2013 Chevy Cruze Eco Review

Eco delivers more MPG for more $$$

2013 Chevy Cruze Eco Review

More than just a trim package, Chevrolet got clever with the Cruze Eco to offer its customers a more sophisticated, fuel-efficient machine. An area where some of its other attempts have failed miserably (think Malibu Eco), the fuel-frugal Cruze shines more brightly.

FAST FACTS

1. A 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder makes 138-hp and 148 lb-ft of torque.

2. Fuel economy with a 6-speed manual is rated at 28-mpg city and 42-mpg highway.

3. To help improve fuel economy the Eco model gains custom aerodynamics, sheds 100 lbs of weight and uses active grille shutters.

4. Pricing for the Eco model starts at $20,475 including delivery compared to $17,925 for a base Cruze.

HANDSOME AND FUNCTIONAL STYLING

The Cruze Eco gets a few fuel-minded nip/tucks that also help it hop up the handsome.

First, Chevrolet cut almost 100 lbs. from the base Cruze’s curb weight by tossing out the spare tire in favor of a patch kit, shrinking the gas tank to 10.5 gallons, and simplifying the rear suspension.

Next, Chevy lowered the car and made the forged alloy wheels standard equipment.

But that’s not all. Chevrolet also added an “active front fascia” with slats that close
during highway speeds to reduce drag and improve mileage.

Aside from functional features, the Cruze generally looks good, with a high beltline to make the car more masculine. That, combined with a chiseled front end and the Eco package’s rear spoiler leave the car looking presentable despite being a less than heart pounding drive overall.

AN INTERIOR WITH SHARED PRIORITIES

2013 Chevrolet Cruze Eco interior

From a daily driver’s perspective, the Cruze is a solid choice. Despite its high beltline, the  car is easy to see out of from all directions. In fact, the hunched look people see as you pass is imperceptible from the cabin.

Instead, you’ll notice touches like mesh cloth covering much of the ugly plastic panels and convenience features like a dash-top compartment perfect for storing a porky wallet, pens or anything else you wouldn’t want to be caught digging in the center console for.

2013 Chevrolet Cruze Eco gauge clusterBetween its gauges, an information screen controlled by a knob mounted on the turn signal stick offers typical trip stats, but it also provides an “average mpg gauge.” It offers current as well as average fuel consumption figures that show exactly where the car sits compared to the trip’s recorded gas usage.

With reasonably comfortable seats, the Cruze feels good on a long drive – unless you’re relegated to the back.

That story stands in stark contrast with the front accommodation’s positive feedback. With a sole storage pouch, no cup holders and a lumbar-killing seatback, you had better be prepared for a barrage of complaints from the peanut gallery.

PEPPY ENGINE LOSES PUNCH, WEAK GEARING TO BLAME

2013 Chevrolet Cruze Eco side picture

Especially around town the Cruze Eco’s turbo 1.4-liter 4-cylinder feels surprisingly peppy. Shifting into second gear, the car tugs with enough power to find the speed limit without feeling taxed.

Sadly, the same can’t be said while driving on the highway, where gas mileage becomes priority number one.

That’s because the manual has a grand total of three overdrive gears helping it to achieve Chevrolet’s stated 28/42 mpg city/highway claim. The giant leap between the car’s two ratings comes courtesy of those gears among other things.

Customers can opt for a six-speed automatic for an extra $995, but making that choice defeats the car’s purpose on a fundamental level.

Opting for the automatic drops the car’s economy to 26/39, though that’s only an EPA estimate. During testing, we found that the manual version kept up with those ratings and even beat them on the highway when driven gently.

Unfortunately, those unusual ratios rob the car of any highway passing power. Aggressive downshifts don’t do much, even with the car running near its redline.

2013 Chevrolet Cruze Eco badgeBut that’s not a big deal in this car because you won’t be buying it for the performance. Nor are you likely to complain too much while achieving up to 45 mpg on the open highway.

Of course, most people prefer to push the gas pedal and forget about shifting, which is a problem for the Cruze Eco. That’s because competing cars like the Hyundai Elantra still scoop the 40 mpg mark with an auto equipped.

SLOPPY SHIFTING, SOFT BRAKES

2013 Chevrolet Cruze Eco front shot

Those who prefer to row their own gears will find the throws long and sloppy. In an economy car that really isn’t a deal breaker, but experienced manual drivers will probably find themselves trying to keep the car in its turbo power band, which will become a problem.

That’s because the Eco’s different gearing makes it difficult to keep the car in boost without running obnoxiously high rpms. At that speed, drivers will notice the shift feel will be significantly harsher, as will the clutch.

The steering wheel feels light, even at high speeds, while the tiny front disc brakes and rear drums have meager stopping power. Incapable of slowing the car with any authority, the brake pedal feels like a mound of marshmallows.

GOOD, BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH

For what it’s meant to be, the Cruze drives fine. This year, the Connectivity Plus Cruise package is standard – a $525 option in 2011 – but how does it stack up to the competition?

With a $19,995 starting price including the $750 delivery charge, the Cruze Eco is priced between the two LT trims Chevrolet offers, but that carrot will fall from its stick when consumers compare brands.

2013 Chevrolet Cruze Eco cruze trunkComparably sized to the Hyundai Elantra, the two cars are almost identical, though the Cruze offers more cargo space in the trunk with 15.4 cubic feet according to Chevrolet’s reported specifications. That’s not entirely accurate, though.

As previously stated, Chevy’s engineers dropped the spare steel wheel. Thankfully, they also replaced the flat spare compartment cover with a molded piece that offers an extra 0.6 cubic feet, which easily fit a small duffle bag.

THE VERDICT

2013 Chevrolet Cruze Eco side profile

Despite its many attractive features, it’s hard for the Chevy to come out on top when similar mileage is possible from the Hyundai Elantra for $3,300 less.

Even with our real world fuel economy coming in at above the claimed numbers, the Eco’s premium price makes it a tough sell.

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked