After years of middling success and missed deadlines,diesel engines are slowly gathering steam in the United States. What was once a smoky, clattery lump of metal has morphed into something entirely cleaner, smoother, while offering equally impressive fuel numbers and a punchy chunk of torque. The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel exemplifies this transition, boasting an estimated 46 mpg highway and up to 280 lb. ft. of tire smoking, compact sedan-crushing excitement.
Excitement isn't usually a term you'd associate with a diesel. It's also unequivocally alien when partnered with the word "Cruze." But as we've seen with the VW Jetta TDI, a good diesel can often stand as the preferred model amongst the lineup.
Chevrolet targeted the Jetta TDI with its Cruze Diesel, and strain to point out how the $25,695 compact sedan bests the Jetta in most tangible ways. It's 2.0-liter turbo ranks a segment-leading 148 hp, and while the aforementioned 280 lb. ft. of torque admittedly only arrives during short bursts of overboost, the usual 258 lb. ft. promises to be plenty sufficient. In Chevy's press release, they proceed with additional statistics deciphering why the Cruze Diesel thrashes the Jetta TDI: items like value when similarly equipped (even though the Cruze Diesel is more expensive in base trim), standard MyLink infotainment system and leather seats, as well as a larger wheel size. One area where the Jetta prevails: City mileage, where it gets 30 mpg to the Cruze Diesel's 27, which results in a 34 mpg combined rating for the Jetta versus 33 for the Chevy.
It all sounds a little like high school wrestlers boasting over sock-infused jockstrap girth. But with a 700-mile range between fill ups and the claimed title of "best highway fuel economy of any non-hybrid passenger car in America," the 2014 Chevy Cruze Diesel can at least go to the mat.