My car is, in the best Hollywood tradition, “having work done.” While it’s in the body shop I am driving a rental car. It’s a 2013 Chevy Cruze. First of all, a few words about this process. I am delighted that I have a rental car, and that I was able to make the transition, (after one very big hiccup when the rental car place didn’t have any cars), pretty smoothly. I know that some of my complaints flow from the adjustment period; learning a car that isn’t mine. The car was clean, well maintained, the tires correctly inflated, and for the most part Enterprise did a good job of checking me out on the car.
I don’t like the car.
What surprises me is that many people do like this car. It gets rave reviews. Edmonds.com goes so far as to say that the 2014 model will challenge Japanese and European cars for the small car market. That’s… amazing.
Putting aside my it’s-not-my-car bias and considering it as an object to review, here’s what I find:
- The inside is very pretty, but not very comfortable. The cockpit is designed to look “hi-tek” and it’s got Blue-tooth and a couple other nice amenities.
- I find all the displays a little busy, but I thought the Prius was extraordinarily busy. The Cruze is better.
- This car has a very big trunk for a car its size. It’s December; a big trunk is a thing to appreciate.
- The car handles well, but it doesn’t feel as sturdy as my Camry. It seems a little bit sluggish.
- The weirdest thing about it, though, is that this is an automatic transmission, a 5-speed, with a fake shift thing you have to do.
What on earth is that about? Why do I have to “shift” an automatic transmission car, when there is no clutch? If you want me to shift, I say, give me a real car and I will. And… you can only shift up. You know how you’re heading down a hill and you want to downshift to have more control? Well, no. Cruze doesn’t do that. It just lets you shift up, revving and revving until you push the transmission lever from M1 into M2, etc. It’s like they made this car for a generation of males who never learned to drive a real—sorry, I mean a standard—transmission, but watched all six of the Fast and Furious movies and want to pretend they are shifting.
I said that was the weirdest thing about the car. Upon reflection, that is only the second-weirdest thing. The weirdest thing is that this car is advertised as getting 25 MPG city. 25. They’re proud of that.
I’ve driven the car for one full day and I’m getting about 24 mpg. All my driving, so far, has been stop-and-start cityish driving. I’m sorry, 24-25 MPG from a car this small, and this light, is a joke. Proud of it? They should apologize for it.
The Cruze is a small car; somewhere between 50-75% the size of my Camry. And it is definitely lighter; a slight little popover of a vehicle. I’ve been feeling bad lately that the Camry has only been getting, on average, 37 mpg. Why does the bigger, heavier car get 30% better mileage?
Of course the reason is that the Camry is a hybrid. Why aren’t the Big Three exploring every type of hybrid possible? Why isn’t there a hybrid Chevy Cruze that gets 50 mpg and offers a serious challenge to the Honda Civic? Inquiring minds want to know… and by inquiring minds, I mean me.