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2014 Chevrolet Cruze diesel set for Chicago Auto Show debut

Chevrolet Cruze EcoFor those who want to eat up the miles, Volkswagen’s line of TDI diesel cars is hard to beat. Still, what if you want the great mileage of a diesel, but don’t want to buy a VW? Chevrolet has an answer. The 2014 Chevy Cruze diesel is set to debut at the Chicago Auto Show in February.

According to GM Authority, the diesel Cruze will wear an Eco-D badge, and will go on sale in the second quarter of 2013. That means it will be in showrooms sometime between April and June.

Details on the Cruze Eco-D’s engine and fuel economy will be released at the Chicago show, but we do know what its main rival will be: the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. The Jetta has a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with 140 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, and comes with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

The EPA rates the Jetta TDI at 30 mpg city, 42 mpg highway, and 34 mpg combined, with both transmissions. It starts at $23,055.

Chevy will have to match those numbers, and possibly undercut the VW’s price, for the Cruze Eco-D to be a success. However, what Chevy is putting under the hood remains a mystery, because GM doesn’t have any small diesels in its current U.S. lineup.

One possibility is that the Cruze Eco-D will use the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four found in European Cruzes and the Australian Holden Cruze CDX. That engine produces 160 hp and 265 lb-ft, giving it 20 hp and 29 lb-ft more than the Jetta.

The Cruze diesel is rated at 62.7 mpg combined on the European testing cycle, but those numbers tend to be more optimistic than the EPA’s.

Will the Cruze Eco-D be a successful challenge to Volkswagen’s compression-ignition monopoly? We’ll find out when the Chevy debuts in Chicago on February 8.