After announcing the 2013 diesel-powered Chevy Cruze, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson proceeded to say that the vehicle is “quiet” and that it will achieve “low-to-mid-40s” in the fuel economy department:
“I drove it the other day. It is great,” Akerson said in an interview with USA TODAY. “These new diesels are quiet. Should make it in the low- to mid-40s, and that’s with an automatic,” said the CEO, referring to the fuel economy of the diesel-powered Cruze when paired with an automatic transmission.
When the Cruze Diesel does make its way to the New World, its direct (and only) competition will be the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, which is rated at 30 MPG in the city and 42 MPG on the highway with an automatic gearbox. In that configuration, it’s priced at $24,865, starting at $22,995 with a manual.
But not everything about a diesel engine is about fuel economy. Diesels have a performance aspect that’s often overlooked by many consumers and automotive journalists alike. Most diesel engines deliver an average (read: unimpressive) horsepower number but carry an impactful amount of low-end torque, providing drivers with strong off-the-line power instead of lightning-fast acceleration at high-speeds. For instance, the Holden Cruze powered by a 2.0 liter turbo-diesel powerplant makes an unexciting 160 horsepower but a whopping 265 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s more than 40 lb.-ft. more than GM’s own 3.0 liter LF1 V6 engine available in the Chevrolet Equinox as well as 116 lb.-ft. of torque more than what’s available from the low-pressure turbocharged engine in the 1.4 liter ECOTEC-powered Cruze in North America.
But unlike in Europe, diesel-powered passenger cars have been far and few between in the States. In fact, the Cruze Diesel will be the first passenger vehicle from Detroit since the 2006 Jeep Liberty CRD, and will be the first diesel car from the D Town since the mid-1980s.
Part of the reason for their unpopular nature in North America is the fact that, compared to Europe, diesel fuel in the U.S. has carried a 5 to 10 percent average premium over regular gas. The cost at the pump is amplified by the fact that diesel engines are more expensive to build than their gasoline counterparts thanks to requiring more technology to control emissions — resulting in a more expensive vehicle. The other reason for the low popularity of diesel-powered vehicles in passenger cars in the U.S. is, of course, much to do with the unrefined, loud, and (dare we say) smelly nature of last-generation diesel technology. Fortunately, this is now a non-starter.
The GM Authority Take
After many years of following others in the compact vehicle space, it’s refreshing to see GM be the first to deliver something as significant as a diesel engine. Couple that with the upcoming North American launch of the Chevy Cruze hatchback and 2013 Malibu, and The General is suddenly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to passenger cars.
What fuel economy do you expect from or wish to see in the diesel-powered Cruze? Sound off in the comments!
Source: USA TODAY