Despite VW's diesel woes, Chevy to offer diesel-fueled Cruze in U.S.

October 11, 2016

Apparently diesel is not a dirty word in Detroit. The domestic automaker will offer not only one diesel-powered passenger car, but three by 2018.

(And that's not including heavy duty pickups, which aren't subject to the same strict emissions standards as passenger cars.)

The automaker announced Tuesday that it will slip a 1.6-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder into both the 2018 Chevrolet Cruze sedan and hatchback, in addition to the 2018 Chevy Equinox it had already confirmed.

Chevy parent General Motors says that Volkswagen's highly publicized, forced departure from the diesel market created an opening—and GM just happens to have its own turbodiesel engines—developed primarily for the European market—to help fill the void.

"There is a customer base there that wants to drive this type of vehicle and have this type of performance," GM's North American chief Alan Batey said. "What we're doing is providing that option."

Batey confirmed that the Cruze diesels will be offered with either a 6-speed manual or 9-speed automatic transmission and that they'll use a 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine. Chevy stopped short of saying it'd be the same 1.6-liter turbodiesel used in the already-announced Equinox and wouldn't discuss final power figures. While Chevy didn't release detailed specs for the Cruze diesel, the engine makes 136 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque in the Equinox.

In that application, which is both heavier and less aerodynamic than the comparatively svelte Cruze compact cars, Chevy is targeting 40 mpg. It's reasonable to expect better fuel economy from the Cruze sedan and hatch.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback Detroit

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback Detroit

Positioned differently this time

This won't be the first Cruze diesel. The last-generation model offered a 2.0-liter that wasn't an especially strong seller (and wasn't all that thrifty at 32 mpg combined), but this time Chevy is positioning the engine as a sporty variant and will offer the engine across many Cruze models—including the sporty RS.

"We designed these to be sporty, as you can see," said Batey. "It's fun to drive. You take this look, and you take those performance parts, and you marry it with a diesel. This will be fun to drive." 

The 2017 Cruze's RS package is cosmetic and not functional, so it remains to be seen if the turbodiesel will have its own suspension or steering settings. 

Chevrolet also hasn't divulged pricing, but it's safe to bet that there will be a premium over the gas-fueled variants. In other words, a Cruze RS hatchback turbodiesel could be in the neighborhood of $30,000.

Initially, Batey said, the Cruze turbodiesel will be offered as a sedan, but the hatchback won't be far behind and will be offered for the 2018 model year.

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