2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel

Responding to increasing demand for fuel-efficient vehicles, Chevrolet has introduced a Clean Turbo Diesel version of its capable and refined Cruze compact sedan. Although significantly more expensive than the standard Cruze, the Clean Turbo Diesel returns truly impressive fuel economy - 46 mpg on the highway - and also comes equipped with a high level of standard content.

Representing General Motor's first U.S.-market oil-burning car since the 1986 Chevette, the Clean Turbo Diesel uses a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder that produces 148 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. For quick bursts of acceleration, an overboost function can increase peak twist to 280 lb-ft for up to 10 seconds- that's a serious amount of torque for a small sedan.

With shifting duties handled by a six-speed automatic, the Clean Turbo Diesel is capable of charging from zero-to-60 mph in 8.6 seconds. Fuel economy is rated at 27 mpg in the city, 46 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg combined.

In comparison, the automatic transmission version of the second-most efficient model in the Cruze lineup, the significantly less costly (but more modestly equipped) Eco, is good for 26 mpg in the city, 39 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined.

To help meet emissions standards, the Clean Turbo Diesel uses a urea injection system with a 4.5-gallon tank. It eats up roughly two cubic feet of cargo space, although that still leaves a respectable-by-class-standards 13 cubes. One tankful of urea will last about 10,000 miles before a refill is required.

Aside from the diesel engine and attendant emissions-control system, the Clean Turbo Diesel is identical in most respects to the standard Cruze. That means it features an inviting, well-executed interior with a stylish "dual-cowl" dashboard and upmarket materials. Though the seats can seem somewhat narrow for some passengers, there's sufficient room for five passengers, provided the middle rear seat is occupied by a child.

Outside, an aero kit borrowed from the Eco helps give the diesel a clean look along with a lower coefficient of drag.

Helping the justify its MSRP, the turbodiesel Cruze comes standard with such niceties as leather upholstery, heated front seats and Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system. MyLink functions through a seven-inch touchscreen mounted in the dashboard - or, alternatively, voice commands or redundant steering-wheel-mounted buttons - and controls the sound system as well as the optional navigation system. It also handles Bluetooth pairing duties and provides access to smartphone-based apps like Pandora radio and Stitcher radio.

Notably, a two-year free maintenance plan that covers oil changes, tire rotation and diesel exhaust fluid is part of the package, as is an extended five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

The suspension, which includes MacPherson struts up front and a Z-link arrangement in back, helps deliver responsive, predictable handling. It certainly isn't the sportiest small car around, but the ride is especially comfortable, even over the most neglected of roads.

Standard and Optional Features
The Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is fitted as standard with leather upholstery, heated front seats, a rearview camera a power-adjustable driver's seat, MyLink infotainment system, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM stereo with USB and AUX inputs, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry with remote start, full power accessories, heated exterior mirrors and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Options include a sunroof, a nine-speaker Pioneer premium audio system and a chrome exterior appearance package.

Occupant Safety
The Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel comes with an impressive 10 airbags, include dual front, front side, front knee, rear side and full-length side curtain airbags. Traction and stability control systems are also included.

Key Competitors
The only true competitor to the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is the oil-burning Volkswagen Jetta TDI, which isn't as powerful but boasts slightly higher combined fuel economy. Unlike the Cruze, it can also be spec'd with a manual transmission.

Those willing to consider non-diesel models should also cross shop the 50mpg Toyota Prius as well as Chevrolet's own Cruze Eco.