2014 Chevy Cruze TD Sedan Road Test Review
By Bob Plunkett
On Boyleston Street as it runs beside the Boston Common greenbelt park in the Massachusetts capital, a traffic signal flashes the green light as one driver sets the auto-shift lever to Drive and pushes the throttle on a Cruze Diesel, newest trim edition for Chevrolet's best-selling sedan that sips "clean" diesel fuel and earns high fuel economy scores.
Among automobile powerplants containing internal combustion chambers, the pressure-ignited heat engine named after German inventor Rudolf Diesel is considered most efficient for burning fuel and translating the resulting energy into linear movement.
The first passenger car powered by one of Diesel's engines came in 1936. Following the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973-74, various cars in the American market employed a diesel-type engine. Yet sluggish performance figures in combination with sooty emissions and obnoxious belching noises from those diesels soured the concept for consumers in the United States, and most automakers deleted diesel engines from passenger cars by 1989.
But click your fast-forward switch to today's time zone and you'll find that engineering wizards at General Motors have developed a new generation of diesel engines which deliver surprisingly quick acceleration times but produce low Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and particulate emissions and superior fuel economy scores.
These diesels are really quiet too.
This leads us to the 2014 Cruze Diesel, a new diesel-powered version of the Cruze mid-size sedan by Chevrolet.
Here's the surprising revelation from driving tests in a Cruze Diesel: It delivers a neck-snapping kick each time you put your foot in the throttle.
The 2014 Cruze Diesel totes a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that burns ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel and employs a common-rail direct injection (CDI) fuel system with variable-nozzle turbo-charging and inter-cooling to enhance engine power and torque.
It feels vigorous and acts quickly, drawing on the full force of the engine's production of 151 hp peaking at 4000 rpm plus 264 lb-ft of torque peaking at only 2600 rpm.
Chevy teams the turbo-diesel 4-pack engine with an electronic 6-speed automatic transaxle, the Aisin AF40.
Vehicles equipped with diesel engines generally achieve higher fuel economy figures than do cars with gasoline-fueled engines due to the higher energy content of diesel fuel and the overall efficiency of a diesel.
For Cruze Diesel, the federal EPA estimates fuel economy numbers at 27 mpg city and 46 mpg highway. These scores suggest a driving range of more than 700 highway miles on a single tank of fuel, factoring the vehicle's 13.3-gallon fuel tank capacity.
Chevy's price points look favorable too, with MSRP figures on the 2014 Cruze Diesel starting at $24,885.
Despite that low number, Cruze Diesel carries plenty of preferred equipment -- air conditioning, a remote keyless entry device, power controls for windows and door locks, an adjustable steering wheel with audio controls, dual power points, a driver information center and 6-speaker audio system with AM/FM/CD/MP3 plus auxiliary jack.
The Cruze Diesel also comes with a long list of passive safety equipment -- front seatbelts with pretensioning apparatus, backseat restraints with anchors to mount a child's seat, smart multi-stage frontal air bags and side air bags for front and rear seats along with curtain-style air bags tucked in the ceiling for outboard seats on two rows, even air bags aimed at the knees of front-seat riders.
And Chevy loads Cruze Diesel with active safety systems -- anti-lock brake system (ABS), traction control system (TCS), GM's StabiliTrak electronic skid controller and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).
The passenger compartment contains a pair of bucket seats in front of a bench for three with the rear seatback split 60/40 and folding to expand the trunk's capacity.
Wheelbase length stretches to 105.7 inches long while the width of the body extends to 70.7 inches and the distance from the prow up front to the back bumper tallies to 181.0 inches -- more than 15 feet. These spatial hard points translate to a mid-size passenger compartment of surprising scale -- 95.0 cubic feet of room for riders with front headroom up to 39.3 inches and legroom to 42.3 inches in front and 35.4 inches in back.
Passengers on front seats do not feel squeezed together due to the expansive cabin space and generously-sized seats.
Driver sits in a form-fitting bucket which adjusts to fit even a large frame, with seat height in tall stance to set up excellent visibility through the large windows. The controls -- handy in positions either left on the door, right on the console or ahead on the instrument panel -- set in logical positions and operate easily.
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