Chevrolet’s tagline for the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze is “Mature-ish” — what that means exactly is up to interpretation. It could refer to the compact car becoming larger, stronger and lighter compared to previously; how it has learned a few tricks such as integrating Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone capability; or the fact that the model is now well-travelled and available in over 75 countries from Vancouver to Shanghai.
Or perhaps it’s the driver that is the Mature-ish one. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still a big kid at heart, and I found the vehicle fit like a glove into my work–hard-play-hard lifestyle. Chevy lent me a 2016 Cruze and here are a few thoughts after piloting the car for a week.
I’ll start by saying that the fuel economy is incredible. The only powerplant available is a 1.4-litre Ecotec turbocharged four cylinder making a healthy 153 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque (North American spec). I was expecting the gutless and loud performance typical of small-displacement engines, but actually found the car to be fun, especially in the sweet spot of 5,600 rpm. To my surprise, the cabin remained relatively quiet throughout the rev range. Even more surprising is despite pushing the Cruze pretty hard, the fuel consumption readout remained near 8.0 L/100 km during my mixed city and highway commutes getting to work sites or client meetings.
The press loaner came equipped with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, which allows users to access core smartphone functions such as maps, music and messaging through the built-in seven-inch display. I use a Google-powered Motorola phone, so once I plugged my device into the USB port located in the centre stack, the Android companion app automatically revealed itself onscreen via the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system. Tapping the icon launched the service where I made particular use of Google Maps, since the trim I drove didn’t have on-board navigation.
The automotive version of Google Maps is easier to use than many built-in vehicle GPS units. Just as on a computer or mobile, you simply type in the address or point-of-interest directly into the search bar to bring up a list of places and/or set the destination. I happened to be with a group of friends on a sunny late summer day — all comfortably seated thanks to the ample 917 millimetres of rear leg room — and we plugged in the location of a small farm in rural Pitt Meadows to escape the city for an afternoon, grab some ice cream and enjoy the country scenery. The system spit out a few choices of different routes based on real-time traffic conditions, and once picked gave turn-by-turn voice directions.
Last by not least, the new Cruze looks fantastic. Stretched out by an additional 68 mm and lowered by almost 25 mm, the silhouette is long and lean and, combined with the sweeping headlights and chiselled grille, lend an athletic and sporty appearance. I went for dinner at an upscale Italian restaurant downtown one evening, and the car did not look out of place parked amongst other pricier automobiles.
If you’re on the hunt for something value-packed (prices start at MSRP $15,995), great on gas and tech savvy that can go from office-to-fun mode at the drop of a hat, take the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze for a cruise. More info: www.chevrolet.ca/cruze-compact-car.html.