General Motors’ best-selling global product, the Chevrolet Cruze, gains an all-new platform for 2016 that helps make the C-segment model longer, roomier, more aerodynamic, and lighter—shedding 250 lb (113 kg)—while gaining the new 1.4-L direct-injected turbocharged gasoline engine with stop-start and a suite of available connected-vehicle technologies.
A 1.6-L turbodiesel sourced from GM’s Szentgotthárd, Hungary, plant currently offered in Opel models is scheduled to debut in North American Cruze models in early 2017.
To be sold in over 40 countries, the new Cruze shifts to GM’s D2XX compact platform which succeeds the current Delta II that is shared with Buick Verano, Chevy Equinox, Opel Astra, and others. The four-door notchback body style is expected to be joined by a five-door hatch. A slight increase in wheelbase, to 106.3 in (2700 mm) from the current 105.7 in (2685 mm), along with 2.7 in (69 mm) longer overall length, makes the new Cruze larger than competitors Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Dodge Dart, Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Sentra, and Volkswagen Jetta.
Inside, the car is roomier than its predecessor and boasts more rear legroom—36.1 in (917 mm)—and 2 in (51 mm) more rear knee room than Focus and Elantra, according to GM. Front and rear tracks carry over from the current Cruze, at 60.8 in (1544 mm) and 61.3 in (1557 mm), respectively.
Like the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, the new Cruze’s overall height has been reduced—by nearly 1 in (25 mm), giving it a sleeker look and enabling a 0.29 coefficient of drag (Cd)—a factor in the car achieving the estimated 40-mpg highway fuel efficiency, engineers noted. EPA fuel efficiency testing was not yet completed at the car’s June 24 reveal.
The new body architecture, claimed to be 27% stiffer overall than the 2015 model, is expected to help further decrease cabin noise as well as improve vehicle dynamic performance and occupant safety. The body shell uses about 8% hot-stamped/high-strength steel alloys that help reduce mass by 53 lb (24 kg) versus the incumbent Cruze's.
Executive Chief Engineer Ron Arnesen calls the Cruze’s chassis system “perhaps the most mass-efficient in the segment,” with aluminum and optimized steel components used in the MacPherson strut front suspension and in the torsion-beam rear setup. Wheel size ranges from 15 to 18 in.
GM’s switch to its new-generation 1.4-L turbocharged engine for Cruze contributes to the car’s interior quiet. Measured noise levels are up to 50% quieter—6 dB(A)—than the benchmark VW 1.4-L TSI, Small Ecotec Gas Engines Chief Engineer Tom Sutter told Automotive Engineering. The engine’s open-deck, diecast aluminum cylinder block features a bedplate architecture that stiffens up the lower end, also contributing to inherently better NVH attenuation.
The aluminum block is also 20 lb (9 kg) lighter than the grey iron block in the current-gen Family Zero 1.4-L turbo engine. Still a long-stroke design, the new engine also gains direct injection that, along with a 10:1 compression ratio, helps boost its SAE-certified power rating to 153 hp (114 kW) at 5600 rpm—up from 138 hp (103 kW) on the previous port-injected unit. SAE rated torque is 177 lb·ft (240 N·m). Low-friction piston rings, camshaft drive, and oil pump are used. Transaxles are a standard M32 six-speed manual and available 6T35 six-speed automatic.
Inside Cruze, customers will find the Chevy-signature dual cockpit layout with vast safety capability and infotainment connectivity. The 7-in MyLink screen in the center stack is compatible with Google Android Auto and Apple CarPlay—the latter available with an 8-in screen, and offers wireless phone charging. Android Auto requires a phone running the Android Lollipop 5.0 operating system or above, while Apple CarPlay requires an iPhone 5 or later. There’s standard OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot. Available safety features include side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, and forward collision alert.
Cruzes sold in North America are being built at GM’s Lordstown, OH, complex, which received a $50-million upgrade for the 2016 program.