With Lofty Goals, Chevy Unveils New Cruze

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The updates to the Chevrolet Cruze are noticeable immediately. In profile, the car is sleeker and more rounded than the previous model. When you look at the car head on, the front grille is much larger and flanked by aggressively styled LED headlights. Combined with the car’s low nose, you can almost feel a racetrack-ready vibe.

GM engineers took their design cues for the first major makeover of the Cruze since its inception from the recent remodels of the Impala and Malibu, the Detroit automaker said, and the Cruze keeps with Chevy’s rebranding-through-design movement over the last several years.

“We want to de-commodify the design of Chevrolet sedans and make it a global strength,” the Chevrolet chief designer, John Cafaro, told reporters at the unveiling Wednesday night in Detroit. “The Cruze’s approach to proportion and premium details adds to Chevrolet’s elevation of craftsmanship, content, quality and a fresh interpretation on an identity that is unmistakably Chevrolet.”

Inside is an extra two inches of legroom in the back seat, “more intuitive cup-holder positioning,” GM said, and a redesigned instrument panel.

The touch screen on the center console boasts a seven-inch screen that runs Chevrolet’s MyLink system, which brings several music mobile apps, traditional AM and FM radio, GPS and Bluetooth capabilities to the auto that will be built in Lordstown. Chevrolet also announced the addition of two new services – Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, bringing many features of Android cellphones and iPhones to the car.

Under the hood, all new Cruzes will have a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 153 horsepower. The standard transmission option is a six-speed manual, but an optional six-speed automatic is also available. A diesel model will be available in 2017, Chevy reports.

As for gas mileage, the company said the new Cruze has “start-stop technology” that slows the engine when it’s in idle. Engineers also stripped 250 pounds from the car, leaving it much lighter. Chevrolet said fuel economy will reach 40 mpg with a maximum fuel range of 530 miles. By comparison, the current model could achieve about 35 mpg, with the Eco edition reaching 39 mpg.

A hatchback model, offered in China and Australia, will be brought to the United States, several automotive websites have said, citing reports from a national dealers meeting in Las Vegas last week. The current Cruze design will also continue to be offered, mostly for fleet purchases, for a short while under the Cruze Limited nameplate.

The car, which will continue to be assembled at General Motors’ plant in Lordstown “with locally and globally sourced components,” will be sold in 40 countries, beginning early next year. No price has been announced.

“The 2016 Cruze builds on a very successful program that introduced Chevrolet to new customers the world over,” said Alan Batey, president of General Motors North America, in a press release. “We retained all the attributes that made the original Cruze a hit around the globe and built on them to make this car more sophisticated, more fun and more Chevrolet.”

Chevrolet reports that 53% of customers who buy a Cruze are first-time Chevy buyers and that in the United States the Cruze is the second-best selling car in its segment for buyers under 25. Since its introduction in 2008, the Cruze, with more than 3.5 million sold ,has been Chevy’s best-selling vehicle.

In an interview on Fox Business Network, Batey also said, that the car is crucial to the global success of the brand.

“This is a world car,” he said. “We’re not here just to compete. These are the types of cars we need in our portfolio to win.”

The new-generation Cruze is the fifth redesign of the car Chevrolet has announced this year. Before the Cruze announcement, Chevrolet showed off the new Camaro – including a convertible option – that followed the announcement of a revamp for the battery-powered Volt at the Detroit Auto Show in February and a new version of the Malibu at the New York Auto Show.

PICTURED: 2016 Chevrolet Cruze. CLICK HERE for more pictures.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.