Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback 2017 Review

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Diesel, wagon, stick shift: all terms thattend to scare off American car shoppers.

But GM isn't convinced that they can't makethem work.

They're determined to offer variety, and thisnew Chevy Cruze Hatchback is the perfect example.

The Cruze is one of the best compact sedansyou can buy.

And now Chevy gives you a more versatile choice.

Wagon, hatchback, call it what you will.

But this Cruze boasts over 47 cubic feet ofcargo room.

That’s just shy of the volume found in theTrax SUV and when the seats are left up, there’s far greater room in here.

So for those of you who aren’t into thecrossover/SUV thing, these little wagons are pretty remarkable in what they can hold.

The only knock is that Chevy put zero innovationback here…no grocery bag hooks or any other kind of cleverness.

At a svelte 2,978 pounds for this top Premiertrim, the hatch actually weighs less than the sedan, but it’s not cheaper.

The base MSRP of $22,115 with manual transmissionis about $4,300 more than the entry-level sedan.

But the hatch comes with more standard equipment,and when fully optioned like this one, comes in at $29,465.

That includes lots of premium features suchas a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, OnStar 4G LTE with top of theline infotainment including smartphone projection and Bose audio, wireless phone charging, autohigh beams and side blind zone alert among many other goodies.

The soft leather front seats are Volvo-likein their comfort and the big windshield provides a commanding view.

If you’re sitting in the rear, duck yourhead before getting in.

These seats are elevated theater style forbetter visibility but that encroaches on headroom.

I already knew the Cruze was a really solidcar but this Hatchback adds a sporty flair and versatility that elevates it for me.

It's a car you truly look forward to drivingbecause it feels spry with a light steering touch that's good at communicating the road.

The gas pedal feels a little lazy but whenpushed hard generates the turbo excitement you're looking for, though even more enginewould be welcome.

This excellent chassis could certainly handleit.

This is the same powertrain found in the sedan;a direct-injected take on the 1.

4-liter turbo-4 making 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet oftorque.

The 6-speed auto doesn’t come with sportmode or paddle shifters…you can plus minus from the lever…but it needs a sportier programto keep up when you’re driving for fun.

The rear suspension in the Premier also takesa step up from the standard torsion beam to a Watt’s linkage for slightly more sophisticatedride and handling characteristics.

0-to-60mph take a reasonable 7.

7 seconds.

The Michelin MXM4 tires are usually an excellentfit on performance touring cars, but during this snowy week they proved to be unfit andplus, they contributed to more understeer than desired.

The EPA estimate of 31mpg in combined drivingis down 2mpgs from the sedan.

A stop/start system is standard.

The RS Appearance Package includes the sportybody kit, fogs and rear spoiler giving it a hot hatch look.

And yes, a stick shift diesel model is onthe way combining everything American’s fear in a car.

The Cruze’s biggest competitor is the Civic,also offered as a hatch.

And hopefully Chevy will follow Honda’slead in offering a performance oriented model because the Cruze is ready for more.