Doesn't really shine in any area
Feels classy but wide-stepped seatback adjustment won't suit everyone
Plenty of kit to help keep you and your family safe
A comprehensive aftercare package should give you peace of mind
Not class-leading, but not half bad, either
Entry-level models have enough, range-topping models have the lot
The petrol engines are pretty weedy. You'll need to rev them hard to make decent progress, and change down a gear when overtaking, which means engine noise will be a regular feature. The 1.7 diesel has more low-down pull and a six-speed gearbox, so it's easier to drive. It's also quieter and smoother, but by no means as good as the best in this class. It's expensive, too.
The light steering is useful when parking but makes the car feel skittish at high speeds.
The dash materials look classy, all the switches and controls are easy to operate and visibility is good. There's plenty of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel but the big steps in the seat-backrest adjustment won't suit everyone.
The rear seats have decent legroom for two adults but the middle seat isn't comfortable and a high tunnel impedes foot-space for a middle passenger. The boot is a good size - 24 litres bigger than a Ford Focus estate but 100 litres smaller than a Skoda Octavia estate and a clever luggage cover retracts upwards on rails so you dont have to stretch into the boot to find it. The rear seats split and fold almost flat to extend the load space.
Entry-level LS models include air-conditioning, electric front windows and a CD player with MP3 port - you'll need to upgrade for anything fancier.
Chevrolet came last in the 2012 JD Power customer satisfaction survey. However, there's peace of mind in the guise of its Five-Year Promise, which includes five years' warranty, servicing, roadside assistance and MoT test cover.
The Cruze has stability control and six airbags as standard, and scored a very respectable 96% for adult protection and 84% for child protection in the latest Euro NCAP crash tests. That's almost as good as a VW Golf (97%/84%) and fractionally better than a Vauxhall Astra (95%/84%).
The Cruze Station Wagon is considerably cheaper to buy than familiar rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf estate and its comprehensive warranty package is not to be sniffed at.
However, it's not great to drive and most versions aren't particularly good on economy or emissions. Resale values are pretty weak, too, so it's unlikely to be cost-effective in the long run. If you must buy one, we'd recommend keeping it as cheap as possible.