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Chevy dials it up a couple notches with its latest Cruze

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Sep 25, 2016

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


Chevrolet Cruze 4-Door Sedan Premier (Doug Stokes)

Review and photographs by Doug Stokes With this latest “All New” edition of its Cruze, Chevrolet has taken their once-modest compact car line up into luxury-adjacent territory. And our test version came into out hands with a feature list that seems to go on for pages, and a super-efficient turbocharged engine that delivers both power and economy. That’s really the first thing that you notice when driving, the paperwork says, “4-cylinder, 1.4 liter engine” and I think, “Okay, fine. This will get me there, but I’d better leave early.” Push down on the pedal all the way over to the right, and my posterior (being smartly driven back into the seat) says: “...Must be a typo!” No typo, this Premier edition engine put out a healthy 153 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. This engine’s variable valve timing, turbocharging, direct injection, and a (never-in-the-wrong-gear-ever) 6-speed Hydra-Matic make the famous little red RS (Rally Sport) badge on its grille much more of a warning than just an idle boast. This is the new world of turbocharging, taking the decades-old “hot-rod” technology and reshaping it into a slickly working part of the age old balancing act between performance and fuel efficiency. Here (except in the technical description of the engine) the words “Turbo”, “Turbocharged”, or even the letter “T” hardly appear in print and are certainly not proclaimed in metal lettering on the rear deck. There’s no wildly fluctuating “boost gauge” needle to watch and no abrupt eruption of power when the turbo “kicks-in” as in days past. Now, nicely tailored to the effort, electronically-guided turbocharging works in relative obscurity, but with far better results.


A vast improvement in the design department (Doug Stokes)

“Okay,” you say, “with all the horsepower, I’ll bet that sucker doesn’t get very good gas mileage...” How’s 30 city and 40 highway hit you? That’s what EPA DOT calls the numbers on this one (yours may vary). But again, modern engine control technology rides to the rescue and provides good power along with better than decent gas mileage. There’s even a stop/start (aka “golf kart”) mode that shuts the engine down at stoplights (if desired) I did not once “desire it” and avoided the feature with flying colors. The first Cruze models were okay/nice-looking, fairly bland, compact machines that worked hard and well. The new 2016 model is far more stylized with the mandatory (this decade) slash head lights (with sparklized LED trim), big mouth grille and deep (I mean deep!) horizontal character lines that flow the whole length of the car and finally reaching up out back to get a grip on the similarly-styled taillights. The Cruse is the compact car that Chevy needed, and there’s no more telling stat more than the fact that 53 percent of Cruze customers in the U.S. are all new to Chevrolet ... marketing people call those “conquest sales”. Chevy dealers call them, “Hello Neighbor!”


Chevy takes the once-modest compact car line into luxury-adjacent territory (Doug Stokes)

Chevy calls the interior of the Cruze a “connected environment” that “emphasizes human-technology interaction” which means there’s a 4G LTE hot spot, the MyLink audio system, Apple (and Android) Carplay capability, GM’s great On-Star, A Navigation system with 7-inch touchscreen, XM Radio, Keyless and Remote Vehicle Start, Power Bluetooth Streaming, USB ports, and all manner of other power devices (like an 8-way driver perch, heated seats up front and heated mirrors). The Cruze handled well, I’d not go as far as to call it a “California Canyon Carver” but it works well for general use and the brakes (discs all around) felt well capable of knocking off any of the sort of speed that the “turbo” wants to do. This one had the full complement of passive car control devices including GM’s Stabilitrak system with traction control. All of the above comes with a 3-year / 36K bumper-to-bumper warranty and a limited 5-year / 60K powertrain warranty that features roadside assistance and courtesy transportation. The price for the above wonderment is listed at $23,120. Our loaded machine had a grand total of $4,645 in extras. One of the add-ons boosts the “stock” Nav screen size to 8 inches and is part of a “Sun & Sound / Navigation bundle that has 9-speakers and adds $2K to the price (1,995).


Chevy calls the interior of the Cruze a “connected environment” (GM)

The body kit ... front spoiler, RS lettering, a bump up to 18-inch alloy wheels (you get 17’s with the $23,120 package) rear spoiler tacks on another $995. The $790 “Driver Confidence II Package” has most of the really new “drover assist” items that have come under some scrutiny just lately. Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert”, “Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning”, “Following Distance Indicator”, “Rear Traffic Alert”, and “Forward Collision Alert” (those are all real features) all at one time not too very long ago were the job of the device called “the driver”. These driver confidence-instillers added $790 to the total. (See sidebar: “Hands”) And finally $865 got us even more convenience in the form of automatic air-conditioning, wireless device charging, automatic driver’s mirror dimming, a 110- volt AC power outlet, and additional heat to the rear outboard positions of the seats. As you might be able to make out from the accompanying photos, our particular LA Car test machine was finished in a bright “Red Hot” red that fully complimented the style and snap that the new Cruze flaunts. Although honestly not a car on my “I’m in LOVE” list, the Cruze has really come a long way from its rather stolid beginnings, as we found out above. – DS


The new model is far more stylized with the slash headlights LED trim (Doug Stokes)

SIDEBAR COMMENT Automotive product planners and interior stylists have simply GOT to starting driving the cars that they design around on sunny days between the hours of 10am and 2pm. It should be a Federal statute. The sort of glare and sunspots that many of the chromed (what do we call them? “accents”? “bezels”? whatever) was more than too many times both maddening and intrusive. I’d not go far enough to call it unsafe, but I sure was not happy having to drive with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand shielding my eyes from reflections coming from INSIDE the car. The Cruze had an unhappy number of such sources (including the Chevy “bowtie” logo right in the middle of the steering wheel) all of which would have looked infinitively classier as brushed metal rather than bright chrome. And, for the record: This car was far from alone on my “glare list hall of shame”. I’ve actually run masking tape over offending sections of dashboard and left the tape on when I returned the car. - DS For more information about Chevrolet products, go to SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2016 Chevrolet Cruze 4-Door Sedan Premier Price: $23,120 (base) $28,640 (as tested) EPA fuel economy rating: 30 city/40 highway (miles per gallon) Engine: 1.4 liter DOHC in-line turbocharged four with variable valve timing and direct injection Horsepower: 153 at 5600 rpm Torque: 177 pound-feet at 2000-4000 rpm Transmission: 6-speed automatic Steering: Rack-mounted electric power steering Suspension Front: MacPherson strut-type with side-loaded strut modules, coil springs, direct-acting stabilizer bar Rear: Torsion beam with double-walled U-shaped profile Brakes: Four-wheel disc with ABS and ESC and Duralife rotors Dimensions Length: 183.7 inches Width: 70.6 inches Height: 57.4 inches Curb weight: 2932 pounds

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