Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo-Diesel 2.0L I4
Power:
151 HP / 264 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
8.6 Seconds
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,475 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
13.3 CU-FT
MPG:
27 City / 46 HWY
Base Price:
$24,885
As Tested Price:
$26,500
Volkswagen has gotten pretty comfortable hogging the – admittedly small – non-premium diesel car market in the US. With Golf and Jetta, the German automaker has been the one and only choice for those interested in the torquey, high-mpg merits of turbocharged diesel power.

However, US customers seem to be growing more interested in the technology that has been the primary mode of propulsion in most of Europe for many years now. Mazda is quite close to bringing its Skyactiv-D diesel engines to our shores, and Chevrolet has finally maneuvered to repurpose its European 2.0-liter turbo-diesel engine for US specification, which means it's cleaner here than overseas.

The first application of this rather impressive diesel engine is in the compact Chevy Cruze, which I spent a recent morning testing out. General Motors as a whole has high expectations for its new TDI-buster. Here's why:

Driving Notes:
  • Since the Cruze Diesel has the Jetta TDI squarely in its targeting computer, allow me to start off with a tale of the tape for the two engines. Chevy's diesel displaces 2.0-liters, makes 151 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque (with an overboost mode that allows for brief moments of 280 lb-ft), consumes an EPA-estimated 46 miles per gallon on the highway and 27 in the city, and launches the Cruze from 0-60 miles per hour in 8.6 seconds. The Jetta TDI has a similar 2.0T diesel, with 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, is rated at 42 mpg highway and 30 mpg city, and will 'sprint' to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds (with DSG transmission). Chevy only offers a six-speed automatic with the Cruze Diesel, while VW will sell you a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual clutch gearbox.
  • Turn the key on the Cruze Diesel and, if the windows are down, you'll hear a rather loud, clattering noise from the engine bay, at idle. The sound isn't worse than other small diesels we've heard, but it is surprising since the sealed-cabin quiet of the Cruze is remarkably high. With loads of attention paid to refinement at speed, the Cruze is all but silent on the highway (there's some wind noise), and the exhaust note only intrudes when approaching the 5,000-rpm redline.
  • Power from the diesel engine feels super strong from even very low revs, as is expected, I guess. Peak torque is available at just 2,600 rpm, and a full 250 lb-ft can be had over the broad expanse between 1,750 and 3,000 rpm. Much like the Jetta, the Cruze isn't fast from a dead stop, but the acceleration from middle to high highway speeds (60 to 80 mph, let's say), is fantastic.
  • I drove or rode for about 90 miles in total over this very short preview program, but early returns on the fuel economy are good. Cruising at around 75 mph on the highway saw the fuel econ meter settle at around 44 mpg after just 15 miles, so my guess would be that the estimated 46 mpg or better is easily within reach. (We know from experience that more than 50 mpg is was possible with our long-term Jetta TDI.) On the second leg of our trip, which started on country roads and headed back to the highway, I saw roughly 30 mpg after starting really aggressively and then settling into speed-limit driving around 40 mph. Again, with an EPA City rating of 27 mpg, I'd guess that the Cruze is set to have better real-world numbers than its window sticker would suggest.
  • The overall ride characteristic of the Cruze matches its noiseless cabin, insofar as the car really smoothed out the road underneath me. I drove over some pretty broken down Michigan backroads in the car, and found that only the worst potholes and pavement breaks filtered through the softish suspension setup.
  • That softness in the suspension, combined with low rolling resistance tires, meant that when I did try to corner aggressively in the Cruze I was met with a lot of vertical motion from the corners and loss of grip. The small Chevy does have a nicely balanced front-wheel-drive chassis for the most part, but handling is only satisfying up to a warmed-up point.
  • In all, I think that the new Cruze Diesel presents an interesting counterpoint and alternative to the Jetta TDI, without being dramatically better or worse than the default diesel standard bearer. You can buy the Jetta for a cheaper starting price at $23,055 with no options, but Chevy has, for better or worse, piled on a good amount of kit to its $24,885 basic Cruze Diesel. That sum (plus another $810 for destination) will get you remote keyless entry and start, heated front leather seating, MyLink with Bluetooth connectivity and a touchscreen interface, 17-inch aluminum wheels and more. I think that the 2LT package ($380 for power, heated mirrors, rearview camera, etc), the $795 navigation option and the $100 option for a heated oil pan (great for cold starts) are really good values, too.
  • What you get with the Jetta is an ever-so-slightly sportier package (thanks mostly to the better manual/DSG transmission options) and a little bit more brand prestige in the minds of most buyers. This diesel Cruze will need some time to penetrate the land of enthusiasts and diesel geeks, I'm guessing, but it's a fine sedan in its own right, and worth at least a look from even the most ardent TDI supporter.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 190 Comments
      Taint
      • 1 Year Ago
      I hope this sells, even though most of the people who asked for it on this forum cannot afford it and will blame it on "it's too expensive, no manual, no hatchback, no AWD". IF this doesn't sell yall aren't getting any more manuals
        Taint
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Taint
        you guys aren't getting manuals cause you didn't buy those either
        Taint
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Taint
        ****any more diesels
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Taint
        That is what I am afraid of. Chevy puts out a mediocre diesel engine in a 4 year old body, sees modest sales, and then turns around and concludes that there is no market for diesel cars, instead of that there is no market for mediocre, overpriced diesel cars, and then decides to not sell any more for another 25 years.
        Alex J
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Taint
        I also hope it does well, but I believe it would do better with less "included" options and lower price.
      godwhomismike
      • 1 Year Ago
      Awesome, I like that we are finally seeing more diesel vehicle choices. Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel, Mazda 6 Diesel, Chevy Cruze diesel. This is a good start. I am hoping someone comes up soon with a small diesel AWD SUV soon. Actually, a diesel CX-5 would be amazing, and they have the technology to roll out with it.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @godwhomismike
        Yeah. Frankly Mazda should have put the diesel in the CX-5 instead of the 6. The 6 faces tough competition from the Passat and Jetta, whereas the CX-5 would be the only diesel in its sector.
      The Wasp
      • 1 Year Ago
      "the Jetta is an ever-so-slightly sportier package (thanks mostly to the better manual/DSG transmission options)" I'm curious, is there any objective measure by which the Jetta is a more capable performer than the Cruze? I know there's a strong bias for manual transmissions here but is there any handling or acceleration test where the Jetta literally, measurably does better than the Cruze?
        Mr E
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Wasp
        that stuck out to me too -- i guess we'll have to wait for more road tests and reviews.
        montoym
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Wasp
        I also thought the TDI Jettas had the multi-link rear suspension from the GLI while the lesser trims have the solid beam? That's a pretty significant sporty difference, at least compared to the non-TDI Jetta versions (and never taken into account for the price difference with the TDI either).
        01nb
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Wasp
        They could be thinking of the JSW or Golf TDi which retain the (superior) suspension components of the MKV.
      dee8817
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wish Chevy brought the Cruze hatchback here. Then I would consider the diesel if it were offered on the hatch too.
      graphikzking
      • 1 Year Ago
      Would really prefer this engine in a Colorado / S10 pickup instead. If it could get like 25 city and 38hwy with a combined 30+ in a pickup would be GREAT. I'd actually purchase one. Right now i just rent a pickup whenever I need one because I don't want to be stuck driving a 17mpg truck.
        May
        • 1 Year Ago
        @graphikzking
        38 mpg hwy in much bigger, heavier pickup truck with rubbish drag coefficient? No way, you'd be lucky to be somewhere in the low 30's.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @graphikzking
        [blocked]
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @graphikzking
        The closest choice for you will be the 2014 Dodge 1500 with a light-duty diesel. That is the smallest diesel truck you can buy in US dealerships.
      Joe
      • 1 Year Ago
      It would be cool if they could fit this into some of their other platforms. If they could squeeze another 20 hp and 30 lb ft of torque out and drop it in the impala that would be amazing. A full size sedan that would probably get 35-38 mpg. Oh, and dump the Malibu Eco and use this.
        The Wasp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joe
        I'm not a diesel fan but I agree it makes sense to get it in more vehicles, even if they are a notch or two outside the original power-to-weight ratio.
        throwback
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joe
        I suspect that if the Cruze D takes off, you will see the engine in other platforms.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joe
        A diesel Impala would be bad ass.
      jz78817
      • 1 Year Ago
      cripes. I remember when stock V8s didn't even have 280 lb-ft.
      Andy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Think I\'d rather have a Chevy than a VW long term. But probably a Mazda over both. Good stuff coming...
      CarCrazy24
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm glad Chevrolet had the balls to bring this over when Ford and Chrysler didn't, they beat the other Domestics to the punch. I also think there's a market for a small diesel compact SUV/pick-up, and Chevrolet might win that battle too. Wish the other domestics followed suit, I think getting 50+ mpg with these cars is fantastic and the range is unmatched.
        May
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CarCrazy24
        I think Cruze diesel will really struggle to hit 50, at constant 75 mph instant consumption is "just" 44 mph (real world average is lower).
          Camaroman101
          • 1 Year Ago
          @May
          as speed goes up mpg tend to go down. fuel economy at 60 would be better
      Smoking_dude
      • 1 Year Ago
      Great to see that GM is back on the track. I like the cruze from the out and inside. And I like to see the good GERMAN Opel engine. It is very common here in Opel Cars. and reliable. my company has one with 200.000 miles on it.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      ammca66564
      • 1 Year Ago
      I rented one of these in Europe a couple years ago. Wonderful engine, very nice car.
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