2015 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Quick Take
Even though our time with the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel was short, this compact 4-door diesel made a big impression, primarily for its styling and package, and secondarily for its fuel-efficient powertrain. Of course, comparisons with the 2015 VW Jetta TDI are unavoidable, both compete in the same segment, offer virtually the same fuel economy and performance from 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesels and cost about the same.
Just from the standpoint of the engine alone, the VW edges the Chevy for its quieter operation of the 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel, but that's almost a given because of the long tradition that the German automaker has in making compression ignition engines. The 2015 Cruze diesel is a credible first effort, but standing outside the car while it's running, you hear the clatter and coffee grinder din that you expect to hear from non-turbo diesels. From behind the wheel, the noise insulation in the Cruze's cabin keeps the engine noise from being an annoyance.
And it's behind the wheel that the Chevy Cruze Diesel has a chance to shine. It feels spirited thanks to the 264 lb ft of torque and 151 horsepower (compared to the Jetta's 150 horsepower and 236 lb ft of torque). An added benefit is the 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission in the Cruze, it feels much smoother, especially at initial throttle tip-in than the DSG twin-clutch automated manual in the TDI. The Jetta has a European-inspired suspension and steering, while the Cruze is biased a bit more towards a compliant ride, though the electric power steering is properly dialed in to balance steering ease with on-center precision.
Both cars are smart looking in exterior design, but the edge in comfort goes to the Cruze which has a slightly roomier rear seat. Even though the Chevy's interior is nicely executed, it doesn't quite match the levels of the materials used in the Jetta.
Fuel economy is the diesel's calling card, and the Cruze promises a 33 mpg combined on the EPA cycle with 46 mpg on the highway, one highway mpg better than the DSG-equipped 2015 Jetta TDI. Our test vehicle started with a base price of $25,660 and after the addition of such creature comforts and safety items like a power sunroof, navigation, rearview camera, parking, rear cross traffic and blind spot alerts, comes in at $29,430. The 2015 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel is not only a nicely equipped, comfortable compact sedan with the room of a mid-size offering, it's a smart way for GM to introduce the benefits of diesels to car buyers who may have never considered the technology.