Taking a first look at the 2016 Chevy Cruze and Music City.
One of the things that I love about attending press trips that feature a particular car is that it gives me a chance to have an experience with the car. When I do a test drive for a week, the car is the star but it’s typically set against the backdrop of my daily life (which doesn’t always make for an interesting story).
Most of the time, the backdrop for these press trips is California. And what’s not to love? You’ll find beautiful scenery, amazing food, and always fun roads to drive. But California is far from my home, so I was more than happy to experience the 2016 Chevy Cruze a little closer to home. So I hopped on a plane and headed to Music City for my first real look at Nashville.
First stop was The Rosewall, – a cool little event space that allowed me the chance to meet and greet (yikes, I knew NO ONE), grab lunch, and catch a first glimpse of what brought us to Nashville – the all new, redesigned 2016 Chevy Cruze.
After spending a rather long time in the Cruze Diesel back in 2013 for a Major League Baseball Tour, I was anxious to see what changes had been made and I was anxious to do it in the context of a city that I didn’t really know. So I made some friends, ate lunch, and wasted no time before hopping in one of the vehicles and heading out to explore the city.
What model are you looking for?
With the 2016 Chevy Cruze offering the L, LS, LT, and Premier models, I was asked which one I wanted to drive. I was thinking only of me and made the mistake I always make – I exclaimed, “The nicest one!”
I can’t complain about the Premier that I was given – a sporty exterior, leather interior, and Apple CarPlay which, incidentally, is available on all models. I plugged my phone in to charge and immediately noticed that the 8″ diagonal display mirrored several of the apps on my iPhone.
Without hesitation, I clicked on the Audible app and listened to my latest audiobook as I navigated to a recommended hotspot nearby.
Creativity is everywhere in Nashville
I thought it was clever for Chevy to recommend The Bang Candy Company as a local destination. The most obvious reason is, of course, CANDY. As a guest of Chevy they provided me with a neatly packaged box of one of their specialties – handmade marshmallows.
But what made the trip unique is that the candy shop is situated in a historic building formerly known as Southern Motor Works, who briefly produced the Marathon cars in the early 1900s. The building, now full of boutique shops, still pays homage to its automotive roots throughout.
In fact, the creativity of the city was the theme of the entire trip. We spent the evening at a lovely and unique restaurant called Little Octopus while listening to four major Nashville songwriters tell us about their songs and the stories that inspired them – like our own private Storytellers episode!
Getting down to the real adventure in the 2016 Chevy Cruze
The next morning was when the adventure really began. We met back up at The Rosewall where we had a chance to connect with many GM product specialists from across the spectrum – engineering, design, marketing. In fact, I spent a good deal of time talking about the program management with Jim Dimond, Program Engineering Manager, and Martin Hayes, Global Vehicle Chief Engineer Next Generation Chevrolet Cruze.
We talked about how the 2016 Chevy Cruze was several years in the making and that between the two, they were responsible for making sure it all came together. No small job. I loved hearing about their “baby” and it was obvious to see how excited they were to share it with all of us. And the best way to do that? Get in and drive!
Discussing design elements with the experts
For the first part of our morning drive, I teamed up with Matthew de Paula, a freelance writer who you’ll frequently find on the webpages of Forbes. To make the drive more interesting, we invited Jennifer Kraska, Interior Design Manager, along for the ride.
It was fascinating to hear Jennifer’s take on the interior design. The goal was really to create a feeling of a “dual cockpit” for both the driver and passenger. In fact, you’ll find many touches throughout that make this compact sedan look and feel more like a sports sedan.
We happened to be driving Jennifer’s favorite interior color, Kalahari, but she explained that the same styling carries over to cloth interior as well with a continuation of the design onto the doors and stitching as an accent.
We also talked about one of my pet peeves: smaller vehicles that skimp on luxury. I hate the plastic-y feel of so many cars that assume a smaller size means lower budget tastes (not always true). She explained about the different quality of plastics and how they can be used as accents in a way that can be dramatic. With the center dash, it was obvious that the piano black was one of those accents. But Jennifer also pointed out the intentional design of keeping the screen functions separate from the HVAC functions. Intuition is key!
About an hour into the drive, we stopped at the Country View Market, an Amish market that sold the best fried blackberry pie I’ve ever eaten.
We made a pit stop, switched drivers and recruited Martin Hayes and Stuart Cooper, Design Strategy Manager for Global Chevrolet Design, along for the ride.
The design of the 2016 Chevy Cruze includes many small details with significant impact
While Matthew’s driving style was a bit more, ahem, aggressive than mine, we talked at length about the thoughtfulness put into the all new exterior. The smallest considerations were given to things a typical consumer might not ever know even though it may impact their driving experience.
For example, the side view mirror was pulled away from the body frame of the car. As a result, you open up a small area of visibility when looking out the side of the car. It’s a small detail but one that is intentional and significant from a design perspective.
Stuart went on to detail so much more: the body styling, the line continuity, the placement of the high brake light, the prominence of the Chevy badge. While the average consumer may not notice all of those details, they will notice the sum of its parts. It’s a pretty car. It’s a sporty car. It’s a pretty sporty car and it starts right around $18k.
I was more than impressed with this little sedan that is not only affordable but extremely comfortable and incredibly efficient – averaging 40+ mpg.
Things you should know about the 2016 Chevy Cruze
- It’s available NOW. We drove production model cars so that our enthusiasm would translate directly to your visits to the showroom!
- All vehicles come with a 24 month complimentary period of premium OnStar, 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, and Sirius XM.
- Fuel efficiency is a big selling point made possible by the lighter, more aerodynamic design as well as stop/start engine technology that ‘stops’ the engine when you don’t need it, such as when idle at a traffic light.
- Stay tuned for the next introduction this fall when you’ll see the 2017 Chevy Cruze HATCHBACK. It’s so cute!
Have any questions about the Chevy Cruze? Leave me a comment and I’m more than happy to share more than I could fit in my wrap up of the 2016 Chevy Cruze drive experience in Nashville!
Disclosure: I was Chevrolet’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided for me, but all opinions are strictly my own.