Regardless of market segment, from basic transportation to ultra-luxury, buyers want more for their money, and that's precisely what Chevrolet plans to deliver with the first major redesign of the compact Cruze sedan. More. And in key areas, less. Which will translate as more in terms of efficiency and dynamics.

Due next spring as a 2016 model, the second generation Cruze will be bigger than the current car-2.7 inches longer, on a wheelbase stretched 1.0 inch, to 106.7 inches. The design team devoted most of the dimensional increase to rear seat passengers, where legroom expands by 2.0 inches. Chevy calls it mid-size roominess in a compact car.

Also: The Class of 2016 -- New Cars Ready to Roll

Upscale cabin

The new interior has a more upscale appearance -- higher quality materials, an attractive twin cockpit dashboard design, 7.0-inch center stack touch screen display -- and Chevy promises best-in-class connectivity. Another best-in-class claim: more standard safety features than any compact competitor.

There will also be more under the hood, which will be home for a new 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. One of GM's new line of lightweight Ecotec direct injection fours, the new engine will be rated for 150 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, according to Chevrolet, gains of 12 hp and 35 lb-ft over the current 1.4 turbo. And without furnishing specifics, Chevy also anticipates higher EPA fuel economy ratings than the 22 mpg city, 35 highway posted by the current powerplant.

Chevy's diesel option will carry forward to the new Cruze, but this too will be a new engine, displacing 1.6 liters versus the current 2.0. The new diesel will be offered later in 2016, perhaps in 2017 models. Chevrolet will announce power and fuel economy later.

New automatic transmission

A new 6-speed Hydramatic automatic will replace the current automatic transmission, and Chevy will continue to offer a 6-speed manual.

Another area where the new Cruze will deliver more is in structural rigidity. Riding GM's new global Delta architecture and utilizing a higher percentage of high strength steel, the Cruze will be 25 percent stiffer, according to Chevrolet, furnishing a better platform for dynamic development.

One area where the word more does not apply is in the area of vehicle mass. Although it's bigger than the first generation, the new Cruze will be up to 250 pounds lighter thanks in large part to the new engine and transmission.

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2015

Improved fuel economy

More power and less mass should add up to more performance, always welcome, particularly when accompanied by improved fuel economy.

An intangible in any new car equation is styling. As a contemporary marketing executive recently observed, "design equals desire." The 2016 Cruze echoes some of the styling themes that give the new 2016 Malibu a strong curbside presence, and seems likely to achieve more positive visibility than the first generation.

With the on-sale date the better part of year away, Chevrolet wasn't ready to discuss pricing. Current Cruze MSRPs range from just under $17,000 to $26,485.

 

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