The popularity of hatchbacks on our side of the border makes the U.S.-born Cruze a slam dunk.

 - Detroit, Michigan

The 2017 Chevrolet Cruze joins the ranks of compact hatchbacks doing their best to hold back the powerful SUV tide that has already swept away so many Canadian families seeking a practical do-everything driver. It's not a battle fought in vain, either, as small five-door haulers have traditionally found a wide audience here thanks to their ability to go above and beyond in the practicality department without stunning you at the fuel pump.

The popularity of hatchbacks on our side of the border makes the U.S.-born Cruze a slam dunk - especially when you consider just how good its sedan counterpart is. The fact the four-door and five-door versions of the Cruze are twins underneath the skin is far from a bad thing: despite the 12-month gap on paper in their model years, Chevrolet has completely redesigned its entry-level champion within the last calendar year. We first drove the Cruze just a few short months ago, and it's been fresh in our minds ever since then as a top choice in the small car set.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback
2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

 

It's a fairly dramatic departure from the four-door's proportions.

We're going to get right to the meat of things and tell you how the transition from three-box to square (or should we say oval?) back has impacted the design. From the front, you won't notice anything different about the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze hatchback until you tilt your head and catch its rounded flank, as almost everything about it matches the sedan from a styling perspective. The curved roofline is a dead give-away in profile, however, and it's a fairly dramatic departure from the four-door's proportions.

That short rear deck (which can be extended somewhat by way of an available spoiler) doesn't just carve a new look for the Cruze hatchback's sheet metal and glass, but it also informs the rear passenger experience when it comes to headroom. To be honest, we didn't feel claustrophobic at all when sitting in the Chevrolet's second row, which also features great leg room. The only time we were aware of the intrusion was when getting in or out of the vehicle, when we had to be a little more aware of where the roofline began and the human skull ended.

 

 

Fold down the second set of accommodations and you're looking at 1,336 litres of total cargo space.

Enclosing the cargo deck allows total carrying capacity in the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback to swell from 419 litres all the way to 651 litres - and that's with the rear row occupied. Fold down the second set of accommodations and you're looking at 1,336 litres in total, a number that keeps the Cruze hatchback in good company when compared against rivals like the Ford Focus, the Kia Forte5, and the also-new Honda Civic hatchback. The hatch lip is low and the interior space is wide, which translates into easy loading and a better-than-average ability to handle oversized items.

The rest of the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze hatchback's features, equipment, and drivetrain are all pulled from the sedan's playbook, which is to say that the car is well-positioned to take on its five-door rivals. First-year cars come with a single engine choice, a 1.4-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder that's good for 153 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque that returns an impressive 6.2 L/100 km in combined driving (making it just a touch thirstier than the sedan). Those seeking the ultimate in frugality will do best to wait for the 2018 edition of the vehicle set to go on sale in roughly 12 months time, which will offer a new turbodiesel engine as an option. The 1.6-litre unit is predicted to seriously out-perform the previous Cruze diesel in terms of efficiency, and it will introduce a 9-speed automatic to replace the gas model's 6-speed autobox (but retain the 6-speed manual also available with the car).

 

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2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback
2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback
2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback
2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

 

The upcoming Cruze diesel is a clear play to steal all of Volkswagen's TDI marbles.

The introduction of a fresh turbodiesel for the Chevrolet Cruze - and one that will be available across both sedan and hatchback body styles - is a clear play to steal all of Volkswagen's TDI marbles after that automaker has stumbled in finding a quick solution for its diesel emissions woes. It helps that for hatchback fans denied their Golf TDI fix the Cruze alternative is offered exclusively in higher-zoot LT and Premier trim levels, each of which provide respectable amounts of interior refinement and available features. Although this means that the hatch is priced higher than the starting ask for the sedan, the return is access to advanced safety gear, infotainment features, and luxury equipment that's simply not available on the base four-door Cruze.

We liked the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze when we initially drove it earlier this summer, and the 2017 hatchback model does nothing to change our impressions of how comfortable, quiet, and respectably quick the compact package is. Consider the hatchback-sized hole in Chevy's entry-level line-up plugged - you'll no longer have to 'settle' for the subcompact Sonic to get your five-door Bowtie fix - and add it to the list when you decide it's time to step up to a more practical compact car.

Competitiors:
Ford Focus hatchback
Honda Civic hatchback
Hyundai Elantra GT
Kia Forte5
Subaru Impreza hatchback

Photos: Benjamin Hunting

Engine 1.4-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder
Output 153 hp / 177 lb-ft
Transmission 6-speed manual / 6-speed automatic
0-100 KPH 7.7 seconds
Fuel Economy 8.1 L/100 km city / 6.2 L/100 km highway
Weight N/A
Seating Capacity 5
Cargo Volume 1,336 litres (47.2 cubic feet)
Base Price $20,595
As-Tested Price $24,645

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