June 25, 2015: Corrected to include accurate details about the body styles the Cruze’s competitors offer in the US market.
The Chevrolet Cruze may be the best compact car General Motors has ever built even though its sales have yet to reach the top numbers the Chevrolet Cavalier attained during the 1980s. Back then, GM was selling more than 400,000 Cavaliers per year. In 2014, Chevrolet sold 273,060 Cruzes in the US, the brand’s best selling model line behind its Silverado pickup truck series.
An Expanded Model Line
The Chevy Cavalier also had a big advantage over the Cruze as it offered as many as five body styles, including a two-door coupe, a three-door hatchback, a four-door sedan, a wagon and a convertible. The US-spec model is sold only as a four-door sedan, but beginning in 2016 a second body style — a four-door hatchback — will be added.
Adding a hatchback to the Cruze family would put this car within line of other models offering more than one body style, including the Honda Civic (coupe and sedan), Kia Forte (coupe, sedan and hatchback), and the Ford Focus (sedan and hatchback). It might also place the Cruze within striking distance of the Civic (325,981 units sold in 2014) and perhaps the Toyota Corolla (339,498 units sold in 2014), the segment’s leaders. Notably, Toyota sells enough Corollas as a sedan-only model to hold off No. 2 Honda.
GM’s original sedan-only strategy for the US-spec Cruze was hatched while the company was struggling to stay afloat, then regroup following its 2009 bankruptcy filing. Other manufacturers, including Kia, Volkswagen, Mazda and Hyundai have successfully sold hatchbacks in the US.
Hatchbacks were largely left for dead in the 1990s as US consumers avoided them, however manufacturers began testing the waters with new, stylish models and found consumers receptive. It also helped that Europe and other markets never lost interest in these styles.
2016 Chevrolet Cruze
The 2016 version was unveiled this week and it will be larger and lighter than its predecessor. It is part of a rapid-fire product introduction that brings new Spark, Volt, Malibu and Camaro models to the market for the 2016 model year.
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze will debut early in 2016 and will be followed by a diesel version in 2017. A new, turbocharged 1.4-liter engine is standard and will produce 153 horsepower. It comes paired with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. GM says that the Cruze will make 40 mpg on the highway. Up to 250 pounds have been shaved from the first generation edition, enabling the Cruze to go from 0-to-60 mph in under 8 seconds.
Highlights of the New Cruze
Among the highlights of the 2016 edition are the following:
- A class leading 106.3-inch wheelbase. This will translate into more leg and knee room in the back seat.
- Projector beam headlights are standard across the model line. And for upper trim level models, LED daytime running lights are standard.
- OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot is included. Other standard features include 10 airbags, a rear view camera and four-wheel disc brakes.
- Wireless phone charging will be available. A heated steering wheel and heated leather rear seats are additional options.
- On the safety front, a number of features typically found on more expensive models become available. These are: forward collision alert, side blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert and lane keep assist.
As for the design changes, these include moving the center rear stop lamp to the top of the roof line. Chevrolet also describes the rocker panels as seamless for a more refined look. The new Cruze will also feature polished aluminum, piano black and bright-finished accents.
Choose the RS package and this model brings in a unique grille along with front and rear fascia embellishments, a front splitter, fog lamps, 18-inch wheels, and a rear spoiler.
More Details Forthcoming
Auto Trends will offer more details about the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze in the coming months, following media and personal test drives. With sedans and hatchbacks both in the mix, this model’s appeal should only grow as consumers take advantage of its many enhancements.
See Also — Style Maker: 2016 Honda Civic Coupe
Chevrolet Cruze photos copyright General Motors Company.