The world of compact cars is changing fast, and the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is proof. It’s been totally redesigned for the latest model year (as have several rivals), with some major changes compared to the outgoing model.
But what exactly is new? And is the latest Cruze worth a price premium over the 2015? To help you answer these questions, we’ve created a close comparison of the 2016 Cruze and last year’s edition.
On the outside, the new Cruze offers a radically different design than its predecessor. While the outgoing model had a familiar but slightly generic look, the new version touts a sweeping new style that gives it a sleeker, bolder appearance.
You’ll never have trouble telling apart the new Cruze from the outgoing model. The compact car has been changed in every area, from its front- and rear-end designs to the flowing new side profile.
The Cruze is heavily updated on the inside, too. While we liked the style of the old model’s controls, we really like the quality of the 2016 Cruze’s dramatically enhanced new cabin. There’s an updated look just about everywhere, including a bold dashboard design, a refreshed center control stack, and a new gauge cluster and steering wheel.
Of course, a redesign wouldn’t be a redesign if the new version didn’t offer a little more interior space. Don’t worry: The latest Cruze has that, too.
The outgoing Cruze offered three engines. Base models used a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that touted 138 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque while returning up to 25 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The midlevel Cruze Eco’s 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder delivered 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque while getting 26 mpg city/38 mpg hwy. Finally, the Cruze Diesel boasted a 151-hp 2.0-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder that reached as high as 28 mpg city/42 mpg hwy.
The new Cruze simplifies things a bit by only offering one engine, a 153-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. It returns up to 29 mpg city/41 mpg hwy, impressive figures for a gas-powered engine.
Features & Technology
Maybe the biggest improvement over the outgoing Cruze is the long list of technology you can now get in the new model. New features include a larger infotainment system, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, a wireless charging system, heated rear seats, a full-color driver information center and more.
And by more, we mean a lot more. If you’re into gadgets, features and equipment, you’ll want to pass on the outgoing Cruze and go straight to the new model — the two hardly even compare.
Given that the new and old Cruze share a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, you’d think performance would be about identical. But we found that the latest Cruze actually feels peppier than its predecessor while delivering far better gas mileage. We also like the smoother automatic transmission compared to the outgoing model.
The latest Cruze offers some additional improvements over its predecessor, including sharper handling and a surefooted, nimble feel on twisty back roads. We also like the latest model’s start/stop function, which is surprisingly seamless compared to similar systems in rival compact cars.
More than anything, however, we’re happy that Chevy got rid of the outgoing Cruze’s base-level 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, which was dull, noisy and unrefined. And we’re pleased to see improved interior materials and a larger cabin, especially in back, where rear legroom received a noticeable increase. In short, the new Cruze makes a big leap over the outgoing model, whether you’re a driver or a passenger.
The outgoing Chevrolet Cruze earned a perfect 5-star crash-safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It also earned generally good ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), though it fell short of a Top Safety Pick designation with a mediocre score of Marginal in the firm’s challenging small-overlap front crash test. The new Cruze hasn’t been out long enough for a rating from IIHS or NHTSA.
As for safety features, the 2015 Cruze touts everything you might expect, including standard anti-lock brakes, side-curtain airbags and traction control. However, it only offers a few of the latest safety features, including a backup camera, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.
The new Cruze offers much more, adding automatic high-beam control, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist and parking sensors. All of these are likely to be important features for any driver who prioritizes safety.
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze isn’t just a little better than the outgoing model — it’s a major improvement in just about every area. In addition to offering all the latest safety and convenience features, many of which aren’t available in the outgoing version, the 2016 Cruze touts a handsome new look, a larger interior with better materials, an improved driving experience and better gas mileage. We vastly prefer it to the 2015 model, and we think you will, too.