2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel: Baseball Journey

Ian Merritt

DAY 3: SUNDAY, JUNE 9 - BACK INTO CHICAGO

I stumble out of bed in the morning, roused by an unhappy stomach. I'm unsure if I want to consider eating anything heavier than saltine crackers today, but the story must go on. We pack our bags and point the Cruze Diesel south, in the direction of the Windy City.

Like we did in Milwaukee, we opt to lead with dessert, and seek out Hoosier Mama Pies, an unassuming little shop in the Ukranian Village district. Squeezed between stores and devoid of any large, boastful signage, first-time visitors are apt to drive right past it, as we did. Twice.

Hoosier Mama prides itself on its old-time, country-style approach. And indeed, standing in line to place my order, I feel as if I'm in a farmhouse kitchen somewhere near Terre Haute, not in a modern bakery. There's little room for more than a half-dozen eat-in customers, so I quickly order a slice of apple pie, a glass of milk, and take a seat at a small table near the front door.

After two days of outstanding pie, I'm not expecting to be blown away by anything but I couldn't have been more wrong. More than anything, Hoosier Mama's pie envelops you in a cinnamon-rich embrace, and doesn't want to let go. Merritt says his slice of pie, a cream-laden concoction of some sort, is also amazing, but I can't pay much attention to what he's saying -- I've already reached pie-vana.

Despite our previous day's Hot Doug's visit, we were not done sampling hot dogs in Chicago. "Oh, we have to do Superdawg," Merritt insists, and I have no objection. Sure, it may just be a drive-in fast-food joint, but ever since I fought my way through a snowstorm to make my first visit several years ago, I've been hooked. The combination of unique atmosphere (which hasn't changed much since Superdawg's inception in 1948) and incredibly tasty food makes it hard to beat. We both go with a Superdawg itself -- a proper Chicago-style hot dog (all-beef frank with pickle, neon relish, onion, and hot peppers) placed in a box and hidden beneath crinkle-cut fries. It's an old tradition, but it's amazing every time I visit.

Speaking of old traditions, it's time to head to Wrigley Field to catch the afternoon Cubs game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wrigley is by far the oldest stadium on this tour, and it's also the oldest stadium I've ever been to. Time advances slowly here: there's a live organist, for starters, and even the scoreboard is operated by hand (although a new high-definition electronic board will replace it in time for the 2014 season). The building is a bit grimy thanks to nearly a century's worth of use, but it's not the cesspool Cubs haters will have you believe. The atmosphere created by a charismatic building and an equally charismatic (and sizable) audience is unlike any other in the Midwest.

The game is fairly evenly matched for the first three innings. No runs are scored until the top of the fourth, when the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen doubles and is then driven home by a single hit by Garret Jones. The Cubs finally get a run of their own in the bottom of the sixth inning, then come alive in the seventh when Cody Ransom hits a home run, allowing Julio Borbon and Darwin Barney to round the bases and score. Those three runs were enough to earn the Cubs a 4-1 win, and their lone victory in a three-game series against Pittsburgh.

HOME RUN

Merritt says goodbye, catches an L-train home, and I fight post-game traffic before finally making my way to the Skyway and then back home to Michigan. I get in just before midnight, and make my second and final fuel stop of the day. After 508.5 miles, the Cruze Diesel takes on another 12.8 gallons of diesel. Mileage this time works out to 39.7 mpg, a mild decrease I blame mostly on stop-and-go driving. On the bright side, it's still far better than the EPA's combined rating of 33 mpg. And for an even shinier silver lining, we averaged 40.3 mpg for our entire trip.

I enjoyed finding new and amazing places for pie and hot dogs in two of my favorite cities, but I also came away from this trip impressed with the Cruze Diesel. Is it as entertaining to drive as the Camaro SS? Heavens, no -- I would have loved to soak up the sun on Lake Shore Drive with the top down -- but it proved a composed and comfortable travel companion.

And there's also the matter of the fuel economy. It's an apple to oranges comparison, certainly, but we drove 305 miles further with the Cruze than I did with the Camaro two years ago, but used only 25.8 gallons of fuel. The Camaro, on the other hand, drank 37.6 gallons of premium gasoline. Had we used the Camaro SS this time around and gotten the same 19 mpg average as last time, we would have consumed close to 37 gallons of gas, and spent nearly $212 filling up -- $100 more than we spent to fuel the Cruze Diesel.

Perhaps you may not have room left for another $100 worth of pie or frankfurters, but that money would easily buy a seat or two at any of the games we attended, and that's entertaining in its own right. Play ball.

BOX SCORE

TRIP LENGTH: 3 Days
DISTANCE TRAVELED: 1040.8 miles
GALLONS OF FUEL CONSUMED: 25.8
HOT DOGS/ SAUSAGES CONSUMED: 11
SLICES OF PIE CONSUMED: 6
ANTACID TABLETS CONSUMED: 4
NUMBER OF GAMES: 3
NUMBER OF HOME TEAM VICTORIES: 3
AVERAGE MPG: 40.3 mpg
FILL-UPS: 2
TOTAL FUEL COST: $105.74
CRUZE DIESEL BASE PRICE: $25,695
CRUZE DIESEL PRICE AS TESTED: $26,595
TOTAL GAME TICKET COST: $347.90
TOTAL FOOD COST: Can you really put a price on culinary happiness?

3 of 3
mjubie
great specs, but sure is ugly.  I hope Omegatalon is right and they put that diesel in the more attractive Buicks.
Troy35
I think its great that we finally have a domestic choice for a diesel powered compact. If my soul purpose is to purchase a vehicle for low maintenance and high MPG I could care less if it has a 5th door or manual transmission.  You tell me which would be cheaper when it comes to paying for maintenance. VW labor rates are cheap.....said no one ever! Tell me which would be easier to find a  service shop that would work on it. I see this as GM testing the waters before they jump in the pool. 
OMEGATALON
This is General Motors making a good car better as we'll probably see a Cruze Wagon that is sold in Europe in another year and this 2.0L turbo-diesel will probably be used in other cars like the Buick Verano and Encore as hopefully, we'll see a 3.0L turbo-diesel V6 and/or a 4.0-4.5L turbo-diesel V8 in a couple of years.
red rotors
Problems with the car and article.Never mentioned - Cruze needs urea additive, Jetta/Golf does not. I'd buy a Passat if I wanted a sedan that needed urea.Cruze, available in loaded trim level only, Jetta/Golf TDI is not available as a "stripper" but it starts more at a mid-level trim.No manual transmission choice on the Cruze, Jetta/Golf available with manual transmission.As mentioned by many - no five door option on the Cruze, VW offers wagon and hatchback.Apparently the car was so boring that the writer choose to talk about the "food" (poison?) and baseball vs. the car. Fail GM - good luck trying to pawn off the extra inventory on the rental car companies but they probably won't want them for fear of all the mis-fueling by clueless customers.
Rob Rutkowski
I believe the market associates brands with powertrains.  The Prius outsells all other hybrids because the car = powertrain = buyer.Similarly, VW has found the diesel + wagon is a solid seller in the US.  I think Chevy would find the same with the smartly styled Cruze wagon sold in Europe.Plus, the sight lines in the coupe border on hazardous, which the wagon may solve.
Shamar Cunningham
this was taken at the milwaukee art museum...
Fritz von Zipper
Thank you for a fine article. The car is very briefly mentioned as the rest of the writing is all about how to gain weight without really trying. I could have had all this food info from Porker-R-US magazine, but nooooo, Automobile has to feed me this fare, instead of providing me with more auto read as the name of the magazine clearly implies. Perhaps all readers should get together and send you a ton of Pastrami, so you can feed your journos for free.
Richard Ovens
Please GM give us the Euro Cruze wagon or sport wagon. Wanna see one? Google the Cruze wagon that sold over 225K in Europe and I think it looks spiffy and would serve my needs with a diesel extremely well.  GM said no cuz it would eat sales of GM small crossover SUVs that have no diesel offered. This diesel is strong enough to power Equinox and even larger rigs.   
Gregory Easton
Great idea - great car
Nir Cohen
It's about time America will discover the advanteges of modern turbo diesel engines more MPG and longer engine life.
Raj Kumar
My favourite car...
red rotors
With this offering the water is cold. GM will never jump and will use this poor excuse as their excuse.OMEGATALON below needs to come back from dreamland
Anthony - Keeps it 100
@Rob Rutkowski I agree, they should be aggressive with the diesel Cruze and its variants in the North American market. As long as it's priced competitively with the Jetta which is, built in the US, it will sell once idiots get over their "Buy American" phobia.
Anthony - Keeps it 100
@inkysol  True the writer of this article has had a few too many chilli dogs and fries already, I don't think we needed to be informed on what 4,000 or 5,000 calories looks like. 
Rob Rutkowski
@Anthony - Keeps it 100 @Rob Rutkowski The wild card is the 2015 VW Sportwagen (based on the Mark VII Golf).  That means any Cruze wagon gets leapfrogged by a newer V dub.  Yet I still think the Cruze wagon is funky enough, especially as a diesel, to find a home here.  It drives like a world class car.
Anthony - Keeps it 100
@Rob Rutkowski @Anthony - Keeps it 100 That just means GM will have to refresh the Cruze if its introduced and sold here. OEM's are starting to do that, you have seen the 2 year refresh of the Grand Cherokee and Benz E class, you'll see more going forward. 

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