First Look: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

General Motors is painfully aware that if you have any knowledge of its passenger-car diesel history, it involves the name "Oldsmobile." Today's diesel reality is quite different, however, as GM competes with the highly regarded Duramax turbo-diesels in its heavy-duty pickup trucks, and its Opel, Vauxhall, and Chevrolet diesels manage to keep up with the competition in Western Europe.

Chevrolet says that 40 percent of the Cruzes it sells in Europe are turbo-diesels, in 1.7- and 2.0-liter variants, so they've decided to give diesels a try in the United States. The Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel unveiled at the Chicago International Auto Show Thursday is a new 2.0-liter engine based on an iron block/aluminum head turbo-diesel family used in the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, Insignia, and Zafira. GM rates it at a "segment-leading" 148 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. An overboost feature hikes torque to 280 lb-ft for up to 10 seconds for passing, merging, and the like.

Chevy expects the Cruze diesel to get an EPA highway fuel mileage rating of 42 mpg, the same as a Cruze Eco with a six-speed manual transmission. The Cruze diesel will reach that rating with a six-speed automatic, which is the only available transmission. (In comparison, the Eco automatic's highway number slips to 38 mpg.) With a fuel tank of 15.6 gallons, the Cruze diesel's theoretical highway range figures out to 655.2 miles.

The car goes on sale early this summer with a base price of $25,695. That's cheaper than a similarly equipped Volkswagen Jetta turbo-diesel, Chevy says, naming the only direct competitor to the Cruze diesel in the States.

Back in the 1980s, these same two automakers faced off in the diesel realm, and while neither of their products was well regarded, reliability problems with the Oldsmobile diesel overshadowed the poor reputation of the VW Rabbit diesel. Much has changed since then, however.

All mainstream cars and light trucks with diesel engines now have turbochargers, and today, VW sells about 25 percent of its midsize Passats with a 2.0-liter clean diesel engine. These new diesel engines are quieter and smoother than earlier diesels, but they don't come cheap, as the cost to the manufacturer of cleaning up diesel emissions typically is as high as building a hybrid powerplant. In addition, beginning with the 2007 model year, passenger cars sold in the U.S. must use ultra-low-sulfur fuel, with no more than 15 parts per million sulfur content, versus 500 ppm prior to that model year.

GM hopes the Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel will change the way it thinks about its diesel engines, because it's based on the company's proven, European-market diesels. GM engineers in the U.S. redesigned the 2.0-liter for U.S. emissions, diagnostics, environmental conditions, and operation at high altitude. The Cruze engine also accepts B20 biodiesel. There's a 4.5-gallon urea tank in the car's trunk, slightly affecting cargo space, which needs to be checked every 10,000 miles as part of regular maintenance. Two years of free maintenance is included in the sticker price. Like the VW diesels, the Chevy diesel engine will be built in Europe. It will go into the Cruze during final assembly at Chevy's Lordstown, Ohio, plant.

The 2.0-liter clean diesel weighs 408 pounds but adds between 275 and 300 pounds to the weight of the Cruze 2LT, the fairly high-content trim level with which the engine will be offered. It also includes the z-link rear suspension used in the Buick Verano. The 2.0-liter dual-overhead-cam engine features piezo fuel injectors, a variable-nozzle turbo with intercooler, and a variable-displacement oil pump. The Cruze gets additional sound absorption, including a unique dash mat and a hood blanket.

The 1986 Chevrolet Chevette diesel actually was the last passenger car GM sold with a diesel engine in the U.S., but it's the reputation of Olds diesel it would like us to forget. Unlike the new diesel family, the Olds V-8 diesel was based on a 5.7-liter gasoline engine.

GM admits that it will sell the '14 Chevy Cruze diesel in small numbers initially. At the under-$26,000 sticker price, the car probably won't be a moneymaker for the company. The plan is to pave the way for more diesels in the United States, including a 4.5-liter V-8 program that appears to be on again for Chevrolet and GMC light-duty pickup trucks. The company has hinted we could see Silverado/Sierra diesels here in a couple of years. Considering that the 2.0-liter diesel family is used in a European midsize sedan and small minivan, it would make sense to install the Cruze engine in the Chevy Malibu and Equinox, GMC Terrain, Buick Verano and Regal, and perhaps the Chevy Impala, Buick LaCrosse, and Cadillacs ATS and SRX, as well.

mdm
lets face it washington is not interested in fuel economy their interested in looking like their interested. diesel is cheeper to produce than gas, as another poster said a 20% cost reduction in diesel in thailand. our absentee lawmakers are more interested in looking good than doing good. diesel  power is and effective method for reducing dependance on foreign oil sources. why doesn't washington take the common sense approach to reducing our dependance on foreign oil, do we need a epa that answers to no one but the green party in america . lets do whats good for america, diesel is now clean, powerful and offers mpg that hybrids gas and electrics can't give us. while electrics might be the future were not there yet. i have owned a bmw x5 diesel (about 26 mpg  hwy) the cost of diesel made the vehicle impractical i also own a 12 duramax (21 mpg hwy) but there again fuel cost at 3.89/gal versus 3.29/gal for regular unleaded + the 10,000 extra for  diesel power makes the diesel impractical. why are they so practical in europe, fuel and emission standards by the epa and washington makes the diesel a dead duck before it ever gets of the drawing board. its wonderful to live in such a free country, free for them, government not for us. sorry for the rant, this epa crap is such a farce.
puck2u
Consumers in the US are fickle at best.  I have never understood why a wagon languishes on dealer sales lots.  Then buy an "SUV" vehicle which is basically a tall station wagon and generally some sort of 4wd setup.  The one reason for SUVs is ease of entry and large cargo areas.  Such a waste except to oil companies because of fuel mileage.  I have asked people who routinely buy SUVs to be told they feel safer in traffic.  Europe and Asia consumers are offered a large array of hatch backs or wagons.  Here the nicest wagon out there is a Acura TSX but sort of pricey.  The next step up is Mercedes or Audi or over reaching SUVs.  All that being said I would really like GM or another company to make something like a Chevy Cruze Diesel wagon.  I have driven a Jetta Diesel and did not care for it. The Passat is much better but the nearest VW dealer is 70 miles from here and no wagon.  Current crop in our "fleet" includes a Ford 2002 F250 Lariat with Powerstroke 6.7 Diesel which averages 15-16 mpg city or highway if I stay off of the power pedal.  With 251,000 miles, the only sort of expensive repair was a broken leaf spring.  With the type of longevity I'm having the extra cost of diesel is meaningless.  If I could get that in a Cruze wagon I would buy one for a second car.  GM will avoid bringing in a wagon due historically miserable sales which is a terrible reason with a very good product.  They could be making the segment.
W G Fargo Rousseau
I just took my second test drive in a Chevy Cruze Diesel....in Thailand.  It is assembled there for southeast asian markets.  I was frankly amazed.  The feeling of the car, the acceleration, the noise level....were all very very close to the 2002 BMW 320.  In those markets the car makes sense because diesel is priced about 30% less than the better fuels required by the BMW.  Putting aside the color, fit and finish of the interior....it is a real equal to my old car.  Solid, confident, supple.   This is a very different Chevy.
marmil68
I currently have a 2011 Cruze ECO with 25,000 trouble free miles. My previous car was a 2006 VW Jetta TDI. I prefer by far the Chevy Cruze. It basically gets the same mileage (49MPG on a recent road trip, 39 mpg in suburban driving) is much quieter, better ergonomics, better sound system and better interior materials. The 6 speed manual is one of the best I have used (including BMW). I don't get the Cruze diesel given the 30% premium for diesel fuel in the US and basically the same mileage with a $5000 premium over the ECO.
red rotors
If you look at VW's take rate on diesel in the model's that the TDI is actually offered it is much higher than the 20% mentioned earlier. Depending on model it is mid - 30's to over 50% according to the last #'s I saw VW put out. At one point in 2010 or 2011 the wagon take rate was about 80%
red rotors
VW does the same up-level trim BS w/the TDI. In the Golf / Jetta / Passat the TDI is basically it's own trim level and has a fair amount of what are options on the base gasser. Try to get a Jetta wagon with a base cloth interior, can't.
red rotors
The author failed to mention an important point when comparing to the Jetta ("the only direct competitor") and mentioning the urea tank in the trunk. The Jetta does NOT need urea (add-blue). If I am willing to buy a new car that has to use urea I'll get a Passat which gets same to better real world fuel mi. than the Jetta due to the Jetta engine loss to emissions tuning vs. Passat w/urea. I'll be curious to see what the Cruze gets real world but it seems like it's the worst of both, small car, needs urea but doesn't get any better fuel mi. for it. That in addition to no 5 door, no manual and to me it adds up to major FAIL for GM. Sad, I really would love to buy American.
barbismike
BuzzDogAR:  GM should hire you!  Should we try to get a movement started to adopt ECE?  I have a manual VW 2003 TDI, get 50 MPG regularly ... somehow the new VW diesels don't get quite the same mileage ...  Why not put this Opel diesel engine in a small 4WD pickup? I would buy that tomorrow!
tinlizzy50
It's too bad that the diesel won't come with a six-speed manual. It would probably make it more appealing to a lot of traditional diesel car owners. Still, I think with the cost of  fuel in this country now (usually considerably more expensive than PREMIUM gasoline), it will be hard to sell many of these vehicles, especially if it will get no better mileage than the gasoline-powered Cruze Eco with the manual transmission.
bc
GM your marketing methods astound me.  So the Cruze diesel will ONLY be offered in the 2LT trim level???  That starts about $4,000 higher than the base LS model!  I have been waiting patiently for the Cruze diesel, ever since you first announced it 3+ years ago, as I really really really really wanted to buy American.  It's all been for nothing.  This $4,000 extra for a fancy accessory loaded body I neither want nor need, plus the extra cost of the diesel engine itself which appears to be at least about another $4,500  leaves me (and I suspect many thousands of other potential buyers), with no further desire to ever buy one of these.
Narg
@marmil68 There's a couple things to think about with the diesel.  The first is power.  LOTS more power than your ECO version.  Americans tend to prefer a more powerful car.  Yours goes to 60 in about 11 seconds, while the diesel will get there in just over 8 seconds.  Plus, Diesel in the long run is much more environmentally better than gasoline today.  Overall it will be a more enjoyable car to drive, while still getting hybrid level mileage, and at the same price as those hybrid, which are the worst for us environmentally speaking.  No doubt, you've got a great car.  GM's just upping the ante for a few folks.
BuzzDogAR
@red rotors That was me who mentioned 20%%%%; I found it on Google, and was simply using it as an illustration.It's true that diesel sales spike every so often, but if you're amortizing a fixed, upfront cost over a production run, it's foolish to base your decision on the most optimistic scenario. You use an average over a number of years, and in this case, 20%%%% appears to be closer to what GM expects.Also, VW is somewhat known for its diesels, and has built a fan base over the past 30 years, so naturally their take rate would be expected to be higher. The association of diesels with another German make that is seen as upscale (Mercedes-Benz) probably doesn't hurt, either.
BuzzDogAR
@barbismike Thanks for the compliment! Unfortunately, I'm not a huge fan of GM, so I probably wouldn't be a good fit at that company.However, I *really* like the idea of a small diesel pickup. It's unfortunate that small pickups are another thing - along with diesel engines in cars and manual transmissions - that don't sell well enough in the U.S. to justify the costs of development, certification and having another set of procedures on the production line.I'm not sure I want us to return to the dizzying number of powertrain and option combinations we saw in the 1960s, but then again there is a certain sameness among U.S. vehicles that is sad.
BuzzDogAR
@tinlizzy50 Once again, it comes down to the fixed cost of certifying an additional powertrain combination, and then amortizing that multimillion dollar cost among the few units that would sell in that particular combination. The manufacturer with the highest percentage of diesels sold in the U.S. is Volkswagen, at 20%, and the take rate for manual transmissions in the U.S. is 6.7%. Even if the manual take rate on diesels was double that amount, and the percentage of diesels matched that of VW (not that likely), less than 6,500 would be sold if sales match 2012 levels. GM can't afford to do that, at least not while we own part of the company.
okt0ber
@bc You really think people who want a diesel vehicle are going to want the base model? I know I wouldn't buy a diesel if it was just the base model... Part of the reason I buy diesel is the torque it provides as compared to the gas vehicles. It's not always about saving money. Sometimes it is, you know, about the driving experience.
BuzzDogAR
@bc I don't like it either, but here's a possible explanation: More than likely, the $4,500 diesel upcharge doesn't even begin to fully amortize the cost of certification (tens of million dollars divided by however many diesels they sell), not to mention the additional cost of the engine itself.So to absorb part of that cost that's not covered by the $4,500 charge, GM forces you to buy the 2LT trim level: On a $4,000 trim level option, there's probably $1,000 - $2,000 in profit to make up part of the "loss" (for want of a better term). Oh, and the 2LT includes the automatic (about $1,000); while you could say, "offer it with a manual," offering both transmission would require another certification, doubling the certification cost for something that less than 10% of U.S. buyers choose.Yes, they *could* simply charge a higher price for the diesel engine, but then we'd be screaming about how stupid they are to charge $7,000 for an optional engine on an $18,000 car. Or they could sell at a loss; I don't know about you, but as a taxpayer I don't like that plan, either.Again, I don't like what GM is doing, either, but I understand the business decision from a cost accounting standpoint.
SAinCA
@bc TOTALLY AGREE.  Dumb, really, really DUMB marketing.  Almost looks like constructive dismissal of Chevy Diesels...  We want the ECONOMY before anything else, GM.  Listen to real people not to those marketers who want the big profits from the fancy stuff...  I've bought 2 Chevy's over the last 5 years, BOTH at 1LT - I will NOT pay through the nose for the 2LT trinkets and trash!  Make it an LS and 1LT and perhaps we will take you seriously - until then, "take it back and think it over!".  What did Forest Gump say about "stupid"???
red rotors
@BuzzDogARYou attributed the 20%% to VW in your OP of that #. I just wanted to point out that VW take rate on the TDI on models where it is actually offered is mostly higher and dramatically so on their most popular models. The 20%% # is closer to TDI take vs. total VW sales. I got my #'s from VW USA not Google. I have no idea what GM expects or how they base their decisions..So what will the diesel Cruze be vs. all GM N. America sales? .02%%?
TJbski
I wish Congress would do something useful (for a change!) and require automakers to make the most efficient powertrains available in ALL trim levels and body styles for a given model, not just the top trim levels!  If the powertrain is avaialble ANYWHERE in the world in that model/chassis, then American consumers deserve the choice to purchase it!  In exchange, the feds/EPS would allow automakers to certify their least efficient powertrain, and then all more efficient powertrains woudl be certified by similarity.  The military does it all the time.  Then the carmakers would not be able to keep using the $$$ excuse for limiting our choices!
TJbski
@BuzzDogAR @TJbski No that is not at all what I said.  If a car maker sells a given model anywhere in the world with engine A and transmission B, it must offer that power train option to US consumers, too.  In exchange the feds will reduce the regulation, bureaucracy and red tape needed to certify every power train combination.  There is no reason why it should cost tens of millions of $ to certify every permutation of engines and transmissions.  Let the car maker certify the least efficient/most polluting power train, and all the others are grandfathered in.  If the automatic is already certified then a manual should be certified by default (provided the OTGR is at least as tall).  And require that power train availability should not be dependent on trim level or other option packages.  The most efficient power trains should be available in all trim levels from base to top luxury trim.  The objective of all that I suggest is to give American consumers more choices.  I for one want all the bells and whistles, but all too often to get the top trim/packages, you have to get a super high output engine.  For example take the Chrysler 300: The top trim level and options require you to take the v* "Hemi" engine.  The 3.6L V6 is way more than adequate.  At $4/gallon gasoline, who needs/wants the thirsty V8???
BuzzDogAR
@TJbski So let me get this straight: You want Congress to pass a regulation that requires automakers to produce certain types of vehicles, which they're not currently doing because they're required to meet certain regulations?Excuse me, I'm getting a little bit dizzy from running around in circles! :)No, I'd rather see the U.S. abandon FMVSS, and adopt ECE standards. But given that ECE is UN-driven, and so many politicians think the UN compromises U.S. sovereignty (even when UN standards make good business sense), I think we have a better chance of seeing a bill passed that mandates 220v, 50Hz electricity AND the metric system! :)

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