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Does your owners manual mention a cabin filter in the maintenance schedule in the back? I really can't see GM removing this from the new model, even if an LS. I did see the first few years of chevy volt came with a tray like our cruze with no cabin filter installed!

I suspect though this is something your going to have to learn to live with, even if you add a cabin filter or a better one you will still get outside smells in the car. Problem with using recirculate instead of fresh air? Those smells get trapped in the car 6X longer. You should have seen me drive though smoke from someone burning leaves next to the road in my Gen1 cruze with a carbon cabin filter installed, entire cabin filled with smoke!!! Same thing I do after passing a stinky farm, I put the windows down to clear the smell.
 

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My cabin filter looked just like your every fall(about 25K miles). The owners manual that came with my 2012 cruze didn't list any maintenance interval, but later years GM list to change every 22,500 miles. At a minimum I would knock out all the debris every fall.

To the OP, I've searched Chevy.com for a 2016 Gen2 Owners manual PDF, looks like they currently only have a downloadable manual for the old model 2016 cruze limited. Guess we will have to wait for 2017 to get a new manual available. so its up to you to look in the back of your paper owners manual for the maintenance schedule and see if there is a cabin filter listed.
 
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