Chevrolet Cruze Sedan grows up with fuel-thrifty turbo boost

2016, Chevrolet, Cruze

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Glistening in bright spotlights at the Los Angeles International Auto Show, the redesigned 2016 Cruze Sedan by Chevrolet appears bigger and slicker than Cruze's 2011-2015 first-generation predecessor.

Subsequent drive time -- cruising in a Cruze on California 1 the Pacific Coast Highway -- reveals that the revamped compact-class sedan seems agile and easy to drive with plenty firepower on tap to move on up in the fast lane.

What's the big idea here?

Chevrolet has recast the 2016 Cruze Sedan on a longer but lighter front-wheel-drive platform, dressed it in a slick yet sculpted shell and filled the expanded-length passenger compartment with nice materials and quality switchgear, then packed aboard a new turbo-charged yet gas-sipping engine plus more electronic safety features.

Body styling for Cruze 2016 is streamlined yet tailored featuring Chevrolet's dual-port grille and thin sweeping headlamp bezels up front plus LED signature daytime running lamps on top trim versions, a coupe-like silhouette with a high belt line on flanks, then a fast-sloping tail treatment with LED lamps.

Concealed beneath Cruze's chiseled skin is the new stronger but lighter-weight body structure.

Cruze's wheelbase length measures to 106.3 inches long while the distance from the prow up front to the back bumper tallies to 183.7 inches. Compared to the first-generation Cruze, the 2016 Cruze is 2.7 inches longer in overall length with the wheelbase also stretching longer. These expansions forge a roomier and more comfortable passenger compartment with increased legroom for backseat riders.

Vehicle handling improves on the 2016 Cruze due to the independent front suspension using MacPherson struts with side-loaded strut modules.

The rack-mounted steering system has electric power assistance, which contributes to powertrain fuel efficiency.

Brakes consist of a disc at every wheel with extended-life Duralife rotors plus electronic links to an anti-lock brake system and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with traction control and rollover mitigation. Optional electronic safety features include Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Alert.

Chevrolet constructs the 2016 Cruze Sedan in four trim grades: L, LS, LT and Premier.

All issues draw from a new 1.4-liter aluminum 4-cylinder engine fitted with turbo-charger (TC), electronic throttle control (ETC), gasoline direct injection (GDI) technology and continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) apparatus. The engine also employs GM's fuel-saving stop/start technology -- it shuts off/on in certain circumstances like at a stoplight.

The turbo 4-pack delivers 153 hp at 5600 rpm with torque of 177 lb-ft at 2000-4000 rpm.

Cruze's EPA-estimated fuel economy scores for the plant tally to 29/41 mpg city/highway with the standard 6-speed manual transmission (M32) or 30/42 mpg city/highway with the optional 6-speed electronic automatic (Hydra-Matic 6T35).

The dual-cockpit cabin layout for Cruze plants a pair of bucket seats in front of a bench for three with the seatback split 60/40 and folding to add room for cargo.

Entry issue Cruze L rolls on 15-inch steel wheels, stocks the 6-speed manual shifter and standard gear like air conditioning, fabric seat upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, tilting/telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, 4-speaker audio kit with USB port, rearview camera system and MyLink infotainment system with 7-inch touch-screen.

The up-level Cruze LS trim gains a front center armrest and carpeted floor mats. It lists the 6-speed automatic transmission as an option.

Cruze LT provides 16-inch alloy wheels, the automatic transmission, LED running lights, heated mirrors, cruise control and a 6-speaker audio package.

Cruze Premier with 17-inch alloy wheels and the 6-speed automatic also gets a keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats, 8-way power driver's seat and a heated steering wheel.

Chevrolet's MSRP chart for the 2016 Cruze Sedan runs from $17,495 (Cruze L/MT6) to $23,995 (Cruze Premier/AT6).

By Bob Plunkett

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Images of the 2016, Chevrolet Cruze

2016 Chevy Cruze
2016 Chevy Cruze
2016 Chevy Cruze interior
2016 Chevy Cruze interior
2016 Chevy Cruze engine
2016 Chevy Cruze engine
2016 Chevrolet Cruze hatchback
2016 Chevrolet Cruze hatchback