New Car Review

2016 Chevrolet Cruze: First Drive Review

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Limited LT Sedan
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze
$8,939
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Limited LT Sedan
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze
$12,450
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze LT Sedan
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze
$14,450
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Limited LS Sedan
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze
$11,400
RELATED READING
See all Chevrolet Cruze articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Rob Nestora May 2016

The Chevrolet Cruze has faced stiff competition in its compact segment from the Toyota Corolla, the Mazda3 and the Honda Civic since its debut in 2011. Designed as a replacement for the Chevrolet Cobalt, the Cruze was originally hailed for its refinement and for offering amenities normally found in midsize cars. However, after 5 model years with only minor improvements, the Cruze had begun to lag behind other newly redesigned compacts such as the Ford Focus and the Kia Forte in terms of features and style.

The completely redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is now a totally different car from the inside out. We recently had the opportunity to drive the brand-new Cruze before it hit the showroom floor, and here's what we thought.

What's New?

The Chevrolet Cruze has been completely redesigned for the 2016 model year. Gone are the angular design cues, and in their place is a look that more resembles a smaller version of its newly redesigned stablemate, the Chevrolet Malibu. The front fascia is virtually unrecognizable in comparison with the outgoing model, with a more modern front grille and the addition of eye-catching LED-accented headlights.

The interior styling has also been completely rethought, increasing functionality and comfort. Amenities are intelligently designed and placed, offering a clean, functional and attractive atmosphere for drivers and passengers alike. Rear legroom has been increased to 36.1 inches, which translates to a more comfortable ride for full-grown adults traveling in the back of the compact. Even being well over 6 feet tall, I was able to sit in the rear of the Cruze without feeling like a lanky sardine. In addition to increased spaciousness, heated rear seats are now available as well, an option also found in its main competitor, the Honda Civic.

In addition to upgraded styling, the Cruze has shed substantial weight over last year's model, dropping as much as 250 pounds depending on the trim level. This reduced weight not only increases the Cruze's agility but also ups performance and fuel efficiency. A brand-new, direct-injected 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is shared across all trim levels, returning up to 42 miles per gallon on the highway and propelling the diminutive Chevy from 0 to 60 miles per hour in an estimated 7.7 seconds.

Ample Technology

The new Chevrolet Cruze offers a wide range of the latest technology, improving everything from in-car entertainment to safety. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard features on all trim levels, allowing for a more user-friendly interface between smart devices and Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system. Wireless charging capability has also been added for the 2016 model year, offering a cable-free approach to replenishing your device's battery. In addition, OnStar with 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity is also offered as an option, allowing for 24 gigabytes of Wi-Fi data usage over 2 years.

Chevrolet also offers a variety of safety technology in the Cruze. In addition to a class-leading 10 airbags, the vehicle features forward-collision alert with automatic braking, a blind spot monitoring system, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert. Other additional safety features on the 2016 Cruze include a rear LATCH child-seating system, automatic headlamps and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Behind the Wheel

Bolstered by an array of new features, the new Cruze is an absolute pleasure to drive. The turbocharged 4-cylinder engine supplies ample power while returning excellent fuel-efficiency numbers. While it's no speed demon, the power plant has plenty of pep for a compact sedan. The available automatic transmission is silky-smooth as well, providing for seemingly effortless shifting throughout a variety of conditions.

Chevrolet has also included start/stop functionality in the Cruze to improve fuel efficiency in stop-and-go driving and reduce gas consumption while idling. Whereas some vehicles with this feature can be slow to start back up on occasion, the Cruze accomplishes this feat with seamless transitions that are difficult to notice even when you're looking for them. In fact, it took the better part of an afternoon of driving through the city of Nashville to realize that this feature was even working at all.

Handling on the Cruze is bolstered by an improved chassis architecture, resulting in a 27 percent more rigid body. This increased stiffness aids the Cruze in handling, along with the MacPherson strut front-suspension design. At moderate speeds, the Cruze feels surefooted and nimble, as demonstrated on a jaunt through the windy roads of the Nashville hills. With virtually every curve, the Cruze proved ready and able to hug the road like a squirrel on a pine tree. On the other hand, the Cruze is certainly no race car. Higher speeds reveal the compact Chevy's limitations, producing a bit of float after 70 mph.

Our Take

After driving the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze in a variety of conditions over the course of 2 days, it's safe to say the newly redesigned compact is a substantial leap forward over the outgoing model. The substantial amount of available technology and Wi-Fi connectivity make the Cruze much more attractive to tech-savvy drivers while enhancing an already improved driving experience. In fact, we think the new Cruze is an appropriate little brother to the stellar Malibu and a worthy competitor for the newly redesigned Honda Civic.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle's manufacturer.

Find a Chevrolet Cruze for sale

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Limited LT Sedan
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze
$8,939
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Limited LT Sedan
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze
$12,450
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze LT Sedan
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze
$14,450
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Limited LS Sedan
Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze
$11,400
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Chevrolet Cruze: First Drive Review - Autotrader