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2017 Chevy Cruze vs 2017 Hyundai Elantra – Cincinnati, OH

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  • 2017 Chevy Cruze

    A blue 2017 Chevy Cruze is angled left.

    Starting at

    $16,975

    2017 Hyundai Elantra

    Starting at

    $17,150

    153 hpHorsepower147 hp
    40 mpgMPG Highway33 mpg
    1.4-literEngine2.0-liter

    When comparing the 2017 Chevy Cruze vs 2017 Hyundai Elantra in Cincinnati, OH, you get two strong examples of small sedan styling with the functionality of optional hatchbacks. While Asian automakers have long-ruled this segment, the introduction of the Cruze served to level the playing field; an achievement further realized by its most recent redesign.

    In no way is that intended to diminish the strength of the Elantra. If anything, it makes this comparison more enjoyable, as we get to compare a strongly matched domestic upstart against its better-established foreign incumbent.

    For the sake of this comparison, we’re going to look at the Cruze Premier trim (priced to start at $24,350 MSRP for the sedan) and the the Elantra Limited (priced to start at $22,100 MSRP). This places each of the offerings at the top of their respective lines, and allows us to explore the best configurations of performance, design, and technology.

  • Technology

    The brown and black leather interior of a 2017 Chevy Cruze is shown with a touchscreen.

    As mentioned above, we wanted to explore each of these vehicles with the optimal configuration of tech amenities, intended to enhance the overall experience.

    With the Sun and Sound Navigation Package ($1,995), as well as the Driver Confidence II Package ($790), the Chevy Cruze offers a wealth of tech amenities and safety features. Centered around an 8-inch touchscreen and nine-speaker BOSE system the Bluetooth-enabled, system is compatible with both Apple Car Play and Android Audio. The optional OnStar service comes with 4G LTE Wi-Fi and additional features include wireless smartphone charging, built-in navigation system, and a 110-volt household outlet.

    With the Limited Ultimate Package, the infotainment system of the Hyundai Elantra is based around an 8-inch touchscreen and eight-speaker infinity system. Bluetooth-enabled, and compatible with Apple Car Play and Android Audio, the Elantra also offered voice command.

    Based on these configurations, both vehicles include safety features, such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure, and forward collision warning. That said, the Cruze Premier manages to offer more than than its counterpart in the Elantra Limited.

  • Performance

    A silver 2017 Chevy Cruze is driving on a highway during the day.

    The Cruze is powered by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine paired, at the Premier level, with a six-speed automatic transmission (manual is standard on lower trims). Rated for 153 horsepower and 177 lbs-ft of torque, the Cruze may not be a powerhouse, but that’s arguably not what you’re looking for. With 33 mpg combined, it sits confidently within the segment. That said, if fuel economy is your priority, it is worth noting the optional 1.6-liter four-cylinder diesel configuration that will deliver 37 mpg combined (with 137 hp and 240 lbs-ft).

    The Elantra Limited is equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission (manual is standard on lower trims). Delivering 147 horsepower and 132 lbs-ft of torque, it offers an EPA-estimated 32 mpg combined. Like the Cruze, there is an eco-friendly alternative in the (aptly-named) Eco. Powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter, it delivers an estimated 36 mpg combined (with 128 hp and 156 lbs-ft).

    At the end of the day, the Cruze and Elantra are both conservative in terms of their performance. Both handle confidently and capably, perfectly-designed for urban environs and highway commutes alike. That said, the Cruze does outperform the Elantra, giving it the early advantage.

  • Design/Cargo Volume

    A 2017 silver Chevy Cruze, which wins when comparing the 2017 Chevy Cruze vs 2017 Hyundai Elantra, is parked in a garage near Cincinnati, OH.Interior

    While the overall cabin design of both the Cruz and Elantra are relatively basic, the enhancement to the Premier and Limited trims, respectively, help to realize their full potential. Whereas base levels for each convey a sense on economical simplicity, the higher trims are leather-clad, giving them a far more sporty feel.

    In fact, the Cruze is a great example of how improved materials help to accentuate some of the more artistic elements of the cabin design. The fluidity of the dashboard and controls creates a very cool and stylized feel, as controls are both responsive and easy to use. These elements combined with a deceptively roomy rear seating make the Cruz comfortable and accommodating.

    The Elantra also benefits from material enhancements. With some of the elongated notes of classic styling speaking to luxury, it forced us to take more than a few looks back-and-forth. Which actually looks better between the Cruz and the Elantra? We’re not sure. But speaking to comfort, the Elantra actually offers better comfort overall (especially in terms of extended drives).

    For that reason (and not much else) we’ll give the point to the Elantra, which ties things up.

    Exterior

    When discussing the body stylings seen within the small sedan segment, I have to admit that my own personal preferences may prevent me from getting too excited. That’s not to say that they aren’t perfectly compelling to others, its just that they don’t exactly suit my tastes. Perhaps that will serve to offer a more objective opinion on both.

    Truth be told, the exterior design of the Cruze is based in simplicity. With clean lines, its modest footprint is entirely on-brand for Chevy, and speaks to economy. This should not be taken as a negative, as it comes across as a statement of confidence, knowing exactly what it is (and not trying to be anything else).

    And in that regard, the Elantra is a bit of an oddity. The perfect example of a car that benefits from lighting and angle, it comes across as far more enticing in Hyundai’s online photography than it does in person. In the former, it almost conveys characteristics of luxury sedan styling, complete with strong front-end aesthetic; but even that doesn’t translate well to real world viewing. Combined with a relatively bland profile, and economy level rear-fascia, the Elantra has little advantage over the modest styling of the Cruze. At least the Cruze is presented with confidence, as being exactly what it is.

    That said, we’ll make this one a tie

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