2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel: Baseball Journey

Ian Merritt


My original goals were clear: have a hot dog, slice of pie, and a baseball game in each city on each day. But I'm forced to bend slightly in the name of amazing hot dogs. Although we were spending most our time Saturday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we stopped in Chicago on our way -- and for good reason.

Hot Doug's, located in the Avondale neighborhood, is the stuff of foodie legend. Featured in virtually every food TV show and publication you can name, it combines old standards (Chicago-style hot dogs, Andouille sausage, etc.) with gourmet ingredients (foie gras, anyone?) and some exotic meat choices. Don't be surprised to see venison, alligator, or even buffalo on the menu. It's clearly the stuff that hot dog dreams are made of. And it's not open on Sunday, when I've scheduled our other Chicagoland activities.

No matter. We pop in early Saturday, shortly after the restaurant opens at 10 am. There's already a line around the block, but the wait is welcome; I'm stuck between at least six menu choices, and cannot make up my mind. By the time we finally approach owner Doug Sohn behind the counter, I have my order ready: a chicken Cordon Bleu dog (chicken sausage, asiago cheese, and fried prosciutto) and a Luganega sausage topped with garlic pesto aioli, slow roasted tomato slices, and a generous heaping of burrata cheese. Merritt orders up a portabella mushroom and Swiss cheese pork sausage that's topped with smoke blue cheese and sage mustard, along with a red wine and demi glace venison sausage buried beneath Mufaletta mustard, Pate de Campagne, and goat cheese.

Oh, and an order of French fries cooked in duck fat, for good measure.

If that sounds overwhelming, imagine trying to eat it all. Two bites into the Cordon Bleu dog, and two things are apparent: Doug's team doesn't skimp on the toppings, and they also don't skimp on the tubular meat -- the dogs are large and dense. By the time I've finished the cordon bleu, I'm stuffed. I'm only able to get through about half the Luganega before waving the white flag. I'm done eating for the time being, but the Cruze is finally feeling a little thirsty. Its first fill-up comes after 530 miles on the road, and we need to put only 12.9 gallons in the 15.6-gallon tank. Despite averaging about 80 mph on the freeways, we're getting 40.9 mpg thus far. That's pretty impressive.

My stomach is starting to quiet down by the time we reached Milwaukee, and after we spend a few hours roaming around the city and photographing the Cruze, it's even starting to feel a bit hungry. We head to the city's Bay View district, located south of the downtown area, and stop by the Honey Pie Cafe. In addition to lunch and dinner entrees, the joint serves up a wide variety of fresh desserts, but true to its name, there are always a handful of pies to choose from. I order a slice of apple walnut and Merritt picks out a slice of millionaire's pie. While our server runs to the kitchen, we observe others eating what appear to be giant-sized dinner portions, and cast each other worried glances. Sure enough, our pie slices are incredibly large. My slice looks much like a crumb top pie, but has flakes and chunks of walnut mixed in with the sugars and spices. The apples are tarter than the saccharine-sweet pie I had at Schmucker's the day before, but it's a refreshing change; it also pairs well with the walnuts' flavor.

We make our way to Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, with a couple hours to spare, fearing we'd be twiddling our thumbs until the game began. We shouldn't have worried. As soon as we pull into the parking lot, it's as if we somehow teleported to Green Bay. Tailgating, it seems, isn't just a football tradition; in Milwaukee, it's also tied to MLB games, and is a social event in its own right. The parking lot is flooded with people grilling hot dogs (what else?) and brats, downing a brewski (or six), playing cornhole, and having a grand time, possibly unaware there's a baseball game taking place across the lot.

But there is. As tonight's game pays tribute to Hispanics in Major League Baseball, the team's jerseys replace the Brewers script with "Cerverceros." Clever. The Brewers -- I mean Cerverceros -- allow the Phillies to take a one run lead in the top of the second before tying the game later that inning. After loading the bases in the bottom of the sixth, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez score, then a single from Braun in the seventh allows Jean Segura to reach home plate. The Phillies threaten again with two runs in the eighth, but Francisco Rodriguez replaces Brandon Kintzler on the mound and walks away with the save. Cerverceros barely win, 4-3.

We don't leave the park until well after 10:30, by which time we're munchy enough to seek out a late-night hot dog. Luckily, The Dogg Haus, tucked in the city's lower east side, is just the ticket. Conveniently located near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a slew of vibrant watering holes, the Haus likely makes its keep catering to non-sober clientele, but that doesn't mean we need to be sloshed to enjoy their fare. All dogs on the menu start with a Vienna Beef frank and get creative from there. Merritt's Wisconsin dog is buried beneath three types of cheese, while my Rome dog hides the frank beneath a pile of seasoned Italian beef and thermonuclear giardiniera. Even completely sober, the food hits the spot, and we call it a night shortly thereafter.

great specs, but sure is ugly.  I hope Omegatalon is right and they put that diesel in the more attractive Buicks.
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. 
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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