First Drive: 2016 Chevrolet Cruze – Digital Trends

The people at Jack White’s Third Man Records in Nashville, TN adore to say they do points differently compared to rivaling studios. Besides their ways for recording live music straight to vinyl, mixing tunes on the fly, the outfit is a one-stop-shop for each contemporary piece of audio artistry. Video production, graphic design, merchandizing, editing, photography, and even live shows are every one of products to be found within Third Man’s doors.

Perhaps as soon as Chevrolet gave journalists a tour of the studio as portion of its 2016 Cruze drive program, the automaker was hinting at something: that their latest generation sedan was similarly suited to address the diverse calls for of a compact auto shopper.

Lighter and tighter

When Chevrolet introduced its Cruze in 2011, it was the brand’s initial legitimate compact model in decades (the Cobalt doesn’t count), and despite being “from the game” for every one of that time, Chevy’s entrant was broadly praised as a handsome, fun-to-drive alternative to the status quo.

Five years later, while the Cruze continues to sell well for the U.S. automaker, lots of of the car’s rivals have actually leveled-up along with fresh exteriors, brand-new safety technologies, and frugal motors. In fact, the Cruze was among the least fuel efficient in its 2015 class, due in portion to its heft and aging engines. along with such formidable competition, Chevy knew it required much more compared to a mere tune-up for 2016, so it started at the compact’s foundation.

Thanks to the use of hot-stamped, high-strength steel and aluminum in portions of the 2016 Cruze’s architecture, Chevy has actually pulled 53 pounds simply from the car’s frame, the largest part of a 250-pound weight savings total compared to the 2015 model. This brand-new construction way additionally leads to a 27-percent stiffer chassis. Additionally, the vehicle’s wheelbase is longer by concerning an inch, affording two inches of much-required legroom to rear-seat passengers.

Weight reduction and handling tweaks have actually retuned the Cruze to the compact driver’s auto podium.

The suspension is a MacPerhson strut front and torsion beam rear setup, standard for the segment, though Chevy has actually incorporated front rebound springs and hydraulic bushings in the rear axle to recommendations along with ride comfort and handling. Refinement in the suspension geometry and a quicker steering rack provide the 2016 Cruze an enthusiastic driving nature, perhaps only bested by the Mazda3. Plunging in to several of Tennessee’s much more curvaceous roads, I found the rack-mounted electric steering to offer a respectable quantity of feedback, and while front-wheel-steered understeer is inevitable, physique roll was held in check.

Related: First drive: 2016 Chevrolet Malibu

I was additionally able to provide the Cruze a real-globe braking test thanks to a navigational blunder. Having simply concerning missed my turn on an abandoned country road, I mashed the brake pedal and came to an admirably abrupt protect against along with simply enough room to make the hard left. every one of told, the weight reduction and handling tweaks have actually retuned the Cruze to the compact driver’s auto podium.

Frugal yet feisty

For 2016, Chevy has actually introduced an all-brand-new 1.4-liter Ecotec turbocharged four-cylinder across its entire Cruze trim line. The brand-new mill produces 155 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, which the automaker claims will certainly get hold of the compact to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, the quickest sprint in its segment.

Offering a single motor across every one of trim levels enables even entry-degree Cruze shoppers to access solid performance and fuel economy figures. LS and LT Cruze models paired along with the brand-new six-speed automatic transmission will certainly control 30 mpg city and 42 mpg highway, while the manual-equipped cars shed 1 mpg of city and highway efficiency. If you want the Premier spec, which is weighed down by much more features and a Watts linkage rear suspension, you’ll still standard 30 mpg in the city, yet sacrifice 2 highway miles per gallon.
2016 Chevrolet Cruze

Though I didn’t have actually a opportunity to sample the manual-equipped model, the six-speed automatic is vastly much more refined compared to its predecessor. Shifts are smoother, quicker, and much more in tune along with driver behavior. Rival models that have actually transitioned to CVT’s could benefit from an extra ounce of fuel efficiency, yet the sacrifice to performance is earned much more obvious after driving the Cruze.

Related: First drive: 2016 Honda Civic

The brand-new motor is much more compared to spritely at low-speed acceleration, though passing electricity isn’t abundant. At full throttle, the Cruze additionally yields a bit of torque-steer, yet not enough to pull the wheel harshly in one direction. as soon as the hatchback version hits showrooms this Fall, it will certainly be interesting to see if this engine is as competent propelling the added weight, yet at least in sedan form, Chevy’s Ecotec unit is among the sweetest in its class.

Suited for socialites

While lots of auto segments are in flux, the compact auto buyer has actually remained young, tech-savvy, and style-focused. To that end, exactly how does the 2016 Cruze stack up?

Design has actually been critical to the Cruze’s victory these past 5 years, and thankfully, Chevy hasn’t fussed along with the car’s exterior too dramatically. Elements of the shapely brand-new Malibu can easily be found in the Cruze’s front and rear fascia, which fulfill the auto simply as well as its big brother. adore the Malibu, the profile is my beloved angle, along with handsome physique panel creases and a smooth transition from roof to boot lid.

Inside, it would certainly appear every one of yet the driver’s display and gauges have actually been refined, softened, and modernized. I wish the piano black trim trend would certainly die already, yet there are worse crimes to commit within a cabin. In Premier spec, the leather seating surfaces are comfortable while the front buckets themselves are nicely shaped and bolstered.

Inside, it would certainly appear every one of yet the driver’s display and gauges have actually been refined, softened, and modernized.

Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system is surprisingly quick, thanks to an all-brand-new processor, and the screen is effortless to navigate. A 7.0-inch screen is standard while an 8.0-inch unit is available on upper trim levels. And here’s where we get hold of in to the Cruze’s appeal to the compact market. every one of LT and above trim levels come standard along with a 4G LTE wifi hotspot, 24 gigs of data (or two years, whichever comes first), Onstar, Apple Carplay and Androd Auto. No others compact offers the same degree of connectivity.

Onstar has actually been among Chevrolet’s talking points for a while now, yet it’s worth revisiting the technology for a moment, as some could be unaware of just what it entails. every one of 2016 Cruze vehicles will certainly come along with access to the Onstar app, which lets drivers remotely lock/unlock their cars, start them, and check auto diagnostics. While the 2016 Civic additionally offers several of these features, they aren’t standard. If you go with LT and above trims, you’ll additionally get hold of Onstar’s concierge service.

Related: Chevrolet’s Cruze Hatch blends practicality and style in Detroit

Chevy has actually incorporated a few brand-new safety goodies for 2016 (and keeps 10 airbags standard), including lane preserving assist, rear cross traffic alert, and forward collision alert along with distance monitor. While these are every one of fantastic features and performed well throughout my tests, I’m stumped as to why adaptive cruise regulate isn’t even available as an option. It’s not as much a safety feature as it is a convenience function, yet compact cars regularly equal commuter vehicles, and driver fatigue is reasonable considerably along with adaptive cruise control.

Back in business

The combo of updates for 2016 put the Cruze sedan spine in the leadership circle of compact offerings. While some challengers can easily be optioned to luxury car-rivaling specifications, the Cruze sticks to its strengths as a frugal, attractive, and spunky driver’s choice.

Pricing for the 2016 Cruze kicks off at $17,495 (including destination) for the manual-only L trim, $18,995 for LS, $20,995 for the LT, and $23,995 for the range-topping Premier grade. The Premier is the only grade that comes exclusively along with a six-speed automatic, while LS and LT trims can easily include the auto gearbox for one more $1,000. The only others standalone package is Chevy’s RS styling kit, which retails for $695 on LT vehicles and $995 on Premier cars, where it adds 18-inch wheels.

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is on sale now.


  • Frugal yet feisty motor
  • Attractive aesthetics
  • Brawny brakes
  • Socialite-savvy tech


  • Driver gauges necessity a facelift
  • Missing some convenience and safety options