Doesn't really shine in any area
Lots of space and decent quality, although it can't match the best hatchbacks for class
Plenty of kit to help keep you and your family from harm
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 two petrol engines - a 1.6 and a 1.8 - are pretty weedy: you'll need to rev them hard to make decent progress, and change down a gear for even small inclines. That also means engine noise will be a regular feature. The 1.7 and 2.0 diesels have more low-down pull, so they're easier to drive. They're also quieter and smoother, but they can't compete with the best in this class on that score. The biggest problem with the diesels versions, though, is that you'll pay considerably more for them.
The Cruze has a rather jiggly ride that's easily upset by lumps and bumps. The car's tends to lean a bit in corners and it doesn't grip brilliantly, either. Also, the light, over-sensitive steering makes the car feel twitchy at speed, and you don't get much feel in corners.
Wind noise isn't a problem in the Cruze, though craggy surfaces can create too much road noise.
The dash materials look smart and are interestingly textured. Hunt around lower down, however, and the quality deteriorates.
All the switches and controls are easy to operate and rear visibility is also pretty reasonable. Plenty of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel make it easy to get comfortable, but the driver's seat lacks lower back support.
The rear seats have decent legroom, but headroom is tight and three adults will struggle to fit in any comfort. The boot is a good size and easy to access, and the rear seats split and fold to expand the load area if required.
You get a good amount of standard kit, too. Entry-level LS models include air-conditioning, electric front windows and a CD player with MP3 port and air-conditioning, while LT models add alloy wheels, cruise control, rear parking sensors and more. The range-topping LTZ includes automatic headlights and wipers plus Bluetooth, while LTZ Executive adds sat-nav, leather and heated front seats.
Chevrolet is a bit of an unknown quantity on the reliability front but it shouldn't be any worse than General Motors' other brands, such as Vauxhall. Extra peace of mind comes in the guise of Chevrolet's Five-Year Promise, which includes five year's warranty, servicing, roadside assistance and MoT test cover. The Cruze has stability control and six airbags as standard, plus an immobiliser and deadlocks to help prevent theft.
The Cruze is considerably cheaper to buy than familiar rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf 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.