2015 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo DieselPosted on March 18th, 2015
Compact sedan is big on fuel economy
By Nina Russin
Twenty years ago, if somebody told me I could average 40 miles-per-gallon in a passenger car I’d have thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Thanks to new clean diesel technology, engineers are able to imbue today’s cars and trucks with fuel economy unimaginable in decades past.
The newest member of Chevrolet’s compact Cruze sedan family is a perfect example, averaging 46 miles-per-gallon on the highway according to the EPA. During my 140-mile test drive that included surface streets as well as highways, I averaged 41.
The Cruze was Chevrolet’s replacement for the Cobalt when it debuted in 2010. This year the automaker does a styling refresh on all models except the base LS and adds 4G LTE. Twenty-fifteen models are also pre-wired for Siri.
Base price for the turbo-diesel car is $25,660 excluding the $825 destination charge. Standard comfort and convenience features include remote vehicle start, leather seating, heated front seats, 60/40 split folding second-row seat, air conditioning, a driver information display in the gauge cluster, tilt-and-telescoping steering column, air conditioning, OnStar, satellite radio and Chevrolet MyLink.
The test car is equipped with several option packages adding a power sunroof, premium audio system, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rearview camera and heated outside mirrors, bringing the final MSRP to $29,430.
Test drive in Phoenix
What I love about clean diesel as opposed to other types of alternative fuel vehicles is its ability to deliver mileage ratings under real-world driving conditions. Diesel cars produce the same 25-30 percent fuel economy gains whether the driver feathers the throttle or buries it. A reduction in CO2 emissions is the icing on the cake.
Torque is significantly higher than for comparably sized-gasoline engines, giving diesel cars a big advantage in low-end acceleration and when used in trucks, for towing. For example, while the two-liter diesel engine in the Cruze produces a modest 12 horsepower more than the 1.8-liter turbocharged block in the gasoline-powered car, peak torque for the diesel block is 116 foot-pounds higher. In races to the front of the line on highway entrance ramps diesel wins every time.
Unlike prior generations of diesel cars, the new clean diesel models don’t belch black smoke or have that annoying diesel tick. The turbocharger on the Cruze delivers strong, linear acceleration with no lag. I noticed some chuggle during deceleration from the six-speed automatic transmission. I don’t think this was a mechanical problem but rather software in need of adjustment to make the torque converter clutch solenoid engage more smoothly.
The test drive route included surface streets and highways in the Phoenix and Chandler, Arizona metropolitan areas, as well as the Bush Highway that runs down the west side of the Superstition Mountains and a section of the Gila River Indian reservation south of town. Aside from the minor glitch during deceleration, the transmission felt well matched to the engine, with no shift shock during normal driving conditions.
An electric power steering system reduces mass under the hood. A 35.7-foot turning circle makes it easy to perform the occasional U-turn. There is a slight hesitation in on-center response at higher speeds, but the driver by no means feels disconnected from the wheels.
The suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam rear axle. While I’m not a fan of live rear axles, they function well enough on compact front wheel cars since the steering and majority of the braking take place over the front axle.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
Engineers did a good job of minimizing road, engine and wind noise to the interior so occupants can converse on the highway or enjoy the audio system.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. I’d recommend the enhanced safety option package that includes the rearview camera and blind spot monitoring ($790) for anyone who deals with congested highways on a regular basis. The rearview camera makes it much easier to monitor cross-traffic in parking lots and blind spot monitoring reduces fatigue during rush-hour traffic.
Leather seating surfaces and Chevrolet’s newest infotainment technology give the Cruze interior a premium feel typical of more expensive cars. Remote start enables owners to pre-heat or pre-cool the interior in temperature extremes. I found the driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view. There is no lower lumbar adjustment, but I was comfortable during drives two hours in length.
The trunk has plenty of room for groceries, luggage and golf bags. Fold-flat second-row seats extend the cargo floor for longer items such as skis and snowboards. Cyclists will be better served with the Chevrolet Trax or Equinox crossover vehicles.
The Chevrolet Cruze Turbo-Diesel comes with ten standard airbags, daytime running lamps, stability control, antilock brakes, tire pressure monitoring and OnStar with automatic crash response. The Cruze received a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The factory warranty includes two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance and roadside assistance during the warranty period. Chevrolet builds the Cruze in its Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant.
Like: A versatile compact sedan with exceptional fuel economy and a high level of standard safety features. 4G LTE adds a mobile hotspot.
Dislike: Shift shock during deceleration.
Model: Cruze Turbo-Diesel
Base price: $25,660
As tested: $29,430
Horsepower: 151 Hp @ 4000 rpm
Torque: 264 lbs.-ft. @ 2600 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 27/46 mpg city/highway
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