Chevrolet has completely redesigned the compact Cruze for 2016, moving it into its second generation with sharper exterior styling, a new dashboard design with upgraded materials and fresh technology, and a larger, lighter body.
There is also a new standard turbocharged 1.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine with stop/start technology (automatic transmission models), and newly standard Chevrolet MyLink with clear graphics and intuitive menu structure, featuring Android Auto and Apple Car Play for app integration.
Chevrolet also recently enhanced the performance of MyLink for quicker responses.
The new body weighs about 250 pounds less, meaning less work for the 153-horsepower engine (up 15 from 2015), while the larger interior size translates to more room for rear passengers – 37.3-inches headroom, 36.1-inches legroom – making the Cruze comfortable for four passengers. The middle rear position is best left to kids.
Cruze offers four trims – L, LS, LT, and Premier – priced from $17,495 to $23,995, including $875 destination charges.
The Cruze L has a manual transmission; LS and LT have either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, and Premier has an automatic only.
EPA fuel-economy estimates are impressive: 30 mpg city/42 highway for the L, LS and LT automatic models; 29/41 for the manual versions; and 30/40 for the Premier.
Standard equipment across the line includes OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity and Wi-Fi hotspot; 10 air bags, including front knee air bags and front and rear side-impact and head-curtain air bags; 60/40-split folding rear seatback; Bluetooth and USB connections; tilt/telescopic steering wheel; and a rearview camera.
All models come with Chevy Complete Care with two scheduled maintenance visits, roadside assistance, courtesy transportation, three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, and five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Models add or update features and offer more options per level. L starts with basic equipment such as air conditioning, a four-speaker sound system, 15-inch steel wheels, and height-adjustable driver seat.
LS adds a front center console/armrest, carpeted floor mats, and an optional automatic transmission.
LT upgrades to 16-inch alloy wheels, and adds a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio (three month trial), a rear armrest with cupholders, LED running lights, heated mirrors, cruise control, and steering-wheel-mounted phone and audio controls. A Convenience Package offers keyless enter and go, heated front seats, eight-way power driver seat and remote engine start for automatic models.
Exterior colors vary according to model, with the base L offering only two (with one interior color available), while the Premier model offers eight exterior colors and three interior colors.
Premier, the model I drove, has the Convenience Package features as standard equipment. It has an upgrade to 17-inch wheels, and brings ambient interior lighting, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls behind the hand rests, leather sport seats, height-adjustable front passenger seat, a compact spare on a steel rim, automatic dual-projection headlights with signature LED daytime running lights, and upgraded rear suspension.
My Premier was Silver Ice Metallic with a striking Jet Black/Kalahari interior. An RS appearance package ($995) upgraded the wheels to 18-inch machined-face aluminum with all-season tires, added a sport body kit, RS lettering, front fog lights, and a rear spoiler. The body-color door handles featured a chrome strip, and the windows had bright trim all around.
A Sun & Sound with Navigation Package ($1,995) added a power sunroof, MyLink audio system with navigation and a larger eight-inch touchscreen, select Bluetooth streaming, a Bose Premium nine-speaker audio system, and an enhanced multi-color driver information display.
Driver Confidence II ($790, exclusive on Premier) brought Intellibeam automatic high-beam headlights, rear park assist, following-distance indicator, forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, and lane-change alert with blind-zone alert.
Also exclusive for Premier, an Enhanced Convenience Package ($865) added power windows, with express up and down driver’s window; automatic air conditioning; auto-dimming interior rearview mirror, wireless personal-device charging, heated rear outboard seats and a 110-volt AC power outlet.
OnStar is standard for all Chevrolet Cruze models and includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, and stolen-vehicle assistance.
My Cruze had the OnStar Basic Plan with navigation and more (six month trial), and OnStar Remotelink App for connection to a mobile device in order to lock/unlock/start the vehicle from a distance, send directions, view fuel information, and more. A 4G LTE Hotspot was also standard on my Cruze.
My Cruze was easy to drive, quiet and smooth, comfortable and attractive. With $4,645 in options, the total delivered price was $28,640.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.