The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel is one of the latest salvos in the growing diesel market here in the U.S.
In Europe, diesel engines have long outsold their gasoline counterparts, thanks mostly to the superior fuel economy and driving range they provide. Diesels are more expensive to build – and to buy – but the money saved out the pump is often enough to balance out the higher initial purchase price.
Chevrolet has now decided to enter the market for affordable diesel sedans which, until recently, has been dominated by Volkswagen. The VW Jetta TDI sedan has been one of the only players in the segment and, at least on paper, the Chevy sedan looks to have the upper-hand.
The Cruze Diesel has better highway economy (46-mpg versus the VW’s 42-mpg), better range (712 miles vs. 609), and more horsepower than the VW. The Cruze Diesel’s 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder musters 151-horsepower and 264 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,600 rpm.
In comparison, the Jetta TDI delivers 140-hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque.
So the Chevrolet is the clear winner here, right?
It’s an impressive little sedan, but the Cruze Diesel has a few flaws.
One of them greets you once twist the ignition. The engine is kind of…LOUD! If you want the world to know you’re driving a diesel, well, this is the car for you. At idle and low speeds, the 4-cylinder has a surprising amount of diesel clatter, the ‘tap tap tap’ noise that might bring back memories of early-1980s Mercedes-Benz 300D sedans.
Once you get up to a decent cruising speed, the Cruze’s engine is much quieter. If long distance driving is your main consideration when buying a diesel – and it probably is – the Cruze’s low-speed acoustics might not be a major issue.
Another mark in the debit column is the Cruze’s steering which, while accurate and precise, simply feels too light and artificial. Some extra heft in the steering effort could go a long way towards making the Cruze more engaging and fun to drive.
As it stands, the Cruze does many things very well. The mileage and range is fantastic, and there is plenty of room onboard for 4 adults. The 13.3 cu ft. trunk is also pretty spacious.
The styling inside and out is anonymous but, to be fair, you can levy the same critique against almost every car in this segment – from the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, to the Nissan Sentra and VW Jetta.
Buyers of compact sedans aren’t usually looking to make an artistic statement with their vehicle purchase.
What they’re more interested in is safety (the Cruze has 10 airbags) and maintenance (Chevy offers a longer 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty on the Cruze Diesel). An optional safety package includes side blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert and rear park assist.
Leather seating, 17-inch alloy wheels and GM’s MyLink infotainment system are all fitted as standard equipment at the Cruze Diesel’s base price of $25,695 (including $810 for destination).
That’s almost equal to the $25,115 you’d pay for a VW Jetta TDI equipped with its optional 6-speed automatic. Unlike the Chevrolet, however, the Jetta diesel is also offered with a manual transmission.
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