Used 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Review
Edmunds expert review
Small sedans are getting better every year, and for proof you only need to check out the redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Cruze. You'll like the way the Cruze sips gas and how its handsome cabin has a surprising amount of room for you and your passengers. There's plenty of the latest safety and in-car technology, too. Ready to find out if this new Cruze is right for you?
What's new for 2016
Just like the midsize Malibu sedan last year and the full-size Impala in 2014, the compact 2016 Chevrolet Cruze has been transformed. Outside, the styling is sharp and adventurous, in stark contrast to the previous Cruze's handsome but still largely anonymous sheet metal. Inside, the inspired dashboard design includes upgraded materials and fresh technology features. This redesigned Cruze could very well be a prime pick for small sedan shoppers this year.
The 2016 Cruze has a fresh look, highlighted by sleeker curves and more pronounced fender arches.
For motivation, the 2016 Cruze comes with a standard turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which Chevy has revised from the previous model year to make 15 more horsepower and 29 more pound-feet of torque. This engine has less work to do, too, as Chevrolet says the 2016 Cruze has shed about 250 pounds. Pleasingly, the redesigned Cruze is also a bit roomier, particularly for rear seat passengers. Four adults can now fit with comfort to spare.
In keeping with other 2016 GM models, the new Cruze's standard MyLink touchscreen infotainment system (it used to be optional) provides quicker response times compared to last year's version, as well as both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Other newly available interior features include a Bose audio system, wireless phone charging, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. Moreover, safety-conscious shoppers can outfit the Premier trim with advanced technologies like lane-departure intervention and forward collision alert. Small-car drivers increasingly expect big feature content these days, and the 2016 Cruze is certainly poised to deliver.
If you're shopping for a 2016 small sedan, we'd also suggest taking a look at the redesigned 2016 Honda Civic, which broadly matches the Chevy's equipment while delivering better performance with its optional turbo engine. The 2016 Kia Forte is perhaps best known for being a good value, but it also drives well and gives you plenty of standard and available niceties. The 2016 Mazda 3 has the sportiest handling of the bunch and also impresses with its fuel economy, while the 2016 Ford Focus is an oldie but goodie that's rewarding to drive and benefits from many recent refinements. But if you're looking for a well-rounded small sedan with few, if any weaknesses, the totally transformed 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is a must-drive.
Trim levels & features
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is a small sedan offered in four trim levels: L, LS, LT and Premier.
Standard equipment on the Cruze L includes 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth, a four-speaker audio system with a USB port, OnStar (with 4G LTE connectivity and WiFi hotspot), a rearview camera and the MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch central touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The LS is similarly equipped but adds a front center armrest and carpeted floor mats. It can also be equipped with the automatic transmission and a range of dealer-installed options.
Every 2016 Cruze comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
The LT steps up to 16-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, heated mirrors, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted phone and audio controls, a rear center armrest with cupholders and a six-speaker audio system with satellite radio.
For the LT, the optional Convenience package adds keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat and remote engine start (automatic transmission).
The Cruze Premier gets those features as standard plus 17-inch wheels, an upgraded rear suspension, ambient interior lighting, illuminated vanity mirrors, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery and a height-adjustable front passenger seat.
Both the LT and Premier offer an RS Appearance package (18-inch wheels, foglights, rear spoiler, sport body kit) and a Sun and Sound package that includes a sunroof, a color driver information center, a larger 8-inch center touchscreen display and a nine-speaker Bose audio system. A navigation system is additionally available for this package on the Premier.
The LT and Premier are also eligible for the Driver Confidence package, which consists of rear parking sensors and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. The Driver Confidence 2 package, offered only on the Premier, adds automatic high beam headlight control, forward collision alert and lane-departure warning and intervention.
The Premier-only Enhanced Convenience package throws in an auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic climate control, heated rear outboard seats, wireless personal device charging and a 110-volt household-style power outlet.
Performance & mpg
The front-wheel-drive 2016 Chevrolet Cruze utilizes a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the L, LS and LT trims and a six-speed automatic is optional. The Premier comes standard with the automatic. The automatic transmission also comes bundled with an automatic engine stop-start feature to save fuel when the car isn't moving.
According to the EPA, the Cruze should return 33 mpg combined (29 city/41 highway) with the manual, 35 mpg combined (30/42) with the automatic and 34 mpg combined (30/40) in automatic-only Premier trim. These numbers put Chevy right up at the top of the class.
All 2016 Chevrolet Cruze models come with stability control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, full-length side curtain airbags, front knee airbags and front and rear side-impact airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen-vehicle assistance.
Optional safety equipment is limited to the LT and Premier, consisting of the Driver Confidence 1 and 2 packages detailed above (see Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options section).
Stronger engine output and reduced weight should add up to swifter acceleration for the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze, especially compared to the old 1.8-liter base engine. We've experienced the newly standard 1.4-liter turbo in the redesigned 2016 Malibu, and can report that it's a respectably refined mill with little in the way of extraneous vibrations or noises.
Only one engine is available for the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze, but it should provide a satisfying mix of performance and fuel economy.
Drivers will also appreciate the strong torque that comes on early in the rev range, meaning downshifts likely won't be required on many hills. Check back with us soon for detailed testing results and driving impressions of the 2016 Cruze.
We liked the outgoing Cruze's overall interior look, but the 2016 model's interior is noticeably more stylish. Materials quality is significantly higher, and the curving character line that runs diagonally through the dashboard is an unusually artistic touch for this segment. These updates, along with a larger backseat, make the Cruze's interior fully competitive in terms of both appearance and construction.
A roomier rear seat with added legroom is a key upgrade for the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze.
Another leap forward comes in the form of the standard MyLink infotainment system, which employs either the standard 7-inch touchscreen or the optional 8-inch version (LT and Premier only). That means even the least expensive 2016 Cruze is outfitted with a high-tech interface that boasts clear graphics and a pretty intuitive menu structure. The new Cruze also has the fortune of debuting right after Chevy enhanced the performance of MyLink across the board, so owners will benefit from the noticeably quicker responses relative to earlier iterations. Moreover, the standard inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto ensures that every Cruze buyer can enjoy a fully integrated smartphone experience.
Chevy says that the Cruze's trunk can hold 14.8 cubic feet of cargo (13.9 in Cruze LT and Premier trims), which is a bit roomier than average for this class.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.