Chevy Cruze Vs. Mazda3: Small Vehicles, Big-Time Battle

By Justin Cupler | December 16th, 2018

Despite their small stature, compact cars have a lot to offer buyers, including thriftiness, low starting prices, and a surprising number of options. The 2019 Chevy Cruze and 2018 Mazda3 both offer all this and more, and they are vying for the interest of new-car buyers in the Glendale Heights, Illinois area. Which is the better buy for you? Keep reading to find out.

Exterior

Though the 2018 Mazda3 is showing its age these days, it remains a stylish model that looks great as a hatchback or sedan. Its swoopy lines, long hood, and bold grille all play into the hands of those looking for a sporty machine. The 2019 Chevy Cruze is very similar to the Mazda3 thanks to its aggressive lines and sporty looks, but it’s a little more traditional than the Mazda3, making it more desirable to the masses. Plus, the Cruze boasts one of the newest designs in the compact-car space.

The 2018 Mazda3 and 2019 Chevy Cruze are available as hatchback and sedan models, giving buyers various cargo-hauling and style options to choose from. In terms of size, these two models are very similar in both body styles.

The 2019 Chevy Cruze sedan is 183.7 inches long, 70.5 inches wide, and 57.4 inches tall. It rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase. The Mazda3 sedan is 3.4 inches shorter in length, 0.2 inches wider, and 0.1 inches shorter in height. Its wheelbase is the same length as the Cruse’s at 106.3 inches.

In its hatchback form, the 2019 Chevy Cruze measures 175.3 inches long, 70.5 inches wide, and 57.7 inches tall. It rides on the same 106.3-inch wheelbase as the sedan. The Mazda3 5-Door — the hatchback model — is 0.3 inches longer and 0.4 inches shorter in height, but it is the same width as the Cruze.

Advantage: 2018 Mazda3

  • Shorter sedan maneuvers through traffic easier
  • Aggressive design

Advantage: 2019 Chevy Cruze

  • Aggressive looks, but not in-your-face like the Mazda3
  • Latest compact-car design
  • Shorter hatchback model

Interior

Both compacts boast stylish interiors, especially when you move into the higher trim levels. The 2019 Chevy Cruze, however, has a higher seating position and more glass, giving the driver tons of visibility. The Mazda3 takes a sportier turn with its lower seating position, round air vents, and floating infotainment screen.

With two body styles come multiple seating arrangements and measurements. No matter what body style you choose, the 2019 Chevy Cruze’s front seats offer 38.9 inches of headroom, 42 inches of legroom, 54.8 inches of shoulder room, and 53.1 inches. The 2018 Mazda3’s front seats are also the same in both body styles at 38.6 inches of headroom, 42.2 inches of legroom, 57.2 inches of shoulder room, and 55.5 inches of hip room.

In the rear, the 2019 Cruze sedan offers 37.3 inches of headroom, 36.1 inches of legroom, 53.7 inches of shoulder room, and 51.9 inches of hip room. The Mazda3 sedan’s rear seats offer 37.6 inches of headroom, 35.8 inches of legroom, 54.4 inches of shoulder room, and 53.5 inches of hip room.

In its hatchback form, the 2019 Chevy Cruze’s rear seats have 37.8 inches of headroom, 36.1 inches of legroom, 53.7 inches of shoulder room, and 51.9 inches of hip room. The 2018 Mazda3 5-Door offers 38.6 inches of headroom, 35.8 inches of legroom, 54.4 inches of shoulder room, and 53.5 inches of hip room in its rear seats.

In cargo room, the 2019 Chevy Cruze sedan has 13.9 cubic feet (LT and Premier) to 14.8 cubic feet (L and LS), while the Mazda3 sedan has a much tighter 12.7 cubic feet of room. The hatchback models offer a ton more space as the 2019 Chevy Cruze hatchback has 22.7 to 47.2 cubic feet, while the Mazda3 5-Door has 20.2 to 47.1 cubic feet.

Advantage: 2018 Mazda3

  • Lower, sportier seating position
  • Roomier front seats

Advantage: 2019 Chevy Cruze

  • Higher seating position offers more visibility
  • More rear legroom
  • Far larger sedan trunk
  • Slightly larger cargo area as hatchback

Performance

Compact cars generally put greater focus on thriftiness than performance, and the 2019 Cruze is no exception. It comes standard with a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. This power routes through a standard six-speed automatic transmission. Though it may not be powerful, this drivetrain is fuel efficient at 28 to 30 mpg city, 37 to 38 highway, and 31 to 33 combined.

Buyers looking for even more thriftiness can opt for the 2019 Cruze’s 1.6-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder with 137 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. This engine pushes its power through a nine-speed automatic and delivers 31 mpg city, 48 highway, and 37 combined.

In the handling department, the 2019 Cruze is no slouch, especially with its optional Z-link rear suspension, but Chevy obviously set it up for a softer ride.

The Mazda3 has more attitude with its standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. This power routes through a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is nearly as impressive as the Cruze with the base engine delivering 28 mpg city, 37 to 38 highway, and 31 to 32 combined.

In the Touring and Grand Touring trims the 2018 Mazda3 comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that cranks out 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. The standard gearbox is a six-speed manual transmission, but buyers can opt for a six-speed automatic transmission. With this engine, the 2018 Mazda3 gets 26 to 27 mpg city, 35 to 36 highway, and 30 combined

Besides being more powerful than the Cruze, the 2018 Mazda3 carries the Mazda zoom-zoom personality well with responsive steering, tight handling, and great driver feedback.

Advantage: 2018 Mazda3

  • Big power advantage
  • Zippy handling
  • Manual transmission option

Advantage: 2019 Chevy Cruze

  • Surprising ride quality
  • Huge fuel economy numbers from diesel engine
  • Small fuel-economy advantage from 1.4-liter engine
  • Low-end torque from diesel engine

Pricing and Features

The 2019 Chevy Cruze sedan is available in nine trims — L, LS, Hatch LS, LT, Hatch LT, Premier, Hatch Premier, Diesel, and Hatch Diesel — with prices ranging from $18,870 to $26,495.

The 2018 Mazda3 has a simpler lineup that includes two body styles — sedan and hatchback — and three trims in each style: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. Starting prices range from $18,095 to $23,895.

L: $18,870

  • 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
  • Electronic power steering
  • Automatic engine stop/start
  • Four-wheel disc brakes
  • Daytime running lights
  • Body-color door handles
  • Automatic-on/off halogen headlights
  • Power outside mirrors
  • Black beltline molding
  • Variable intermittent wipers
  • Single-zone electronic climate control
  • Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system
  • 7-inch color touchscreen
  • Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Four-speaker audio system
  • Two front USB ports
  • Teen Driver
  • Monochromatic driver-information display
  • OnStar
  • 4G LTE Wi-Fi
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Rear air ducts
  • Rearview camera
  • Tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
  • Front visors with vanity mirrors
  • Power windows with express down

LS: $19,995

  • All L features, plus
  • Front floor mats
  • Three-spoke deluxe steering wheel

Hatch LS: $20,495

  • All LS features, plus
  • Intermittent rear wiper
  • Rear spoiler
  • 16-inch spare tire
  • Cargo cover

LT: $22,595

  • All LS features, plus
  • Reduced-travel steering system
  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Compact spare tire
  • Bright beltline molding
  • Cruise control
  • Remote engine start
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat
  • SiriusXM
  • Single-zone automatic climate control
  • Rear center armrest with two cup holders
  • Two rear USB ports
  • Cruise control
  • Rear floor mats
  • Dual reading lights
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls

Hatch LT: $22,995

  • All Hatch LS features, plus
  • Reduced-travel electric power steering
  • 16-inch aluminum wheels
  • Bright beltline moldings
  • Halogen projector-beam headlights
  • LED signature lighting
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat
  • Two rear USB charging ports
  • Single-zone automatic climate control
  • Cruise control
  • Dual reading lights
  • Rear floor mats
  • Rear center armrest
  • Remote ignition
  • SiriusXM
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • LED daytime running lights

Premier: $24,395

  • All LT features, plus
  • 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • Z-link rear suspension
  • Heated mirrors
  • LED taillights
  • Eight-way power driver’s seat
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Heated front seats
  • Passive entry
  • Keyless ignition
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Illuminated visor vanity mirrors
  • Leatherette upholstery

Hatch Premier: $24,895

  • All LT features, plus
  • Keyless ignition
  • Z-link rear suspension
  • 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • Heated power outside mirrors
  • LED-accented taillights
  • Eight-way power driver’s seat
  • Illuminated vanity mirrors
  • Heated front seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Keyless open
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Leatherette seating

Diesel: $26,495

  • All LT features, plus
  • 1.6-liter turbocharged diesel engine
  • Nine-speed automatic transmission
  • Keyless ignition
  • Eight-way power driver’s seat
  • Heated mirrors
  • Heated front seats
  • Electronic climate control
  • Auxiliary cabin heater
  • Rear park sensors
  • Lane-change alert
  • Side blind-zone alert
  • Rear cross-traffic alert

Hatch Diesel: $26,995

  • All LT Hatch features, plus
  • 1.6-liter diesel engine
  • Nine-speed automatic transmission
  • Keyless ignition
  • Heated outside mirrors
  • Eight-way power driver’s seat
  • Single-zone electronic climate control
  • Heated front seats
  • In-cabin auxiliary heater
  • Keyless open
  • Lane-change alert
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Lane-change alert
  • Blind-zone alert

2018 Mazda3 Key Features and Pricing by Trim

Sport: $18,095

  • 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Six-speed manual transmission
  • G-Vectoring Control
  • 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers
  • Hill-start assist
  • Electric power steering
  • Black beltline trim
  • Daytime running lights
  • Matte-finish grille
  • Halogen headlights
  • Body-color power mirrors
  • Variable-intermittent wipers
  • Electric parking brake
  • Dual front map lights
  • Power door locks
  • Power windows with one-touch driver’s window
  • Keyless ignition
  • Keyless entry
  • Tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Front and rear floor mats
  • Silver climate-control vent bezels
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat
  • Cloth seating
  • Urethane shifter knob
  • Urethane steering wheel
  • Vanity mirrors
  • Silver interior accents
  • Six-speaker AM/FM audio system
  • Auxiliary audio-input jack
  • Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming
  • HD Radio
  • Aha internet radio
  • Pandora radio
  • 7-inch color touchscreen
  • Two USB audio ports
  • Rearview camera
  • Low-speed automatic emergency braking

5-Door Sport: $19,345

  • All Sport features, plus
  • Hatchback body
  • Cargo area cover
  • Bright exhaust tip

Touring: $20,090

  • All Sport features, plus
  • 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
  • 18-inch dark-silver alloy wheels
  • Bright beltline molding
  • Automatic-on/off headlights
  • Heated mirrors with integrated turn signals
  • Rear spoiler
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Illuminated vanity mirrors
  • Advanced keyless entry
  • Overhead console with sunglasses holder
  • Leatherette door trim
  • Satin silver climate control dial ring bezel
  • Six-way power driver’s seat
  • Leatherette seating
  • Heated front seats
  • Leather-wrapped shift knob
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel with satin-silver spokes
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert

5-Door Touring: $20,840

  • All Touring features, plus
  • Hatchback body
  • Cargo area cover
  • Bright exhaust tip

Grand Touring: $23,145

  • All Touring features, plus
  • Roof-mounted shark-fin antenna
  • LED daytime running lights
  • LED fog lights
  • Metallic-black grille
  • Bi-LED headlights with auto leveling
  • LED taillights
  • Moonroof
  • Two-tone leatherette door panels
  • Satin silver interior accents
  • Perforated leather seating
  • Bose nine-speaker audio system
  • SiriusXM
  • Color active-driving display
  • Digital speedometer

5-Door Grand Touring: $23,895

  • All Grand Touring features, plus
  • Hatchback body
  • Cargo area cover
  • Bright exhaust tip

Who Should Buy the 2018 Mazda3?

The 2018 Mazda3 is the perfect car for a buyer looking for a little extra oomph and great fuel economy. It’s also for buyers who don’t mind standing out in a crowd.

Who Should Buy the 2019 Chevy Cruze?

The Cruze is a great buy for shoppers who put fuel economy before all else. It does a lot of things just as good as the Mazda3, but its fuel economy sets it apart.

Ready to try out the thrifty and stylish 2019 Chevy Cruze for yourself? Come down to the Sunrise Chevrolet new-car showroom serving Wheaton, Carol Stream, and Lombard, Illinois for a test drive today. If you can’t make it by today, you can also check out our online inventory to see what versions of the 2019 Chevy Cruze we have in stock in Glendale Heights, Illinois.

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