2014 Chevrolet Cruze: Family Review Checklist

The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze worked for my family of four, as long as there were no surprises, but life is full of them. During my weeklong test drive of the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, there were instances that highlighted the Cruze's lack of flexibility.

During my time in the Cruze, I had a family emergency that required taking an older adult to the hospital. The Cruze's low roofline made getting in it difficult, and I hated even thinking about taking the Cruze for the emergency-room run. So, I didn't use the sedan. I also didn't drive the Cruze when my son and his friend decided to go to an ice rink. Both of them, my daughter, their two hockey bags and sticks didn't come close to fitting in the Cruze.

I did drive the Cruze diesel for errands and meeting up with friends. The 2014 Cruze's 151-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel engine makes 264 pounds-feet of torque. It was plenty powerful on the highway and city streets, though I had to work with the throttle. The Cruze diesel gets an EPA-estimated 27/46/33 mpg city/highway/combined. In my test drive, I averaged 36.4 mpg, beating the EPA's combined number. From the driver's seat, it's difficult to hear the clean-diesel engine, but in the drive-through lane I usually turned the Cruze off to prevent issues with my order due to the somewhat loud engine noise outside the car.

Because it's a sedan, climbing in and out of it shouldn't be a problem for younger kids. My 11- and 9-year-olds had no trouble with it or opening the doors. Rear legroom in the Cruze measures 35.4 inches, which worked well for my kids who are no longer in child-safety seats. The Cruze beats the Ford Focus (33.2) and Hyundai Elantra (33.1) in rear legroom, but the Honda Civic bests it at 36.2 inches.

Fitting rear-facing child-safety seats into the Cruze can be a challenge. A rear-facing infant-safety seat was squished in the backseat with the front seat adjusted to my 5-foot-5 frame; I had to move the front seat forward to properly fit the car seat. The two sets of lower Latch anchors were a bit tricky to use, too. They were buried in the long vertical slits in the rear seats.

The Cruze diesel's trunk measures 13.3 cubic feet, which is smaller than the gas-powered Cruze's 15.0-cubic-foot trunk. That's because the diesel's trunk holds an exhaust treatment system with a 4.5-gallon tank. It holds the urea solution that turns exhaust pollutants into less harmful emissions. I could have used some extra cargo room when I attempted to load two large hockey bags into the trunk. Had the Cruze diesel's backseat not have been loaded with kids, I could have folded down part or all of the 60/40-split backseat.

There was little to complain about outside of utility, and if you're just looking at basic, simple transportation the 2014 Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel can be satisfying. But for a family, you'll need to consider its flexibility.

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