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2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback: First Look

17Chevrolet_CruzeHatch_OEM_01.jpg 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatch | Manufacturer image

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Competes with: Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra GT, Ford Focus

Looks like: A Cruze hatchback

Drivetrain: 153-horsepower, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder; six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission

Hits dealers: Fall

Since its introduction in 2008, the best-looking version of the Chevrolet Cruze has been available only in overseas markets such as Europe and Australia. For 2017, that oversight will be rectified with the introduction of the Cruze Hatchback for the U.S. market, where sales of hatchbacks rose in 2015 in a down-market overall for car models.

Related: More 2016 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

Debuting at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the new Hatchback is mechanically identical to the 2016 Cruze sedan shown at last year’s show and going on sale this spring, but features a larger cargo area and more upright styling that should improve backseat headroom.

Exterior

A new body structure includes, obviously, a hatchback and taller cargo compartment to increase vehicle space. It rides on the same wheelbase as the Cruze sedan. A spoiler has been added to the top for visual effect, and new wraparound taillights complete the sleek exterior look. Like the sedan, the Hatch can be had in RS trim, which adds some more aggressive styling features and unique wheels. The only other two trims for the hatchback model will be the midlevel LT and Premium – there will be no basic L or LS trim levels.

2017-Chevrolet-CruzeHatch-002.jpg 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback | Manufacturer image

Interior

Inside, the Cruze Hatch is identical to the Cruze sedan with a modern interior that’s more upscale than the model it replaces. The big difference comes in cargo room: It’s boosted to 18.5 cubic feet of luggage space behind the rear seats, expandable to 47.2 cubic feet with the backseats folded flat. That’s fairly average compared to other hatchbacks on the market: The Hyundai Elantra GT has 23 cubic feet, expandable to 51 cubic feet, the Mazda3 hatchback has 20.2 cubic feet, expandable to 47.1 cubic feet, and the Ford Focus hatch comes with 23.8 cubic feet, rising to 44.8 cubic feet with its backseats folded. But if the Cruze Hatch comes in a little small for cargo room compared to some, it may be because emphasis has instead been placed on passenger room – Chevrolet says the car has 2 inches more rear legroom than either the Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra.

2017-Chevrolet-CruzeHatch-004.jpg 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback | Manufacturer image

Under the Hood

The Cruze Hatch borrows the sedan’s powertrain: a standard 153-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. That power is routed through the front wheels, which is the common practice in the compact segment. The rest of the structure should be similar to the new Cruze as well, with a lighter, larger platform for more passenger room and better handling.

Safety

Just like the sedan version, the Cruze Hatch will feature a host of optional electronic safety features like lane keep assist, rear park assist with cross-traffic alert and blind spot warning.

Look for the new Cruze Hatchback to arrive in dealerships in fall 2016.

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