The Chevrolet Cruze is starting to pop up everywhere, including college campuses. Last week there was one parked in the middle of my home campus, and I got to take a closer look. I was a bit disappointed, because the GM marketing girls brought along an LT with leather and other premium bits. In other words, they brought one a college student couldn't afford. Still, it is a handsome car, and it is miles away from the outgoing Cobalt. Is that enough to take on some of the titans of the college car world?

Toyota Corolla


What do Corollas and roaches have in common? A lot of college kids have them, and can't kill them. They have always been well-built cars with a reputation for reliability. However, indestructibility does come at a price: unprecedented dullness. You can try and spice things up with the 2.4-liter XRS model, but that comes at price as well: more money.

The Car Connection rating: 7.8 out of 10

Ford Focus


Even your car is trying to tell you to study when you drive a Focus. The older versions of the Focus were great little cars, but the newest generation has seen the car go awry. In trying to make a baby Fusion they ended up with a hideous disappointment that is worse than its predecessors. It almost makes having SYNC not worth it at all. Plus, MyKey means your parents can limit your top speed even if you go to school in another state. Not cool.

The Car Connection rating: 7.2 out of 10

Honda Civic


The Civic is the reigning king of college cars. You can find one from almost every generation in your local university's parking garage. The 2010 sticks to the formula with eager engines, plenty of fuel economy, and bulletproof reliability. Plus, opting for the rev-happy Si won't break the bank. In the world of college cars, the Civic is still the one to beat. Can the Cruze handle it?

The Car Connection rating: 8.6 out of 10

Chevrolet Cruze


A lot of people (the GM girls on my campus included) see the Cruze as a small car that feels like a big car. It styling, ride quality and spacious trunk will certainly drive that point home. Sadly, the Cruze does have some issues. Although it can be equipped with a super-efficient 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, it isn't very exciting to drive. And while the interior is well done, the exterior just isn't quite exciting enough.

The Car Connection rating: 8.2 out of 10

So, the Cruze was able to outdo a good amount of the competition, but it was just a few ticks away from the reigning Civic. Plus, an all-new Civic is coming soon. The Cruze better watch out.