Detroit, MI — The famous Fillmore theatre just off of Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit was all abuzz with the reveal of the all-new, 2016 Chevrolet Cruze. And rightfully so; the Cruze has been an immense success for Chevy; it’s sold in 115 countries worldwide, over a third of Cruze owners are new to the brand, and over a third are younger than 35.
Of course, you need more than impressive past numbers to sell cars, so Chevy knew it had to up its Cruze game if it was going to continue to prosper in the ultra-competitive compact car segment.
“The goal with the new Cruze was to build on the old car’s success, and learn from it,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice-president of global product development.
That means the ’16 Cruze had to be more efficient, more comfortable, and more technically advanced than the old car.
As far as size goes, a look in the back seat reveals as surprising amount of legroom, thanks to almost 80 millimetres of length being added for ’16, and a class-leading 2,700 mm wheelbase. At the same time, over 100 kilos have been shaved from the car’s curb weight, thanks to the use of more lightweight materials for the body structure.
While the diet will help with fuel economy, the scrapping of the old 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine in favour of a 1.4L, turbocharged unit will both reduce fuel usage, and up the fun factor. It’ll be the only engine available at launch in Canada, until the diesel debuts next year. It can be paired with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, although the new turbo motor packaged with a proper H-pattern gearbox sounds like the way to go for me, even though most will likely opt for the auto.
Power is rated at 153 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque, which puts it ahead of the new three cylinder-powered Ford Focus. Chevy is calling for an 8-second 0-60 m.p.h. time, and an estimated 5.9L/100 km on the highway thanks to the engine’s use of aluminum for the cylinder block and head, and of low friction materials for the piston rings and camshaft. Auto start/stop tech will also come as standard.
Styling wise, the Cruze displays a new look for Chevrolet; the trademark split-grille remains, but it’s a little narrower, a little sleeker on the Cruze than it’s been in the past. New, narrower headlights and some subtle creases on the doors contribute to the new car’s lower stance, as does the sloping roofline. It’s worlds apart from the old car, but does struggle to define itself a little from the likes of the Honda Civic and Chrysler 200.
While Chevrolet was quick to point out during the presentation that the old car’s interior was pretty good, a host of upgrades are looking to make this one even better. You’ll be able to choose from all sorts of interior finishes ranging from matte black to aluminum trim, and there’ll even be an option to select rear seats as part of an all-new “Premier” top trim, where it replaces “LTZ” from last year. Those heated seats are an especially big deal in Canada, while the added rear leg- and knee room is a big deal everywhere.
The same goes for an all-new suite of infotainment additions, where the Cruze will be available with Apple Carplay and Android Auto capabilities, which should do well to supplement an all-new Chevrolet MyLink interface (and its 7-inch touchscreen) and the return of OnStar, which will also provide 4G WiFi capabilities.
Staying in the tech department, we move from on-board tech to driver aids, which have been expanded for the 2016 Cruze. Now, you’ll get the change to choose side blind-zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist and forward collision alert.
GM CEO Mary Barra said at the reveal that “when (Chevrolet) enters a segment, we expect to win.” Time will tell if she’s right.