2015 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo
The 2015 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel sedan gives superb economy
The Chevrolet mid-size family sedan is decidedly apple-pie-American. That size sedan from various automakers continues to hold its own here despite a variety of competing vehicles with various body styles.
However, the new Chevy Cruze has tilted a bit to the European side by adding a "clean" turbocharged diesel engine that provides shining estimated fuel economy: 46 miles per gallon on the highway and 27 in the city.
The Cruze Turbo Diesel can be driven 717 miles per tank. So who needs a hybrid?
Diesel cars are common in Europe, where high economy is needed because of stiff fuel prices.
The Cruze diesel is a turbocharged dual-overhead-camshaft 2-liter four-cylinder that generates 148 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which is more than some V-6 gas engines.
The Cruze diesel has an "overboost" function that pushes torque to 280 pound-feet for ten seconds at a time for such things as faster passing on highways. Chevy says the 0-60 m.p.h. time is 8.6 second, but my Cruze Turbo Diesel test car felt faster. Merging and passing above 65 m.p.h. were easy.
The Cruze diesel only emits a soft "diesel rattling" sound at idle and is only a little louder than a pure gasoline engine during regular driving. It passes the most stringent 50-state emissions standards, thanks to an exhaust after-treatment fluid system.
The engine works with a responsive 6-speed automatic transmission, which can be manually controlled.
While it costs more than regular Cruze gasoline models, which start at $16,170, the $25,660 Cruze Turbo Diesel is well-equipped.
For starters, it looks slick, with such items as an aero package that includes lower front grille air shutter, mid-body aero panels, front fascia air dam and a rear spoiler.
Also standard are leather upholstery, air conditioning, driver information center, power driver's seat, keyless entry, power windows, heated front seats, cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with controls, 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks, remote power adjustable outside mirrors and two auxiliary power outlets.
Desirable, but costly options, include the $1,345 "Sun and Sound" package with a power sunroof and premium audio system and $790 Enhanced Safety Package with rear parking assist, rear cross traffic and side blind zone alert.
There's also a $495 audio system with a navigation system and an AM/FM/CD player with a 7-inch color touchscreen. A $340 package contains a rear-vision camera.
Front seats provide decent support in curves, but bright sunlight makes the speedometer and tachometer a little hard to read. The driver information center is easy to use, and dashboard controls are logically placed. There are a fair number of cabin storage areas.
Large outside door handles help provide quick entry into the quiet interior, which has upscale plastics and soft-touch materials. Dashboard vents are nicely placed. Visibility from the driver's seat is good, and outside mirrors are nicely sized. The sun visor mirrors each have twin lights.
However, the Cruze could use more backseat room, especially for growing teenagers and shorter adults. The front-seat area is roomy. Console cupholders are placed a little awkwardly, low and close to the front seats, but rear windows roll all the way down.
Steering is quick and precise, with good road feel, and handling is quite good, helped by Stabilitrak-Stability control with traction control.
The ride is on the firm side, but is supple and comfortable. The all-disc anti-lock brakes are controlled by a firm pedal without much linear action.
The roomy trunk has a low, wide sill, and it's easy to flip the split rear seatbacks forward to expand the cargo area.
The hood seems to weigh a ton and is held open with a prop rod, but it's unlikely that it will be opened much by anyone but mechanics.
The Cruise Turbo Diesel, with its rugged engine, seems like the sort of car owners might want to keep for a long time.