2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel first drive Page 3

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

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The transmission is a huge part of what makes the engine's behavior under gentle throttle at freeway speeds so impressive.

It's only when I floored the diesel engine from a standstill that the 9-speed's plethora of gears became apparent.

Under wide-open throttle, the transmission upshifts constantly, but each change is fast and smooth. This is a stellar transmission, one I can't wait to see in more Chevy products.

Chevy did miss one opportunity with the Cruze Diesel, though.

I think hybrid and electric-car manufacturers have done a great job of what I call "gamifying" efficient driving. The idea is to turn smart driving into a game that increases an owner's involvement and reinforces efficient driving habits.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid does this brilliantly, giving owners a braking score every time they come to a stop, and adding a tiny virtual tree in the instrument cluster. Go easy on both pedals, coast when possible, and as your efficiency improves, the tree starts to grow.

It's involving in a way that the Cruze's simple bar graph isn't. There's no brake score here, no reinforcement for smart driving—just a boring graph that tasks owners with trying to their best average over a set distance.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

Enlarge Photo

Based on the Cruze LT trim level, the Diesel—that's the actual name of the model and trim level with the turbodiesel engine—gets a few unique bits from the Premier trim.

The big one is the available leather upholstery, which the LT doesn't offer. Beyond that, the Diesel outclasses the gas-powered LT with standard heated front seats, push-button start, and a power driver's seat,

Beyond that, equipment on the two cars is broadly similar, down to the available safety equipment. With the Cruze Diesel, Chevy continues its trend of limiting cutting-edge safety equipment (like adaptive cruise control) to its range-topping models.

Prices start at $26,270, including a mandatory $875 destination charge.

My test model, though, was essentially loaded, with the $1,125 Leather Package and the $2,260 Driver Confidence, Sun, and Sound Package, for an as-tested price of $29,655.

While General Motors regularly puts its powertrain engineering expertise on full display with its array of high-performance cars and ultra-capable pickups, the company's small cars have never felt like they received the same kind of attention.

The Cruze Diesel does.

It's a genuinely impressive piece of engineering. From its startlingly quiet diesel engine to its supremely competent nine-speed automatic transmission, the Cruze Diesel is a smart, efficient compact sedan.

Whether it survives and thrives in a world that's actively hostile to diesel power remains to be seen.


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