Even before the Volkswagen emissions scandal broke in 2015, diesel had a bad reputation in America. Drivers covering lots of motorway miles in Europe tend to favor it, but buyers in the US are all about gasoline in their cars and pickups. That's a shame, because diesel can't be beaten for long-haul efficiency, something the new Chevrolet Cruze Diesel proves with its EPA highway mileage rating.
With a miserly 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel under the hood, the new Cruze Diesel managed 52 mpg (4.5 l/100km) on the highway in EPA testing. Driven with a light right foot in ideal conditions, that means the car could cover around 700 miles (1,127 km) on a full tank of diesel, enough to get you from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City without filling up.
According to Chevrolet, that's enough to make the Cruze Diesel the most efficient non-hybrid on the highway. The car isn't quite as efficient in the city, returning 31 mpg (7.6 l/100km) for a combined figure of 37 mpg (6.4 l/100km). By way of comparison, the gas Cruze sedan returns 40 mpg (5.9 l/100km) on the highway and 30 mpg (7.8 l/100km) in the city, for a combined 35 mpg (6.7 l/100km).
Interestingly, the six-speed manual model is actually more efficient than the nine-speed auto offered alongside it. Given how tall the top ratios on modern automatic gearboxes are, and how much faster/more efficient eight and seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes are than their self-shifting counterparts, we're not sure how Chevy has managed to reverse the order here.
Pricing for the Cruze Diesel kicks off at US$24,670, and a hatch will join the sedan later this year.