It’s hard not to look at the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze and ask, “Why the long face?”
Unfortunately for car buyers, an elongated grille is probably the easiest way to spot the refreshed version of Chevy’s compact sedan, which is set to debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show this week.
However, the slight styling changes conceal a few upgrades that tech-savvy buyers will probably appreciate.
The 2015 Cruze is the latest GM model to offer OnStar 4G LTE connectivity, including an available Wi-Fi hotspot. The system can accommodate up to seven devices, and a Chevy AppShop featuring apps for the car’s onboard infotainment system will be added at a later date.
Service will likely be provided by AT&T, which has been the provider for all 4G-equipped GM cars so far. AT&T customers will presumably be able to add their cars to an existing data plan, while non-AT&T customers will have to start a car-specific one. Life in the 21st century sure is complicated.
Both Onstar and the MyLink infotainment system have been updated for more-natural voice recognition, while a standard seven-inch touch screen enhances the visual part of the experience.
The 2015 Cruze also gets Siri Eyes Free voice recognition for iOS 6 and 7-equipped devices. There’s also a Text Message Alerts feature with Bluetooth (M.A.P.), which reads incoming text messages through the car’s speakers.
All of those technological distractions should be pretty tempting, because the 2015 Cruze won’t be any more interesting to drive.
The car is mechanically unchanged from the 2014 model, which means buyers have a choice of two gasoline engines and one diesel.
The base 1.8-liter four-cylinder produces 138 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque, while the optional turbocharged 1.4-liter four produces 138 hp and 148 lb-ft.
Meanwhile, 2.0-liter turbodiesel model continues to take the fight to Volkswagen with 151 hp, 264 lb-ft, and an EPA-rated 46 mpg highway.
If a raft of tech, tweaked styling, and carryover mechanicals don’t sound appealing, Chevy will roll out a completely redesigned Cruze for the 2016 model year.
Until then, the 2015 Cruze should be a perfectly adequate placeholder.