2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show

2014 Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel-300
  • Competes with: Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Chevy's own Cruze Eco
  • Looks like: A lot of money to pay for little fuel economy benefit
  • Drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder making 148 hp and 258 pounds-feet of torque; six-speed automatic transmission
  • Hits dealerships: Summer 2013

Supposedly Americans just don't like diesel passenger cars. Every German auto brand disagrees, however, and VW seems to have no trouble selling at least a quarter of its total volume with an oil burner under the hood. With fuel prices consistently high over the last few years, automakers are looking at diesel as a fuel-efficient option, and GM will be the first domestic automaker to offer a diesel-powered passenger car later this year with the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel.

More 2013 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

Outwardly, the '14 Cruze Diesel looks just like the current Cruze — a freshening of Chevy's compact sedan is still at least one model year away. Instead, the changes are in the engine bay, where there's a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder engine making just 148 horsepower but pumping out a formidable 258 pounds-feet of torque. Chevy says that the motor can also enter an "overboost" mode for 10 seconds, which boosts torque to 280 pounds-feet on a limited basis. That power channels through a standard six-speed automatic transmission and propels the Cruze Diesel to 60 mph in just 8.6 seconds. It's not a blistering drag-strip performance, but it's a hair quicker than the Cruze Diesel's main competitor, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, which does it in 8.7 seconds.

Other bits from the Cruze Eco are recycled to wring the maximum possible mileage out of the Cruze Diesel, including low-rolling-resistance tires and an Aero Performance Package. The Diesel will come very well-equipped, featuring standard leather interior and 17-inch alloy wheels. One difference, however, will be the trunk size — the Diesel model sacrifices about 2 cubic feet for a diesel emissions fluid tank. In order to meet more stringent emissions standards, some automakers are opting to use a process called selective catalytic reduction, which injects a small amount of a urea mixture into the cylinders. The tank is expected to last for 10,000 miles and should be serviced at the same time as the car's required oil changes, according to GM.

2014 Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel Engine
The problem with the Cruze Diesel is that the numbers don't work terribly well. Anticipated fuel economy is 42 mpg highway, according to GM, much less than pundits expected. The Volkswagen Jetta TDI features identical fuel economy and starts well below the Cruze Diesel's $25,695 asking price, including an $810 destination charge. The Cruze does feature a standard automatic transmission and leather interior, which narrows the gap with the VW, but a comparably equipped Jetta still costs nearly $1,500 less.

The bigger problem comes when the Diesel is compared with Chevy's own gas-powered Cruze Eco model, which features identical fuel economy but weighs more than 400 pounds less, stickers at a full $4,000 less and is a half-second faster to 60 mph than the Diesel model, despite a considerable deficit in torque output. GM points out that those numbers are for the manual transmission model Eco and that the automatic Cruze Eco gets 39 mpg, but any buyer concerned with maximum fuel efficiency and frugality is likely going to have a hard time swallowing that price premium for an extra 3 mpg and an automatic transmission. With numbers like these, GM may have a hard time convincing buyers to go with the new Cruze Diesel over other options in its own showroom.

Comments 

sheth

first of all you need to factor in city mileage which hasn't been released yet. The Cruze Eco automatic gets 26/39 and if this is like the Jetta it will get 30 or 31mpg in the city which is an appreciable difference. A Cruze eco automatic with these features is not $4,000 less. In fact, I don't even know if you can get leather on the Cruze eco.

sheth

You cant get a Jetta with leather so a TDI with the $1100 auto costs $24,950. To get the touch screen radio you would have to get The premium package which includes sunroof for $1440. I'm not seeing the $1500 difference if we are comparing automatic models.

WTF

Jetta TDI with automatic is $24,885. That's $810 less. This Cruze has leather, 17" wheels and Mylink, all upgrades over what the Jetta offers.

People buy diesels because they want a diesel, not because it's the best value proposition out there.

Erik

Automatic and diesel don't mix, especially if you want fuel economy and especially if its a planetary box. VW's DSG is just an automated manual gearbox but even it lags off the line compared to the manual TDI.. Not impressed here, I am very disappointed.

Frank

Another GM disappointment.

sheth

@wtf:

exactly, they are only pitching this to diesel lovers. The same arguments made against this car can be made against Jetta TDI.

sean

I think this is a great thing for american car buyers. I own a 1982 mazda diesel pickup and would love if chevy and ford would make a small diesel pickup. The other positive is the increased miles you can get out of the motor. I think it is great that american car companies are using their european car concepts and bringing them to our shores.

Pete Zeeb

I've owned a number of diesels and have found the huge torque increase is often forgotten when comparing economy v a gas engine. Having lived at altitude in Colorado the TDI or Cruise with a diesel is much better suited to pull hills at highway speeds, and to carry a full load of people and luggage. I would like to see the fuel economy and total trip time comparisons for a trip from Denver to Salt Lake, or Seattle to eastern Washington. The driving experience covering hills or mountains will also be much better in the diesel. The diesel will simply grunt and carry on at 75 while the eco will scream at high RPMs, return poor gas mileage and struggle up the hills.

Around town at sea level, sure the gas mileage and driving experience may be somewhat the same.

Dissapointment

This car is truly disappointing. I was planning to get this in year or two to replace my daily driver 2003 Honda Accord 5sp manual. Honda gets me 34mpg highway in winter and slightly more in summer.
I was so looking forward for Chevy diesel. I drove many diesels when I lived in Europe and this fuel consumption numbers are plain sad for 2013 diesel (that is why I never considered VW Jetta). Just check Audi 2.0TDI or Honda Accord 2.2D in Europe.
Somebody said automatic and diesel do not mix. 100% agree. You can get much more out of diesel using stick. Another point is that diesel is historically 10-15% more expensive (at least). So you have to factor that in mpg to compare it to petrol version.
I predict this car to be big failure for GM. And than they will blame Americans for not liking diesel. Well bring competitive product and people will like it. Good old GM.
But on the bright side, Mazda 6 is coming with 6sp manual diesel, there is some rumour that Subaru will come with same combination in 2015. I will be waiting for that.

Jack Gilliam

Need to factor in the cost of diesel fuel. I have a VW tdi. Which I have been driving for 10 years. I pay 25 to 35 cents above premium gas price per gallon. The tax on diesel fuel has killed the diesel car. It is not cost affective any more.

CBento

Folks do the mat;
Run a gas car making 30mpg,
you spend .11 cts p/mile
3.40 gas price at pump .

Run a diesel car making 40mpg
you spend .11 cts p/mile at 4.00 diesel price

Note:this is average prices in usa.
Diesel cars are allways more money when you buy it new, more maintenance, no regular motor oil, you must pay for synthetic,$8 per quart

The D

lillyman

CBento, you are correct, great analogy, a higher MPG does not equate less cash at the pump, when comparing GAS V. Diesel. In your statement, Diesel needs to return more than 10 MPG VS regular gas to warranted the purchase. Thought!

joe

Chevy Cruze Diesel......DEAD ON ARRIVAL

Todd

Many cars running on gas don't average near what a small car running on diesel will average. A friend of mine was getting 60+ mpg with his diesel VW Beetle. That's a far cry from the 40+ they billed it at.
While the cost of diesel is more than gas, shop around. You can find it for less than many of the big-name stations near the freeway. You can purchase diesel for much less than the 60-cent spread over gasoline that CBento talks about.
The only down side is the DEF needed for the emissions system in these things (thank you EPA and your eco-freak slave master!). That runs about $7 a gallon at the auto parts stores You can get it for less than $2.50 in bulk if you want to use a truck stop and fuel up from the regular truck lanes. But at 10,000 miles per 4.5 gallon DEF tank, that's pretty efficient. Just don't ever run out of DEF or you're in for a rather large repair bill!
Not having a spare tire for the diesel because of the DEF tank disturbs me much.

nodiesel

A friend has an older Prius that is rated at 60 mpg by the EPA and often does better than that. So why would anyone want to spend 40 cents a gallon more to drive a diesel car? Plus you have to buy urea, which costs $30 per gallon from the dealer, and cheaper alternatives are not recommended.

Frank

I have driven my Cruze diesel for 300 miles. I am totally satisfied with it. I average 37 mpg driving in suburban Atlanta, and about 47 mpg during interstate non traffic driving. I am getting about 600-650 miles per tank at aprox 53.00 to fill it up. Nice job GM.

Frank

correction on post prior. I have driven it 3000 miles

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