The last time Chevrolet offered a diesel-powered passenger car in the U.S. market was in 1986, with the ’86 Chevette. Now, almost 30 years later, the Bow Tie brand is giving diesel another chance in the American market in the form of the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel.
Though it bears a long name officially, the little Chevy oil-burner will be badged as “Cruze 2.0TD” (for Turbo Diesel, obviously). And it might be identical to the current Cruze visually, but there is, of course, one major difference.
The heart and soul of the Cruze TD is a variant of the iron-block 2.0L diesel engine currently found overseas in the Opel Astra, Insignia and Zafira. In the American-spec Cruze TD, the mill will produce an estimated 148 horsepower at 4,000 RPM and a robust 258 pounds-feet of torque; an overboost function kicks the twisting force up to 280 pounds-feet for 10 seconds. To compare, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI delivers a lesser 140 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet. Meanwhile, the Cruze diesel with the standard six-speed automatic transmission is expected to match the Jetta TDI’s highway fuel economy numbers, with an estimated 42 mpg highway, before undergoing official EPA testing.
Considering the torque figures, the Cruze TD seems a mere brake and suspension upgrade away from being the niche performance Cruze that enthusiasts have been clamoring for. Alas, such a vehicle remains evasive. Secondly, enthusiasts may not enjoy the news that the only gearbox offerred in the Cruze TD is a six-speed automatic transmission, at least at the time of its launch in the May-June timeframe of this year.
Yes, the Cruze Diesel will hit the market in America in as little as 90 days. This is easily one of the shortest turnaround times yet for Chevy to reveal a product and then set it loose on the market. When it does hit the streets, the Cruze TD will be the only domestically-made diesel compact sedan sold in the United States. And if demand remains high, it could also result in other diesel models from Chevy making their way to America down the road.
The major difference between the Cruze 2.0TD and its rival from VW is the application of a Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) system. It’s an extra setup with which owners of Duramax-powered Chevrolet and GMC Heavy Duty trucks should be familiar, requiring a refill roughly every 10,000 miles, depending on driving habits. Owners would refill the Cruze TD in the same way they would refill the fuel tank. The urea-injection system drastically cuts the amount of emissions exuded by diesel vehicles, making the Cruze TD’s 2.0L engine the cleanest diesel engine GM has ever produced. However, the placement of the 17-liter (4.46-gallon) DEF tank eats up two cubic feet of trunk space compared to the standard Cruze; the Cruze’s fuel tank remains unchanged, at 16.6 gallons. So with the predicted 42 mpg on the highway, total range for the Cruze 2.0TD would theoretically be 697 miles — roughly the same as the 700-mile range whispered to us by sources some time ago.
The 2014 Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is officially priced at $25,695 — roughly $1,500 more than the base price of the Volkswagen Jetta TDI — its most direct competitor, when it begins its launch in 13 select U.S. markets including Atlanta, Baltimore, Seattle, and St. Louis. Chevrolet claims the diesel Cruze will be significantly more contented than the base German rival, with officials telling us that the Cruze Diesel would be equivalent to the 2LT trim level currently found in the gasoline-powered Cruze, meaning that amenities such as leather heated seats, 6-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat, a remote vehicle starter system, USB port, Chevy MyLink, and 17-inch aluminum wheels would be standard. A base TDI is fairly stripped by comparison, and VW shoppers may find a better deal in the Cruze TD. As icing on the cake, Chevy is throwing in 2 years of scheduled maintenance coverage, which included DEF fill-ups at the dealership. VW, however, has been including three years of free maintenance with all of its models, including the TDI.
Stay tuned for more on the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze 2.0TD throughout the week. For now, feel free to sound off your thoughts on the vehicle in the comments below.