We’ve been Cruze fans ever since it joined the Chevrolet lineup for 2011. But as much as we liked it, we still wondered what Chevy would add to keep it fresh against an onslaught of new small car choices. Turns out one answer is a turbo diesel. Who would have thought that Chevrolet would join Volkswagen as the only two brands to offer diesel engines in the compact economy car class? Now that’s fresh!
When we first heard that Chevrolet would be offering a diesel engine in the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze we were pretty pumped. Then, a little nervous. Would they be able to pull this off? And are there still a lot of people around with sour memories of the 80’s GM diesels?
Turns out we needn’t have worried, as the Turbo Diesel Cruze is a true modern clean diesel in every sense of the words. This twin-cam 2.0-liter comes straight from GM Europe. Horsepower is 151 and torque comes in at a very vigorous 264 lb-ft.
Despite a fair amount of noise outside the car at startup; inside, there’s little indication that there’s a diesel clattering away under the hood. You’re quickly reminded when you step on the gas however, as you can certainly feel the abundance of torque. And unlike some diesels, it continues to feel very spirited right up to cruising speed. Moreover, the diesel in no way detracts from what was already one of the quietest and well composed cars in the compact class.
One thing we were reminded of is the Cruze’s down low driving position. For our taller drivers, there wasn’t enough adjustment to the steering wheel, and by the time they got everything lined up, they were sitting very low. But, that’s about our only ergonomic complaint.
The Cruze Diesel’s natural competitor is obviously the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, and to be frank, this small Chevy is not as sporty or upscale feeling as the Jetta. That shows up most when you push fairly hard, like through our slalom. There was plenty of oversteer, and you can easily feel the additional front bias of the diesel’s weight.
However, off the line, all that torque propelled us to 60 in a respectable 8.8-seconds and to the end of the quarter mile in 16.8–seconds with a speed of 81 miles-per-hour. Still, we found brakes to a bit below average, as our stops from 60 averaged a 139-feet, accompanied by an unsettling back end.
A big positive for the Cruze is its very roomy, airy interior with well above class average materials and trim quality. The front seat cushions are very comfortable for a compact. Rear seats are not quite as comfy, as legroom is short of the Jetta as is trunk space, although 13.3 cubic feet still rates good. There’s also a bit less than the standard Cruze due to the AdBlue tank mounted in the trunk.
The Diesel comes well equipped, on par with 2LT trim. And that means Chevrolet MyLink, heated front seats, remote vehicle start and 17-inch wheels are all standard. Outside, design follows that of the Cruze Eco with an aero performance package that includes lower front grille air shutters, mid-body aero panels, and a deck-lid mounted spoiler.
As for the all-important Government Fuel Economy Ratings, the Cruze Diesel comes in at 27-City, 46-Highway, and 33-Combined; we averaged a good 36.1. The Energy Impact Score is decent, at 11.6-barrels of annual oil consumption with CO2 emissions of 5.1-tons.
The Cruze’s highway MPG rating actually beats the Jetta’s 42 miles-per-gallon; but the Jetta’s City and Combined numbers are both better.
And for further tricky comparisons, the Cruze Eco gas model does almost as well as the Diesel at 26–City, 39-Highway, and 31-Combined, but it’s very tall gearing makes the driving experience far less rewarding. Factor in the Cruze Diesel’s large 15.6-gallon fuel tank and you can get 700-miles out of a tank.
But then there’s the price premium to be considered, with the Cruze Diesel starting at $25,695. That’s $2,390 over a similarly equipped Cruze 2LT and $3,840 over a Cruze Eco.
So, who will buy it? Well, probably those looking for a way to stretch their fuel economy dollar without the complexity of a hybrid, and prefer a domestic brand.
So, we doubt the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel will be a big seller. Still, we’re quite impressed with it. A solid diesel car is long overdue from a Detroit brand. Now, what we’d really like to see is Chevy expanded diesels to the freshened Malibu. That would be ground breaking, and signal that this time, GM diesel cars are here to stay.
Torque: 264 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 8.8 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.8 seconds @ 81 mph
EPA: 27 mpg city/ 46 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 11.6 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.1 tons/yr