10. 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Premier Hatchback
Market segment: Compact car
Body style: Four-door hatchback
Base price: $24,820
Price as tested: $29,465
Key options: Enhanced Convenience Package, $865; Driver Confidence II Package, $790; RS Package $995
For: Style, performance, cargo room, affordable luxury
Against: Autonomous emergency braking unavailable
Next big change: Freshening for model year 2019 or 2020
Following up its model-year 2016 redesign of its compact sedan Chevy adds a four-door hatchback body style for 2017. Its cargo utility — 24.7 cubic feet with the rear seatback upright, 47.2 with it folded – makes it a more practical alternative to the already amenable sedan with its 13.9 cubic feet of trunk room. It’s better-looking, too, and if you don’t need all-wheel-drive, which is unavailable on the Cruze, we’re happy to recommend this hatchback as a more affordable alternative to a compact crossover SUV.
The Cruze sedan comes in four model grades but the hatchback only in the top two, LT or Premier. It retains the sedan’s admirable attributes, including a well-designed interior that looks and feels as if it belongs in a car costing much more. All Cruze models use a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a sufficiently peppy 153 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the LT Hatchback. A six-speed automatic is optional on the LT and standard on the Premier. Drivers are treated to above-average handling with lively response and a reasonably smooth ride.
The Premier hatchback’s $24,820 base price includes such amenities as leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, and Chevy’s underrated MyLink touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. We add the Enhanced Convenience Package, at $865, to get heated rear seats, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, express up/down driver’s window, a 110-volt power outlet, and a wireless charging station for mobile phones. We also earmark an affordable $790 for the Driver Confidence II package; it brings a rear parking proximity alarm, blind-zone warning with rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, and automatic headlamps. That even leaves room below our $30,000 ceiling to splurge on the sporty RS Package. At $995, it includes 18-inch aluminum wheels, a rear spoiler, front fog lamps, and a sport body kit.