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11 Best 2017 Cars Under $30,000

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.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]