In a grim 5.7 miles of New York City traffic that took almost an hour to travel through, the automatic Cruze Diesel returned an indicated 26.2 mpg—indicating the effect of a start-stop systems in lengthy stop-and-go traffic.
Engine noise was well muffled, and even under heavy acceleration proved to be more of a remote growl than the close-in clatter of earlier diesels. (Its German engineers called this latest 1.6-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder the "Whisper Diesel" for its relative silence.)
But we found the 9-speed automatic occasionally bucked in combinations of quick on-and-off acceleration during suburban traffic jams and around things like mall entrances and parking lots.
FURTHER BACKGROUND: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox crossover: only turbo engines, diesel optional
In the manual-gearbox version, we found the clutch a little sudden against the gentler engagement in most Asian vehicles with stick shifts, but we quickly got used to it as any regular driver would.
And with the ability to control our own shifting, the manual Cruze Diesel was considerably more fun to drive (likely at the cost of several miles per gallon).
It's the rare compact sedan these days in which we can write in our drive notes, "accelerates out of uphill curve with satisfying surge of power."
2017 Chevrolet Cruze DieselEnlarge Photo
That's one reason diesel drivers love 'em, though the programming in the 9-speed automatic defaults to keeping the engine at 1,200 to 1,500 rpm unless significant acceleration is called for.
When you floor that version, as in virtually all of the cars with more than six speeds in their automatic gearboxes, you'll get not just one but usually two and sometimes three downshifts before the car starts to accelerate with any degree of enthusiasm.
A handful of random comments on our pair of Cruze Diesels:
2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel (with 6-speed automatic transmission), Catskill Mountains, NY, May 2017Enlarge Photo
Stickers over $25,000
Of our pair of test cars, the red manual Cruze carried a list price of $23,795.
The leather interior option added $1,125, including a heated as well as leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the "Cajun Red Tintcoat" paint was an additional $395.
Adding the mandatory $875 delivery fee, the bottom line came to $26,190.
The charcoal Cruze with automatic transmission listed for $1,600 more, or $25,395.
It too had the $1,125 leather package, plus a $2,260 "driver confidence, sun, and sound package" that bundled active-safety features (rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change alert) with a premium 9-speaker Bose audio system, an 8-inch color touchscreen, a color display between the instruments, and a power sunroof.
Again adding $875 for the mandatory delivery fee, the total on our automatic diesel Cruze sedan came to $29,655.