I have these 2 cars as a fall back option if Chevy doesn't make enough changes where it counts (to me) with the 2014 MCE.
I first drove a 2013 Civic Sedan. The seat is not comfortable at all and, like the Cruze, does not have lumbar controls. The Civic seat digs into my back more than the Cruze seat.
The dashboard has been improved but I still don't like the layout. The wrap around dash is intrusive and I've never liked the split dash. The pick-up isn't bad but there were vibrations throughout the steering column and the engine was very buzzy.
Little road noise and the steering was direct if not too reactive to inputs. Brakes felt fine, turning radius was excellent. Visibility was hard to gauge because the stickers were on the side window but I did notice that there is glass ahead of the A Pillars just like the Verano. Personally I don't care for it.
Uncomfortable seats plus vibration through the steering column takes this car off my list. Pushy saleswoman too-she was on me before I even closed my car door!
Next just down the block I drove a 2013 Subaru Impreza. No lumbar controls either (I guess car companies feel it's OK to remove this very important item that was previously found on Compacts more than 6 years ago). I think it's a big mistake, however these seats were more comfortable than the Civic and the Cruze. The cushion was wider and deeper than both. I found it to be a little too bolstered on the sides of the seat back, however. Still, not bad.
The dashboard is very simple and plain, which is how I like it. Everything is where it belongs without any stupid touch controls. The pick-up was surprising. It was fast off the line and sped to freeway speeds with ease. The one negative to the CVT is that it whines when you speed up. It would be nice if Subaru could do something about that noise coming into the cabin.
Handling was actually better than both the Civic and Cruze. The car took turns very well with very little lean. The Cruze was close behind and the Civic leaned more than both. Brakes were good and visibility was better than the Cruze and Civic however the side view mirror is oddly shaped. Again, there was glass ahead of the A Pillar and, again, I don't like it.
The Impreza Impressed me. This right now would be my Compact of choice if brand loyalty (and over 3 grand of GM Card Points) weren't an issue. The salesman was mellow, absolutely no pushing for a sale, which was another plus.
I also sat in a Hyundai Elantra (dual dealer) and found the seats comfortable but the dash cheap looking and the interior smelled like a chemical factory, which I find to be true of all Korean makes (including the old Aveo). Never was on my list and never will be.
I still prefer to wait until the 2014 Cruze comes out and keep my Balt until then. Now I know what my fall back option will be-the Subaru Impreza.