2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel review
By Tom Wilson of MSN Autos
Offering outstanding fuel mileage and playing the green card have been part of the game to sell hybrids and electric vehicles in the United States. But as German imports have proven, the diesel engine is where economy and power inherently coexist. Now Chevrolet has drawn on General Motors' global reach to combine its proven 2.0-liter diesel from Europe with the familiar Cruze midsize sedan to deliver unprecedented 46 mpg highway fuel economy, a 700-mile range and powerful torque in an affordable package.
Chevy also provides a full series of mainly standalone options, namely a power moonroof and a recommended Pioneer premium sound system with nine speakers. Other offerings balance functionality and feel-good cosmetics, such as a chrome trim package, illuminated sill plates and a rear cargo mat. Chevrolet's MyLink connectivity suite is standard; Sirius XM Satellite Radio is optional as is a navigation system.
Under the hood
Furthermore, urea injection is fitted for emission compliance. There's enough of this fluid onboard to not run dry between the 10,000-mile oil change intervals. Even better, Chevy is including the first two years of scheduled service as part of the diesel Cruze's purchase price. It's a safe bet for Chevy, as the proven diesel should be bulletproof.
Some items not modified for North American use are the low-friction valve train, iron block and dual-overhead-cam 4-valve aluminum cylinder head. With a 16.5:1 compression ratio, the turbocharged 2.0-liter oil-burner thrums up 151 horsepower at 4000 rpm and 264 lb-ft of torque at 2600 rpm. Most telling, there's a muscular 250 lb-ft of torque from 1750 to 3000 rpm — giving the engine its meaty feel. There's even momentary overboost available; it yields 280 lb-ft of torque for brief periods.
Worth mentioning is the 2.0-liter's Bosch-sourced, high-pressure common-rail fuel system, which is rated for up to B20 diesel, a market-exclusive biodiesel fuel that fans will appreciate and that the Volkswagen Jetta TDI can't match.
The only transmission offered is a 6-speed automatic. It is operated by a conventional console-mounted shifter (no paddles). All Cruze Clean Turbo Diesels are front-wheel drive; there is no all-wheel-drive option.
The Cruze basics are well executed, with things such as legible instrumentation, generous steering-wheel-column travel and seat adjustments; plus, we appreciate the optional 10-way power seats.
The car has a surprisingly complete set of features, especially with a few affordable options (a pleasant lack of price gouging is a Cruze strongpoint). Good examples are the 10 airbags, rear park assist, blind-zone assist, a rearview camera and rear cross-traffic alert which takes the terror out of backing out of parking spaces. You can even instruct the optional navigation system to call out stations that offer diesel fuel if desired.
On the road
Those doubting the Cruze diesel's 46 mpg highway rating can forget it; this is one rating you can take to the bank. And with 15.6 gallons in the tank, the Cruze can go 700 miles before needing a refill.
If there's a downside to the diesel experience — and we're stretching here — then it's the distant, muted engine clatter at idle. It's loud enough to notice, but nothing we could begin to call annoying. Once underway there's no aural or olfactory way to tell there's a diesel in the engine room.
Right for you?
Pricing is a Cruze talking point, starting at $25,695 with destination charges compared with the VW Jetta TDI's $26,325. The tester we drove was a typically equipped model with remote starting, leather seating, a 6-way power driver's seat, a 6-way manual front passenger seat, XM Satellite Radio, a prosaic 6-speaker sound system, MyLink smartphone integration, Bluetooth, voice-activation, electric rear window defogger, remote keyless entry along with the optional sunroof ($900) and oil heater ($100) for a total, with destination charges, of $26,695. For a midlevel midsize sedan with the best fuel economy of any nonhybrid sold in the U.S., that's certainly a fair value.
Pricing aside, anyone with a long commute absolutely must consider the diesel Cruze because long trips are where diesel economy is unbeatable. Those who appreciate strong, torque-laden power combined with good economy will also like the diesel Cruze no matter how short their commute, and everyone will enjoy the car's tremendous range. All told, there's no "gutless" penalty for fuel economy with the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, and that's the big attraction to this car.
(As part of a sponsored press event, the automaker provided MSN with travel and accommodations to facilitatethis report.)
Longtime Road & Track contributor Tom Wilson's credits include local racing championships, threetechnicalengine books and hundreds of freelance articles.