There are other affordable high-mileage compact cars out there, but how does a diesel-powered model fit in your plans? It competes in Toyota Prius territory, making it one of the most fuel-efficient compacts on the planet. This week we found the Chevy Cruze diesel variant to be easy-going, surprisingly quiet, comfortable, and composed on the road. The Cruze comes as a sedan or hatchback, with an automatic or manual, and as either a diesel or gas.
This week, we drove the 2018 Chevy Cruze LT Diesel Hatch.
What’s New For 2018
Both the 2018 Cruze Hatch and sedan are now available with the 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine. The vehicle was unveiled in 2016 at the North American International Auto Show.
Features & Options
The 2018 Chevy Cruze LT Diesel Hatch ($25,865) comes standard with cloth upholstery, a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 60/40 split folding rear seat, and a rearview camera. Cruze LT Hatch adds a six-speaker sound system with available satellite radio, steering wheel controls, 16-inch wheels, fog lamps, and a space-saver spare tire rather than a tire repair kit.
It also features upgraded headlights with LED running lights, heated mirrors, and a rear center armrest with cupholders. Hatchback models also get a cargo cover and rear spoiler. A charge-only USB port is added to models equipped with the automatic transmission.
This Cruze LT tester came with the optional Driver Confidence and Sun and Sound package ($2,260), adding rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. It also came with a sunroof, a color driver information center, ambient interior lighting, a larger eight-inch center touchscreen display, and a nine-speaker Bose audio system. It also came with the Leather package ($1,125). That gave us a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, and a height-adjustable front passenger seat.
Total MSRP including destination: $30,125.
The cabin is modern, clean, and sharp, featuring an all-black layout with light contrast stitching. The soft-touch materials nicely offset some of the hard plastic. There’s simple instrumentation in a pod, outlined in chrome, and the controls are intuitive. In the center of the dash, our tester had the larger, easier-to-read eight-inch touchscreen. The leather front seats are comfortable, with additional bolstering for extra support.
For a compact car, we think the Cruze Hatch is spacious, and it felt bigger inside than its size would dictate. It will carry four adults comfortably, with a surprising amount of leg and hip room in the rear, more than rivals like the Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra have.
The Cruze Hatch offers up 23.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, not as much as the Honda Civic or Ford Focus hatchbacks. However, with the rear seat folded flat, the hatch has a competitive 47 cubic feet of cargo carrying ability.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
Our Cruze LT tester came with the new 1.6-liter turbodiesel, producing 137 horsepower and 240 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated to a sophisticated nine-speed automatic transmission. The turbodiesel fuel mileage competes with the stingy Toyota Prius with an EPA rating of 30/45 city/highway and 35 combined mpg.
The Cruze Hatch is quiet on the road – you can’t tell it’s a diesel – and it rides comfortably on the highway with excellent stability. We were surprised at the way the Cruze rode in fact. It offers one of the most comfortable rides for a compact car.
So how does the 1.6-liter diesel perform? It’s a strong point for the Cruze. If you don’t mind wearing a plastic glove while filling it at the pump, the engine is worth the small discomfort. When Volkswagen left the compact diesel market because of their their emissions fiasco, it left a void now filled by the Cruze.
We thought the 137 horsepower would be woefully inadequate, especially in the mountains of Colorado, but when you add in that massive 240 lb-ft. of torque, it turns into a race car. If you are worried about hearing a noisy diesel sound, or black smoke belching from the tailpipe, both are non-existent.
The nine-speed automatic shifts with little hesitation and pairs well with the small diesel powerplant. In the city, the Cruze is an ideal size for commuting. It also fits into small parking spaces with ease.
In a crowded compact hatch class, there’s lots of choices, but only one with a diesel engine. It stands out for its excellent power and fuel economy. The interior will carry four adults comfortably, while the Hatchback with its rear seat folded offers good utility and cargo space.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy