Before it was bad to own a diesel it was good to own one. Prior to the Dieselgate emissions scandal, Volkswagen built up a small but loyal following of people who adored getting truly amazing fuel economy with their diesel powered cars. Since VW got caught lying about the pollutants pouring out of the tailpipe of its diesel cars, TDI fans have been suffering from separation anxiety. No other manufacturer has offered anything like their beloved TDIs — until now. Rejoice, diesel fans. Chevrolet feels your pain.
The bow tie brand says it will offer a diesel engine mated to a 9 speed automatic or 6 speed manual transmission for the Cruze sedan beginning in early 2017. Those powertrain choices will be extended to the newly introduced Cruze hatchback in 2018. No turbocharger, but what the heck. It will be the closest thing to the move loved Volkswagen SportWagon TDI available in the US market.
The last Cruze offered with a diesel engine was in 2015. It had a base price of $26,485, including shipping, and was rated at 27 mpg city/44 highway/32 combined with a six-speed automatic. Today, the Cruze with a gas engine and 6 speed automatic has a highway rating of 40 mpg.
Add a diesel and a 9 speed tranny and some think the combo could top out at or near 50 mpg.
“We expect it to do better than that (40 mpg highway with the gasoline version) but we can’t talk numbers yet,” said David Poniatowski, program manager for the Cruze. AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan thinks GM would be happy with 47 or 48 mpg. “If the Cruze diesel can hit 47 or 48 mpg, it should be a success in closing the gap with hybrids for highway driving efficiency,” Sullivan said. “Keep in mind that the Malibu Hybrid gets 46 mpg on the highway.”
Some are annoyed that GM and Chevrolet are continuing to pump the tires on diesel engines when what the world really needs is cars with no tailpipe emissions at all. But for those who went into a state of depression when the Volkswagen TDI was taken off the market, this is welcome news indeed. The newly introduced Cruze hatchback is attractively styled. Squint a little while tugging your left ear and it looks like a 5 door Tesla Model 3. With a price under $30,000 and phenomenal gas mileage, it could prove to be a popular choice for a lot of people.