2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatch Premier 1SF: This is the Mexican one.
Price: $29,465 as tested ($23,945 for the trim level; a base model can be had for $22,115, far higher than a sedan's $17,850 starting price). The test vehicle added a $995 RS package for beauty and $790 Driver Confidence Package for safety.
Marketer's pitch: "Never stop moving."
Conventional wisdom: This country is united on one thing - it hates hatchbacks.
Reality: I love the Mexicans! This multinational car? Well . . .
Cruze in the news: My role as car columnist has veered into a lot of unusual areas, though I never thought the political realm would be one of them. But when U.S. President 45.0 called out General Motors for building Cruzes in Mexico recently, I had to scratch my head.
And then check my notes. The sedan, which I wrote about in September, is built in Lordstown, Ohio. This hatchback hails from south of the Rio Grande, and one day, quite possibly, from behind a big wall.
Pretty: Unlike most of my fellow Americans, I am a hatchback lover. I'm never sure how anyone carries any real cargo in a small sedan. But beyond even practicality, I think most of them look pretty sharp.
The Cruze outdoes itself in the looks arena. Seemingly modeled on the Hyundai Elantra and Subaru Impreza, it cuts a handsome profile. And the Hatch will likely be more of a world car. General Motors officials say they expect it to be a small percentage of U.S. Cruze sales.
Up to speed: No socks were knocked off in the making of this review. The Cruze Hatch's 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbo offers middling acceleration from its 153 horses.
Shiftless: Performance is not abetted by the 6-speed automatic transmission. With no real shift capability outside of a +/- button on the shifter, I was at the mercy of the computer for extracting torque from the engine. Sad.
On the curves: The front-wheel-drive Cruze Hatch offers fine handling, but I don't think anyone outside the GM marketing department would dare to call it "sporty."
Driver's Seat: Cruzers will find superior comfort compared with other cars its size. The Driver's Seat is wonderful for long hauls, something some small cars don't seem to offer.
The display is also crystal clear, with easy-to-read trip information and gauges.
Friends and stuff: The rear-seat legroom is good, although the seat back seems curiously angled. Middle-seat victims won't feel too humped out. They'll also enjoy heated seats in the corners, part of the $865 Enhanced Convenience Package, which also adds automatic AC, wireless-device charging, and more.
As for cargo space, General Motors claimed 22.7 cubic feet sits behind the rear seat and 47.2 appears with the rear seat folded down. The latter number puts the Cruze on par with some tiny crossovers, like the Buick Encore and Honda HR-V.
That 22.7 feels alternative-facty, though; I noted the trunk looked awfully small, and I'm accustomed to a Kia Soul, Pontiac Vibe, and Scion iM. Check the trunk closely; it's definitely not yuuuge.
Play some tunes: Knobs for volume and tuning give the Cruze stereo (part of the $1,995 Sun and Sound Package) a classic look and more ease of operation. Buttons under the display get you almost everywhere except right into the navigation.
General Motors also has one fail-safe that a lot of companies don't - its simple voice-command system. When all else fails, say "Play 'Song title' " and, boom, it's on.
Sound quality from the nine speakers is an A+; the upgraded Cruze stereo boasts some of the best sound I've heard in a long time.
Night shift: The overhead lights were exceedingly bright and could interfere with the view of the road. The headlights were bright and clear, though.
Rough road: The Cruze is noteworthy - even among small cars - for clearly transferring bumps to the cabin.
Fuel economy: I averaged a disappointing 28 m.p.g. in the Cruze Hatch, a tick less than the sedan version.
Where it's built: Ramos Arizpe, Mexico. The engine is also from Mexico and the transmission from the United States.
How it's built: The 2017 Chevrolet Cruze gets top marks from Consumer Reports for predicted reliability, but that's most likely the sedan. The Hatch is built at the same plant as the Sonic, which only gets a middling report.
In the end: The Cruze sedan and Hatch are equally nice vehicles, light-years advanced from before. But neither one really stands up to an Impreza or Mazda3.
General Motors would do well to transfer production of the Hatch to Lordstown as well; it would probably be a more reliable car. And I can't argue with having more well-paid autoworkers here in the U.S.