Most improved but not quite enough
We Like: Its great styling and class-leading safety tech.
We Don’t Like: The cramped rear seat, poor ride on rough roads, and lack of power.
We don’t do a Most Improved award, but if we did, the Chevrolet Cruze would have that one locked up.
A few months ago, we published a Big Test of the latest compact sedans, and the Cruze finished second to the Honda Civic. That same Civic was a finalist for last year’s Car of the Year award. But as it was unable to best the Civic, the Cruze had no clear path to winning this year’s COTY contest.
That’s not to say the Cruze is a second-class car. To the contrary, the judges had a lot of nice things to say about it. “Quite a bit of mass came out,” Frank Markus said, “and quite a bit of gizmology went in.”
The Cruze received high praise for its styling inside and out (save the odd slash on the fender at the base of the A-pillars). The gaggle of features for the price was also commended, and the cellphone-holding slot in the center console received several call-outs. We also lauded the class-leading optional safety technology.
But there were complaints. Behind the wheel, judges were disappointed with the poor ride quality on rough pavement and a lack of pep from the turbocharged four-cylinder. And although lane keeping assist is rare in this segment, the Cruze tends to ping-pong between the lane markers rather than staying centered.
Mushy front seats received a negative call-out, and the rear seat, despite being heated, was dinged for a lack of headroom. Some of the interior materials took criticism for their lack of tactile and visual quality.
It’s a clear improvement over its predecessor, but the Cruze still isn’t good enough.
|2016 Chevrolet Cruze Premier|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$29,035|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||1.4L/153-hp/177-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,041 lb (60/40%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||183.7 x 70.6 x 57.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||8.7 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||16.6 sec @ 82.7 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||115 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.84 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.4 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||28.0/38.2/31.9 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||30/40/34 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||112/84 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.57 lb/mile|