By on August 16, 2011

With Chevrolet already offering a Cruze Eco, WardsAuto reports that the forthcoming Cruze diesel made a case for itself based on attributes that go beyond mere efficiency. Which is interesting because a GM source tells Wards that the Cruze diesel will get around 50 MPG on the freeway… and unlike the Eco, it will achieve that high number with an automatic transmission (the Cruze Eco’s 42 MPG highway rating is only for manual transmission models). Equally importantly, the oil-burning Cruze will return better performance alongside better efficiency, with 147 HP and 236 lb-ft, compared to the 1.4T engine’s 138 HP and 148 lb-ft, which would make it the performance model of the range… which some say is just what the Cruze needs.

Joseph Lescota, chair of the Automotive Marketing Management Dept. at Northwood University in Midland, MI, thinks a diesel Cruze will draw buyers.

“Chevrolet has a great price-point vehicle that has tremendous eye appeal and options but may not meet the performance needs of a select market group,” he tells Ward’s.

A diesel version would hit that group between the eyes by adding a sturdy engine, extra torque and top-end performance to the mix, he says.

GM executives meanwhile highlight the diesel option’s value as what GM North America boss Mark Reuss calls “a hedge against the unknown.” Only three percent of current US sales are of diesels, but as American brands start rolling the oil-burning options out, and as Americans are exposed to their higher performance and efficiency, that segment could just grow. After all, who doesn’t want more performance and more efficiency for a mere $1k-$4k premium?

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47 Comments on “Cruze Diesel: The Performance (And Efficiency) Choice...”


  • avatar
    vbofw

    I like the proactive strategy. They realize the Focus has outclassed them [albeit slightly] so Chevy is upping the ante on a trendy differentiator.

    VWofA will soon be $hitting their pants.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I’m hoping for competition in diesel options – that will be better for everyone as it brings the price premium down. The standard price difference over a gas to diesel engine is ~ $1k but TDIs are a good $2-$3k more (almost a hybrid premium) b/c they can charge more profit and add more content. If this is priced right it might be a consideration as I’m not a fan of the 1.4T in the Cruze (very small upgrade over the 1.8 liter).

  • avatar
    alluster83

    what the Cruze needs first is a taillight re-design. They are huge and rounded for an otherwise sharp looking car. The current Gen Malibu suffers from the same problem.

    GM, first fix the Cruze’s rear.
    http://www.cruzetalk.com/forum/11-appearance-body/1069-benz-e-class-style-tail-light-review-more-_.html

    Then bring the Cruze Hatch, Cruze Coupe, Cruze Performance Version, and Cruze AWD. With those offerings, the Cruze can easily top sales every month.

    http://www.matthewlaw.ca/img/matthew_law_top_tuner_chevrolet_cruze_front_web.jpg

  • avatar
    brettc

    Wow, that’s 7 hp more than VW’s 2.0 litre TDI, and equal torque. Not bad. I think a diesel Cruze is great news because it’ll expose a lot more people to modern diesels. And it might make Ford offer a diesel Focus or Fiesta. I like the new Focus hatchback, but no diesel means I’d be buying a Golf instead if I were in the market. Hopefully by the time I replace my 2002 Golf TDI, there will be lots of other diesel hatch options.

  • avatar
    Toad

    A Cruze diesel would be great car for high mileage commuters and road warriors…but betting your car payment on GM diesels has had tragic results in the past. Yes, the Oldsmobile diesels were made 30 years ago but I am not convinced that GM long term quality and cost accounting has changed all that much since then.

    As a diesel buff I would love to see more oil burners available for people who want them, but I’m not brave or foolish enough to bet on a GM version.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      It would depend on whether the US Cruze diesel would be the same as the one that has been proven in other markets.

      And will the actual power and MPG numbers turn out to be as good the “sources” claim?

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      I doubt history will repeat itself as the turbo diesel engine is sold in Europe and well proven. The stigma of a GM diesel will be the issue – though only way to overcome it is to sell one that changes the perception. The Duramax (GM smartly teamed with Isuzu way back when) diesels are some of the top heavy duty light truck engines on the market.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Bah, GM was selling diesel engines to Honda in Europe not that long ago. The disaster of the V8 gas conversions is in the past; this is a proven out powerplant in other markets around the world.

  • avatar
    340-4

    Does this portend a diesel Cruze wagon in 2013, perhaps?

    Good Lord. They’d sell every single one. Any chance for a stick?

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Hahahahahahahahaha

      Please tell me that was sarcasm. Yeah, a diesel wagon with a manual transmission. They’ll sell every single one! To all the people who constantly post on the internet about how that’s exactly what they want! Because everyone knows that Internet fanatics always come through on actual sales, which is why “Snakes On A Plane” was the highest-grossing movie of the last decade and why Saab is financially healthy right now.

      The only way “they’d sell every single one” is if they only manufactured five.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        While part of me harbors the hope that a mainstream offering of a diesel would be a good thing (I don’t consider the VW Jetta truly within the mainstream of most automotive buyers), I also believe that most Americans are diesel-averse and no matter if the Cruze turned out to be an awesome vehicle, sales would be virtually non-existent…even worse as a wagon. Americans don’t tend to like wagons, diesels or manual transmission vehicles. Putting all three into one would spell a death sentence for the Cruze!
        Besides, as most Americans drive by a fuel service station and see the rather substantial price differential between diesel and regular, they’d be even further turned off by any thought of considering a diesel.

      • 0 avatar
        graham

        Have you ever been inside a VW showroom? If not, please remove your foot from your mouth before entering. And then ask them about a TDI manual wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        Aristaturtle, a real conversation I had at a VW dealer a year ago this month.

        Me: “I’d like to test drive a Golf TDI and a GTI.”
        Salesperson: “Um, we don’t have any diesels.”
        Me: “Really, why?”
        S: “All of the half-dozen or so Golf TDIs that were sold within days of arrival*.”
        Me: “Do you expect any more shipments in the next month?”
        S: “No, VW’s distribution of diesels is fickle.”
        Me: “Why?”
        S: “Nobody in America wants a diesel hatch**.”

        Please feel free to reconcile * with **. The salesman couldn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Please feel free to reconcile * with **. The salesman couldn’t.

        He’s right. Aside from a few aficionados, most people in North America don’t want a diesel hatch. If they did, the Prius alone wouldn’t be outselling all diesel cars combined.

        VW has two choices: underbuild and have buyers who pay a nice premium, or overbuild and get stuck with dead stock that has to be sold at a discount.

        What they can, and do, do is sell incrementally more each year.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Once that car came out, every auto-blogger would immediately go into overdrive, nit-picking the hell out of the car to come up with as many legitimate reasons to not have to back up their loudly voiced opinions by actually spending their own money.

      And, since it’s a Chevy, if nothing else works, Remember the Aveo! Better yet, Remember the Citation!

      We’re only here to tell the auto industry what to do, not actually support them when they do it.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        +1.

        I predict a hilarious laundry list of excuses from the “I only want a diesel wagon with a stick” crowd on why they won’t buy the Cruze version.

      • 0 avatar
        Sundowner

        The Jetta comes as a diesel wagon with a stick. why shouldn’t the chevy?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Let me go on record now to avoid confusion when I don’t buy one of these later. There is no price low enough that it would interest me in a diesel stationwagon from GM. A friend of mine has a Jetta SportWagen TDI DSG. I’ve ridden in it a number of times and I wasn’t interested when I assumed it cost 20% less than it actually did. Her enthusiasm about it lasted days. I’d sooner buy a VW than a GM, at least unless the UAW organizes VWUSA.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I’m really looking forward to this. I had a rental Cruze last month and while the car itself was really nice, the 1.4 turbo really let it down, particularly with the automatic. The torque of a turbodiesel with a manual transmission could be just what the doctor ordered.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Wow that engine was barely audible inside the cabin, making the car feel more upscale and luxurious than you would expect in its price and market segment.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Diesel will be a great addition to the line-up. Now how about offering the Cruze hatch here too GM.

  • avatar
    tced2

    I read elsewhere that this diesel engine is supplied by VM Motori (2.0L) so it would be unrelated to the GM diesel engines of 30 years ago.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The big question is the price premium they will charge…. Performance buyers will likely pay a reasonable premium but will the economy buyers go for it. Particularly in those areas where diesel is more expensive. A friend has a TDI that gets 42 MPG in his normal use and he crunched the numbers between what he paid per gallon, for diesel for it and gas for his wife’s car over a month or two and says a 35 MPG gasser that drinks regular would have the same fuel cost. So around here based on his not so scientific pricing survey, that diesel 50 mpg would have about the same fuel costs as the Eco’s 42. Certainly that will vary from area to area.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say diesels are dead, pointless, and dang near financially unjustifiable for anyone but the uber milers. I used to be a Diesel fan, even bought a 2010 Jetta TDI. The truth of it is that what OEM’s need to do to diesels to make them emissions compliant would make Rube Goldberg’s head spin in amazement. From the crazy dual EGR system, the insane Diesel Particulate Filter system, to the sometimes-needed urea injection system, there’s just too much going on under the hood of one of these beasts to be reasonable or efficient. Normal ordinary diesels? great engines. Modern EPA or Euro spec approved diesels? keep them.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      You can’t put a price on doubling your torque! Performance buyers will figure this out.

    • 0 avatar
      2ronnies1cup

      A lot of that technology is very new and not fully developed yet – expect vast improvements.

      I remember the early years of catalytic converters, gulp valves, EGR and all the associated emissions cr@p on SI engines. They worked out the bugs, and today we have engines producing levels of power, reliability, efficiency and durability that would have seemed like science fiction in the days of slurping carbs and sparking contact-breakers.

      The CI engine neatly sidesteps a lot of tricky problems inherent in SI engines, and still has a lot more potential to be developed.

  • avatar
    Bob12

    Edward Niedermeyer wrote:
    “who doesn’t want more performance and more efficiency for a mere $1k-$4k premium?”

    For buyers looking in the Cruze’s segment, $4k is a huge premium…especially if/when diesel costs more than gas. There’s a bit of math involved for the average shopper to make that decision from a cost-efficiency standpoint. It would be a good idea for GM to emphasize the performance aspect. It would be a little like the opposite of Ford’s decision to rename TwinForce to EcoBoost.

  • avatar
    marc

    Diesel is averaging 23 cents higher per gallon right now. Add the $3000 price premium. Good luck making the math work with that one.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Simple math as here in north central Ohio the difference between gas and diesel is on average .50(low average) or about $750 in annual savings for a 55 mpg(you know it’ll get 60 mpg with restrained drivinf style, high tire pressures…) vs 38 mpg gasoline.

    Make mine white with a black convertible top. :)

  • avatar
    blowfish

    with all the bells & whistles that had to be added into a modern day dsl, is not making it any easier than to own a small gas engine. one can bet should it needs any repair is going to be Hershey highway!
    DSl are more expensive in most places of US, during the old days dsl were 20% cheaper than gas, plus the mileage was better too!

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Yes, the diesel engines of “the old days” certainly were rock solid reliable compared to the flaky, complex, EPA-hobbled modern turbodiesels. Why, the Oldsmobile V8 Diesel from the seventies would sometimes clock as many as ten thousand miles before a catastrophic failure!

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        And the Oldsmobile diesel was, what, thirty years ago?

        Are you ever going to give it a rest? Or are you planning on going to your grave damning GM for every mistake they ever made, no matter how old?

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Hey, I’m just taking issue with this guy’s misplaced nostalgia. I have no doubt that GM VM Motori can make a more reliable diesel engine than the Oldsmobile 350 “Worst Diesel Engine Ever Manufactured”.

        I’m just saying that repairs were not, in fact, cheaper and less frequent back in the “old days” and having to refill a urea tank once every fifty thousand miles is not a big deal.

  • avatar

    I was just thinking about the futures of diesels in the US market the other day on my blog (http://rockyroadblog.com/2011/08/diesel-cars-too-late-for-the-us-market/).

    After reading this, I wonder if there’s going to be a tipping point in gas prices in the near future that’ll incentivize manufacturers to bring over their world diesel models. A friend is a big fan of diesels in trucks, but I remain skeptical about them in passenger cars. I was a passenger in a TDI Audi A3, and the diesel rattle is such a huge turn off.

  • avatar
    TCragg

    I was a long-time diesel owner until very recently. Aside from Volkswagen (or any other company, for that matter) not selling me what I wanted (a diesel minivan or a 2010 Passat TDI wagon), the economics of diesel do not make sense to me anymore. My 2010 Passat DSG 2.0T cost me $26,000.00 with incentives, while a 2010 Golf TDI wagon was over $30,000.00. The price premium for a slightly smaller car was hard to swallow with a 75,000 km payback period. I can buy a lot of gas for $4000.00. Of course, YMMV. VW Canada has no trouble selling as many diesels as it can get its hands on. My friend is the GM of a large VW dealer in the Greater Toronto Area, and his take rate for models with diesels is 70%.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I’d really like to see diesels put into larger vehicles where they can actually make a notable difference in fuel economy/operating costs. Give me an Impala, Tahoe or Suburban with a diesel. That makes a heck of a lot more sense IMO than sticking one into a compact that already gets 40 MPG.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    If it was all about the raw math and saving money, no one would buy a Prius when numerous C-segment vehicles provide better, “do the math” numbers while offering the same features – even though they may drink more gas.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    So my questions (as I’ll be car shoping in approximately 12 months):

    When is it coming stateside?

    Will it acutally be available with all the trim levels (LT, LT2, LTZ) or only with stupid option packages that I don’t want?

    And guys it’s not always about the math. Besides if it does offer better performance than the gas versions then I won’t be comparing the price of diesel to the price of regular, I’ll be comparing it to the price of premium.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      No it is not always about the math but in this segment the math is important for many of the buyers. The question is will the people that are looking for performance accept the slush box and what ever price premium it adds.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Long-term owner.

    Parts availability in used parts market compared to gas engine?

    Mucho variables from parts to mechanic availability.

    Other considerations.

    Those not requiring long-term ownership due to adequate income source need not concern themselves.

    But, the times they are a’changin’.

    Will ye remain immune?

    • 0 avatar
      Bryce

      Im a long term diesel car owner and repairer self taught from neccessity. I made sure I got the best engine design pre electronic injection and ecu type engine. It came with the best handling chassis available in a 5 door hatch from the 90s and its a blast to drive as far as I can tell Donfeng is still making PSA parts in China so parts are about and in the wrecking yards here to suit it.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Unless the cat has changed its spots, this VM Motori diesel will not be quiet.

    Misdirection is a common marketing move. Subaru used to say about the first Impreza that it was unaffected by crosswinds, being AWD. LJK Setright pointed out that it was awful in crosswinds and the cause was a poor choice of rear roll center height.

    So here GM says the Cruze diesel is quiet. Uh huh.

    GM bought the other half of VM Motori in Feb this year. Fiat owns the other half. I can’t find any citation that says the VM is anything but a bit of a dog compared to other modern diesels.

    Your opinion and mileage may vary.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Yea we will see about this one…


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