2012 Chevrolet Cruze LT Road Test Review

Michael Seymour - CAP staff
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Whistler, one of Canada's best year-round destination resorts, nestled within BC's beautiful Coast Mountain range, makes for a great weekend getaway. In fact, over two million people visit the resort village annually, primarily to ski and snowboard, while mountain biking down those same ski runs is popular during the summer months. As part of the 2010 Winter Olympics bid, the British Columbia government upgraded the highway to accommodate greater traffic loads, widening it at more congested bottlenecks and adding concrete dividers where it was previously most dangerous. The highway is much better than before, but then again the countless twists and turns that remain still make it a favourite for those who like to drive. For that reason the road to Whistler proved to be an ideal test track for putting Chevy's popular Cruze compact sedan through its paces.

As soon as I climbed into the driver's seat I noticed a clear difference between the Cruze and a lot of other cars in the compact class, as everything is so easy to find and figure out. This car seems to invite you to drive it from the get-go, starting with great looking instruments that come alive at night with backlit ice blue LEDs. Easy on the eyes, they truly add sparkle to the car's interior.

You can tell Chevy's designers and engineers spent thousands of hours placing and calibrating every knob and button to get just the right feel. From the dash and door panels to the HVAC and stereo controls, everything fits together nicely. What's more, the glove box and centre console storage compartments have plenty of space to keep your valuables handy yet hidden from prying eyes. I also noticed the shift lever and hand brake are right where my hand naturally falls, adding to the Cruze's overall comfort.

Piloting Chevy's compact sedan through the winding lanes of the Sea-to-Sky Highway is an absolute breeze. Just past the town of Squamish, the highway leaves its rocky shoreline with its intimidating cliffs above and below, trees towering overtop and waves crashing into tidal shelves only meters away from pavement at some points, and snakes into mountainous terrain on its way to the outdoor sports playground. The Cruze's 1.8-liter four-cylinder gets things going off the line quite nicely and proves more than adequate for passing slower traffic thanks to 138 horsepower, and it sounds good when revved up, while the six-speed automatic transmission fitted to my test car shifted effortlessly. Chevy offers a six-speed manual too, both designed for efficiency and performance.

The Cruze's steering feels good too. Photo: GM
It's a rack and pinion setup, with electric power assist to help achieve better gas mileage. The car's overall stability comes from a fully independent suspension, which also makes for a smooth ride.

Anti-lock brakes are standard equipment, bringing the vehicle to a safe and sure stop with complete control each time I had to put them to use. Traction control and stability control are also standard, both which would help keep the car in control on oft-slippery Canadian roads.

Speaking of safety, the Cruze includes 10 standard airbags. They're in the dash, in the roof, and in the front seats.
 
XM Satellite Radio kept me entertained with 130 channels of music, sports, comedy, and more. Hands-free Bluetooth automatically connected my mobile phone to the Cruze's stereo speakers and microphone, while a handy USB port piped my personal music collection right out of my portable player straight through the car's audio system.

As I continued the drive up toward Whistler I couldn't help but notice how comfortable the Cruze's seats are. That's critically important to me, especially on long trips.

Once I arrived in Whistler and pulled up to the hotel entrance I glanced back to take in what I think are some pretty sweet lines, and was reminded of how the chrome on the grille, doors and trunk make the Cruze look much more expensive than it really is. This car truly benefited from GM's global design team.

From its sleek exterior design to an interior that isn't just stylish, but highly functional, the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze adds enjoyable driving dynamics and great fuel economy to a long list of attributes that easily measure up to and surpass many of is compact competitors.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Chevrolet, 2012, Cruze, $10,000 - $19,999, Compact,

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