Overall: Chevy’s second-generation compact is larger, lighter and sleeker. And if you choose, it can also be made more secure with the latest in active safety systems; a hatchback version will follow later.
Drivetrain: A new turbocharged four-cylinder engine is rated at 153 horsepower; former non-turbo base and optional turbo-diesel four-cylinders are gone; six-speed manual and automatic transmissions carry over. When viewing the spec sheets of General Motors’s four other 2016 new models, it’s apparent that weight reduction has been a principal objective in their development. That includes the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze that has tightened its belt to the tune of 250 pounds. That includes a 44-pound reduction in engine weight from switching to aluminum from cast iron for the engine block and a 24-pounds-lighter automatic transmission. The car’s basic architecture and suspension components have also slimed down. The Cruze’s sheetmetal is now among the more elegant in a compact-sedan class that includes some heavy hitters from Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Subaru. The interior is also roomier, especially the rear seat that adults won’t view as a penalty box. The rest of the cabin has extra soft-touch material covering the dashboard, door panels and floor console. The engine lineup has been reduced to just a single offering for now; a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that puts out 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. That’s an increase of 15 horsepower and 29 pound-feet from the previous 1.4 turbo. Combined with the lighter structure, the Cruze should prove a peppy small car. Handling the shifting duties is a six-speed manual transmission and optional six-speed automatic. While it’s sad to see the muscular turbo-diesel depart, an all-new version is slated to arrive for the 2017 model year. Meanwhile, the previous non-turbo 1.8-liter I4 base engine won’t be missed. The Cruze comes in four trim levels, starting with the L that includes air conditioning, rearview camera plus a fair assortment of convenience items such as a seven-inch touch-screen. At the opposite end the newly designated Premier is prepped with heated front and back leather-covered seats and a full range of infotainment, communications and crash avoidance features. A Premier-based RS package adds a unique grille and nose, fog lamps, chin spoiler, rocker panels, rear spoiler and 18-inch wheels.
Base price (incl. destination): $18,000 (est.)
Type: Four-door sedan
Base engine (hp): 1.4-liter DOHC I4, turbocharged (153)
Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Six-speed manual; six-speed automatic (opt.)
MPG (city/highway): 26/40 (AT, est.)
Weight (lb.): 2,850