General Motors has announced plans to make a diesel version of the Chevrolet Cruze in 2013. Like small cars from other automakers, there has been a diesel Cruze available in Europe for years. And as recently as six years ago, several automakers, including Ford and Honda, made ambitious statements about how they would bring diesel versions of their small cars to the United States to help combat rising fuel prices. Diesels generally get about 30 percent better fuel economy than similar gas-powered cars, with significant savings seen at highway speeds.
But much of those comments were just talk. Ford and Honda backed off their plans when diesel prices began rising faster than gasoline, leaving Volkswagen as the only automaker selling affordable passenger-car diesels in the U.S. The diesels from manufacturers like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz all cost more than $30,000. (Mazda also says it will have a diesel for 2013.) A significant portion of the Volkswagen Jettas and Jetta wagons sold in the U.S. are diesels.
General Motors says further details on the North American diesel version of the Cruze will be announced at a later date. GM recently announced that the fuel economy of the 2012 Cruze turbo will increase by 2 mpg on the highway (to 38 mpg) and the Eco will increase to 39 mpg with automatic transmission. In our tests of the 1.8-liter and turbocharged 1.4-liter, both posted a rather unimpressive 26 mpg. It will be interesting to see if a diesel version can give the fuel economy a jump.