The Chevrolet Cruze is typical of today’s compact cars. It has clean, simplified styling and a well-appointed cabin. The one place it stands out is the availability of the turbo diesel option that gives it a highway fuel economy rating of 46 miles per gallon. That’s almost as good as a hybrid.
In general, compact cars are not as popular today as they were a couple of years ago due to lower gasoline prices but there will always be a place in the market for a well-equipped small sedan that excels in fuel economy.
The Cruze is available in five trim levels. Base prices start at $16,995 and range to $26,485 for the diesel. The test car’s sticker price was $29,105 and that seemed to be on the high side for a compact.
The Cruze diesel has four-cylinder, 2.0-liter turbo diesel that delivers 151 horsepower but the 264 pound-feet of torque is as much as many larger engines. Torque is what you feel when you step on the gas, and as a rule, diesels deliver a solid surge of acceleration, especially after they’re moving a little. That is certainly true for the Cruze. The first few feet of acceleration feels a tad slow but as the tachometer swings past 2,000 rpm the engine wakes up and you’re greeted with a satisfying surge.
As expected, the diesel is quite thrifty. It is rated at 27 miles per gallon in the city and 46 on the highway. Most of my week of driving was in the city with a few freeway stretches. My best average was 31.5 mpg and my worst was 29.
The test car’s trip computer history showed that a previous driver had recorded as much as 55 mpg on the highway, but who knows at what speed.
Compared to the Volkswagen Golf diesel, the Cruze is slightly less efficient and its character is more American whereas the Golf is more German. Those differences are not huge, however.
Slide into the Cruze and it’s clear that this is not a bare-bones compact car. The instrument panel and doors were trimmed with a textured black cloth that was a nice change from plastic or leather. Brushed silver accents highlight the center stack that has soft-touch buttons.
Chevy’s MyLink is connected to OnStar with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot that comes with a three-month free trial. Bluetooth enables voice-controlled connectivity and works in conjunction with Apple’s Siri for those with iPhones. The system is able to read incoming text messages.
The test car had steering wheel controls for cruise control, Bluetooth telephone and audio. The seven-inch color touchscreen in the center stack is used for navigation, the back-up camera and audio system. The test car was equipped with blind-spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and rear parking assist. I missed not having the front collision warning option.
The test car’s heated leather seats were contoured for good lumbar and lateral support. The back seat is only marginally big enough for adults but the trunk is generous.
The base price of the test car was $26,485. Options included a power sunroof, premium audio system, rear parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitor, navigation, rear view camera and heated outside mirrors. The sticker price was $29,105.
Three years or 36,000 miles, with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
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2015 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel
Engine: 2.0-liter, 151-horsepower four-cylinder turbo diesel
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 105.7 inches
Curb weight: 3,475 pounds
Base price: $26,485
As driven: $29,105
MPG rating: 27 city, 46 highway