By on February 7, 2013

In a few hours, we’ll have live shots of the Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel (what a mouthful), but in the mean time, here’s a preview of the long awaited oil-burning Chevy.

The heart of the diesel Cruze is a 2.0L 148 horsepower engine that puts out 258 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is expected to ape the Cruze Eco, at 42 mpg highway, though the diesel Cruze costs $25,685 – $1,845 more than a TDI Jetta and $4,000 more than a base Cruze Eco with an automatic transmission. While the diesel is available in the higher-spec 2LT trim level, it’s hard to justify another $4,000 just to get things like disc brakes and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Apparently, Chevrolet isn’t targeting Cruze buyers, but buyers of Volkswagen TDI cars. But Chevrolet is only offering an automatic gearbox, and TDI drivers are one of the few demographics that tend to buy manuals in any significant numbers. Furthermore, how many Veedub diehards will give up their beloved brand and its Euro-snob appeal for a Bowtie-brand Cruze?

GM will launch the Cruze diesel in select markets first, similar to the Volt, with sales occurring first in markets that are considered to be more diesel friendly.

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81 Comments on “Chevrolet Cruze Diesel: Where’s The Value Proposition?...”


  • avatar
    Onus

    I could see the market for this. Say if you want an American car over the vw. Plus i feel there are still drivers afraid of vw with their past reliability record.

    I figure parts may be cheaper but that isn’t something to worry about with a new car. Mostly just for us home mechanics.

    I’m surprised that you have to move up the get rear disks. Normal people probably don’t notice the difference.

    I think they work fine i just hate working on them.

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    This car will print money for GM.

    Great to see GM and Chrysler are the two American auto makers that “get it” and are embracing diesel tech. It is the future.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      If this costs more than the Jetta than its a total flop. I don’t think that it will be a total loss — how much can it cost to make one? — but it’s never going to make volume. Jetta TDIs have snob appeal and similar mpg. Why would anyone buy this instead unless they have a buy American bias? And can someone crunch the numbers, how does buying this car save money???

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        If it flops, then it at least disproves all of those TDI snobs who claim there’s a huge demand for diesel cars because Jetta.

        Oh, and part of the reason it costs more is because GM spent money on the Cruze’s interior instead of taking money out like VW.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        jz,
        I don’t agree. The VW TDIs are popular because they return much better mileage than their gas counterparts. The Cruze doesn’t; that takes away a lot of incentive to go diesel instead of gas.

        And $26K will buy you a Golf or Jetta Sportwagen TDI, neither of which have the cheapened interior.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        Like the TDI the Cruze may return much better than advertised numbers, but I think the lack of a manual will for once actually be a problem to the bean counters. It’s already an option on the Cruze, and the number of manuals on TDIs sold is pretty healthy, as the article mentions.

        That said I’m looking forward to the show this year. I’ll go next Tuesday after work when it’s not so crowded.

    • 0 avatar
      nic_mach

      I don’t know about that, but it has a chance:
      1. The Cruze is better than the current Jetta.
      2. There are a ton of diesel enthusiasts out there with full-size pickups who are apparently not price-conscious and probably a few of them need to buy their son or daughter a car with big MPGS.

      • 0 avatar
        jaje

        TDI Jetta is EPA ~ 42 mpg highway but drivers are normally getting 50+ mpg. The take rate for the Jetta is about 50% TDI (so it’s quite a popular option). I’d expect the Cruze TD to well exceed the 42 mpg highway mileage. Especially as when diesels get more mileage on them they get more efficient as the engine loosens up. The Mazda6 diesel is also another option that is available for us.

      • 0 avatar
        seth1065

        As a TDI wagon owner here I can say they may take some customers from VW bases on Vw rep but the TDI ESP the wagons were not stripped as many assume, that was the sedan, so based on the cr use I rented last week the VW interior is vastly better, I have 50k on mine in 16 months and so far no issues at all. That said unless gas spikes a lot most buyers will not need a oil burner. I see the Chevy getting folks who would not buy a VW but buy American and mat try a oil burner from Chevy

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    I’m happy to see an American manufacturer offering a diesel. And I think the Cruze is the correct car for it. I do wish there was the option of a stick.

    I agree with the above poster that this could be an attractive option for someone who wants a non-DSG auto diesel.

    I hope they sell every one they can make, and other mfgs follow suit. Americans are ready for diesels (again)

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    Make it a hatchback please.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    Is this an Isuzu sourced diesel?

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    This is a bit of a leap of faith for GM and unusually they are being a bit subtle about it. For starting something new (for the US market anyway) they don’t want this to be a runaway success because that would hurt them in the long run. Expect slow but steady sales and then expect Ford to join in on the fun.
    With any luck VW will stay ahead of the game by selling more diesel models, especially where it will make sense, in the SUV area.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    If they want to compete with VW, GM had better have the wagon here also.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Pay more for a car that gets the same MPG as the Gas version and the fuel is more expensive in many areas. Yeah they should be able to sell two or three of them. Should make a couple of diesel faithful happy once they start stacking the cash on the hood to move them.

    • 0 avatar
      86SN2001

      Has GM or the EPA released MPG figures yet? Because there is nothing in the above article that claims it will get mileage equal to the gasoline version.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      GM claims diesel highway fuel economy of 42 mpg. The gas models vary between 35-39 mpg. Not quite the same.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Car and Driver says part of the reason for the low mileage rating is that the diesel Cruze weighs at least 3,500 lbs. Where else can you get a car so small that weighs so much for so little money? That’s ATS or 328i mass! I looked at British reviews of the Cruze. They say the pick of the litter is the 1.7 liter diesel wagon, which still doesn’t have much to do with US offerings.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Wouldn’t be surprised to a hybrid beating 50+ mpg highway when all is said and down just like the tdi. Weight is not much a factor at cruise speeds.

      As PCH has already mention the automatic transmissed gas version of the Cruze get much less than 42 mpg of this automatic tranmission diesel.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        It may get the same official highway figure as the Eco but as the Jetta has shown real world fuel economy is typically better than EPA. Also what about the city figure, there seems to be this myopic focus on highway when city is more important component in the combined figure.
        As fro the $4000 difference, I don`t know if this is good value or not until the full spec is out there but even if fuel economy was comparable with the Eco (after taking into account the extra cost of diesel fuel) the diesel would still be a better performer with all that torque. That is why the Mazda 6 performance model (until a MazdaSpeed 6 comes out) will be the diesel version as it has the torque of a V6.

      • 0 avatar
        seth1065

        My DSG TDI wagon gets right around 43 mpg driving highway speeds of 70-75 and I an very happy with that, you could get higher but you to drive at 60 or so, 50 mpg in the new ones no way driving as I do

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Hybrid for highway use is a no brainer, NO! You’d have to run the numbers for gas vs diesel for 120 mile commute like mine. The price of a couple dollars per gallon of urea every 10,000 miles is a blip on the screen and much less expensive than replacing a hybrid battery.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It sounds like a cost amortization exercise. GM wants to be in the business of building global platforms, which involves recovering the development costs by selling the same stuff to everyone on the planet.

    Nice theory, but it probably will end up costing them money, rather than increase their profits. Few Americans will want it, the marketing dollars and support will produce minimal interest, the dealers will have to be provided with training and parts that increase the overhead, and the effort and money spent on federalizing the US version will end up being wasted. (These are the kinds of costs that the bean counters presumably forget to count.)

    And to add insult to injury, the Europeans who are the real target for this car don’t seem to be particularly fond of it. VW may not sell a lot of diesels to Americans, but at least they do sell more than enough of them to Europeans in order to make offering them here worth their while. That doesn’t appear to be the case here.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      +1
      Man, you are succinct.

      Plus, the “buy American” sentiment is a spent force. My work cohort is approx. 60% ex-military and the numbers of new Hyundais, VWs, Toyotas and Subarus constantly appearing in both admin & hourly lots is telling.

      And I can’t imagine the appliance-hunting, drama-hating average buyer like me will be smitten with having to pay more for fuel than they already do. Finally, for those who might, they’re gonna want an MT option.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      VW sells every TDI they get, they controll the inventory very well, so there is pent up demand, more than 20% of buyers order their cars and wait a few months, the do not give cut rate 1.9 % deals to move the metal like t.hey do on gas jetta and the very rarely discount them

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “VW sells every TDI they get”

        They don’t sell very many.

        In the US during 2012, Toyota sold more copies of the standard Prius than BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Porsche and VW sold diesels.

        Clean diesel market share in the US is less than 1%. It makes some sense for the Germans to play in what little there is of the US diesel market, since they have some branding identity as makers of diesels. GM doesn’t have such an advantage.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    According to the article roughly 25% of the total production run has been diesels. Arguably the price is a wee-bit high as it is getting into Camry Hybrid/Ford C-Max territory. Still I think if it is marketed right and actually aimed at trying to draw foot traffic via it’s fuel miser status it could sell. The problem is it will not move off the lot if the only chevy commercials are based around baseball, apple pie, and chevrolet. That shit just isn’t going to cut it when you’re trying to shift compacts to a growing demographic of younger and older people looking to get into a new car or downsize their lives respectively.

  • avatar

    In some parts of the country, you’d be better off with a Cruze: Compressed Natural Gas.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    They might sell two or three of them where I live in New Jersey as some folks insist:
    - buy Union-made American cars
    - big oil = big evil
    - Cheaper than a Volt or electric Focus
    - runs on bio-diesel so it’s less toxic for the environment.

    Like I said, that’ll account for sales of about 3 units.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      It’ll probably run on a max of B5 biodiesel. That’s all VW allows in the current common rail TDIs. So the biodiesel argument doesn’t really mean much now. You could easily run B100 in old Mercedes and older TDIs. But now running anything higher than B5 is a bad idea unless you want to end up replacing your entire common rail fuel system on your dime.

      After seeing the price of this thing (and the lack of a manual option), I’m in agreement with Pch101. They’ll sell about 3 of them, then claim that Americans still don’t like/won’t buy diesels. If it started around $20000 for the diesel option, I could see them selling because they’d be undercutting a Jetta TDI sedan. But who knows, maybe with the multitude of GM discounts that are out there, it will end up costing $20000 (or less). It’ll be interesting to see if it’s a giant failure or a runaway sales success. I’m betting on option 1 myself.

  • avatar
    Mathias

    A month ago, I leased a Cruze with the 1.4 Turbo/6MT powertrain. I was surprised by how nice it is… quiet, pleasant to drive, very well screwed together. And the fuel economy is good, too. Lousy rear-seat room, though; a real commuter car.

    I suspect the Diesel will have better real-life fuel economy in town than the gasser, but given the higher price of the fuel, I don’t see this making a lot of sense. Torque is nice, but is it $4k nice?

    At least I’ll be in a great position to observe… Lansing, MI is a GM town from way back, and Cruzes are extremely popular around here. I’ll be sure to listen for the clatter…

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      “At least I’ll be in a great position to observe”

      Exactly… this is actually some of the most interesting domestic news I’ve seen in years. I think it’s doomed for all the reasons posted here, but I hope I’m wrong.

      I’ve bought Japanese for years, but I’ll probably mosey over to the Bowtie store when these come in…. never driven a diesel car and VW’s reliability record is a Scary Thing.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      “higher cost of fuel”

      well it could still work out. Like all of these cars (diesel and hybrid) you have a pay for it period before you save money. GM’s problem is going to be how long that period is at around $25k starting and with slightly higher diesel fuel prices. Still, with tdi’s the bigger saving is usual resale value until you’ve got big mileage’s.

      Any word on the type of transmission fitted? Trans. maintenance costs need to figure into things if you want to calculate economic efficiency, and well, the tuning of the transmission needs to be paid attention to as shift points and torque characteristics are completely different from normal gas engines. If they get this right it could be a great little car.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Higher resale is great, but that depends on people’s perception and is at best a ‘wash’ unless you paid the same as the gas engine.

        Diesel specific transmissions are programmed to advance the upshift timing and retard downshifts. It’s not a big deal.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Well here’s where I publicly eat foot because I said hell would freeze over before this car came. Oh dear these shoes taste nasty! What the F did I step in??? :(

    Sucks about the auto-only though. Wrong way to try stealing VW fans. Even Mazda has said they will offer the Sky-D with a stick.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    The Cruze 2.0L diesel in Europe is rated at 49 MPG (4.8L/100km)on the Euro cycle. The 1.7L is rated at 52.3M MPG (4.5L/100km). I don’t know how it will fare on the US cycle. Chevrolet actually is growing fast in Europe, although from a small base.
    Rest assured that “the bean counters” have established a price and volume estimate to make a profitable business case for bringing the car here at relatively low planning volume.
    Whether their volume estimate turns out to be valid is another question!
    The 2.0L develops 163HP and 266 ft-lb. I recall a meeting with GM Powertrain’s Global Engineering VP years ago in which he said diesels are performance packages in Europe. This output suggests that will be the case with the Cruze, at least in relative terms.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It doesn’t have to make “value” sense, just the same as EVs and hybrids don’t. Diesels are a ‘fetish’ of their own, and if owners would just admit that, they wouldn’t have to put us through the song and dance about how diesels better gas engines.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Well you could say the same about V8′s, rotaries, turbos, and anything that isn’t “just enough” to propel a car from point A to B. I’m sure a N/A 4-cylinder could move a Mustang just fine, right? :)

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        N/A 4 cylinder is excessive. I’ve been to Brazil where I’ve seen 2 adults pick up a 5 year old from school on their 125cc bike!

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Mustangs aren’t A to Bs and V8s, rotaties and turbos have little if anything to do with value especially when geared for speed and performace. Diesels in cars OTOH, are all about fuel efficiency, not unlike EVs and hybrids. Proud owners of these mileage champs forsake all other costs.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      If they do a hatch/wagon Cruse it’ll matter allot vs C-Max/Prius V.

      http://www.edmunds.com/volkswagen/jetta-sportwagen/2011/comparison-test.html

  • avatar

    This vehicle might work for GM, if Service is available after Sale, if not People will have been taken for a long “Ride”

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    most people are, quite frankly, too stupid to do the math and see that diesels just don’t make sense. what they will see is the MPG numbers on the window sticker, and what they will feel in the pants is the nigh-300 ft-lbs of torque from the little motor. For some, that may be enough. for tha hard core nut-jobs who want a stick and a wagon, it won’t be enough. To be honest, I think for Mommy and Daddy McCarseat, and the Jetta will win not on price, but on rear legroom. You have no idea how obnoxious it is to have a rear-facing car seat in the back of a small car unless you like having your seat so far forward that your own nuts are in your face. This is esp. true now that you’re supposed to keep the kids rear facing until they apply for college grants.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Not sure where you guys are, but I know next to me Diesel has better price stability than gasoline.

    Premium recently got down to $3.39 or so and I think diesel was $3.59 or $3.69. I paid $3.89 for premium this morning and diesel was $3.99.

    I hit $4.59 last year for premium while diesel was about $4.19.

    I so want to try out a diesel, but 1) Don’t like VM diesels after hearing horror stories from anyone I meet who has one and 2) I require stick for a commuter car.

    Almost Chevy, almost!

    • 0 avatar
      Sundowner

      I used to be one of the idiots who bought a Jetta TDI with a stick and in wagon format. My honest opinion of the car is that you should shop elsewhere. Worst 10 months of car ownership of my life.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      It may have better price stability, but where I live, 90% of the time diesel is still more expensive than gasoline. Right now it’s 60-70 cents higher than midgrade, which really eats into the fuel economy benefit of the diesel.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Maybe Chevy is planning on sticking the diesel in the Malibu (a la VW and the Passat) for those that need more rear legroom? Oh, wait….

    I’m fairly interested in this car, and I’m curious to see one in person and take a test drive. It might be on my radar in a few years on the used market, depending on reliability. As it has been noted, diesels usually don’t have any trouble beating their EPA numbers, unlike their gas and hybrid counterparts.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    I’d like to drive a diesel Cruze over the Rockies, to see what that kind of useable torque nets you in real world driving conditions.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    That’s. Just. Stupid. I drove an Eco and I liked it, what I did not like was the ‘trickery’ the reliance on special low rolling resistance tires, and an air dam system to maximize the mpgs. the manual tranny and gears i was ok with, as it’s flat in minnesota.

    i was looking forward to the diesel option, and yes to compare it directly to vw tdis. but more expensive than a jetta? that puts it in the pantheon of the golf tdi and not too far from the passat tdi with the potential for much better mileage.

    sorry chevy that comparison does not work for me at that price point.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Has it been confirmed whether this will be equipped with an aftertreatment system requiring the use of urea reductant? In addition to the $4000 price premium over the Eco, maintenance costs should be considered when shopping a modern diesel as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      It does have an urea aftertreatment system.. but that is good since it allows B20 fuel, better economy due to no soot filter regeneration cycles and no oil dilution issues.

      If you compare it to a similarly equipped 2LT model with nav then the diesel premium is $1795.. but the diesel has a spoiler and free maintenance for 2 years

  • avatar
    SV

    I was looking forward to this, though it’s a bit pricier than I was hoping for (granted, it also appears to be loaded). I’ll also have a hard time considering a sedan; bringing the wagon over would move this to near the top of my next-car list.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I see several problems with this:

    1. $26K starting price. Someone with a stronger understanding of economics could explain why Chevy (and VW) insist on only putting diesels in highly optioned trims so they are at least $4000 more than the volume-selling gas model.

    2. Similar expected highway fuel economy as the gas version. VW TDIs are rated much higher than their 2.5L gas counterparts, so the price premium makes a tad more sense. Not so much with this Cruze.

    Is Chevy simply expecting to sell only a small number of these? Would anyone who is genuinely interested in this car and would pay $26K for one explain why?

    It must be personal taste. For $21K, a diesel is appealing to me. For $26K, cost is no longer the primary factor and I would be looking at something more enjoyable like a GTI or Focus ST.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    It will require low-SAPS oil to protect the soot filter, which is expensive (~$9.50/liter). Fuel filter changes are frequent. Diesel is always higher than regular, significantly higher during heating season. DEF, while not expensive, is still an extra expense. Someone needs to do the math to figure how long you have to own the car before those diesel savings start to kick in. After accounting for out-of-warranty repair on my TDI, I estimated that break-even point to be – never.

    At least it doesn’t have a DSG, for which oil changes were another pricy ritual even for DIYers.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    People who want diesels… want them because they’re diesels. They’re like V8 buyers that way. This car and the Mazda6 will be the test of how many diesel fans are sitting on their hands waiting for a non-German solution.

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    Nice to finally see some more entry-level diesel options. As much as I love VW (I maintain that there will ALWAYS be a GTI in my garage), I would take the Cruze over a new Jetta in a heartbeat.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      How is a $26K compact “entry-level”? The diesel is only available in the high 2LT trim.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        That’s about half of what you pay to get a diesel at the BMW, Mercedes, or Audi dealer (or Ford, Chevy, and Dodge on the truck side).

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        That’s true, but you get about half the performance as well (except the A3, that’s a joke at the price). It doesn’t make sense for owners to call their MkIV & V Jettas “baby Bimmers”, and that holds true for the Cruze as well, even if it is a very nice compact.

        No one’s cross shopping this with a Silverado Duramax, though!

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Why would anyone want a Cruze over a VW TDi? Are you kidding? Everyone who’s ever suffered through a VAG product will want a Cruze! The best advertisement for a Cruze / Mazda6 diesel is a year spent with a VAG diesel. I bet you most Cruze diesel buyers will be former VW owners who are glad to have an alternative to the VW TDI monopoly.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Speaking from experience or from statistics of VW TDIs as a whole?

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      Coming up on 18 months here with my TDI wagon 52,000 miles no issues so I better sell it now I guess and it has the evil DSG as well go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Volkswagen hasn’t used the VAG name for over 20 years (since 1992) so few prospective buyers are actually driving a “VAG product”. But some people seem to love that name still …

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The name of the company is Volkswagen AG. (AG = Aktiengesellschaft, a German equivalent of corporation.) Hence, the common abbreviation of VAG when referring to the company as a whole.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Common here, maybe, but you won’t see it on Reuters or any other news outlet. The VAG name (it never was a proper abbreviation) is by now long obsolete. “VW Group” isn’t a lot more typing and is actually correct.

        Or should we now start calling Ford FMC, GM GMC, and Fiat FSPA?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Ross-Tech sells an aftermarket computer diagnostic package for VW family vehicles. It’s called a VAG-COM.

        It doesn’t matter what Reuters calls it. It’s car geek slang, similar to Chevy, Bimmer or Caddy, or for that matter, GM (whose official name these days is General Motors Company, not just General Motors.)

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Not saying you can’t use it … it just makes you look uninformed. Because VAG is gone, dead and buried.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Volkswagen AG is very much alive. Feel free to look at their financial statements if you don’t believe it:

        http://www.volkswagenag.com/content/vwcorp/content/en/investor_relations.html

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Even at 42 MPG it doesn’t ape the Eco, which gets 42 MPG with the more fun to drive manual in the center console versus the slush box (rated at 39 MPG).

    There is utterly no reason for this car to exist.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    “Diesels in cars OTOH, are all about fuel efficiency, not unlike EVs and hybrids. Proud owners of these mileage champs forsake all other costs.”

    Wrong. Diesels are about torque. When the Honda/Toyota owner downshift to third gear to quickly pass another car, i will stay in 6th.


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