Chevrolet Cruze In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

Although the compact-car segment is chock-full with outstanding models, the Chevrolet Cruze stands out amidst the competition.

Affordable, reliable, and practical, the Cruze is for anyone looking for a good daily driver that can also serve as a family vehicle.

Here, we look at the Cruze’s performance in winter.

Here is the short answer about whether the Chevrolet Cruze is good for snow and winter driving:

With a plethora of safety features and driver assistance technologies, the Chevrolet Cruze is designed to keep you safe while driving on winter roads. It also has a low center of gravity that improves stability and control. These qualities make the Chevrolet Cruze ideal for winter driving. 

Is a Chevrolet Cruze Good in the Snow?

If we asked people to list cars suitable for snow driving, a compact car such as the Chevrolet Cruze would hardly make the list. This reveals a commonly held belief among many that passenger cars are unsuitable for use in snow.

However, this belief is false because small cars have improved in terms of drivability in snow. A good example is the Chevrolet Cruze. Despite its size, it can drive in snow with minimal issues.

One reason the Cruze drives well in snow is its size. The Cruze is a small, light, and nimble vehicle that you can control with ease. This is important in snowy terrain where it’s easy for wheels to slip and cars lose stability.

Bigger models like SUVs and trucks will find it difficult to remain stable in the same conditions. This shows why the Cruze is a superb model to consider for winter driving.

In addition, the Cruze has low ride height and sits close to the pavement. This limits the chances that it will land on its side while driving on snow-filled roads. Compare this to bigger models that sit high above the ground–they are often involved in rollover crashes.

Nevertheless, we must remind you that the Cruze is a passenger car–and a compact one at that. Thus, you cannot expect your Cruze to push through unplowed streets like an F-Series truck.

The limited ground clearance restricts your Cruze to areas with light to medium snowfall. A Chevrolet Cruze cannot drive in deep snow because it doesn’t have enough ground clearance for that.

Based on this, we recommend choosing the Cruze only if your area gets average snowfall in winter. If your region gets heavy snowfall in winter months, choose a truck or SUV.

Is a truck more suitable for your winter driving needs? Make sure to read our article on the Ford F-350 and F-450 in winter driving.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

After researching, we came up with a list of features that bolster the Cruze’s winter driving prowess. Here are the features:

StabiliTrak Stability Control

The StabiliTrak Stability Control system is Chevrolet’s version of the popular Electronic Stability Control system. Essentially, the Stability Control stabilizes the vehicle, especially when it’s driving in harsh terrain (ice, snow, slush).

With StabiliTrak, your car can remain stable even on slippery winter roads. However, this isn’t as simple as it sounds, so let’s explain the workings of this system.

StabiliTrak collects information from various sensors relating to steering wheel motion, wheelspin, and your car’s angle and acceleration. Then it analyzes the information to determine your vehicle’s stability. It will also determine if your vehicle may become unstable.

If StabiliTrak senses loss of traction or control, it automatically limits engine power to the wheels to reduce vehicle speed. It also applies the brakes on the wheels. The reason for this is two-fold:

A slower vehicle is easier to control than one moving at high speed

It can prevent the vehicle from totally veering off the road and crashing. Therefore, even if your car lost control and was heading off the road, StabiliTrak will stop it from crashing.

On the average, the StabiliTrak feature enhances winter driving in Cruzes because it means safer driving and lesser road mishaps.

Traction Control System

The Traction Control system tracks wheel rotation and detects if one wheel is losing traction. Typically, a wheel that’s about to lose traction will spin faster than other wheels on the car.

Once the TCS senses loss of traction in a wheel, it will apply the brakes to reduce wheelspin. This way, contact between the wheel and pavement increases and that wheel regains traction. 

Antilock Brake System

The Anti-Lock Brake System is part of Chevrolet’s safety features designed to promote safer driving on all surfaces. ABS prevents your wheels from seizing under extreme braking.

Because your wheels have lower grip on winter roads, braking becomes difficult. Sometimes, you have to slam your brakes hard before your wheels can stop.

However, extreme braking is problematic because it generates excess brake pressure, which can cause wheel locking. Wheel lock forces your wheels to stop spinning, which causes your car to skid. Now, you can understand why extreme braking is problematic, especially on wet surfaces.

This is where ABS enters the picture; it stops your wheels from locking due to extreme braking. It works by rapidly pulsing (applying and releasing) the brakes to reduce the impact of brake force on the wheels.

Specifically, it does this only when it sees that brake force generated may lead to lockup in a wheel(s). The ABS allows you to brake safely on winter roads, allowing you to do ‘extreme braking’ without locking your wheels.

Electronic Brakeforce Distribution

The Electronic Brakeforce Distribution is part of the Anti-Lock Brake System, so you could call them siblings. The EBD system, however, takes a different route to preventing wheel lockup.

It redistributes brakeforce between the wheels proportionally, meaning every wheel gets the exact amount of brake force it needs.

How does EBD know how much brake force each wheel requires? It factors in road conditions, vehicle speed, wheel load, braking situations, etc.

Brake Assist

The Brake Assist is another feature aimed at making braking on winter roads safer. Typically, it will take you longer to brake on a winter road compared to summer road. This is why chances of being involved in a crash or collision are higher in winter.

Brake Assist reduces stopping times by boosting brake power when you press the brake pedal. This ensures quicker and safer braking, which is necessary in winter conditions.

Does a Cruze Have Snow Mode?

The Chevrolet Cruze doesn’t have a Snow Mode. Typically, the Snow Mode feature enhances driving in snow by increasing traction and providing more stability. 

Even with the absence of Snow Mode, you can still drive in snow with your Cruze. It has Traction Control and StabiliTrak, which both offer similar benefits as the Snow Mode feature.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Cruze?

You can install additional snow gear on the Chevrolet Cruze. It’s actually advisable that you do so because the Cruze doesn’t have 4WD or some feature that turns it into a beast in snow.

For example, you can install snow chains on your Chevrolet Cruze to increase your tires’ grip in snow and slush. Snow socks and snow tires are other useful snow gear that can improve your Cruze’s snow driving ability.

Make sure to read our article to find out whether all tires are the same before driving with winter tires in summer.

How Much Snow Can a Cruze Handle?

Given its limited ground clearance (6.4 inches), the Cruze cannot handle deep snow. Attempting to push your Cruze through deep snow will only cause problems for both you and your car.

As a fair estimate, four to five inches of snow is what a Cruze should be able to handle. This means your Cruze can handle only light snow, not the thick snow deposits left over from a mighty blizzard.

How Do Cruze Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

The Chevrolet Cruze uses an Electronic Fuel Injection system, which by nature, warms up in seconds. As such, the Cruze is quick  to start whether in hot summer weather or freezing cold winter. Thus, your Cruze should have no problems running when the temperatures drop low.

Nevertheless, your Cruze may fail to start in cold winter temperatures under the following conditions:

  • The battery on your car is low or degraded
  • The car’s electrical system is faulty
  • The car’s fuel lines and/or fuel filters are clogged up with dirt
  • The fuel in the tank is bad
  • The air filter is dirty
  • The spark plugs are worn

Can a Chevrolet Cruze Drive on Ice?

The Chevrolet Cruze typically drives well on ice for a number for reasons:

  • Low body mass: The Chevrolet Cruze is a compact car with a lightweight body. This makes it easier to control on icy surfaces. Bigger vehicles are often involved in mishaps on icy ground because their weight makes them harder to control.
  • Low center of gravity: The Chevrolet Cruze sits close to the ground so the center of gravity is low. This decreases your chances of being caught in a rollover crash.

As the name suggests, a rollover crash involves a vehicle slipping and landing on its side. It is common on winter roads and affects big vehicles as they are more ‘top heavy’.

Does the Cruze Have 4WD?

Chevy Cruze models do not have 4WD capability. They come standard with front-wheel-drive (FWD), which is a form of two-wheel-drive (2WD).

What About Older Cruze Models And Winter Driving?

From its introductory year (2011), the Chevrolet Cruze has always had safety features that aided winter driving. The list includes traction and stability-enhancing systems such as Traction Control and ABS/EBD.

From this, it’s obvious that older Cruze models are safe for winter driving.

Do you plan using your winter tires in summer? We explain why winter tires wear faster in summer here.

Do Cruze Need Snow Tires?

Your Cruze will require snow tires if it’s to navigate winter roads safely. By design, snow tires are better suited to driving in winter than any other tire type.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow On A Cruze?

You cannot mount a snowplow on your Chevrolet Cruze. You could damage your tires and even void your warranty if you did so.

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