WASHINGTON — The Chevrolet Cruze has been a popular compact sedan since it was introduced in 2011, and for 2015, there has been a slight refresh inside and out.
In 2013, I looked for a compact sedan as my commuter car and settled on the Cruze Eco with a manual transmission, great fuel economy, a very quiet interior and more solid feel than most of the compact sedans on the market.
I would have liked to sample the Diesel Cruze for a year to see if I could top the highway mpg score of my own Cruze, which was 50.2 mpg over 50 miles. The Cruze Diesel did the same 50 miles at 58.6 mpg and I didn’t even try like I had to with my Cruze Eco. Over the entire week and 454 miles, I averaged 44.1 mpg with a bit more highway than city driving. The sticker says 27 mpg city and 46 mpg highway, and 33 combined, so it was easy to beat what the sticker says.
The big differences between my gas Eco and the diesel Eco are the much more comfortable heated leather seats in the Diesel, and more power and torque. The price is also higher for the Diesel, with a starting price of around $25,600. Fully loaded it gets near $29,000, which sounds pricey until you look at the competition.
The back seat is good, but taller passengers will find it a bit tight. The rest of the interior is starting to show its age, with more hard plastics than most. Chevrolet also moved the power lock switch and trunk release switch. I wish I’d looked before popping the trunk instead of unlocking the door in the carpool line at school.
Chevrolet also updated the front-end styling slightly with LED running lights. And after nearly five years, the look of the Cruze still isn’t dated, but a bit more conservative than most. With the diesel Cruze, there are some exclusive 17-inch lightweight wheels and some special badges, but other than that, it looks like any other higher trim-level Cruze.
Once you fire up the diesel, you notice it at idle a bit more so than a Volkswagen, but once you start moving you don’t really hear it. The Cruze diesel has 151 hp and a healthy 264 lbs of torque so it never feels underpowered and it wasn’t a problem to keep up with flow of traffic. No manual transmission is offered on the Cruze diesel, which is a bummer for me. The six-speed automatic seems to do a fine job but it really wants to up shift quickly to higher gear for fuel economy. I also found the ride to be smooth and very quiet on the highway for a compact sedan. The handling is fine for commuting and city driving but it didn’t feel as sharp as my Eco. That’s most likely the heavier diesel engine compared to the little 1.4 liter gas engine.
If you want a car that can deliver a comfortable ride and high mpg, the Chevrolet Cruze Diesel is worth a look. With an over 700 mile range, a standard built in Wi-Fi hotspot and the first two years or 24,000 miles of scheduled service paid for by Chevrolet, this could be a road warrior’s car of choice for easy and economical cruising.
Editor’s note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI , FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.