Chevrolet introduced the Cruze Turbo Diesel in 2014, the first diesel sedan from an American nameplate since the less-than-stellar diesel cars Detroit offered in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It’s a world of difference. Actually, GM brought the European Cruze 2.0-liter turbodiesel to the Cruze powertrain lineup here, a well-proved engine that accounts for about 40 percent of all Cruze models sold in Europe. The Chevrolet Cruze Diesel returns for 2015 with only minor cosmetic changes.
The 2015 model we test drove is easily recognized from the 2014 version by its revised grille and front fascia, influences that came from the Chevy Impala and Malibu. Inside, minor changes include revised cup holders, relocating the trunk-release button to the center console, and door lock buttons now on the door. Features include everything offered on Cruze LS and 1LT models, plus a sport-tuned suspension, 17 inch alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, leather-appointed seats, heated front seats, 6-way power-adjustable driver seat, remote vehicle starter system, and LED running lights.
Likewise, there is no change to the 2.0-liter ECOTEC turbodiesel four-cylinder from last year, an engine that produces 151 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque with at least 250 pound-feet of torque between a low 1,750 and 3,000 rpm. The dual overhead camshaft (DOHC), 16-valve engine has an overboost capability that increases torque to an estimated 280 pound-feet during short bursts of stronger acceleration for about 10 seconds. The Cruze Diesel can accelerate from 0-60 mph in about 8.6 seconds and you can feel this diesel’s expected low-end torque coming on strong within a few seconds of hard acceleration from a stop. An Aisin AF-40 six-speed automatic transmission handles the car’s higher torque.
As expected, fuel economy is the Cruze Diesel’s strong suit. With an EPA-estimated 46 highway mpg, this means the thrifty Cruze can travel 717 miles on its 15.6 gallon fuel tank. City efficiency is an EPA estimated 27 mpg and 33 mpg combined. An aero performance package that integrates a lower front grille air shutter, mid-body aero panels, and front air dam help achieve its higher fuel efficiency.
The version sold here in the States was adapted to meet more stringent Tier 2 Bin 5 emission standards as well as a wider range of driving conditions, including higher altitudes and colder weather. For example, ceramic glow plugs are used rather than conventional metal glow plugs to provide better cold starts. An engine oil heater is optional for cold climates.
Importantly, this diesel engine emits at least 90 percent less nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate emissions compared to previous-generation diesels. A diesel particulate filter (DPF) and urea injection are used. The exhaust after-treatment system uses technology similar to that found in GM’s Duramax diesel engines for heavy-duty trucks and vans. Those seeking an additional level of environmental performance will appreciate that the engine is B20 biodiesel compatible.
Connectivity is enhanced with features like text message alerts for smartphone users with incoming texts through the car’s speakers, plus Siri Eyes Free for iPhone iOS 6 and iOS 7. Voice -controlled connectivity aims to mitigate distracted driving by helping keep phones in pockets and hands on the wheel. Popular available options include a seven-inch color touch screen and navigation. Expanding MyLink capability is OnStar with 4G LTE and a standard Wi-Fi hotspot to provide a mobile hub for staying connected. A three-month/three gigabyte data trial is provided.
The 2015 Cruze received a 5-star Overall Vehicle Score for Safety from the National Highway Transportation Administration. Standard safety features include 10 standard airbags. A rear vision camera, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Side Blind Zone Alert are available. Chevy’s best-selling model worldwide with more than three million sold since its 2010 launch, the Cruze is offered in LS, LT, RS, LTZ, and Eco models. Its base MSRP starts at $16,995 with the diesel model available at $26,485.