Chevy is debuting a new Cruze for 2016, and it has many competitive features. It is also longer, which got us thinking about what “compact” means these days.
The 2016 Cruze looks to be a formidable player in the compact sedan game. Its swoopy styling has morphed into something that could be mistaken for a Hyundai or Kia…
A pass through the Cruze’s specs had an ear-perking moment; the new one is longer. It’s up to 183.7 inches, which pushes the boundaries of what we think a compact car to be.
A little historical context: the Cruze is a descendant of the GM J-car, represented here by the Chevy Cavalier. It debuted back in 1981 at a length of 172.4 inches – just about a foot shorter than the new Cruze.
Heading up the vintage GM ladder, we find that the X-car, represented here by the Oldsmobile Omega, was 181.1 inches in its four-door sedan form, which still undercuts the 2016 Cruze by a couple inches.
Interior dimensions of the old Omega and new Cruze are remarkably close. The Omega has 0.2 inches more front legroom, and the Cruze has 0.6 inches more in the rear.
Headroom is about the same: 0.7 inches more in the Cruze’s front and 0.1 inches more in the Omega’s rear.
The aspect where the two diverge most is exterior width and shoulder room.
The Cruze is 1.7 inches wider outside. But while the Omega has a consistent 55.5 inches of shoulder room front and rear, the Cruze has 0.7 inches less in front and 1.8 inches in back.
This shows two things: the rigid boxiness of the Omega and the thicker nature of our modern cars.
The Omega didn’t have the impact protection of the Cruze’s side air bags, so its flanks could be thinner. It’s also interesting to note that even with the Cruze’s coupe-like raked rear window, the rear seat has only a tenth of an inch less headroom than the upright Omega. That’s because the Cruze is nearly four inches taller than the Olds.
The added safety of today’s cars more than justifies their extra size. Still, it’s fun to compare these two – we see that over 36 years, GM’s compact sedans have remarkably similar interior envelopes.
Tell us in the comments – what do YOU think of the new Cruze’s size?