DETROIT -- The next-generation Chevrolet Cruze will be lighter, larger and packed with connected-car technology and safety features, a bid by Chevy to solidify its status as a top small-car contender.
The 2016 Cruze will be 2.7 inches longer but shed about 250 pounds vs. its predecessor, helping the car achieve an expected 40 mpg EPA highway fuel economy rating. It's also about an inch lower and sports a more sculpted, swept-back profile, making it one of General Motors' most aerodynamic cars.
The redesign of GM's top-selling global car was unveiled here late Wednesday at a media event hosted by CEO Mary Barra and global product-development chief Mark Reuss. It’s scheduled to go on sale in early 2016.
GM wants to extend the success of the current Cruze, which went on sale in the U.S. as a new nameplate in fall 2010, the successor to the ho-hum Chevy Cobalt. The Cruze has vaulted to No. 3 among compact cars by U.S. sales volume, with 2014 sales of 273,060 cars -- up 10 percent -- behind the Toyota Corolla (339,498) and Honda Civic (325,981), according to the Automotive News Data Center.
The Cruze also has become GM's most global car. GM has sold 3.5 million of them since the current generation debuted globally in 2008, with China and Brazil among the top markets outside the U.S.
The base engine for the redesigned model will be a new 1.4-liter, four-cylinder turbo, the same displacement as in the turbo engine available for the current car, but 11 percent more powerful (153 hp) with 20 percent more torque (177 pounds-feet). GM says the car will be quicker, going from 0 to 60 mph in about 8 seconds.
A stop-start system will come standard as GM rolls out that fuel-saving technology across more of its lineup (the recently unveiled 2016 Malibu gets it, too). The engine will connect to a six-speed manual or an available, new six-speed automatic transmission.
GM is sticking with a diesel model, despite modest sales of the 2.0-liter diesel Cruze that went on sale in summer 2013; the diesel accounts for less than 5 percent of U.S. sales. The next-gen diesel Cruze will arrive sometime 2017 with a 1.6-liter under the hood, built in Hungary.