The Chevrolet Cruze Diesel's Mileage Potential Is All in the Gearing

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
the chevrolet cruze diesels mileage potential is all in the gearing

There’s plenty of speculation that General Motors wants to launch the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze Diesel with a highly marketable 50 mile-per-gallon highway fuel economy figure.

“Hybrids are for wimps! Volkswagen just didn’t like you!” the automaker could claim. GM, of course, hasn’t exactly been silent on its grand plan to lure jilted TDI owners to the brand.

Now that specifications have been released for the upcoming oil burner, we can see that a “new” transmission added to the Cruze lineup will play a big role in chasing that mileage crown.

According to the newly released 2017 GM order guide and powertrain guide posted in the GMInsideNews Forum, the manual transmission variant is the one to provide that lofty highway figure.

Chevy will use its MZ4 six-speed manual transmission in the Cruze Diesel — an M32 variant that hasn’t been seen in the Cruze lineup, but came standard in Chevy Sonics equipped with the 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder. The unit boasts a 0.61 top gear, the tallest in GM’s front-wheel-drive stable.

The MZ4’s upper gear ratios also appeared in the former Cruze Eco, which marketed a “triple overdrive” transmission capable of returning 42 mpg on the highway. As an owner, this writer can attest to that vehicle’s ridiculously tall gearing. (In top gear, the sedan picks up speed on barely perceptible inclines with your foot off the accelerator.)

In contrast, the Cruze Diesel’s 9T50 nine-speed automatic boasts a 0.62 top gear, but a lower final drive ratio. Expect a better combined MPG figure from this setup.

Unlike the previous Cruze Diesel, offered only in high-end trim with an automatic, the new model debuts in midrange “LT” trim, with few options available for the stick shift variant. GM has made it clear that it wants to cover a number of bases formerly covered by Volkswagen, so greater diversity is on the way. That includes an RS sport version.

Sourced from a plant in Hungary, the 1.6-liter turbodiesel — GM dubs it the “Whisper Diesel” — makes 137 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. The mill also appears in the downsized 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. Available as a sedan or hatchback, the Cruze Diesel is due to appear next year as a 2018 model.

[Image: General Motors]

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4 of 39 comments
  • Rokop Rokop on Nov 07, 2016

    Maybe I could get a Cruze hatchback diesel with 6 speed brown.

    • See 1 previous
    • HotPotato HotPotato on Nov 07, 2016

      @brettc Pepperdust Metallic, aka iridescent beige/gray, is a seriously classy, expensive-looking color. And it darn well oughtta be, since you can option your spiffy new Cruze hatch north of 30 grand no sweat... But I too would prefer poo brown. For those who want a brown wagon, Ford offered a Kodiak Brown when they released the 2013 Escape (not sure if they still do). It looks black until sunlight hits it, and then it's got a shimmery root beer thing going on. Really slick.

  • Tinn-Can Tinn-Can on Nov 07, 2016

    At what speed? It seems like they do the gearing to game the EPA test cycle and once you get out on the 75mph real world highway MPGs fall off a cliff...

  • SCE to AUX Probably couldn't afford it - happens all the time.
  • MaintenanceCosts An ugly-a$s Challenger with poor equipment choices and an ugly Dealership Default color combination, not even a manual to redeem it, still no sale.
  • Cha65689852 To drive a car, you need human intelligence, not artificial intelligence.Unfortunately, these days even human brains are turning into mush thanks to addiction to smartphones and social media.
  • Mike1041 A nasty uncomfortable little car. Test drove in 2019 in a search for a single car that would appease two drivers. The compromise was not much better but at least it had decent rear vision and cargo capacity. The 2019 Honda HRV simply was too unforgiving and we ditched after 4 years. Enter the 23 HRV and we have a comfy size.
  • SCE to AUX I wonder who really cares about this. "Slave labor" is a useful term for the agendas of both right and left."UAW Wants Auto Industry to Stop Using Slave Labor"... but what will the UAW actually do if nothing changes?With unrelenting downward pressure on costs in every industry - coupled with labor shortages - expect to see more of this.Perhaps it's my fault when I choose the $259 cell phone over the $299 model, or the cheaper parts at RockAuto, or the lower-priced jacket at the store.Do I care about an ethical supply chain? Not really, I just want the product to work - and that's how most consumers are. We'd rather not know.Perhaps the 1990s notion of conflict-free, blood-free, ethically-sourced diamonds will find its way into the auto industry. That would be a good thing.