Chevy Cruze Diesel Debuts in Chicago, Targets Jetta

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Chevy Cruze Diesel Debuts in Chicago, Targets Jetta

Hoping to cash in on growing diesel demand in the U.S. market, Chevrolet debuted the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel today in Chicago.

Aimed squarely at the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Chevrolet will offer the car in its higher end 2LT trim for $25,695 including delivery. That’s $1,845 more than the starting price for a Volkswagen, but Chevrolet says the more premium 2LT trim will still represent a compelling value to customers.

In other words, the diesel Cruze will come with heated leather seats standard along with a seven-inch touch screen display. An available driver convenience package also adds an auto-dimming mirror, power side mirrors, a rear view camera and more.

Roughly the first two months of sales, starting in May, will be restricted to specific markets Chevrolet expects to be more open to a diesel compact passenger sedan. After that, the car will be available in dealers nationwide.

Official fuel mileage is still unreleased, but Chevrolet expects the car to get 42 mpg on the highway. That’s right in line with the gas-burning Cruze Eco model, which accounted for 15 percent of the car’s U.S. sales, according to the brand.

But Chevrolet isn’t forecasting the Eco and diesel models to attract the same buyers despite the common efficiencies. Instead, it expects to attract current diesel drivers. This is GM’s first diesel passenger car since the 1987 Chevette, which means the brand hopes to poach customers from other makers. The U.S. diesel pool is a small one, though, and that doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Volkswagen is in the crosshairs.

That raises the question of whether or not Volkswagen drivers would consider switching to a Chevrolet. Base price comparisons make Chevrolet the more expensive option, but that also isn’t a fair comparison because the diesel Cruze is only offered with a six-speed automatic.

VIEW COMPLETE 2013 CHICAGO AUTO SHOW COVERAGE

Volkswagen, on the other hand, sells the Jetta with a six-speed manual or dual-clutch gearbox. Chevy’s automatic isn’t the same unit as you would find with the gasoline engines — the unit found here is built to deal with the diesel engine’s 148 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. In fact, torque can be temporarily increased via an overboost function for about 10 seconds to 280 lb-ft.

Chevrolet promises that will all add up to an engine that feels closer to a V6, and it’s tough to argue. Despite that, it remains to be seen if the new transmission can really stack up to Volkswagen’s DSG which would seem to be the likely winner.

Look for the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel to roll out nationwide by mid-summer. A fixed date hasn’t been announced, but based on Chevrolet’s announcement that its smaller initial debut will last about two months starting in May, July seems like a safe bet.

GALLERY: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel

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Discuss this story at CruzeTalk.com

  • Art

    And if you target VW diesels you bring it in a manual too. All VW diesels Jetta, Golf, Passat and Beetle are available in manual. VW understands what drivers want. And with personal debt levels at all time highs, setting a higher starting price against a well established competitor make me wonder what those marketing guys are thinking. If they want diesel to gain a foothold in the North American market space, then this is not the way to do it.

  • Crocodilehunter1492

    It needs a manual transmission, but Chevy also needs to bring the Cruze wagon over from Europe.  A Chevy diesel wagon with a stick? Yes please.

  • Michael B.

    I couldn’t agree more w/ Art’s comment. 42 mpg is good, but the added cost with a diesel powerplant and six speed auto trans….where is the motivator over the eco? Yes, this car will last a long time and go many miles (cruzes are well built to begin with), but I just don’t get the strategy when it’s priced beyond the jetta. The cruze is a fine model lineup to emerge from gm, but the diesel may be a slow seller if it isn’t priced competitively.

  • untalt

    GM would be better off making the 1.4T DI, putting a larger ecotec as an option and ditching the pathetic 1.8L base engine

  • earl

    the 4 gallon urea DEF tank is a bummer, need a cleaner burning system without this. The 1.6 turbo Verano may be a better choice. Otherwise, it sounds great….

  • Luke V.

    Didn’t get the chance to fit it into my story, but it also means a smaller trunk. Frustrating.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/K537PHEZUHSGS6YCXPCQEEQIEE EdFromOhio

    Growing diesel command?  And very little reason to go that route over gasoline which has recently been about 50-75 cents per gallon less?  Just like GM – come out with a product that was in demand 3 years ago but not now.

  • donfromnap

    To compete with the Jetta TDI then they need to keep the price down, not cost more than the Jetta.  Diesels always outperform the EPA mpg ratings while most hybrids do not.  Therefore, it is very likely that the Cruze diesel achieves higher mpgs when compared with the eco Cruze.

  • 12volt

     Good point. I am a 2012 Cruise Eco owner and why would I switch? I am getting an average 43mpg over my first 8000 miles. I often average 50 mpg  on some trips to  work which is 100 miles. Love the car so far. I would go diesel if I could get 55 mpg, maybe.
    12VoltMan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Watkins/629637578 Daniel Watkins

    We need lean burning gas engines that are part time OTTO, part tiem Atkinson cycle, combined with hybrid tech, that’ll be the next generation of engines that’ll finally bring something new to market.

  • Kent

    Diesel mpg does not relate to gasoline mpg as diesel contains more energy and you get fewer gallons of diesel from a barrel of oil.

  • michiganmike

    I too am a eco cruze driver. I wouldn’t change for this. Make it a standard and give me a hatchback and I would be banging on my dealers door. Oh and make it able to tow a small trailer please.

  • Skyler

    From a two-time former Jetta TDI owner, I’d take a 6M Cruze diesel any day.  I loved my TDI’s, but last I heard the GM common-rail fuel pumps don’t blow up and take the rest of the fuel systems with them, like my last one did.  Sure, the Cruze diesel is more expensive, but if you’re concerned about pure cost, just get a small used gasser like a Versa or Fit.  Respectable cars, but nothing like the torque and character of diesels.  Likewise the urea tank – every 10k isn’t that big of a deal.  Also, I like the B20 biodiesel rating of the Chevy instead of VW’s wussified B5.  I already have a Chevy dealer on alert for a 6-speed Cruze TD.

  • Skippy

    You can make, 50 gallons of diesel from 46 gallons of crude if that was the demand. Demand is what drives the product made from crude. That’s like saying 90% of sugar is made into candy. So we can’t make anymore cakes. You choose what it is turned into.

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