2016 Chevrolet Cruze
Second-gen sedan gets new looks, turbocharged engineby Jonathan Lopez, on
The Chevy Cruze is essentially GM’s modern version of the Chevy Cavalier here in the U.S. It replaced the Chevy Cobalt in 2008 and saw two updates before being redesigned for the 2016 model year. When the second-generation Cruze debuted for the North American market, it grew in length and width and came with sportier styling cues. The most dominate change came in the form of new headlights, a reshaped nose and new character lines on the sides. On the inside, there is a little more room thanks to the slightly larger size. The infotainment system has been upgraded to Chevy’s second-generation MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch screen, Android Auto, and Apple Carplay as standard equipment. Furthermore, the car now comes with heated seats in the front and rear as well as a heated steering wheel. Under the hood, we see more improved as Chevy is now offering the Cruze with a 1.4-liter engine that delivers 153 horsepower, 177 pound-feet of torque, and offers a combined fuel economy of 32 mpg.
The second-generation Cruze also brought a change to the lineup as well. The L and LS trim levels carry over, and the LT trim is now a combination of the LT1 and LT2 trims from the previous generation. The LTZ trim was also dropped in favor of the Premier trim as the range-topping model. A six-speed manual will be the only transmission available for the base, L trim. A six-speed manual and a six speed automatic will be available for LS and LT trims, while the Premier trim will be stuck with just the six-speed automatic.
The second-generation model is also spawning a hatchback variant that should be coming for the 2017 model year, and there is still a lot to discuss about this generation as well. With that said, let’s dive on into all the juicy details and see what the 2016 Cruze is all about.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze.
2016 Chevrolet Cruze
Horsepower @ RPM:153 @ 5600
Torque @ RPM:177 @ 2000
0-60 time:7 sec. (Est.)
Top Speed:125 mph (Est.)
Chevy says the new Cruze is both larger and lighter, so let’s take a look at how the automaker accomplished those seemingly contradictory things.
Under the skin is the new D2 FWD architecture, which is both stiffer and lighter than the architecture of the outgoing model. Roughly 8 percent of the platform uses hot-stamped/high-strength steel, which on its own helps to make for a 27-percent improvement in rigidity while cutting 53 pounds from the final curb weight.
Despite being lighter, the structure is also bigger, with the new Cruze boasting a 106.3-inch wheelbase, roughly an inch more than the older model.
All told, the leaner architecture effectively drops up to 250 pounds from the car’s curb weight. According to executive chief engineer Ron Arnesen, this makes the Cruze’s chassis system “...perhaps the most mass-efficient in the segment,” offering more dynamic driving characteristics and a pervasive feeling of connectedness.
Despite being lighter, the structure is also bigger, with the new Cruze boasting a 106.3-inch wheelbase, roughly an inch more than the older model. According to Chevy, that long wheelbase figure is another class-leading feature.
Now that you know what’s going on under the sheet metal, let’s talk about what you can actually see.
First, the overall dimensions have changed, with the new Cruze gaining 2.7 inches in length over the outgoing model. It’s also almost 1 inch lower.
In appearance and design, the exterior of the new Cruze has been revamped with a strong consideration for aerodynamic efficiency. Taking experience gleaned from shaping the Volt plug-in hybrid, the brains behind the Cruze managed to eke out a 0.29 drag coefficient, contributing significantly to the car’s low fuel consumption.
You can see the Volt’s influence primarily in the car’s nose, where the previous model’s stubby, more upright fascia gets a sleeker and more raked look. This continues into the windshield and faster-sloping rear profile. Up front, the headlights are much narrower, much like those found on the Volt, while the dual front grille is also restyled. There is layered line work in the hood and side panels, which does well to complement the longer wheelbase with a more beefy appearance.
The rocker panels see new lines, while sitting on top of the trunk lid is a standard integral spoiler. Chevy says that both of these features contribute to the car’s improved aero efficiency.
Other styling cues are brought over from the 2014 Impala and the upcoming Malibu, yielding the most up-to-date example of Chevy’s new global design language. Next to the previous Cruze, the new model is, in my opinion, a big improvement. The old car looked entirely too “rental fleet,” with ho-hum, squared lines that blended into the background of every other sedan on the road. The new car looks much more aggressive and refined.
To help back this upscale approach, we find polished aluminum, piano black and bright-finished accents. The projector headlamps feature automatic functionality.
|Wheelbase (in / mm)||106.3 / 2700|
|Overall length (in / mm)||183.7 / 4666|
|Overall width (in / mm)||70.6 / 1795|
|Overall height (in / mm)||57.4 / 1458|
|Track (in / mm)||front: 60.8 / 1544 |
rear: 61.3 / 1557
Thanks to the larger exterior dimensions, the interior of the new Cruze offers more legroom, with a total of 36.1 inches. You’ll also get an additional 2 inches of knee room, more space than both the 2015 Ford Focus sedan and 2014-2015 Hyundai Elantra. However, the lower roofline, while attractive, ends up decreasing available headroom.
Technologically speaking, there’s quite a bit of good stuff packed into the Cruze. First, there’s the next-gen MyLink infotainment system, which offers smartphone integration and a standard 7-inch screen positioned in the central stack. There’s also an available 8-inch screen. Both screens come with Apple CarPlay integration, while the 7-incher also gets Android Auto (the 8-incher will get Android Auto integration at a later unspecified date).
The lower roofline, while attractive, ends up decreasing available headroom.
Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect via USB and offer phone functionality for things like hands-free calls, text messaging, entertainment, and support for the more popular third-party apps out there.
Completing these tech features is the available OnStar with 4G LTE built-in WiFi hotspot.
Other new, available features include wireless phone charging, heated front cloth seats, heated rear leather-trimmed seats, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.
In terms of interior design, Chevy moved around and reshaped a few items. The shifter is repositioned, while the cupholders and storage spaces are redesigned as well. The air vents are slimmer and the button layout on the center stack is a bit simpler. The surrounds for the gauge cluster and 4.2-inch high-res driver information display look more deeply set behind the steering wheel.
For interior materials and accents, the new Cruze echoes its exterior with piano- and matte-black trim. There are more soft-touch materials, such as animal-grained and micro-etched surfacing, as well as premium fabrics with French stitching in contrasting colors. Leather upholstery is available as an option.
The new Cruze is also outfitted with an array of safety features. First, the new architecture creates a stronger body structure that uses the previously mentioned high-strength steel in key areas for better crash protection. You’ll also find 10 standard air bags, including those for frontal driver and passenger protection, roof rail-mounted head curtain side air bags for front and outboard rear seating position protection, seat-mounted side-impact protection in the front and rear, and front knee protection.
There’s also a front passenger seat occupant sensing system, a rollover sensing system, a collapsible pedal assembly to protect against lower-extremity injuries, and a LATCH child seat system in the rear.
To help avoid a collision in the first place, there are several available safety technologies, including side blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist and forward collision alert.
|Headroom (in / mm)||38.9 / 988 (front) |
37.3 / 948 (rear)
|Legroom (in / mm)||42 / 1068 (front) |
36.1 / 917 (rear)
|Shoulder room (in / mm)||54.8 / 1394 (front) |
53.7 / 1366 (rear)
|Hip room (in / mm)||53.1 / 1351 (front) |
51.9 / 1319 (rear)
Under the hood of the new Cruze, Chevy once again returns to the theme of enhanced efficiency with an engine that sees a drop in displacement but a bump in output thanks to the addition of boost.
Replacing the old naturally aspirated 1.8-liter unit is a new turbo 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which features an aluminum cylinder block and head that helps to cut weight. There are low-friction piston rings, a low-friction camshaft drive, and a low-friction oil pump in place to maximize returns.
Replacing the old naturally aspirated 1.8-liter unit is a new turbo 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which features an aluminum cylinder block and head that helps to cut weight.
The Cruze sees an increase in muscle from 138 to 153 horsepower. Torque gets an even bigger increase, rising from 148 to 177 pound-feet. Acceleration figures include an expected 0-to-60 time of 8 seconds.
However, this increase in output doesn’t come at the cost of economy. Thanks to the lighter architecture, sleeker body, and features like standard stop-start technology, GM says the new Cruze is still quite efficient, with an estimated 42 mpg returned on the highway when running through the optional six-speed automatic transmission. That’s a highway range of up to 570 miles per tank. The Cruze tops competitors such as the Ford Focus (40 mpg), Mazda3 (41 mpg), and Hyundai Elantra (37 mpg). The impressive mileage drops to 40 mpg highway for the top-of-the-line Cruze Premier trim.
A six-speed manual transmission comes as standard. Chevy says it’ll bring a diesel-powered model (the 1.6-liter unit is expected to make a return) to U.S. customers sometime in 2017.
Alongside the extended wheelbase, the new architecture also provides a wider track, measuring in at 60.8 inches in the front and 61.3 inches in the rear, for what Chevy says is better chassis tuning, and consequently, more nimble and direct steering. Aluminum is used in the suspension system to help optimize weight distribution and handling balance.
MacPherson struts are used in the front, with specially tuned bushings and geometry that is intended to strike a balance between handling and comfort.
Rack-mounted electric power steering comes standard on all models, which contributes to overall efficiency by removing the traditional pump from the driveline accessories.
A StabiliTrak ESC system, complete with traction control, rollover mitigation and ABS, comes standard.
Wheel sizes range between 15- and 18-inches.
|Type||1.4L turbo DOHC I-4|
|Displacement (cu in / cc)||85 / 1399|
|Bore & stroke (in / mm)||2.91 x 3.20 / 74 x 81.3|
|Block material||cast aluminum|
|Cylinder head material||cast aluminum|
|Valvetrain||overhead camshafts, four-valves per cylinder, continuously variable valve timing|
|Ignition system||individual coil on plug|
|Fuel delivery||direct injection with electronic throttle control|
|Horsepower||153 HP @ 5,600 RPM|
|Torque||177 LB-FT @ 2,000-4,000 RPM|
|Transmission||6-speed manual/6-speed automatic|
The new Chevy Cruze will be offered in over 40 markets worldwide, making its first appearance in North America sometime early next year. The model lineup will come in four different trim levels, including the L, LS, LT and Premier.
|Chevrolet Cruze L manual||$17,495|
|Chevrolet Cruze LS manual||$18,995|
|Chevrolet Cruze LS automatic||$19,995|
|Chevrolet Cruze LT automatic||$21,995|
|Chevrolet Cruze Premier automatic||$23,995|
Offering a nice blend of practicality and performance, the Focus brings a well-sorted chassis and a few options for the drivetrain selection, including a 160-horsepower four-cylinder as standard and an optional, 123-horsepower 1.0-liter turbo three-cylinder for better economy. Transmission options include a six-speed dual-clutch auto and a five-speed manual. A run to 60 takes around 8 seconds. Also available as a hatchback, the Focus is a fun, nippy little car that’s sure to make you smile alongside its decent mileage (26 mpg city, 36 mpg highway).
Read our full review here.
The Elantra comes with good looks, a comfortable ride, a spacious interior, and a very nice appointment, with features like leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, LED light accents, and 17-inch wheels all coming standard on the high-spec Sport model. Unfortunately, performance is absent, with lackluster handling and an anemic-feeling engine. It may look top-shelf, but don’t bother with the back roads.
Read our full review here.
VW’s unflappable Jetta once again brings the goods in its latest iteration, bearing high-quality fit and finish, a comfortable but sporty suspension, and a large variety of drivetrain options, including a 2.0-liter, a turbo 1.8-liter, and a new turbodiesel capable of up to 46 mpg. Transmissions include several five-speeds and six-speeds, both in automatic and manual forms. Go for the 170-horsepower variant and you’re looking at a 0-to-60 time in the low 7’s. However, be careful with the options – pricing can dip into the $30,000 range before you know it.
Read our full review here.
The Cruze has done quite well to shore up Chevy’s sales figures, and not just in pure volume. Chevy also says the car attracts a slew of new customers, with 53 percent of U.S. Cruze customers being new to the Chevrolet brand.
This second generation seems to build on the old without taking away any of what made it successful in the first place.
With that in mind, this second generation seems to build on the old without taking away any of what made it successful in the first place. The new architecture and exterior styling are a marked improvement, both aesthetically and in terms of performance/efficiency, while the interior comes with all the latest gadgets you’d expect from this segment. The drivetrain is improved as well, offering more power and, again, higher efficiency.
And that’s all good, especially if Chevy intends on keeping its worldwide streak of high sales numbers.
Drawbacks? It would be nice if the Cruze was quicker, with the 8-second 0-to-60 time being quite standard for an entry-level compact sedan. The more powerful engine is a plus, but some may find it still lacking in straight-line speed, especially if outfitted with the performance-suggesting RS package.
Looking down the other path, I would have liked to see the diesel engine available at launch. An estimated 40-mpg on the highway is quite good, but real world numbers will undoubtedly be lower, and an ultra-efficient oil burner would help make the most of that low drag coefficient.
Finally, this is a highly competitive segment and customers will have plenty of options when looking at alternatives to the Cruze. But given the car’s history of success, it doesn’t look like that’ll be much of a problem.
Updated 11/18/2015: Chevrolet announced prices for the 2016 Cruze which will be put on sale next spring. The model will be offered in four trim levels: L, LS, LT and Premier with prices starting from $17,495.