I had to trade my old Ford Escape XLT for a car that uses (a lot :-) less gas. When the Cruze was introduced here in Switzerland this May, I fell in love with it immediately and bought one as soon as it became generally available.
The car looks great. It's probably one of the best looking cars around at the moment. On the inside, the fabric accents make the cockpit look quite impressive and expensive. There's a ton of space to stow things - the car comes equipped with a handy dash-board compartment (perfect for stowing away a GPS unit when it's not in use), has two cup holders in front, large side pockets and a center console that contains the MP3 player socket. The top of the center console can be moved forward so it doubles as an arm rest.
There's plenty of room in the car - the seats are very comfortable and offer great hold in curves etc.
The back seats are equally comfy. My dad's pretty tall and he can sit very comfortably both in front and the back. The trunk is decent, but I would have preferred if it didn't come as a notchback. Because two large suitcases fit in, it's no big deal, though.
The Cruze doesn't only look great, though - for its relatively moderate price tag it's extremely well equipped. The 1.8l LT comes with a CD changer (that holds 6 CDs), MP3 player socket, cruise control, automatic windshield wipers, automatic lights, automatically dimmed rear mirror and automatic air conditioning that works extremely well - it recognizes and blows away fog on the front window within seconds, amazes me every time. Coming from the Escape, it's absolutely amazing how much bang for the buck you get.
I chose the 1.8l engine because I had read that the 1.6l is a bit overpowered by the size of the car. I have to say, I find the car quite zippy, although it does occasionally have to down-shift on the high-way when there's an incline. That doesn't happen very often (and to be honest, I've never had a car that didn't do that - but I guess for 35k more you get a German car that will hum along nicely even on hills on the high-way) and when it cruises it's very quiet. In fact, it's the quietest car I've ever driven - both on the high way and on normal roads the engine is almost inaudible.
The automatic transmission has 6 gears that allow for a relatively decent (for an automatic, that is) mileage. While some car-magazine reviewers claimed it uses up to 9 liters per 100km, I found that I usually get a 7.5l/100km out of it - and I don't really pay too much attention to driving economically. 7.5l for an automatic tranny really is pretty good - it's about half as much as my 2001 Escape used.
The car handles extraordinarily well. It shows that it shares its platform with the new Opel Astra. The steering is direct, the car handles curves extremely well and the turn radius is excellent.
It's very easy to maneuver. Parallel parking is a breeze thanks to the parking sensors the LT comes equipped with.
A short explanation on the marks I gave it:
Performance: 7 / 10 because it occasionally has to down-shift on the high-way when passing on an incline.
Comfort: 9 / 10 - for the same reason - when it shifts down, the motor can clearly be heard.
Running costs: 8 / 10. I wouldn't give any car with an automatic transmission more than that - it's a fact that they use more gas than manuals. But 7.5l/100km average is pretty good.
All in all, I adore this car. It's a pleasure to drive.
Note: I'm aware that the Cruze isn't available in the States yet. From what I've read, the US version will be the same as the one already sold in Europe and in Asia, but will have different engine options - so my comments about the engine might not be true for the US version.