REVIEW
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Cruze into a family-friendly car

The 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback is a great car for families and first-time car buyers

  • 2017 Chevrolet Cruze

THE PROS & CONS

    • What’s Best: The Wi-Fi hotspot is a great feature for connected families
    • What’s Worst: The Cruze hatchback drive won’t blow you away.
    • What’s Interesting: The Cruze hatchback interior and infotainment system is one of the nicest offered in a smaller car.

“This is awesome.”

There haven’t been too many times I’ve heard that phrase from my kids when they got into one of the cars I have had for a test drive.

But the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback drew just that reaction from my two sons as they climbed into the back seat for a ride to the movies to see the new Lego Batman movie.

For the record, the movie was also awesome. I didn’t stop laughing until the screen went black when the movie ended. But this is a car review, not a movie review.

While my 22- and 24-year-old kids, yes even older kids can enjoy Batman, enjoyed the room they had in the back seat, the real thrill for them was the built-in 4G Wi-Fi.

A quick link with a code and they were both online, texting and tweeting with friends as we drove to and home from the theatre. The connection is available through On Star and supports up to seven devices.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze

During the trip to and from the movie, my kids didn’t complain about any slow down while using their phones.

That Wi-Fi signal is just one of the standard features available on the new Cruze Hatchback which offers a smooth ride with plenty of cargo room for families who don’t want to move up the financial ladder to purchase an SUV.

My tester for the week was the Cruze LT automatic.

It was adequate but I wouldn’t mind trying the manual which I have read other where reviewers raved about it. There’s just a feeling you get when driving a smaller car with a manual transmission. You feel more connected to the car.

Also Read: Five of the best Hot Hatchbacks on the market today

The Cruze hatch features a 1.4-litre turbo engine matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. GM says the engine produces 153 hp (177 lb/ft of torque) which is more than adequate for family trips on the highway or around town.

During my week with the car, the weather swung from plus temperatures to a bad dumping of snow on the Sunday I had planned to take some pictures of the car.

Waiting to Monday, I took the car over to GM looking for a spot to take a photo with as little snow in the background as possible.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze

That proved to be impossible but it did give me the opportunity to see how the hatch handled the snow. I was pleasantly surprised. I had expected the car to slide a bit but it didn’t. It moved through the mounds of snow with ease.

While the Cruze won’t make you think you are driving a sports car anytime, the interior will give you pause, thinking you are in a more expensive vehicle.

The Cruze’s dashboard and infotainment system is one of the more stylish I have seen. The seven-inch touchscreen is very bright and seems larger than it actually is.

I liked the Apple CarPlay (and for Android users Android Auto), which lets you connect your iPhone and its screen basically replaces the infotainment screen in the vehicle.

This is very handy if your car doesn’t have navigation. Hook up the phone, ask Siri how to get to your destination and the map pops up on the screen.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze

Other standard features on the Cruze hatch include rear vision camera, automatic headlights, power heated outside mirrors (which was very handy when the snow hit) and an oil-life monitoring system.

My tester featured the True North Edition package ($3,590) which added side blind zone alert and lane change alert, rear park assist, remote starter, eight-way power driver seat and a power sunroof.

I have noted again and again how the sunroof is not an option I would even consider but I have become a big fan of the rear vision camera and the warning about cars sitting in your blind spot.

Also Read: Buying Used: 2011-15 Chevrolet Cruze

Besides the drive and convenience of a hatchback, families are also looking for lots of room for bags and anything else life throws at you.

Cargo room is 18.5 cu ft behind the second row and 47.2 cu ft with the seats folded down. Grabbing my golf clubs from the basement for a test, they easily fit in the back with a few larger suitcases.

GM has built a winner with the Cruze hatchback and I expect to see more and more on the road as families and first-time car buyers learn about what it has to offer.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze

2017 Chevrolet Cruze LT Hatchback 

BODY STYLE: Four-door, hatchback

DRIVE METHOD: Front-wheel drive with six-speed automatic transmission

ENGINE: 1.4-litre turbo (153 hp), 177 lb/ft torque at 2,000 -4,000 rpm.

FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) 8.1/6.2/L/100 km, city/highway

CARGO: 18.5 cu ft behind rear seats; 47.2 cu ft with back seats down.

TOW RATING: NA.

PRICE: Standard hatchback: $22,045. My tester with the True North Edition package: $27,830.

WEB SITE: www.gm.ca

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