GM Offers a Diesel a VW Owner Can Love
As most of you have probably heard, Volkswagen recently came under international fire when it was discovered that they had knowingly programmed their diesel vehicles to pass emissions tests, but then default to a more-polluting mode for regular driving. Because of this, Volkswagen TDI vehicles are off the market in the U.S. Some may be updated, but most are likely to be scrapped and VW is ambivalent at best about returning to the market with a diesel product.
So what do you buy if you are in the market for a compact diesel sedan? Unexpectedly, the answer comes not from Europe or Japan, but from right here in America.
First available in 2014, the Chevrolet Cruze Diesel has been on the market for about three years. The revised 2017 model will be offered with a new engine as well as two body styles: sedan and hatchback (later this year as a 2018 model).
The new 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine, developed by GM’s Opel subsidiary in Europe, produces 137 horsepower and 240 pounds-feet of torque. The Cruze Diesel will be available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Cruze Hits the Magic 50 MPG
Fuel economy is the main party piece of any diesel vehicle, and Chevrolet has upped fuel economy from the previous generation. With the six-speed manual, the Cruze Diesel has an EPA-estimated 52 mpg highway/30 mpg city/37 mpg combined; while the nine-speed automatic transmission has an EPA-estimated 47 mpg highway/31 mpg city/37 mpg combined. Range for the new Cruze Diesel is also up from the previous model at 702 miles.
Also new for 2017 is GM’s recent announcement on biodiesel capability for their diesel vehicles.
“With biodiesel production and retail distribution expanding, and so many proven benefits, we believe more fleets will embrace the technology as part of their sustainability plans,” says John Schwegman, director of commercial product and medium duty for GM Fleet. “If our diesel customers fueled exclusively with [biodiesel], we estimate that consumption of petroleum-based fuels could be reduced by hundreds of millions gallons annually.”
Pricing for the 2017 Cruze Diesel will start at $24,670 with a manual transmission, when it goes on sale this spring.
Despite diesel vehicle sales being down in the U.S. in 2016, largely due to Volkswagen’s exit from the market, Chevrolet decided to jump in and fill the gap with its all new Cruze Diesel. The company has also launched diesel versions of its Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers as well as the compact Colorado pickup.
Some Say – See You in Court
Despite this, the launch of the 2017 Cruze Diesel could be tainted by the announcement of a lawsuit brought against Chevrolet recently.
According to Hagens Berman, the law firm behind the case against Chevrolet, “U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington, overseeing the GM “Clean Diesel” litigation, upheld claims brought by owners of GM-branded Chevy Cruze diesel vehicles related to GM’s use of a defeat device to evade emissions regulations.”
Whether or not Chevrolet used cheat devices similar to those used by Volkswagen is still very much in question, as this lawsuit, unlike the one brought against Volkswagen, has only nine plaintiffs. It is also important to note that the claims of emissions cheating only apply to the previous generation Cruze Diesel, and not to the new 2017 model. Finally, we’d add that unlike VW, which admitted it had installed “defeat devices” in its TDI models, General Motors is contesting these claims. We’ll have to wait and see how both the market and the courts sort this out.
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Road Test: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel