By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – The main beef with the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel is its badging but we’ll get to that later.
The Chevrolet Cruze Diesel is the only American made diesel powered passenger car sold in the U.S. And it was a more than capable automobile.
The midsize sedan had a 2.0-liter turbocharged clean diesel engine that made 140 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, that sounds kind of wimpy.
But the engine’s strength lay not in its zero to 60 mph time which at 8.6 seconds was rather sluggish. Like most diesel engines, the power was in the torque: 258 pound-feet at 1,700 rpm and an overboost that kicked it up to 280 foot-pounds. That meant once the car was moving power rippled through to the pavement easily and it allowed the Cruze to pass traffic or motor down the expressway with authority.
The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel had an EPA rating of 27 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway. With a 15.6 gallon fuel tank, the car had a highway range of more than 700 miles.
Thin low resistance all-season tires also contributed to mileage. This car had remote start as well as heated front seats
Yes, during cold weather the engine idled with a bit of a clank but once it warmed up, the Cruze Turbo Diesel hummed along like most other vehicles. And because diesel engines are notorious for difficulty starting in cold weather, the Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel was equipped with an 800 cold cranking amps battery. Thus, starting the car was never an issue.
The car’s electronic stability/traction control, rollover mitigation and anti-locks brakes were standard. It had a MacPherson strut front suspension and what Chevrolet called an “advanced Z-link” rear suspension provided a more stabilized ride.
The electronic power steering system didn’t provide a lot of driver connectivity to what the car was doing through the steering wheel but it did contribute to the overall fuel economy of the car through a reduction in weight.
There was plenty of headroom fore and aft. With a wheelbase of 105.7 inches the Cruze’s ride was comfortable. And there was a good bit of trunk space with 13.3 cubic-feet. The interior was dominated by a large center stack with a 7-inch color touch screen.
Its MyLink system had Bluetooth streaming audio for music from a smartphone and Pandora and Stitcher using those apps on the same smartphone. There was a navigation system, rear parking assist with rear cross traffic alert and a premium audio system, rear view camera as well as heated sideview mirrors.
Based priced at $24,885, the 2014 Cruze Turbo Diesel cost about $2,000 more than a regular Cruze. Still, add on options, freight charges and the car’s $28,105 price wasn’t bad for a capably sedan with an engine that presumably had a very long lifespan.
Except for a small badge on the back of the car, there was nothing for consumers to identify this Chevrolet Cruze as a diesel. That’s probably because GM, through its now defunct Oldsmobile brand, sold a diesel powered model from 1976 to 1985 that was abysmal and that’s putting it nicely.
Many industry observers credit that pitiful diesel which was really a poorly converted gasoline engine with souring Americans on diesel engines. Well GM, through its Chevrolet brand, needs to get over it. It’s doubtful that many consumers even remember the car.
They’ve got a great car that has clean diesel technology that is well packaged. That needs to be pitched far more aggressively. How about starting with some badging that clearly identifies this Chevrolet Cruze as a diesel powered car? The only one assembled in America, Ohio to be precise.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.