2016 Chevrolet Cruze

Starting MSRP: $16,620 - $23,120

Estimated MPG: 29 city / 41 hwy

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Review

The all-new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is an attractive and spacious compact car with a comfortable interior and fuel-efficient turbocharged power. Designed to stand strong in the highly competitive compact segment, the redesigned Cruze provides a great option for buyers that want a tech-filled, budget-friendly sedan with excellent utility.

By Chris Brewer
Last Updated 06/27/2016

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is a four-door, five-passenger compact car. It’s been completely redesigned for 2016 and is available in four trims: L, LS, LT and Premier. This front-wheel drive sedan is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that’s mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

Chevrolet’s all-new Cruze is an exciting entry in the constantly evolving compact car segment. While the Cruze has always had a favorable reputation for being nicely equipped, comfortable and efficient, the all-new model uses less fuel and is bigger and better than ever. The standard turbocharged engine provides good power and excellent fuel economy.

Exterior

Exterior
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The all-new Cruze is 2.7 inches longer and almost an inch shorter than the outgoing model. The new dimensions, along with faster windshield and rear profile rakes, combine to create a sportier look. Providing benefits that transcend simple aesthetics, the new design is extremely slippery through the air with a drag coefficient of only 0.28, and this attribute contributes to the Cruze’s excellent fuel economy.

Inspired by the 2014 Impala and all-new Malibu, the 2016 Cruze is the latest General Motors product to be enhanced by the brand’s new global design language. The new design, complete with layered line work, gives the Cruze a more muscular look than its predecessor. The detailed headlights and grille add to the effect by giving the new Cruze a premium appeal that sets it apart in a crowded compact segment.

Interior

Interior
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Once you sit inside and close the door, it is obvious that Chevrolet has worked to make the all-new Cruze bigger, better and quieter than ever. There is an intangibly roomy quality to the Cruze’s cabin. For instance, the dashboard blends seamlessly into the doors, and this creates the impression that the car is wider than it really is.

Chevrolet’s signature dual-cockpit theme is approached in a straightforward way. The Cruze’s center stack showcases the MyLink touch screen where the majority of controls are found. The front seats are comfortable, and the driver seat is easy to configure. Unlike a few other compact vehicles we've recently driven, the seat has plenty of padding and doesn’t try to be overly sporty. The front passenger seat is comfortable, and with the four-way adjustability offered by our Premier trim, it accommodates the needs of most occupants.

The rear seats are where the 2016 model truly shines brighter than the outgoing model. With more rear legroom and 2 inches of additional knee room, the all-new Cruze bests many other vehicles in the segment. Families with two teenagers or three smaller children might be able to cross-shop the Cruze when looking at bigger and often more expensive midsize family sedans.

The base L model arrives with a nice collection of standard equipment. Power windows, power door locks and air conditioning are included in every model. A rearview camera, OnStar guidance and 4G LTE internet connectivity with a built in Wi-Fi hotspot are also standard fare.

Our top-trim Premier model adds premium touches like leather-appointed seats, ambient lighting and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. The Premier trim also offers heated front seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and phone controls, cruise control, keyless access and start and more.

Cargo capacity is good for the compact segment at 14.8 cubic feet, although LT and Premier models lose almost a cubic foot of space with a 13.9-cubic-foot trunk.

Performance

Performance
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The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. The efficient engine is tiny, but quite powerful considering the displacement. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and available in all but the top-tier Premier trim. A six-speed automatic is available in all but the base L model.

Fuel economy is excellent, even in a segment known for fuel-sippers. LT and LS models with the automatic earn 30/42 mpg city/highway, while manual transmission trims achieve 29/41 mpg city/highway. The top Premier trim earns 30/40 city/highway. The 13.7 gallon fuel tank provides excellent range.

The Cruze favors comfort, efficiency and utility over sheer performance. The ride quality is well above average for the segment, and our Premier trim truly lived up to its name. Highway cruising is a highlight. The suspension is gentle and provides miles of fatigue-free journeys.

The all-new Cruze made quick work of a commute that involves about 20 miles of frequently congested highway. Frankly, we were surprised and delighted at the capability of Chevy’s latest economy-minded sedan.

Though the car may fall short of being an enthusiast's pick, its numbers are impressive. Chevy claims the sedan reaches 60 mph in just 7.7 seconds, a testimony to the Cruze’s significant weight loss.

Asking if the all-new Cruze is fast misses the point; the little turbo does an excellent job balancing performance and efficiency. Moreover, its midrange torque is very good.

Technology

Technology
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The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze offers some unique options from a technology standpoint. Every Cruze includes the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch color touch screen. For the first time, the Cruze features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Both systems allow for seamless integration with your smartphone, allowing on-screen maps, voice-enabled text messaging and more.

The base four-speaker audio system is credible for basic audio reproduction. An optional six-speaker system like the one found in our Premier model will hit the mark for most listeners. Audiophiles will want to invest in the optional nine-speaker Bose system.

What really sets the Cruze apart is the standard OnStar guidance plan and 4G LTE internet connection with Wi-Fi connectivity. Chevrolet is a step ahead of other carmakers when it comes to built-in Wi-Fi. The Cruze's high-powered antenna makes dropped signals almost non-existent unless you are far off the beaten path.

Other optional tech features include wireless device charging, push-button start, satellite radio and more.

Safety

Safety
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Every 2016 Cruze comes standard with 10 air bags and a rearview camera. Its safety is further bolstered by Chevy’s inclusion of the powerful connected OnStar services including automatic crash response, emergency services and roadside assistance.

Driver assistance features such as forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring are also available in higher trims.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The base 2016 Cruze L arrives with a six-speed manual transmission, a turbocharged engine and a nice level of standard features for an entry-level compact. These features include a 7-inch infotainment system, OnStar 4G LTE and a rearview camera. Pricing for the Cruze L starts at $17,495, and this includes a destination charge of $875.

Our top-trim Cruze Premier includes leather seats, a six-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, remote vehicle start and much more for $23,120. Our review vehicle also included an $865 Enhanced Convenience package and a $790 Driver Confidence II package loaded with the latest safety technology.

The entry-level Cruze represents excellent value for a compact, and it's hard to argue with the appeal of its 41 mpg highway fuel economy. The base Cruze is an excellent pick for new drivers looking for a great car that won’t break the bank.

Higher-trim models are great picks for commuters who want a comfortable daily driver. The soft nature of the Cruze makes long highway miles slip by without fatigue, and the large rear seat and trunk add to the family friendliness of Chevy’s all-new compact sedan.

Overall

Overall
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We initially assumed that even with turbocharging, the Cruze's 1.4-liter engine would sacrifice performance and driving quality in the name of fuel economy. However, after spending a few minutes behind the wheel of Chevy’s all-new sedan, we realized we had misjudged what we have now dubbed “the little engine that could.” The comfortable nature of the Cruze was only complemented by the tiny turbo’s excellent midrange torque and high level of drivability.

The Cruze finds itself in what is arguably the most competitive segment. Great new options like the all-new 2016 Honda Civic and 2017 Hyundai Elantra are tough to beat, but the all-new Cruze stands its ground and offers features that leave quite a few comparable models far behind.