Hang onto your hats. The most fuel-efficient petroleum powered sedan in America for open road cruising is the 2017 Chevy Cruze Turbodiesel. While a number of hybrids may be more efficient in city driving, the Cruze turbodiesel delivers off-the-charts fuel economy out in the country and on the highway. I covered 336.3 miles in mixed conditions and used only 6.942 gallons of diesel fuel (verified via tank fill, not the onboard computer), with an overall average of 48.4 miles per gallon (MPG) in my six-speed manual tester.
The Cruze turbodiesel sedan is EPA rated at 30 city / 52 highway with a manual transmission and 31 city / 47 highway for the nine-speed automatic. While it’s odd that the nine-speed fares poorly on the highway, much of the difference between the two is due to the gearing: the manual has a 3.65 final drive ratio, while the automatic is 3.17.
The 1.6-liter engine produces 137 horsepower and a fabulous 240 pound-feet of torque. Gobs of low-end torque make the six-speed manual a hoot to drive.
My first highway loop test – with the cruise control set at 68 miles per hour (MPH) yielded 60.1 MPG. The numbers were even higher without cruise control and at lower speeds. I’d like to try an extended drive on 55 MPH roads to see if it’s possible to crack 70 MPG.
The turbodiesel engine is currently only available in the four-door Cruze sedan. It will be offered in the five-door hatchback this fall. I tested a gasoline-powered five-door hatchback earlier this year for Autobytel. Here’s the video review:
The hatchback is a versatile little hauler, with 24.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat and 47.2 cubic feet total. It’s an excellent alternative to a small crossover. With luck, I’ll put a turbodiesel hatch to an extended test later this year.
With Volkswagen’s TDI sedans and hatchbacks a fading memory, the Cruze Diesel carries the torch. Chevrolet has done little marketing around the diesel so far this year and seems to be relying on word-of-mouth to spread the news. With a significant installed base of Silverado Duramax owners, word is getting around. If there’s one diesel vehicle in the driveway, why not two?