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Jorge Velez - Roman Birds Music Album Reviews

Inspired by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, this five-track ambient wonder finds the New York producer letting pulses and motifs overlap until the tracks resemble the inside of a lava lamp.
Jorge Velez has long been prolific, but that’s been especially true in the past few years. Like many underground electronic musicians, the New York producer has taken advantage of the internet’s self-publishing opportunities—in particular, the direct-to-fans platform Bandcamp—to sidestep label gatekeepers, streaming services, and crowded retailers. (Velez’s Bandcamp page currently numbers 26 releases.) Velez first gained recognition a dozen years ago with blippy disco derivatives for labels like Italians Do It Better, but his output has gradually become more esoteric and inward-looking. He’s still capable of ebullient club tracks, as last year’s excellent Forza attests, but many of his long, undulating machine jams sound like late-night missives to himself.

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2019 Chevrolet Cruze Review

2019 Chevrolet Cruze Review

The Chevrolet Cruze adds some worthwhile upgrades for 2019, but we wish its advanced safety tech was more accessible.

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze compact car finally gets with the times. This year, the Cruze sedan and hatchback sport revised styling, updated technology, and a raft of collision-avoidance gear it lacked last year.


The 2019 Cruze, available in L, LS, LT, and Premier trim levels, can be had with either a 1.4-liter turbo-4 gas engine or a 1.6-liter turbodiesel, paired to manual or automatic transmissions.

We rate the 2019 Cruze at XX out of 10 points, a decent score bolstered by its good feature set and pleasant demeanor.

For 2019, the Cruze features a handful of additional features on certain trim levels. The most notable is a full suite of safety gear including automatic emergency braking and active lane control. Unfortunately, GM relegates the most advanced safety gear to the range-topping Cruze Premier. That’s a shame, especially because most rivals make those features available across their entire lineups. To Chevy, safety is apparently a luxury.

This year’s nip-and-tuck gives the Cruze a new front bumper and grille, plus LED accent lighting on some trim levels. The sport-styled RS trim package available on higher Cruze trim levels now features black wheels and emblems.

Overall, the Cruze acquits itself well as a refined and competent compact car. With the exception of its thrifty turbodiesel, the Cruze does little to stand out among other compacts, but its list of demerits is equally short. Its roomy interior features good materials and an attractive design, and commendable road manners deliver good handling and a composed ride.

The Cruze turbodiesel delivers hybrid-level fuel economy, but its engine is short on refinement and can feel exceptionally slow away from a stop.

Styling
The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze gains a light styling update this year that works well.

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze has a new look outside, but it’s hardly a game-changer for this lineup of compact cars.

Overall, we rate the Cruze about average: a 5 out of 10 overall on our updated scale. 

Outside, the Cruze is taut and toned, with few wasted lines—aside from a busy front fascia that’s new for 2019. The Cruze hatchback’s wheelbase stretches the same 106.3 inches as the sedan’s, but its truncated rear end shaves a hefty 8 inches off of its overall length. So much for hatchback utility.

A pair of appearance packages—the RS and Redline—add a hint of spice with unique wheels and design cues. This year, the RS package includes blacked-out alloy wheels and emblems.

Though its interior is well laid-out, the Cruze can appear inexpensive. We liked the French-stitched trim found on some higher-trim Cruzes, but the fabric Chevy puts on the dashboards of models with cloth seats strikes us as a little beneath its admittedly entry-level pricing.

Performance
We commend Chevrolet for offering a turbodiesel in the 2019 Chevy Cruze, but we wish it was a little cheaper.

Quiet and capable, the 2019 Chevrolet Cruze has a secret weapon: an optional turbodiesel engine that endows it with stellar fuel efficiency.

Overall, we rate the 2019 Cruze’s performance at 5 out of 10; for a compact car, the Cruze rides and handles well, but it does little to stand out. 

The vast majority of Chevy Cruzes, regardless of body style, feature a 1.4-liter turbo-4  rated at 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. The small engine is smooth, but hardly quick, especially with the available 6-speed automatic transmission. The 6-speed manual that’s standard delivers solid shift action and helps the Cruze feel friskier, but it’s a rare sight on dealer lots.

The available 1.6-liter turbodiesel inline-4 engine comes in at 137 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque, but it suffers from some turbo lag especially with the available 9-speed automatic transmission. Once warmed up, the turbodiesel is quiet and smooth. On a cold morning, however, it clatters and vibrates the entire vehicle. We’ve not yet driven a Cruze diesel with the 6-speed manual, but we’ll admit that we’re intrigued.

Quick power steering delivers good response around town and the Cruze settles into a comfortable, uh, cruise at highway speeds. Its tires let in more road noise than we’d like to see from a compact car that can hit $30,000 with a few options, but overall it’s a hair more refined than most rivals.

Higher-spec Cruzes—Premier and LTs with the RS or Redline package—feature a more sophisticated rear suspension setup that delivers sharper handling. However, no Cruze has the quick reflexes of the Mazda 3 or the Honda Civic.

Comfort & Quality
The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze is roomy and well-appointed inside.

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze has an interior that punches above its weight class, at least in terms of roominess.

We grant the Cruze a solid 5 out of 10 here, with a point above average for its spacious interior that we take back for so-so front seats. 

All four outboard passengers have good space for stretching out. The cloth upholstery fitted to most Cruzes is durable and tough, but the leather available on the LT and standard on the Premier feels a little more like synthetic trim.
For cargo, the Cruze is fairly roomy—but its hatchback can’t swallow as much as we’d like for it to. The sedan’s trunk is rated at 14.8 cubic feet for L and LS trims, but that dips to just under 14 cubes on LT and above. The hatchback’s 22 cubic feet rating is more commodious, but its sloping roof means that it won’t swallow big items as easily as it should.

Safety
The 2019 Chevy Cruze offers advanced safety tech, but you’ll have to pay extra for it.

The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze corrects a big flaw: it now offers automatic emergency braking.

Unfortunately, we can’t assign it a score here until the IIHS finishes with its barrage of crash-testing. 

Federal testers scored the 2018 Cruze at a concerning four stars overall; most new cars rate five stars overall. The IIHS has performed its moderate overlap frontal and its side impact tests, and in both the Cruze performed well.

This year, the Cruze offers a new Driver Confidence II package that features automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, and active lane control. The caveat is a big one, though: the package is optional only on the range-topping Cruze Premier.

Kudos to Chevy for finally offering what’s standard or at least widely available on every single Cruze rival.

Features
The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze boasts an exceptionally wide lineup.

Once we know more about the 2019 Chevy Cruze, we’ll be able to update this section with more detail. For now, the compact car rates a decent 6 out of 10 thanks to its good standard infotainment system. 

The Cruze is available in a wide array of trims: L, LS, LT, and Premier. All but the base Cruze L can be had as either a sedan or a hatchback and most trims offer both engines and a choice of transmissions.

You’re spoiled for choice with the Cruze, but it’s a tough decision to make. Only the Cruze Premier is available with automatic emergency braking, an essential safety technology that will be standard on nearly all new cars within a few years.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth look once Chevrolet release trim level details for the 2019 Cruze.

Fuel Economy
The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze should be a fuel-miser.

Until the EPA releases fuel-economy figures for the 2019 Chevrolet Cruze, we’ll have to leave this score blank.

Last year, gas-fueled Cruze four-door with the 6-speed automatic checked in at 30 mpg city, 40 highway, 34 combined (or 29/39/33 mpg on the Cruze Premier because of its larger wheels). With the manual transmission, those figures fell to 28/39/32 mpg.

Surprisingly, the Cruze hatchback is less aerodynamic. Last year, it came in at 28/37/31 regardless of transmission.

The Cruze stands alone in its segment with a turbodiesel engine option, which rated last year at 31/47/37 with the automatic and 30/52/37 mpg for the manual transmission.

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