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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2014 Cruze featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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How do people like the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2014 Cruze 3.8 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2014 Cruze.
Review This month I purchased a gas Cruze Eco with the six speed manual. I just filled up the tank and checked the gas mileage. I got 39 mpg! That was all around driving, although the majority was highway. Then I drove 98 miles all highway at 62 mph, twice aggressively passing and negotiating some hills. I filled up and it only took 2 gallons! 49 mpg! I am very happy so far. It handles well and isn't underpowered. My 2004 impala 3.8 which I traded in for this had a better ride and more passing power, but I don't think I lost much in these areas. I am very happy. My advice: learn how to use a manual:>)
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Is the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze safe? The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze earned a 5-star overall safety rating from NHTSA and "GOOD" ratings from the IIHS in the following caregories: Side Impact Test, Roof Strength Test, Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint, Moderate Overlap Front Test Results, and a JD POWER overall quality rating of 3.0 out of 5. Among Edmunds' many tools and resources for finding your perfect car are detailed safety ratings and analysis from NHTSA, IIHS, and JD Power, including overall ratings, frontal barrier crash ratings, side impact tests and crash ratings, rollover test results, roof strength tests, rear crash protection and head restraint ratings, side barrier ratings, combined side barrier and pole ratings, and more.
What options are available on the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze?
Available Chevrolet Cruze 2014 Submodel Types: Sedan, Hatchback, Diesel
Available Trims: LT, 1LT, LS, 2LT, LTZ, Premier, Eco, LT Fleet, Diesel, L
Exterior Colors: Silver Ice Metallic, Summit White, Black Granite Metallic, Red Hot, Tungsten Metallic, Mosaic Black Metallic, Blue Ray Metallic, Kinetic Blue Metallic, Cajun Red Tintcoat, Champagne Silver Metallic, Arctic Blue Metallic, Atlantis Blue Metallic, Graphite Metallic, Crystal Red Tintcoat, Pepperdust Metallic, Black, Rainforest Green Metallic, Blue Topaz Metallic, Nightfall Gray Metallic, Siren Red Tintcoat, Orange Burst Metallic, Autumn Metallic, Ice Blue Metallic, Crystal Red Metallic Tintcoat, Satin Steel Metallic, Cyber Gray Metallic, Imperial Blue Metallic, Autumn Bronze Metallic, Blue Granite Metallic, Taupe Gray Metallic, Gold Mist Metallic, Victory Red
Interior Colors: Jet Black cloth, Jet Black premium cloth, Jet Black leather, Jet Black/Medium Titanium premium cloth, Dark Atmosphere/Medium Atmosphere cloth, Medium Titanium premium cloth, Cocoa/Light Neutral leather, Jet Black/Sport Red premium cloth, Brownstone leather, Dark Atmosphere/Medium Atmosphere leather, Brownstone premium cloth, Jet Black/Kalahari leather, Jet Black/Brick leather
Popular Features: Alarm, Aux Audio Inputs, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, Post-collision safety system, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Mobile Internet, Back-up camera, Power Driver Seat, Remote Start, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Heated seats, Keyless Entry/Start, Leather Seats, Sunroof/Moonroof, Upgraded Stereo, Parking sensors, Auto Climate Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Upgraded Engine, Navigation, Lane Departure Warning