more.

Cruze’s larger size means more room for rear passengers – 37.3 inches of headroom, 36.1 inches of legroom.

Starting price for the sedan is $16,975 (plus $895 freight), and for the hatchback, $21,240. Even the base models are well equipped, including the MyLink system with app integration via mobile phone, with USB port, Bluetooth, four speakers, and rearview camera; and there are cloth seats and automatic headlights.

Standard equipment for all models includes OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity and WiFi hotspot; 10 air bags, including front knee air bags, front and rear side impact, and head curtain air bags; 60/40-split folding rear seatback; and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel.

For this review, I drove a Red Hot Premier ($24,350) with Jet Black interior, leather seating, and 18-inch machined-face five-spoke (split, painted silver) wheels with all-season tires.

It was upgraded with the RS (Rally Sport) Package ($995), bringing a rear spoiler, front fog lamps, Sport body kit, and RS ornamental lettering.

Premier standard features included keyless enter and go, heated front seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, remote engine start, ice blue ambient interior lighting, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, leather sport seats, height-adjustable driver and front passenger seats, compact spare tire on a steel rim, automatic dual projection headlights with signature LED daytime running lights, and upgraded rear suspension.

LT and Premier also gain a rear armrest with cupholders, heated mirrors, cruise control and steering wheel mounted phone and audio controls.

Exterior colors vary by trim level, with the Premier offering eight exterior and three interior colors. Besides the eye-catching Red Hot, Premier offers Arctic Blue (gray blue), Pepperdust Metallic (dark pewter), and Silver Ice (ice blue). Premium exterior colors – Cajun Red and Kinetic Blue Metallic – add $395 each.

Interiors come in three colors, depending on trim – Jet Black, Dark Atmosphere/Medium Atmosphere (brown gray), and Jet/Kalahari (black/brick).

A Sun and Sound with Navigation Package ($1,995) included a power/sliding sunroof, Chevrolet MyLink Radio with navigation, and a Technology Package with Bose Premium nine-speaker system, and color Driver Information Center.

Addition of the Sun and Sound package required an Enhanced Convenience Package ($865) with heated rear outboard seats, single-zone automatic climate control, wireless charging for devices (vertical cubby on center console), 110-volt outlet, inside auto-dimming mirror, and driver express up/down power window.

The Driver Confidence II Package ($790) came with InteliBeam automatic high-beam headlights, Forward Collision Alert, Following Distance Indicator, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, and the Driver Confidence Package with Rear Park Assist, and Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert; and the RS Package.

Trunk space for the Cruze Premier, at 13.9 cubic feet, is slightly less than L and LS models, with 14.8 cubic feet. But it was still above average for compact sedans.

Cargo space was cut due to rear hinges that drop down when the trunk lid is closed. The 60/40 split rear seatbacks don’t lie flat when folded, which also reduces usable cargo space. The hatchback would, of course, offer more usable cargo space.

Cruze is a true five-passenger sedan with substantial shoulder and leg room, allowing three adults to comfortably share the back seat. Child safety-seat tether anchors (three) and lower anchors (two) were easy to use. The sloping roof and adjoining rear pillars, unfortunately, cut visibility and required taller passengers to duck when getting in. Headroom was adequate at 37.3 inches.

Fuel economy ratings for Cruze are among the highest in its class, at 30 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway for the base models with automatic, and 29/39 for the Premier model. I managed 37 mpg combined with mostly highway driving during my test week. The stop/start system is partly responsible for the excellent city rating. The system cannot be turned off, but due to the smooth transition, re-engagement is barely perceptible.

The turbo four-cylinder is plenty peppy for occasional overtaking, and merging on the highway, just what every commuter needs every day.

For $24,350 plus $4,645 in options, and $895 destination charges, the 2017 Chevy Cruze Premier was a comfortable, attractive, well equipped, spacious, efficient, fun to drive compact sedan.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.