In-depth reviews

Chevrolet Cruze SW (2012-2014) review

The Chevrolet Cruze SW estate is the third bodystyle in the Cruze line-up, and offers lots of space and low running costs

Overall Auto Express Rating

2.0 out of 5

  • Lots of space, low running costs, refined 1.7-litre diesel
  • Not as good to drive as its rivals, sluggish petrol engines

The Chevrolet Cruze SW is the pick of the Cruze range. Not only does it look the best but it offers buyers the most, with a large 500-litre boot and a puncy 1.7-litre diesel engine. Admittedly it’s not quite as sharp to drive as a Ford Focus Estate but with a Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer as its base, the Cruze SW will prove to be reliable. It also comes loaded with equipment and won’t cost the earth to run. There are three trims - the very basic S which is only available with a 1.6-litre petrol engine then the mid-range LT and top-spec LTZ that gets sat-nav and a reversing camera all fitted as standard.

Engines, performance and drive

Cruze SW buyers can pick between two petrol engines and two diesels, but the majority of buyers will go for the 1.7 VCDi and for good reason. It has 129bhp, which allows it to accelerate from 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds. Both the 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol engines feel sluggish and the 2.0-litre diesel is quicker but is only available with an automatic gearbox. The diesel units are not that refined though and the Cruze does not feel up to the same standards as more cultured European rivals. That said, handling is average, with a fair amount of body roll and not much feedback through the steering wheel and the ride is crashy over even smaller bumps and potholes.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

Rock-bottom running costs are another good reason why the 1.7 VCDi diesel is the engine of choice. Fuel economy stands at 62.7mpg, while CO2 emissions are 119g/km thanks to a standard start/stop system that works impressively smoothly in town. By comparison the 2.0-litre diesel can only manage 45.5mpg and 164g/km. The petrol engines are cheaper to buy and the 1.6-litre is capable of a respectable 44.1mpg but feels extremely slow on the road. A five-year warranty should ease fears of big repair bills too - matching offers from value rivals like the Kia Cee'd SW and Hyundai i30 Tourer.

Interior, design and technology

The Cruze SW admittedly isn’t the best looking car in the world but it is the best looking of the Cruze family. The whole design, including the double-level grille, seems to work better than on the hatch or saloon models. As with most cars, the higher-spec models look best thanks to larger 17-inch alloys and some additional chrome trim. The interior feels similar to the Vauxhall Astra (on which it’s based) but gets a stylish brushed metal and gloss black centre console that is supposedly inspired by the Chevrolet Corvette sports car. However the materials used feel cheaper than rivals and build quality is really woeful.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

The Cruze SW’s boot measures in at 500 litres, which is a little bit down on the Volkswagen Golf Estate but only just. Maximum boot space if you fold the seats down is 1,478 litres, which is again just slightly down on the Golf. The boot is well thought out, though, with a sculpted parcel shelf complete with separate sections for carrying things. However the parcel shelf is very hard to remove by hand and feels flimsy and easily breakable. Passengers in the back seats won’t struggle for knee room either, even particularly tall adults and three will fit across the rear bench at a squeeze.

Reliability and Safety

The engines and mechanicals in the Cruze SW have been used elsewhere in the Cruze line-up and have proved themselves to be very reliable. Many of these parts have been used in the Vauxhall Astra without any problems, too. Safety should be top-notch, with the saloon gaining a full five-star rating from Euro NCAP.

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