That's better than previous estimates of around 42 mpg, and if other diesels on the market today are anything to go by, some owners may find themselves beating even those figures.
The healthy highway rating should be enough to endow the Cruze Diesel with a 700-mile highway range, or ten hours of highway driving--you'd be stopping for food or bathroom breaks more than you'd need to stop for fuel.
Chevy has been keen to pair economy with performance on the diesel Cruze, mindful of some customers' perceptions of diesels as slow and noisy. The 2.0-liter diesel unit develops a punchy 258 pounds-feet of torque and 148 horsepower, and an overboost function can raise torque to around 280 lb-ft when you really need the performance.
Equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission as standard, the Cruze TD can reach 60 mph in 8.6 seconds, so performance shouldn't be an issue for most buyers.
The 46 mpg highway rating puts the Cruze 4 mpg ahead of the Volkswagen Jetta diesel equipped with either manual or DSG automatic transmissions.
The Jetta TDI DSG does have a lower starting price, at $24,950 including a $795 destination charge compared to the Cruze's $26,505 including $810 destination, but Chevy says the Cruze is better value--offering a MyLink infotainment system, leather trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, a 5-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and a two-year maintenance plan as standard.
Chevy has high hopes for the Cruze diesel. The Cruze itself has passed the 2-million car mark globally since its introduction in 2010, and 33,000 diesels have already been sold worldwide.
Some estimates suggest that diesels could make up 10 percent of the U.S. car market by 2015.
The Detroit News reports Milwaukee and Baltimore have been identified as two key cities for diesel cars, and the Cruze TD will debut there first--the first cars arriving late June. The car will then be available nationally by early fall.
With its 46 mpg highway rating, would you pick Chevy's diesel over the German competition? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.