Chevy Cruze LTZ Adds Extras - and Zip
2012 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ Review:
Chevrolet’s Cruze is a fine family car that’s economical with gas, provides room for four adults and, in the LTZ, delivers some oomph you might not expect.
Earlier this year I tested the base LS model and found it a delight, everything that GM and Chevy had been trying to do in a small entry-level sedan for decades. It was economical, well-built with first-rate ride and handling. Ah, but it wasn’t zippy.That base model comes with a fine 1.8-liter engine, and it delivers 136 horsepower. But the LTZ, which is pricier, deposits a 1.4-liter engine with a turbocharger under Cruze’s hood.
The result is sportier acceleration. The turbo model produces 138 horsepower, so it’s not a monster. But the torque is much stronger as you press the accelerator. Power is smooth and steady, with little noticeable turbo engagement.
The six-speed automatic worked flawlessly in the test model. It was balky in the LS, which was tested in midwinter.
Beyond the engine, you’ll find only moderate performance differences between this model and the LS. Braking was fine on the LS, with discs up front and drums in back. The LTZ adds discs in back, so these grip better and are very consistent. Traction and stability control systems are standard on all Cruze models.
Handling is precise and the ride is well-controlled in both models, a credit to the suspension tuning and the car’s 105.7-inch wheelbase. The ride is pleasant, not too soft or too stiff. The LTZ adds 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and all-season tires, up from 16-inchers on the LS. That seemed to firm up the ride.
You’ll notice the LTZ and its turbo get better gas mileage than the base engine. The EPA rates the turbo at 26 mpg city and 38 highway, while the LS is rated 22/35. I got an impressive 30.9 in a fairly even mix of city and highway driving and had managed 27.4 mpg in the earlier model.
Naturally, you’ll pay more for the LTZ and its acceleration and better gas mileage. The list price is $23,110. An LS starts at $17,275 with delivery charges and a manual transmission, while an automatic LS goes for $18,200. The test car added a pricey navigation system and monitor for $995 and stereo upgrade for $445 to hit $25,300. That’s getting a little pricey, although it includes some nice extras.
The LTZ comes standard with automatic climate control, heated power outside mirrors, rear park assist, a self-dimming rear view mirror, fancier interior trim and instrument cluster, and lighted vanity mirrors.
Other items that come when you move up to the 1LT and 2 LT models just below the LTZ, are cruise control, floor mats, power body-color mirrors, USB port, steering wheel audio controls, Bluetooth, remote start, leather heated front power driver’s seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
The interior is extremely quiet and well laid out, as in the lower-end model. Everything feels high quality, from the low road noise level to the solid feel and sound of the doors and trunk when they close. Speaking of trunks, this one is large at 15.0 cubic feet.
You can seat four adults in the Cruze comfortably, with good head and legroom front and rear. The seats are well formed, with moderate contouring, and the leather looks and feels good too. Three-speed heated seats are standard up front. My only complaint is that the seat’s bottom cushions are hard. I didn’t have that problem in the LS model.There’s a tilt/telescope steering wheel and a great dash layout, possibly Chevy’s finest.
Other standard features include power windows and door locks, automatic lights, split folding rear seats, a rear defroster and keyless entry. Overhead lighting is good and fades out after the doors are shut, giving you a few seconds to find controls and the seat belt at night.
Cruze is among the best choices in the small sedan segment from a pricing, economy and quality standpoint. Moving up to the higher priced models cuts into its value, but the car itself remains a winner. Better yet, there is a model to fit nearly any budget.