The shape of the 2016 Chevy Cruze is more rakish and less upright than its predecessor, which was a classic three-box sedan with a defined trunk. The new car has a handsome, chiseled look, with a window line that drops at the front and a wedge-shaped fastback profile with relatively little change in angle from the rear window to the trunk lid. It's a modern and attractive shape, but we've seen it before—in the similarly sized and quite similar-looking Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, in fact.
The two cars could almost be sedan (Cruze) and hatchback (Volt) versions of the same vehicle, and their interiors are similar too. This may not be a problem, since the Cruze is a mainstream small sedan starting under $20,000, while the Volt remains a specialized electric car starting above $33,000. The Cruze will also sell many times the number of units that the Volt will. But here's hoping that some of the Volt's tech-forward image rubs off on the much less expensive Cruze, and not the other way round.
The car's basic design received hundreds of hours of refinement in the wind tunnel to optimize the shape for the lowest possible aerodynamic drag. The drag coefficient is 0.29, but it's still identifiable as a new Chevrolet, with the same dual-grille front end as the Volt, the Malibu, and the Impala sedans. There's a bit more brightwork on the top-end models, and LED lighting has been introduced for the headlamps and taillamps.
The car is low, lean, and distinctly sportier than its predecessor, and that carries over to the interior. Again very similar to that of the Volt, it has straightforward instruments in a pod in front of the driver and a 7.0- or 8.0-inch touchscreen display in the center of the dash on every model. Controls are logical and intuitive, and brightwork is used to outline them.
The nicest interiors are the two-tone options on the Premier trim level, but all versions of the interior are a clean and cohesive design. Overall, it's modern without being overly stylized or too digital for mainstream buyers.