2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2019 Chevrolet Cruze

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The A3 Sedan’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Cruze doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A3 Sedan are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Chevrolet Cruze doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Audi Pre Sense Front in the A3 Sedan as “Superior.” The Cruze scores only 1 point and is rated only “Basic.”

The A3 Sedan has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Cruze doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The A3 Sedan 45 TSFI has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Cruze doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The A3 Sedan offers optional Parking System Plus to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The Cruze doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Both the A3 Sedan and the Cruze have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Audi A3 Sedan is safer than the Chevrolet Cruze:

 

A3 Sedan

Cruze

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

284

308

Chest Compression

.5 inches

.5 inches

Neck Injury Risk

34%

35%

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Audi A3 Sedan is safer than the Chevrolet Cruze:

 

A3 Sedan

Cruze

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

172

245

Chest Movement

1.1 inches

1.2 inches

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

277

497

Spine Acceleration

56 G’s

63 G’s

Hip Force

777 lbs.

937 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

13 inches

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A3 Sedan the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Cruze has not been fully tested, yet, but doesn’t qualify for 2017 “Top Pick.”

Warranty

The A3 Sedan comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Cruze’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The A3 Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 6 years and unlimited miles longer than the Cruze’s (12/unlimited vs. 6/100,000).

Reliability

The Audi A3 Sedan’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Cruze’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the A3 Sedan has a standard 320-amp alternator. The Cruze’s standard 130-amp alternator and largest (Diesel) 140-amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 16 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.

Engine

The A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 31 more horsepower (184 vs. 153) and 44 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 177) than the Cruze’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The A3 Sedan 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 75 more horsepower (228 vs. 153) and 81 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 177) than the Cruze’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI is faster than the Chevrolet Cruze:

 

A3 Sedan

Cruze

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

8.7 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

16.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98.6 MPH

82.7 MPH

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi A3 Sedan higher (7 out of 10) than the Chevrolet Cruze (3 to 6). This means the A3 Sedan produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Cruze every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The A3 Sedan offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Cruze doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the A3 Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Cruze:

 

A3 Sedan

Cruze

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

10.8 inches

Rear Rotors

10.7 inches

10.4 inches

The A3 Sedan stops much shorter than the Cruze:

 

A3 Sedan

Cruze

 

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

171 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

115 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A3 Sedan has larger standard tires than the Cruze (225/45R17 vs. 195/65R15). The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Cruze (235/35R19 vs. 225/45R17).

The A3 Sedan’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Cruze L/LS’ standard 65 series tires. The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Cruze Premier RS’ 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A3 Sedan has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Cruze L/LS. The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Cruze Premier RS.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Audi A3 Sedan has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Chevrolet Cruze has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The A3 Sedan has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the A3 Sedan flat and controlled during cornering. The Cruze’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The A3 Sedan has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Cruze doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The A3 Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (58.1% to 41.9%) than the Cruze’s (60.6% to 39.4%). This gives the A3 Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .94 G’s, while the Cruze LT Sedan pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.8 seconds quicker than the Cruze Premier Sedan (25.6 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27.4 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the A3 Sedan’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the Cruze’s (36.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Chassis

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the A3 Sedan Premium Quattro is quieter than the Cruze LT Sedan (73 vs. 77 dB).

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the A3 Sedan easier. The A3 Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 26.3 inches, while the Cruze’s liftover is 27.4 inches.

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the A3 Sedan’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Cruze Sedan’s useful trunk space.

The A3 Sedan’s standard folding rear seats are split to accommodate bulky cargo. The Cruze L/LS’ standard single piece folding rear seat is not as flexible; long cargo and a passenger can’t share the rear seat.

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the A3 Sedan. The Cruze doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Servicing Ease

The A3 Sedan uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Cruze uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Chevrolet. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 22% lower rating, Chevrolet is ranked 10th.

Ergonomics

The A3 Sedan’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Cruze’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its front windows open automatically.

If the windows are left open on the A3 Sedan the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Cruze can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The A3 Sedan has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Cruze doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The A3 Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Cruze’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A3 Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Cruze doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A3 Sedan offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Cruze doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the A3 Sedan has standard extendable sun visors. The Cruze doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The A3 Sedan’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Heated mirrors cost extra on the Cruze and aren’t offered on the Cruze L/LS.

The A3 Sedan’s optional rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Cruze doesn’t offer the luxury of automatic dimming mirrors.

The A3 Sedan’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Cruze doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Both the A3 Sedan and the Cruze offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the A3 Sedan has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Cruze doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the A3 Sedan Prestige has a standard Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Cruze doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The A3 Sedan Prestige’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Cruze doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Audi A3 comes in convertible, sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the Chevrolet Cruze isn’t available as a convertible or station wagon.

Economic Advantages

The A3 Sedan will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the A3 Sedan will retain 47% to 47.42% of its original price after five years, while the Cruze only retains 39.36% to 43.56%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Cruze because typical repairs cost less on the A3 Sedan than the Cruze, including $106 less for a water pump, $12 less for a muffler and $25 less for a fuel pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Audi A3 Sedan and the Chevrolet Cruze, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the A3 Sedan first among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Cruze isn’t in the top three in its category.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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