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Published on December 6th, 2013 | by Jo Borras

15

Driving the 2014 Chevy Cruze Diesel for 1000 Miles

Chevy Cruze Diesel Turbo

In America, November is a month of thanks- and I have a lot to be thankful for this year. One of those things is the fact that GM decided to let me drive a 2014 Chevy Cruze Diesel from Oak Park, Illinois to Wellington, Ohio to visit friends and family over the Thanksgiving weekend. All I had to do in return is let you, dear readers, know what I thought of the thing. SO, sit back and get ready, because this is going to be a weird one.

1. the Chevy Cruze Diesel is a Quality Car

More than anything else, what struck me most about this latest Chevy Cavalier Cobalt Cruze was how well-built everything is compared to Chevy compacts of yore. Even compared to my 2009 Malibu mild-hybrid, the doors shut with the same sturdy “whoomp” you’d only get from Mercedes’ doors a generation ago. Beyond that, everything feels over-built- from the full-opening rubber door seals to the heavy hood to the beefy door-handles. I loved all of it, and it definitely gave me the impression that I could expect to get 200,000 plus miles of loyal service from the little sedan.

On top of the “quality feel” of the components, the 2014 Chevy Cruze Diesel had instruments that were easy to read and almost everything was, generally, easy to set and adjust. I say “almost” everything, though, because of this …

Chevy MyLink Infotainment Center

.. that’s Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system, and I hate it.

Did I say I hated it? I don’t hate the Chevy MyLink’s bizarre mix of touch-screen and button-driven menus, I loathe it. I despise it. I am against everything the people who made it stand for, sure- but I don’t hate it. What I hate is everyone at GM who decided that MyLink should be a thing in the first place. Surrounded by quality sheet metal, soft leather, and legitimately slick gear head tech (more on that, in a moment), the MyLink system seemed cheap and out-dated, leading me to ask, for the thousandth time, why automakers don’t just build a quality iPad dock into their dashboard and work with Apple (or HTC, or whoever) to get the drivers right. There is simply no reason for GM (or Ford, or any other car-maker) to be in the OS/GUI space, and MyLink is a vivid example of why that’s a fact.

If I’m being 100% honest, however- I did find a way to make the MyLink system do exactly what I wanted: I used OnStar.

OnStar continues to be the biggest and best selling point for GM vehicles. GM were mad- MAD, I tell you!- to ever let that slip into the hands of their competitors. When I pressed the button, I was greeted at 4AM, on Thanksgiving morning, by a cheerful OnStar agent who set my GPS, found me an XM station, and popped the trunk for me while I was fumbling around looking for an in-car trunk release (which I never did find, by the way).

2. the Chevy Cruze Diesel is Full of Racy Tech

The 2014 Cruze I drove was packed with racy, gear head tech. From active aerodynamic shutters that closed at speed to reduce the car’s drag to the 2.0 L Ecotec diesel that, once I figured out where to shift, gave back more than adequate performance and acceleration. All that tech, including the traction control and anti-lock brakes, was nearly invisible from the driver’s seat. Perfect, in other words.

3. the Chevy Cruze Diesel’s MPG is Amazing

I’ve made the drive from Oak Park, IL to Oberlin, OH more times than I can count by now, and I know just about every exit on the 335-ish mile trip. Let me tell you that, despite doing the math, I wasn’t mentally prepared to make the entire trip on half a tank of gas. I was, in fact, blown away by the idea that I could drive from Chicago to Cleveland and back on a single tank of gas.

That kind of range, combined with solid build quality, is what EVs are up against. It’s not about whether or not electric cars are going to displace gasoline-powered cars, it’s about what EVs can offer over cars like the Chevy Cruze diesel. This is the future of middle America, guys: diesel.

4. the Chevy Cruze Diesel Should be a Buick

Besides the hateful MyLink system, there was something else about the Cruze that upset me. In fact, for the entirety of the five days I was in the car, I kept finding myself staring at it …

cruze-door

… the passenger door panel didn’t seem to line up with the dashboard. It’s a problem, sure, but it’s one that I was willing to forgive. After all, the 2014 Chevy Cruze diesel was fast, relatively comfortable, packed with features- did I mention the doors shut like my dad’s old Mercedes SL?

I was willing to let it go, is what I’m saying. That is, until I had the following conversation about 100 miles into Indiana:

Me: Doesn’t that bother you?

Wife: Doesn’t what bother me?

Me: Your door. It doesn’t fit right.

Wife: It’s fine.

Me: No. No, it’s not. You don’t see that in the little Voklswagen wagons, and that’s what this car is supposed to be competing against.

Wife: I could see it competing with the Volkswagens.

Me: Yeah?

Wife: I like the big screen. I like the OnStar. I like the Nav. I feel like it’s safe.

Me: I thought you hated diesels?

Wife: I can’t really tell it’s a diesel. It’s fine. I could see you buying one of these, if it was a wagon. (Are you listening, GM!?)

Me: They make a wagon.

Wife: How much is it?

Me: I don’t know. The GM guy left me a folder that has the window sticker in it. It’s on your side. What does it say?

Wife: $28,000.

That’s right, kids. GM is asking twenty and eight thousand US American dollars for its 2014 Chevy Cruze diesel sedan – and that seems utterly unbelievable to me. That price, by the way, is $1000 more than the Volkswagen Jetta TDi with all the same goodies, plus a 6-way power driver’s seat, a sunroof, push-button starter (it’s a thing), and the all-important VW badge on the front of the car.

It seems to me that GM has a problem with the Cruze diesel. They’ve built a car that’s capable of going toe-to-toe with a premium competitor, but they’ve stuck the wrong badge on the nose. The truth is that this engine placed in Buick’s baby Verano (which is based on the same platform as the Cruze) could demand a $30K OTD price without anyone batting an eyelash.

Granted, you could make a case that Buick doesn’t appeal to millenials and that Chevy is trying to re-establish itself as a brand that young professionals would consider shopping, but that would be a ridiculous, crap argument. There is no reason to believe that putting the 2.0 L Ecotec turbodiesel engine in a Verano would hurt Chevy’s Cruze sales, and there are plenty of reasons to believe that a diesel offering in a compact Buick would give that brand an edge in the entry-luxe Acura/Lexus/Volvo field that Buick plays in.

So, would I buy a $28,000 Chevy Cruze? If it was a wagon, maybe. As a sedan? Not a chance- but I would recommend the car to, say, my in-laws. It’s a great little car, then, but not for me.

I’ll be a player when it’s a Buick.

 

Original content from Gas 2.


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About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.



  • Jason Carpp

    While I like the diesel engine and should be offered here in the USA, everything else about the car I don’t like. When you pay over $20k for a car, you want it to stay in one piece. You want all the doors and gaps between the doors and lids to be as narrow as possible as to prevent rain and the elements from getting into the car.

  • Jason Burroughs

    Dear gas2: any time you review a diesel vehicle, please try to comment on the percentage of biodiesel that the manufacturer officially supports. Do it not because “it’s a thing”; do it because it’s important.

    • http://www.insteading.com/ Jo Borras

      I feel like we’ve had other conversations in the past where you take a similarly condescending tone- regardless, it’s B20 rated from the factory.

      That said, not being obnoxious is also a thing. Try it. ::hugs::

  • green cruze TD

    cant hardly believe GM would let such an anti american drive such a nice car .most people would take pictures before they get it full of road salt.I to would like a wagon. but dont mind the sedan. Jo borras thumbs down.

    • http://www.insteading.com/ Jo Borras

      Not sure how you go from “guy drives a car in winter” to “anti-American”, but I’m sure it’s a stupid reason.

    • Jason Carpp

      Define “Anti-American”?

  • Kory

    Nice review, I’m very happy with my Cruze Diesel. I could see it not meeting certain people’s needs like you mentioned, but it meets mine. I paid significantly less than 28k without a sunroof, and nav. No one buys a new car to “save money” so I picked the one with the best driving experience. A diesel offering V6 performance with better then V4 economy fit the bill…

  • danwat1234

    Only gets 40.4MPG real world average on Fuelly for the 2014 Cruze Diesel so far, not any better than the Jetta/Passat TDI, though this is winter and the engines haven’t been broke in yet.
    Gas engines aren’t far behind in efficiency, and diesels have that unfair advantage of more energy per volume of fuel, gives higher MPG but not higher efficiency automatically.

  • Tim Wessels

    Well, it looks like Chevy beat Mazda to the punch when it came to introducing a diesel alternative to VW. Mazda does not expect its Mazda6 with its Skyactiv-D diesel engine to be available in the US until late spring 2014. The Chevy Cruze Diesel looks interesting but it seems over-priced compared to a VW Jetta TDI. My 2004 Jetta TDI with automatic transmission (Tiptronic) routinely gets between 41 and 45 mpg depending on type of driving and time of year. VW has been building diesel engines since the early 1980s. That’s a lot of diesel experience. It remains to be seen just how well the Cruze Diesel engine will perform or the more exotic Mazda6 with its dual-turbo, lower compression Skyactiv-D engine. Too bad VW has not brought its Polo BlueMotion diesel into the US. This 3-cylinder, 1.2L turbo charged engine delivers 133 lb-ft of torque out of a 75 HP engine with top speed of 107 mph and fuel economy rated at 71 mpg.

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  • joe

    Just bought the cruze diesel. I love it!

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