2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel followup review: Yes, it’s got a diesel

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel

Winter testing the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel with temperatures in the single digits.

“Is that a diesel,” the driver asked us, much like the Dodge Ram pickups advertisements had ab out the Hemi. Except our questioner said, “I was walking out to my truck and I heard it running and I thought it must be.”

We had just begun our followup drive with the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel and were sitting in a supermarket parking lot when a pickup truck had pulled up and stopped.

Uh oh. The pickup truck driver had been a couple of rows over. And he had heard the engine. Indeed, the engine was anything but quiet. It didn’t have the classic diesel marbles-in-a-tin-can rattle, but there was a consistent moderate hammering that could be heard from a distance. By comparison, BMW or Volkswagen diesels have a distinctive diesel sound, but it’s really only noticeable from the next fuel pump, not next row in a parking lot.

On the other hand, having driven the Cruze Turbo Diesel on the highway and quasi-urban streets, we had heard a muted growl on the road, distinctively diesel but not distracting. We weren’t offended. In fact, we were comforted by knowing that we were driving a diesel, something we think the diesel intender would like. Driving a diesel is a deliberate choice, and one that a diesel owner, once having made that decision, expects.

More than likely the driver could be considered a diesel enthusiast, much as, say, a hybrid owner feels set apart from a person who buys just another car. A diesel sounds different than a gas engine, it drives different, and requires using a different pump at the gas station. Diesel drivers are different.

One thing a diesel driver expects, however, is better fuel mileage. In fact, Chevrolet boasts 46 mpg on the highway, an incentive for anyone with a long highway commute or anyone who spends a lot of time using the Interstate Highway System. That’s a big number, and right up front we’ll admit to falling short of it on the superslab. In fact, our highway fuel economy number was 34 mpg.

On the other hand, we didn’t spare the ponies, and we were driving in really cold conditions, in the teens or lower, Fahrenheit. And we know from experience with other vehicles, cold weather kicks fuel economy in the head.

Surprisingly, our all-around driving on exurban/not-rural roads returned a fuel consumption number of 28.8 mpg, which tops the EPA estimate of 27 mpg. And that in the same cold weather, and in a hilly area, another factor that typically in our experiences increases fuel use. We’ll ascribe the better-than-expected performance to the diesel engine’s torque that doesn’t require a small gasoline engine’s high revs to climb hills. Or not.

We’e going to disagree with our earlier tester’s evaluation of the Cruze’s overall performance, however. We wouldn’t consider the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel anything less than uninspired, but its acceleration is on par with other economy cars, as is the overall handling prowess. Perhaps our other CarBuzzard driver had expectations that the diesel-powered Cruze couldn’t meet. On the other hand, we suspect the typical Cruze Turbo Diesel will be more interested in playing mini locomotive than sports sedan.

At least the typical compact diesel driver expects to pay more for a diesel-powered car, which in exchange for its higher mileage costs more to build. Our 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel had a base price of $24,885, optioned up on our tester to $28,105, including an audio/navigation package, enhanced safety package, the 2LT driver convenience package, plus $810 destination charge.

The top-of-the-line Cruze LTZ Automatic, however, starts at $24,630, and optioned similarly to our test Cruze Turbo Diesel has an MSRP of $ 24,865. For another $3,000, the diesel intender must be really intent on a diesel-powered car. And like answering the question “Is that a diesel?” with a “yes.”

Check back for window sticker of our test 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel.