The Chevrolet Cruze is a compact car that breaks with the conventional wisdom of the genre in many ways. Born in 2008 out of Chevrolet’s need to standardize its compact car offerings across the world, the Cruze offers an interesting combination of thrifty value, advanced infotainment technology, and an unusual alternative to hybrid powertrains with its optional turbodiesel engine.
Fully redesigned in 2016, the Cruze has mostly remained the same over the last two years, though both the diesel engine and the hatchback body style both saw increased availability over the two intervening years. While its focus on the more day-to-day concerns of drivers has not won over many critics, the Cruze has been fairly popular with the public and among the most popular cars in the compact class.
The 2018 Chevrolet Cruze is a very versatile vehicle, and allows for a great deal of flexibility in its design. The downside to that is that its collection of different trim levels, body styles, and options can be difficult to navigate.
Compare the 2018 Cruze L vs LS Trims. What is the difference?
With a starting price that is among the cheapest in the segment, the Cruze L is surprising in the sheer scope of equipment that it offers. The basic Cruze comes equipped with the full set of power features, keyless entry, air conditioning, automatic headlights, rearview camera and a USB port, as well as a comprehensive infotainment system.
The MyLink system, which has been widely praised as being crisp and easy to use, comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, and a wireless hotspot with a 4G LTE connection. For the price that is quite a haul, but it comes with a catch: the Cruze L only comes with a six-speed manual transmission, with no option to upgrade to an automatic. That is in part an artifact of the Cruze’s international market position, as it is also a very popular car in countries where manual transmissions are more common.
While the LS also includes a compass, a center console with an armrest, and carpeted floor mats to the equipment of the L, its biggest addition is the option for a six-speed automatic transmission. It also can be optioned with several packages. Those include chrome body side mouldings and a ground effects package.
There are also several different options for premium or all-weather floor mats. Other than those options, the LS is pretty much identical to the L.
The Chevrolet Cruze L would represent one of the best values in the compact sedan class if it only came with an automatic transmission. If you are in the market for a Cruze and know how to drive a stick-shift, then the L offers a phenomenal option that includes some advanced infotainment and connectivity equipment at a rather low price.
The sole reason to prefer the LS over the L model is the automatic transmission. The Cruze LS itself is still a fairly good deal for the amount of equipment on offer, so automatic transmission buyers need not despair. It is just that the manual Cruze L is such an outlier when it comes to other entry-level vehicles in the segment.The LS does also come with a six-speed manual option, but there is little reason to upgrade to it from the base L. However, in many case, you may not have a choice. Because so few manual transmission cars sell in the United States, dealers are not likely to stock more than one or two of the Cruze L models, usually for advertising purposes.
Compare the 2018 Chevrolet Cruze LS vs LT Trim Levels. What is the difference?
The LT is the trim level where the Cruze really opens up in terms of the available equipment and options. Among the standard features on all LT Cruzes are alloy wheels, a six-speaker sound system, cruise control, LED running lights, and satellite radio.
It is also the first Cruze trim level that is available in the hatchback body style, which slightly improves the available cargo volume, and the only one available with a diesel engine, which significantly boosts the car’s gas mileage. Both automatic and manual transmissions are options, and there are a number of optional packages.
The Convenience Package is the only one available on all models, and includes a remote starter, push-button start, a power driver’s seat, and heated front seats. It is also included in all models with a diesel engine. All other packages are limited to automatic models only. The Sun and Sound package adds a moonroof and a Bose sound system, while the Driver Confidence Package includes blind spot monitors, rear cross traffic alert, and parking sensors. The same visual packages are available as on the LS, as well as the sporty RS and Redline appearance packages.
Compare the Cruze LT vs Premier Trims. What is the difference?
The Premier is the best-equipped of the Chevrolet Cruze trim levels, though it is also the priciest if you don’t count the diesel models. It comes with a number of useful amenities, including leather seats, larger wheels, and all the contents of the LT Convenience Package.
It also comes with a more advanced suspension system, which provides a smoother ride and slightly better performance over the other models. It also includes improved versions of several LT packages.
The Enhanced Convenience Package adds wireless charging, rear heated seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and automatic climate control. The Sun and Sound with Navigation package includes the Bose audio and the moonroof from the regular Sun and Sound package, which is not available on the Premier, as well as a navigation system.
The Driver Confidence II Package includes the regular Driver Confidence Package, as well as smart headlights, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. The RS appearance package is also available on the Premier, though the Redline package is not.
The Premier offers a number of advanced safety features for the Cruze, as well as leather upholstery, which are the main draws for this model. If those options are important to you, the Cruze Premier can make for a good buy, but otherwise it lacks the high value of the other Cruze models.
Which Trim Level to Choose?
The Chevrolet’s low cost and nicely-equipped low end trim levels have not just made it a success in the US, but in the whole world. In general, the lower models of the car like the L and the LS offer the best combination of features and price when it comes to conventional economy compact car criteria.
The LT, however, is still a very attractive option thanks to the options for the hatchback body style or the highly efficient diesel engine. The Premier can be a good alternative to other top-end leather-equipped models, but does not offer nearly the same value for the price compared to the competitors that the lower trims of the Cruze do, making it a less definitive choice.
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• Why buy a 2018 Chevrolet Cruze? w/ pros vs cons