2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel First Drive

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2014 Chevrolet Cruze Sedan

(2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo Diesel 6-speed Automatic)
  • 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel - Action Front 3/4 - 4

    2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel - Action Front 3/4 - 4

    There are very few visual clues to the fact that this is a diesel-powered Cruze. | July 03, 2013

14 Photos

The Newest, Fastest and Most Frugal Cruze All in One

Even though advanced technology has made contemporary diesel engines more powerful and refined, the number of diesel-powered models available in the U.S. make up a miniscule portion of the car market.

Chevrolet wants to do something about that (not to mention break in on Volkswagen's monopoly on the affordable diesel-car market) with the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel.

Chevy sold nearly a quarter-million Cruzes last year, so it has the potential to make an impact that reaches well beyond the Volkswagen diesel faithful, while at the same time tempting even Volkswagen true believers with a sedan made by a company other than VW.

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

Are You a Numbers Kind of Person?
Let's say you like the idea of buying the quickest Chevy Cruze available. That'd be the new 2014 Cruze Diesel. Its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine develops 151 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. Combined with its standard six-speed automatic, the Cruze diesel will go from zero to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds, according to Chevrolet. That's a half-second faster than the Cruze equipped with the turbocharged gasoline 1.4-liter.

Yeah, 8.6 seconds doesn't sound that quick, but when you've got as much as 250 lb-ft of torque available at just 1,750 rpm and an overboost feature that delivers as much as 280 lb-ft for 10 seconds, it feels markedly quicker. There's a bit of turbo lag, but wait out that half-second and you get more than enough power to sprint past the larger-engine gasoline cars still gathering steam to find the meat of their torque curves.

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

Now let's say you want the car with the segment's single highest fuel-economy number, but you don't want a hybrid. That also would be the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel with its rating of 46 mpg on the highway. And if a hybrid guy wants to bet pink slips based on what you're really getting out of a gallon of fossil fuel, the diesel's likely to come out ahead there, too, unless you're talking strictly stop-and-go city driving, where the Cruze is rated at 27 mpg.

Fuel's Errand
Not everything is ideal with the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel. It weighs about 250 pounds more than the next heaviest Cruze, and that kind of extra weight is never easy to accept, particularly in the name of greater efficiency.

Owners probably will never know it, but they'll be carrying around a tank of urea to cleanse the Cruze Diesel's emissions, and the car's spare tire is sacrificed to place the 4.5-gallon tank that holds the stuff. Refills take place during scheduled maintenance (Chevy says at least 10,000 miles before the tank would be drained); you decide what you think about a can of compressed flat-fixing goop in place of a spare.

The most glaring ice patch on the road to diesel acceptance, however, might come from Chevy's own price strategy. The Cruze Diesel sits near the top of the Cruze model range and although it's rather generously equipped, it's a good $5,000 dearer than the well-regarded, gasoline-engine Cruze Eco, which gets a markedly lower 39-mpg highway rating but at 33 mpg combined, is just 2 mpg in arrears of the Cruze Diesel, thanks in part to the Diesel's 27-mpg city rating.

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

Highway Cruzer
We weren't particularly bothered by those details in our 600-mile round trip behind the wheel of the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel. Instead, it underscored why modern-day diesel engines are such an attractive proposition. For most trips, fill up before you leave and forget about what the fuel gauge says until you return.

You can breeze along with the engine barely nudging past the 2,000-rpm mark with the cruise control set just south of 80 mph. Trouble with dawdlers? Tickle the accelerator and erupt to 95 mph without even troubling the transmission for a downshift.

Forget about diesel clatter, too. Contemporary diesels have largely quieted the clamor, but Chevy engineers also took the extra precaution of borrowing a special sound-absorption package from the 2013 Buick Verano to keep this Cruze quiet. The Cruze Diesel also borrows goodies from the Cruze Eco, including its active grille shutters, 17-inch wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires.

Otherwise, the 2014 Cruze Diesel is mostly like other Cruzes, only better performing. You get four-wheel disc brakes that are enlarged to account for the diesel's extra weight, and that six-speed automatic transmission is an Aisin unit that feels quicker-witted than the GM-made six-speed auto the gasoline Cruzes employ.

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

The low-friction tires do occasionally slip more than we'd like, and although engineers claim a suspension retuning, in many situations the front dampers don't quite feel up to the job of holding up the mass of the iron-block 2.0-liter diesel engine. We noticed this particularly on jarring impacts such as a transition from the highway surface to a bridge surface, when the front end's damping and rebound both felt overtaxed.

A Well-Positioned Competitor
It's hard not to take a shine to the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel. Big-torque performance and hybrid-baiting efficiency is an alluring combination, while the Cruze's intrinsic goodness continues to impress three years after its launch.

For now, Volkswagen has to be curiously looking over its shoulder at its new competitor, and for good reason. The Cruze has more horsepower (151 hp to 140 hp), more torque (264 to 236) and better highway fuel economy (46 mpg to 42 mpg).

And as a final kicker, the Cruze is less expensive, too. At $25,695, the Cruze Diesel undercuts the automatic-transmission Volkswagen Jetta TDI by about 500 bucks. Not a huge difference, but enough to make it worth giving the Chevy a look if all the rest of its advantages weren't enough to convince you already.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.

Comments

  • se_riously se_riously Posts:

    Edmunds took a 600-mile round trip with the Cruze Diesel and reports only the RATED mileage, rather than the ACTUAL mileage? How is that possible when the long term diesel Passat is exceeding its rated mileage?

  • unionbuster unionbuster Posts:

    A Daewoo diesel. Oh yeah, that'll be durable.

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    I'm perplexed about why car makers bring diesels to the U.S. as high spec models priced thousands above the base model. Are they trying NOT to sell them? I think the typical person shopping Chevy is going to look at the price difference and say, "For $7000 more I can get a better-- and by that I mean BIGGER-- car."

  • seppoboy seppoboy Posts:

    Compare with Jetta TDI, which has been somewhat decontented (torsion beam rear instead of independent, some interior materials). VW's TDI is generally well proven, with some reported high pressure fuel pump issues, but a strong track record. Cruze is an open question. Jetta can be had with manual transmission, and current models do not require urea exhaust treatment, and carry spare tires. Jetta has roomier rear seating and trunk than Cruze, and its automatic is a dual clutch DSG, probably not a real advantage. I hope Cruze is a market success with its diesel, the more the merrier, but VW retains some possible advantages. We'll see how GM supports Cruze diesel, including at the dealer level.

  • power6 power6 Posts:

    @darthbimmer I think this is typical product planning on expensive to produce variations of a model. The diesel version costs a lot to make over the standard one and probably can't justify the same profit margin, so they bury that cost in some extra stand

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    When I read "...and the car's spare tire is sacrificed to place the 4.5-gallon tank that holds the stuff. " my heart sank. I'm sorry, but a car with no spare simply does not work in Nevada unless it's to travel from the airport to a casino in Reno or Las Vegas. There is just too much empty space in many of the Western states for this to fly.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    I'll look forward to seeing it in your long term fleet

  • smudge12 smudge12 Posts:

    This diesel has been around for a while overseas and is proven to be reliable. I honestly don't know much about the rest of the car, but I'd have no qualms about the engine.

  • googonabike googonabike Posts:

    I have a question for the author. Which 0-60mph one should consider when preparing for passing on a 2-lane hwy or getting on the freeway, measured or perceived (felt)?

  • okbeartoy okbeartoy Posts:

    Now if it had the interior room of the Jetta or Golf it would be a no brainer.. The back seat area on the Cruze is tight, very tight!

  • nsbio1 nsbio1 Posts:

    The car might be nice, but it does NOT have the best fuel economy at all. Diesel is more expensive than even the premium gasoline, which, counting the difference in prices for different fuels in our neck of the woods (3.45 regular unleaded, 3.95 diesel) makes "46mpg" equivalent to 40 mpg highway gasoline car running regular. Diesel passenger cars make economic sense in Europe, but not in the US. Now, some people simply like to be different and that's OK, but that has nothing to do with being economical.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @nsbio1: What, 40 mpg is gas (diesel) guzzling now? For reference, the Nissan Versa Note that was just reviewed gets 40 mpg on the highway. That seems economical to me. The good news doesn't end there however, since the Nissan has 109hp and 106lbs-ft of t

  • irnmdn irnmdn Posts:

    @unionbuster: A VW DSG? Oh yeah, that'll be tow-able. A Daewoo would be far more durable than any contemporary VW/Audi.

  • cullenar cullenar Posts:

    Edmunds why did you fail to mention important things about the VW? Like for instance it bests the Cruze's 27mpg city with 30mpg city for the Jetta TDI, the Jetta TDI does not require Urea injection, has a compact spare tire and also includes 3 years/36,000 miles of free maintenance. You could also add that the Jetta would be more fun to drive with it s fully independent suspension and it will likely hold its value much better than the Cruze as well.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    @cullenar I'll be the latest Jetta requires urea. I know for sure the 2014 Passat does.

  • flechero flechero Posts:

    To second a few others comments--comparing EPA ratings only says so much. Maybe the Cruze exceeds its EPA ratings like most VWs, or maybe not...give us the real world figures, Edmunds. On another note, I get tired of people making the argument that diesels don't make any sense because diesel fuel is so expensive or because they cost more than gasoline equivalent models. Prices fluctuate seasonally on fuel, and in Colorado, diesel has been on par with Unleaded (and cheaper than Premium Unleaded) for the last few months. Besides that, people buy diesel (and cars with high fuel economy) for a number of reasons= environmental, performance, character, etc. If you followed these peoples line of reasoning we would all be driving base-model Honda Fits. That sunroof? Not economical. Those alloy wheels? Not economical. You get my drift...

  • nsbio1 nsbio1 Posts:

    quadricycle and flechero: I agree with you completely that diesel in a car makes perfect sense for multiple reasons, including fun to drive, character, etc. Again, I am not against diesel at all. However, saving money is not a reason to drive a diesel. Here are facts, not arguments: MSRP of the cheapest gasoline-powered Cruse: $19.180. The most expensive gas powered cruze LTZ: $24.530 MSRP. MSRP of the cheapest diesel Cruse: $25.710. National average prices as of July 2nd: $3.48 per gallon 87 regular, $3.82 diesel. The difference varies in different parts of the country, but even in the most case it will take a long time to even begin to recoup the extra expense spent upfront. Again for flechero: I am not for saving every penny and it is fine to splurge once or even twice in a while. What I am saying is that diesel in a car in the US is a way to splurge, not to save money. And this is fine.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    I'd love to see a full head-to-head comparison test between the Cruze diesel and the Jetta TDI.

  • pfine pfine Posts:

    Fretting over the lack of a spare is ridiculous. The replacement system is more than fine, frankly. Dragging a heavy spare that 99.9% of the time will never be used is a mileage drain. That said the real issue with this car is cost pure and simple. It's just too darned costly -- the Eco version is thousands less and gets almost as good mileage, plus gasoline is cheaper than diesel. If the two were identical in cost, then the diesel would be a good choice. A diesel should last a long time, anyway. Hopefully with time, GM will reduce the selling price to more reasonable levels, or offer the TDI as an option on cheaper trim versions.

  • al2travel al2travel Posts:

    I own 3 German cars, but I can't believe I'm saying this, but I would actually consider buying the Cruze Diesel. Good use of all of GM's assets, great engine made in Germany. I've driven several Opels with this engine, as rentals on biz trips, and it is a great little powerplant.

  • rockylee rockylee Posts:

    @ unionbuster - What are you talking about? The Cruze Diesel is a German build, Fiat designed diesel. I hate it when ignorant sheep chime off........

  • booch221 booch221 Posts:

    A $5000 premium? How many years would it take to make that back? Don't forget, diesel is more expensive than gasoline, which makes the economics even less attractive. No thanks.

  • booch221 booch221 Posts:

    And how much does it cost to refill that urea tank every 10,000 miles?

  • fretnot fretnot Posts:

    At below --- maybe do some reading elsewhere too. Car and Driver and a few others have done extended road testing. And the mpg indeed blows away the VW. I'm running a God and may have to take a haaaarrrrd look at this Cruze. Good for GM

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2014 Chevrolet Cruze in VA is:

$162 per month*
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