2016 Chevrolet Cruze Rating Breakdown
2016 chevrolet cruze
EPA est City/Hwy
Starting at
1.4L Turbo
153 hp

Starting at



1.4L Turbo


153 hp





2016 Chevrolet Cruze

- The Car Connection
The Car Connection Expert Review
John Voelcker

John Voelcker

Senior Editor

  • Sedan only for 2016 (hatch next year)
  • Styling too close to Volt
  • Still no performance options
  • No adaptive cruise or crash braking
chevrolet cruze 2016

MSRP Starting From


The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze uses the same rakish, wedge-shaped profile as the Volt and similar cockpit styling; if anything, they're too close in style.

The shape of the 2016 Chevy Cruze is more rakish and less upright than its predecessor, which was a classic three-box sedan with a defined trunk. The new car has a handsome, chiseled look, with a window line that drops at the front and a wedge-shaped fastback profile with relatively little change in angle from the rear window to the trunk lid. It's a modern and attractive shape, but we've seen it before—in the similarly sized and quite similar-looking Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, in fact.

The two cars could almost be sedan (Cruze) and hatchback (Volt) versions of the same vehicle, and their interiors are similar too. This may not be a problem, since the Cruze is a mainstream small sedan starting under $20,000, while the Volt remains a specialized electric car starting above $33,000. The Cruze will also sell many times the number of units that the Volt will. But here's hoping that some of the Volt's tech-forward image rubs off on the much less expensive Cruze, and not the other way round.

The car's basic design received hundreds of hours of refinement in the wind tunnel to optimize the shape for the lowest possible aerodynamic drag. The drag coefficient is 0.29, but it's still identifiable as a new Chevrolet, with the same dual-grille front end as the Volt, the Malibu, and the Impala sedans. There's a bit more brightwork on the top-end models, and LED lighting has been introduced for the headlamps and taillamps.

The car is low, lean, and distinctly sportier than its predecessor, and that carries over to the interior. Again very similar to that of the Volt, it has straightforward instruments in a pod in front of the driver and a 7.0- or 8.0-inch touchscreen display in the center of the dash on every model. Controls are logical and intuitive, and brightwork is used to outline them.

The nicest interiors are the two-tone options on the Premier trim level, but all versions of the interior are a clean and cohesive design. Overall, it's modern without being overly stylized or too digital for mainstream buyers.

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze uses the same rakish, wedge-shaped profile as the Volt and similar cockpit styling; if anything, they're too close in style.

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze presently offers just one engine; it handles well but is more of a competent all-rounder than a sport sedan.

In its initial release, the 2016 Chevy Cruze offers only one engine—a 153-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder—and choice of 6-speed automatic transmission or, on lower-end models, a 6-speed manual.

Chevrolet quotes a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 7.7 seconds, and the 2016 Cruze is agile in around-town use. Like so many cars designed for tougher, rising corporate average fuel-economy rules, it reaches power limits that are just a little lower than you may expect during hard acceleration. You'll find you will floor the car on that short, uphill highway on-ramp; the car will get you safely into traffic, but it doesn't have a lot of reserve left when it does.

Chevrolet promises it will add a 1.6-liter turbodiesel option early in the 2017 model year that will be the lineup's fuel-economy champ. A stop-start system is standard on all versions; it works smoothly and restarts quickly.

With up to 250 pounds less weight than its predecessor, the new Cruze has been designed to be more responsive and nimble, with a higher "fun to drive" quotient overall. Chevy's largely achieved that; the car handles well, cornering flat and staying firmly planted on the road while responding quickly and predictably to steering and power inputs.

Top Premier trims get an improved Watt’s link rear suspension arrangement, for crisper roadholding, while the rest of the lineup uses a conventional torsion-beam setup. All versions have rack-mounted electric power steering, and extended-life Duralife rotors for the four-wheel disc setup. It's no sport sedan, but it handles more confidently better than some of its Japanese and Korean competitors.

As always, ride quality is sensitive to wheel choice. The 2016 Cruze offers four different sizes of wheels and tires, from 15-inch steel rims on the base L and LS up through 16-inch alloys on the LT, 17-inch alloys on the Premier, and 18-inch alloy wheels with low-profile tires on the Premier RS version. The bigger wheels look more stylish on the wedge shape, and seem to hold the road a bit better, but they ride worse. The most compliant ride, in fact, came in the base car we tested, and it had less road noise to boot.

Overall, the new Cruze strikes the right balance between a firm but comfortable ride and confident roadholding, though you'll get the best ride from the smallest wheels whose tires have tall sidewalls.

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze presently offers just one engine; it handles well but is more of a competent all-rounder than a sport sedan.

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze rides quietly and offers decent but not extraordinary interior room.

The 2016 Chevy Cruze is a lower, leaner, and larger vehicle than its predecessor. Though it looks smaller visually, it is 3 inches longer overall than the outgoing model, and its wheelbase is an inch longer too. That provides 2 inches more leg room in the rear, keeping the Cruze competitive with increasingly large "compact" small sedans like the Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra, some of which now qualify as mid-size under NHTSA measurements.

The front seats are comfortable, with especially good bolstering in the higher-end Premier RS versions. The rear seat will handle two standard-sized adults, and the Cruze offers more knee room than the aging Ford Focus or the new Hyundai Elantra. GM says the new Cruze provides mid-size interior room in a small car.

Since the Cruze is a global model, selling as an upmarket sedan in some markets, Chevy has tried to give it an "upscale ambience" inside, with a dual cockpit look and premium cabin appointments clearly inspired by the larger Impala and Malibu sedans. The two-tone treatment and leather trim of the high-end Premier versions are elegant and the contrasting stitching is a nice touch, but the quilted nylon trim insets on base models carry a whiff of rental-car cost-cutting. To be fair, that was one of only a very few design elements that felt cheap—though the 4.2-inch information display between the two round gauges in the instrument cluster is only monochrome, against the full-color displays of the larger and pricier sedans in the Chevy lineup.

The structure underpinning the Cruze is new, both stronger and lighter than what’s used in the previous Cruze model, providing a better-tuned ride and more precise handling. The new Cruze is very quiet even at speed under light power, though accelerating with gusto lets you know that the small engine is working hard. The ride is firm, and relatively smooth with most tire choices.

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze rides quietly and offers decent but not extraordinary interior room.

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze hasn't yet been fully rated by the NHTSA or IIHS; it offers most of the latest active-safety aids, but not all.

Crash-test ratings aren't fully in for the 2016 Chevy Cruze yet. The IIHS gives the new Cruze its highest rating of "Good" on the side impact and moderate-overlap front impact tests, but hasn't rated it on other measures yet. The NHTSA hasn't rated it at all.

A rearview camera and 10 airbags are standard, and the new Cruze offers two optional packages of electronic active-safety systems that are mostly complete, with two omissions. The Safety 1 package bundles the "rear-facing" systems, which are blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking assist. Safety 2 adds lane-keeping assist, intelligent headlights, and a forward-collision warning system with a following distance indicator to the first package.

The two missing items on the 2016 Cruze are adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, which are offered on a few of the latest small-sedan competitors. Chevy says its data showed those two items to be less important to buyers than the systems being offered, which it says are "priced for accessibility," and will thus be selected by more buyers.

Outward vision in the new Cruze is good but not superb, with the driver's forward view clear due to the drooping nose, but rear three-quarter vision only average (if not as bad as that of the competing Honda Civic).

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze hasn't yet been fully rated by the NHTSA or IIHS; it offers most of the latest active-safety aids, but not all.

NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Models

Overall Rating


Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Crash Rating: (4/5)
Overall Side Barrier Rating: Not Rated
NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating: (4/5)

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Models

Side Impact Test Not Tested
Roof Strength Test Not Tested
Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint Not Tested
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results Not Tested
IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results Not Tested

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze trim levels are carefully staggered from affordable base to fully optioned Premier.

Trim levels on the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze range from the base L model, with a starting price well under $20,000, up to the Premier and Premier RS models at the top end. In between are the high-volume LS and LT versions, which will provide the bulk of U.S. Cruze sales, according to Chevy. The 6-speed manual transmission can be ordered on the base L, LS, and LT models, while the Premier is offered only with the 6-speed automatic.

All 2016 Cruze models include a standard rearview camera and a 7.0-inch MyLink touchscreen system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility as standard to let occupants use smartphone-enabled apps—streaming audio, for example—via the vehicle’s screen. OnStar is also standard on all versions.

The base L model isn't likely one you'll see often, but it offers a lower price and a bare-bones specification with a 6-speed manual gearbox only, 15-inch steel wheels, and plastic wheel covers. It does includes air conditioning, a 60/40 split rear seat back, and a driver's seat with manual height adjustment.

The LS is effectively the high-volume base model, gaining niceties like an armrest on the console and carpeted floor mats. It also adds the option of a 6-speed automatic.

Moving up to the LT gains you quite a lot of extra equipment. Among the additions are a six-speaker audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio, amenities like dual reading lamps, cruise control, audio and phone controls on the steering wheel, front fog lamps, heated door mirrors, 16-inch aluminum wheels, a rear center armrest with cupholders, and a compact spare tire rather than a sealant and inflator kit.

The Premier brings in high-end features like premium leather upholstery with contrast stitching, heated steering wheel and rear seats, ambient interior lighting, and illuminated vanity mirrors. Premier models get an improved Watt’s link rear suspension, for crisper roadholding, along with 17-inch aluminum wheels.

The RS package, optional on the LT and Primer models only, adds restyled front bodywork and grilles, changes to the rear bumper, aero add-ons for the rocker panels, a rear spoiler, and 18-inch alloy wheels with low-profile tires.

A Sun and Sound package adds a larger 8.0-inch center touchscreen display, a color driver-information display between the instruments, and a 9-speaker Bose audio system, along with a sunroof. On the Premier model, a navigation system can be added to this package.

For electronic active-safety systems, the Driver Confidence package bundles blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert systems with rear parking assist sensors. For the Premier model only, a Driver Confidence 2 package adds forward-collision warnings, lane-keeping assist, and intelligent headlight control. Neither automatic emergency braking nor adaptive cruise control is offered on any Cruze version for 2016.

Finally, an Enhanced Convenience package—again only for the Premier—bundles automatic climate control, heated rear seats, wireless charging in a slot on the console for smartphones designed to accept it, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and a 110-volt outlet. Chevy notes as well that the optional 4G LTE data connection and associated internet hotspot capability distinguish the Cruze from other cars in its segment.

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze trim levels are carefully staggered from affordable base to fully optioned Premier.

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The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is rated at 33 to 35 mpg combined, competitive with the latest entrants in its class.

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze gets EPA fuel-economy ratings that are competitive with the best new entrants in its class.

The highest ratings—30 mpg city, 42 highway, 35 combined—come in the models below the Premier trim level, fitted with the single 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. You'll lose 1 mpg combined if you opt for the high-end Premier version, which is rated at 30/40/34 mpg. And you'll lose 2 mpg combined if you swap for the base 6-speed manual transmission, rated at 29/41/33 mpg combined. A relatively smooth start-stop system is standard on all models.

Those numbers compare to a best of 35 mpg combined for the new Honda Civic, the same number achieved by a single Ford Focus version—with a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine and 6-speed manual gearbox—and the Toyota Corolla LE Eco. And they're considerably better than the 32 mpg combined for the latest Hyundai Elantra and the updated Nissan Sentra.

Chevrolet promises that it will add a 1.6-liter turbodiesel option to the Cruze for 2017, which will likely be the efficiency champion in the lineup. But you'll have to wait a year for that one.

Don't get the new 2016 Cruze mixed up with the carryover Cruze Limited, the last-generation model, with combined ratings from 27 to 30 mpg and a special high-efficiency Cruze Limited Eco model rated at 31 mpg combined with an automatic or 33 mpg with a 6-speed manual. The new car outdoes all of those versions.

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is rated at 33 to 35 mpg combined, competitive with the latest entrants in its class.

Fuel Economy Information

Ratings Based on 4 cyl, 1.4 L, 6-Speed Manual



3 gals/100 miles