Chevy is pushing its Cruze sedan into hybrid mileage territory – but without the battery.
The 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel model has just gotten a 52 mpg highway mileage rating from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That is handily the highest rating for any non-hybrid or plug-based model on the road and compares favorably with a number of similarly sized hybrid models.
“Chevrolet is dedicated to offering customers a wide range of propulsion options,” said Steve Majoros, director of Chevrolet marketing, in a statement highlight the EPA numbers. “We know there are customers looking for the right combination of fuel efficiency, driving dynamics, fuel type and more. With the EPA-estimated 52-mpg highway Cruze Diesel Sedan, they can get it all.”
The Cruze Diesel is one of just a handful of mainstream products on the U.S. market offering a diesel powertrain – especially since Volkswagen was forced to pull its line-up of “oil burners” out of showrooms in September 2015.
The Chevy sedan uses a new Ecotect 1.6-liter turbodiesel paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. The package makes 137 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. According to the EPA, it will make 52 mpg on the highway, with a 30 mpg rating in the city and 37 combined. The package also will get up to 702 miles on a tank of diesel fuel.
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Buyers also can opt for a new nine-speed automatic gearbox that will deliver 47 mpg on the highway, 31 in the city and 37 combined.
By comparison, the 2017 Toyota Prius gets 53 mpg on the highway and 58 in city driving. Hybrids break the traditional paradigm, improving efficiency in urban driving because they have more opportunities to regenerate energy normally lost during braking and coasting. That’s why many experts suggest that diesels are best suited for those who travel longer distances. They also tend to deliver better acceleration and towing capabilities because of their higher torque.
The 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel will go on sale this spring and will carry a base price of $24,670 with the manual gearbox.
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A hatchback version of the Cruze Diesel will land in U.S. showrooms later this year as a 2018 model.
The diesel market had been growing rapidly during the first half of the decade – albeit from a low base. And a number of automakers had laid out plans to add oil burners to their line-ups. But the future of the diesel segment has become cloudy in the wake of the EPA’s revelation, in September 2015, that VW had rigged its 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel engines to illegally pass U.S. emissions tests.
The automaker has since pulled all its diesel models out of American showrooms and says that even though it is developing a fix it doesn’t plan to return to the U.S. market except for possibly one Audi diesel model.
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Other manufacturers have also faced questions about their own diesel plans, and the EPA last month said it was also investigating possible rigging by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of several of its diesel models.