Volkswagen may have hampered diesel’s departure from the word “dirty,” but other automakers are embracing the powertrain more than ever. Chevrolet is one of the brands who has big plans for diesel, and we’ll see its first products wear a Cruze badge.
Rumors have been circulating for a while that the 2017 Cruze sedan would get a diesel powertrain, and Chevy has finally confirmed the buzz. Unexpectedly, the new hatchback will also receive a diesel motor, and both body styles will get six-speed manual and all-new nine-speed automatic transmission options.
A diesel has been available in the Cruze since its inception, but the compact model has only worn sedan clothing until this year. The new diesel motor displaces 1.6 liters (down from the previous generation’s 2.0 liters), revealing Chevy’s improvements to efficiency. We estimate the new Cruze diesel will crest the 40 mpg mark.
Volkswagen has owned the diesel hatchback segment for several years now, so their absence gives Chevy an opportunity to scoop up customers who prefer the fuel economy and torque of a diesel powertrain. Elsewhere in the U.S. automaker’s lineup, a diesel has found its way under the hood of the new Equinox crossover, Colorado midsize pickup, and Silverado full-size truck.
Nissan, BMW, Mazda, and other automakers have revealed new products with updated diesel engines or announced plans for new models with the alternative powertrain. Across the board, gas and diesel engines are being improved to delivery fuel economy figures previously reserved for hybrid models. Expect the trend to continue until automakers can no longer improve the internal combustion engine and must make a full transition to electric power.
In Chevrolet’s case, electric powertrains are being improved with as much or more resolve as diesel engines. The upcoming Bolt EV promises a 200-plus mile range in a package in the $30,000 range, something no other automaker has been able to achieve. It’s a race to range tipping points, and every brand has been forced to enter.