While sales in the compact-sedan market have slowed overall in the last handful of years, mainstays like the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze have helped to keep the segment’s train on track. But riding the coattails of SUVs and the compact’s larger sedan cousins isn’t enough; with the new Chevy Cruze, and in some instances the Dodge Dart, the boundaries of delivering a spacious, feature-filled car that can actually zip have been crossed.
At McCarthy/Morse Chevrolet in Overland Park, KS, we decided to compare these two pillars of the compact car sector and find out, once and for all, which will fall short, and which will hold up the championship belt. Ready for the results?
Comparing Trim Levels on the Cruze and Dart
For a broad-scoped comparison, we must first start with available trims. Buying a Chevy Cruze gives you the option of four trim levels: L, LS, LT, and Premier. The base trim L comes standard with a manual transmission and no option to upgrade to an automatic. Still, the Cruze L model offers an incredible array of safety and driver-assistance features—perhaps the most of any base-level compact—at an MSRP directly comparable to the Dart.
The Dodge Dart comes in five trim levels (SE, SXT, Aero, GT, and Limited). The SE also comes standard with a manual transmission, though an automatic Powertech transmission is optional. Even with this option, the base SE trim simply can’t compete with the Cruze in standard features, let alone fuel efficiency ratings, quality materials, and overall style. In fact, the 2016 Dart SE is like a skeleton compared to the Cruze and its full-bodied physique.
Features Abound on the 2016 Cruze
This leads us to standard features. Seeing the writing on the wall—compact cars aren’t offering the spaciousness that Americans need, as year-to-year declines in sales prove—Chevrolet decided to enhance the Cruze with a bevy of standard features in lieu of passenger volume, something compact cars obviously cannot provide. Some call this generous; we call it ingenious. By offering more features to the Cruze, Chevy hopes that people will opt for its base-model features over SUV-sized interiors. And with a lower sticker price than crossovers and large SUVs, the Cruze is certainly enticing.
Most impressive in the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze L is the standard inclusion of a 7-inch MyLink touchscreen system and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which is a first for the manufacturer. With MyLink, users can easily pair their phones and smart devices via Bluetooth to access these apps and stream music, all from the vehicle’s touchscreen or through the device’s voice-command functionality. What’s more is the integration of OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi, a premier-level feature that’s found its way into Chevy’s lower-priced compact sedan. Now you can keep your data plan intact by using a handy hotspot to browse the darkest recesses of the internet.
Other features found standard in the base Chevy Cruze include remote keyless entry, tire pressure monitor, air conditioning, power locks, OnStar guidance and navigation with roadside assistance, back-up camera, power windows, and StabiliTrak. The Premier model comes standard with remote vehicle start, six speakers, and SiriusXM radio; the upper trim offers optional features like rear park assist, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and 8-inch MyLink touchscreen, wireless smartphone charger, and climate control AC.
In stark contrast to the Cruze is the Dodge Dart SE, which is about as bare a sedan as we’ve seen. Considering where the world is technologically, we were surprised that Dart’s base sedan doesn’t even come standard with air conditioning, nor is it even an optional feature! Imagine baking in the summer sun without vents pumping frigid cold air—not ideal in the slightest. The Dart Limited does offer similar features to the Cruze Premier, but also comes with a higher price tag.
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze: Proving Simplicity is Best
The Chevy Cruze comes fitted with a 1.4L DOHC Turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. That’s it: one single engine across all four trims. But in it, Chevy has engineered a highly efficient dynamo.
Producing 153 ponies and 177 lb-ft of torque, Chevy’s new engine makes 15 more horsepower and 29 more lb-ft than the 2015 model, and is 44 pounds lighter. The increase in torque and power is evident as the Cruze zips around turns with a swift whoosh. A tuned suspension, markedly more rigid body, and reduced weight results in smooth handling and a thoroughly enjoyable ride.
Although Chevy Cruze’s base L model comes standard with an un-upgradeable manual transmission, and the Premier with an un-downgradeable automatic, the mid-level LS and LT models can be equipped wisadth either. The Cruze is impressively estimated at 29 mpg city and 41 mpg highway.
The Dodge Dart can be equipped with three unleaded I-4 engines: a 160-hp 2.0L is standard on the SE model, while a 160-hp 1.4L and 184-hp 2.4L are available on the others. The 2-liter engine feels sluggish due to its limited 148 lb-ft of torque, which is particularly noticeable when attempting to merge onto a highway. And while Dodge has certainly provided a more diverse selection of engines, only the 1.4L MultiAir Turbo competes with the Cruze’s in fuel efficiency (28 mpg city/41 mpg highway). The Dart SE posts just 25 mpg in the city and a mere 36 mpg on the highway—far less than we’d expect from a compact, especially considering the numbers linked to Chevy’s 1.4L engine.
A Balance of Interior Usefulness & Exterior Sophistication
Entering the final round, it’s apparent that the Dodge Dart is worse for wear after having been bested by the Chevy Cruze in engine quality and standard features. Could interior comforts and exterior style be the knock-out blow? The simple answer: Yes.
Comparing the two interiors is like comparing a boulder to a pebble; the Cruze, even at its base model, is packed with usefulness and showcases far superior materials. It has storage compartments mounted in the doors, six cupholders, a center armrest that slides front and back with ease, a nifty phone-holding vessel near the shifter, and comfy front seats that aren’t typical in sedans of this size. The backseat also offers slightly more legroom than the Dart, which is incredible considering the Cruze is narrower.
The Chevy Cruze is, of course, not an electric vehicle, although its exterior echoes that of the company’s Volt hatchback if it were to evolve into a sedan. It’s lower to the ground and about 250 pounds lighter than the 2015 model, which improves aerodynamics and fuel economy, and also gives the Cruze a sleeker, more upscale appearance, much like the Volt.
The Dodge Dart, on the other hand, looks very much how you’d expect a compact car—one that’s devoid of defined features, both inside and out—to look. The seats, with their imprecise stitching and scratchy materials, feel 90s-era bad, with only chrome-lined door handles to prove that it’s a vehicle from the twenty-first century.
2016 Chevy Cruze: The Obvious Champion
Other than additional engine options and an extra trim level option, the Dodge Dart is clearly no match for the Chevrolet Cruze. Offering a combination of superb performance, fuel efficiency, and segment-defining features, the Chevy Cruze is fully redesigned in its 2016 model year and already making an impact. If you’re in the market for quality in a slimmer package, look no further than the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze.
Visit McCarthy/Morse Chevrolet of Overland Park to see the new Cruze in action. As a leading Chevy dealer near Kansas City, we’re dedicated to giving you the best vehicles, prices, and new car specials in Kansas and Missouri. Call us at (877) 461-6593 to schedule a test drive, or visit our showroom at 9201 Metcalf Ave in Overland Park, KS, to view our inventory of new Chevy vehicles and top-quality used cars for sale.
Keep Our Roads Safe – Don’t Text and Drive
Too many lives have been lost due to the tempting urge to text while driving which is why McCarthy Auto Group is taking a strong stand against texting and driving. Studies prove that teens who text and drive spend approximately 10% of their driving time outside of their lane. There is also a minimum of 5 seconds where the driver’s attention is taken away from the road when sending a text message. These frightening statistics provide significant reasons for why we at McCarthy Auto Group are determined to stop texting and driving.
McCarthy Auto Group is proud to support Miss Johnson County 2016 and Miss Kansas Kendall Schoenekase in her Kansas Care Campaign to keep both Kansas and Missouri roads safe. Kendall shares her impactful story about why she started her Kansans Care Campaign on her website, and she is passionate about putting an end to texting and driving.
With amazing new technologies offered in our many of our vehicles at McCarthy Auto Group, texting while driving can be prevented and McCarthy Auto Group is committed to keeping our Kansas and Missouri roads safe. If you have been affected by texting and driving and want to get involved, you can visit Kendall Schoenekase’s Facebook page to get more information and let your voice be heard. McCarthy Auto Group wants everyone to be safe on the roads, but it all starts with you. Save a life… don’t text and drive.