$10,257 - $16,052

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze was new.


Performance: 7.6

As long as you're not looking for serious performance chops, the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze's driving dynamics should be plenty satisfying. It doesn't have the most powerful engine in the class, but it delivers adequate acceleration whether you're in town or on the highway. The optional automatic transmission is recommended over the manual, which lacks the sharpness of rivals' manuals. The automatic is smooth shifting, and with it, the Cruze earns some of the highest fuel economy estimates in the class.

The Cruze's ride is well-cushioned from rough pavement without feeling disconnected from the road. Still, the Cruze isn't as agile as competitors like the Mazda3. The steering is light and the wheel is easy to turn, making the Cruze a breeze to maneuver around tight spaces.

  • "Where others tout zippy handling and evocative design, this Chevy was always at its best as a quiet, comfortable cruiser. The latest version is even better." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Dynamic issues aside, it's actually a splendid vehicle for commuting. I was happiest behind the wheel of this thing while cruising up and down the highways of Nashville, soaking up that comfortable ride and commendable highway fuel economy." -- Autoblog
  • "There's only so much you can tell about a car from eight laps of a 3.5-mile course, but a case is building to declare the Cruze to be the Camaro of the compact class. We'll need a bit more time to decide whether it's the Civic of the class." -- Motor Trend

Acceleration and Power

A new turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard in all 2016 Chevy Cruze models. It makes 153 horsepower, which is in line with the power output of rivals like the Hyundai Elantra. Unlike the Cruze, though, the Elantra and some other compact cars are available with more powerful optional engines.

Acceleration isn't the fastest in the class, but the engine should prove sufficient for most drivers. There is a bit of turbo lag when accelerating from a stop that dissipates quickly as the turbocharger kicks in to give you an extra bit of boost. On the highway, the engine has enough power to let you overtake other drivers.

A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, though it might be worth spending the extra money for the optional six-speed automatic. The manual has long lever throws and the Cruze earns lower fuel economy estimates with the manual than with the smooth-shifting automatic. Be aware, however, that because the automatic is tuned for fuel efficiency and keeping the engine running at low rpms, you won't have the punch you want as quickly as you might like when you press the gas pedal.

Aside from hybrids and electric cars, the Cruze is one of the most fuel-efficient models in the class, earning 30 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway when equipped with the optional automatic transmission.

  • "The turbo four-cylinder sounds refined when accelerating, even under full throttle, and power builds smoothly. Acceleration is adequate; it feels about as swift as the 2016 Honda Civic with the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Still, the turbo four-cylinder does have some reserve power at highway speeds for passing." -- Cars.com
  • "Cruze feels peppy off the line, with max torque coming on at just 2,000rpm. Acceleration is strong throughout the range, with the 1.4L providing a little more kick than its 153 horsepower rating would indicate." -- Left Lane News
  • "The manual transmission is good enough to get the job done, but the long throws aren't as crisp as you'll experience when shifting say, the new Honda Civic. The automatic provides sharp but smooth shifts throughout all six gears and ekes out slightly better fuel economy than the stick." -- Autoweek

Handling and Braking

The front-wheel drive Cruze is well-mannered on the road, with a comfortable ride that absorbs most bumps, so it's a great choice for long trips. It isn't especially agile, however. It stays level and composed through corners, but it lacks the excitement provided by rivals like the Mazda3 or Honda Civic. The power steering is very light, making it easy to turn the wheels for maneuvering around the city or maintaining your position in the lane while you cruise down the freeway.

  • "While Chevy extols the new Cruze as lighter, nimbler and more athletic, its real strength lies in comfortable cruising. It's still not as athletic or lithe as a Mazda3 or even the new Honda Civic, for that matter. But if I had to choose one for a cross country road trip, I'd grab the keys to the Cruze." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The smooth roads in Tennessee are nothing like Michigan's third-world tarmac, so we'll need a spin around Detroit to confirm this opinion, but the 2016 Cruze might be the most comfortable ride in its class. It feels level and neutral instead of floaty and detached on undulating roads, and when faced with a bump or imperfection, the suspension is quick to intercept the impact so it doesn't disrupt driver or passengers." -- Autoblog
  • "In keeping with the car's general-use mission, the steering is light but direct, with a distinct on-center zone that allows the driver to maintain straight-ahead tracking on interstates using only a thumb on the wheel." -- Car and Driver

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