Thursday, November 21, 2019

What’s Not to Like?

Disclaimer: I am a fan of hatchbacks with their size and versatility over a sedan. In the case of the 2018 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel manual hatch there is much to like, with sharp looks and a real world 50 mpg on the highway. So, the question looms, what’s not to like?

Driving Experience: On the Road

Smarticd spent a week in the front-wheel drive 2018 Cruze LT Diesel hatchback with a six-speed manual transmission and turbocharged 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine. Producing 137 horsepower and 240 pounds-feet of torque, we were eager to check-out the performance and fuel economy. The EPA rates the Cruze Diesel at 29 city/48 highway/35 combined. In 363 miles of 75-percent highway/25-percent city driving, Smarticd averaged 38.6 mpg. However, in a 200-mile highway run, with the cruise control set at 65 mph, we achieved 50.1 mpg. Yes, that is only one gallon of diesel every 50 miles. Think about it.

2018 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

The Cruze Diesel Hatch delivered the goods on the highway

Our zero-to-60 times were an adequate 8.2 seconds. The best times were by taking first gear to 15 mph and second to 30 mph, and then getting into 3rd and 4th gears as soon as possible. It is in these gears where the turbo diesel can use all its torque and the fun begins. Also 5th gear pulls well, and 6th is for maxing-out the fuel economy. There was no turbo lag.

The Cruse Diesel uses Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF), which is added every several thousand miles, with the frequency of refills based on driving patterns. A Low DEF light will come on when it is time to add the fluid, which can be purchased at any General Motors dealer, auto parts store or service station. Just make sure to only use GM-approved DEF and never let the level be completely depleted.

It is important to note that the fuel economy numbers reported by Smarticd are non-scientific. They represent the reviewer’s driving experience, but should be similar to most drivers living in our reviewer’s city. If you live in cold weather, high in the mountains, spend time in the city or stuck in rush hour traffic, then your numbers may differ.

The Cruze Diesel Hatch with the six-speed manual has a short shift throw and a neutral clutch, as in not too soft and not too stiff. The gearbox, while not racy, lets you aggressively pound through gears, or leave it in 6th after about 45 mph if you are going for high fuel economy. Where this car really shows its stuff is on the open road where it cruises along at-or-above posted freeway speeds (here that will be either 65 or 70 mph). Once out in traffic, the Cruze Diesel Hatch had no issues keeping up with, or being the leader, on the racetrack that are Southern California freeways.

The 2018 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Hatch feels more like a size-up midsize car from its compact class classification. The confident and solid feel when driving, especially on long stints of open highway, come from the stability and traction control, MacPherson struts, coil springs and sway bars. Smarticd’s LT model had 18-inch alloy wheels and 225/40/18, Michelin Green all-season tires. What little body roll I felt was only on the tightest corners or high-speed freeway onramps. The electric power steering was nicely calibrated to not be too light, which is the norm for most cars.

Driving Experience: Exterior

As noted earlier, hatchbacks are looked upon highly at Smarticd. The Cruze Hatch’s clean design has a sharp-featured nose, where the grille meshes cleanly with the fascia. The stance is forward leaning, which makes the Cruze look like it is on the move even when standing still. The sweptback dual-projection LED headlamps sit above deeply set fog lights. The slope from the front bowtie Chevrolet emblem rises to a high point at the B pillar, and then drops to the integrated spoiler, shading the rear solar-absorbing lift gate glass. A tasteful shark fin antenna at the rear roof and a single, subtle TD (turbo diesel) logo on the hatch finish off the look of this stylish car. The rear view is especially pleasing with the oversized rear spoiler adding depth to the hatch.

2018 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

Up front with some style

The RS Package added the Sport Body Kit, front fog lamps, rear spoiler and the 18-inch aluminum wheels. The RS package was tasteful and gave the Cruze a distinctive look.

Driving Experience: Interior

Chevrolet spent a considerable amount of time and thought redesigning the Cruze interior, especially the dash. The gauges are not overly digital and the controls are laid-out with convenience in mind. Soft touch materials are not as prevalent as hard plastic, but the restrained use of chrome accents give the dash, door panels and center console a feeling of quality. The overall impression is one of a simple look and feel.

Smarticd’s 2018 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Hatch included the $1,125 Leather Package, which upgrades to leather seating surfaces and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Power, heated front seats are standard on the LT trim level. The driver seat offered ample adjustment options, but unfortunately does not have lumbar adjustment. The center console slides, giving drivers a comfortable place to rest their right arms. Curiously, the sun visors to not expand or slide, which would be appreciated for complete sun blocking.

2018 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

You can be connected inside

The rear seatback was a bit too upright for long trips, but the seats themselves were supportive and comfortable. Headroom for passengers up-to 5’ 10” was fine. The flat-folding 60/40 split rear seat also had a fold down armrest, with cup holders, when two were riding out back. The rear USB charge-only port was a convenient touch.

The six-speaker Chevrolet MyLink infotainment (information and entertainment) and audio system controls the 7.0-inch color touchscreen for the AM/FM/CD/MP3/AUX radio. Features include an USB input, SiriusXM (three-month subscription), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel has controls for Bluetooth that offers hands-free telephone and voice control. General Motor’s handy and helpful OnStar system is included for five years with the basic plan, and three months for the automatic accident response and navigation service.

A note regarding OnStar: a simple push of a button connects you with a friendly General Motors representative to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. The most common requests are for directions, to handle emergencies and general assistance. This is one area where GM is the industry leader, and after basic plans expire, it is well worth renewing for the peace of mind you (or maybe your child or spouse) will always have when driving your Cruze. For faster Internet speeds, the Cruze LT has a 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot, with a limited period subscription. Depending on how much you travel, the hotspot option should be seriously considered. Our experience is that it was fast and provided uninterrupted service.

Our Cruze Diesel Hatch came equipped with cruise control, power windows with one-touch up and down, rear window wiper, keyless start and entry, passive entry system, power and heated side mirrors, remote start, carpeted floor mats, climate control, and a tilt and telescopic steering column.


The 2018 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel has safety features of 10 airbags, a four-wheel power disc ABS braking system, a tire pressure monitoring system and a 16-inch spare tire. Also included

2018 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

The Hatch sets the Cruze apart and gives some real benefit

were a remote panic alarm and a rear vision camera.

In crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the 2018 Cruze sedan received (their highest rating) for overall crash protection, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Cruze its

Pricing and Warranties

Smarticd’s 2018 Chevrolet Cruze LT Diesel Hatch, with the optional Leather Package ($1,125) and the Cajun Red Tintcoat ($395) had a MSRP of $26,955. All prices exclude the $875 destination charge.

The 2018 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel comes with these warranties:

Powertrain                          Five years/60,000 miles

Service                                 Three years/36,000 miles

Bumper-to-Bumper          Three years/36,000 miles

Roadside Assistance         Three years/36,000 miles

Observations: 2018 Chevrolet Cruze LT Diesel Hatch, Six-speed Manual

2018 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

It’s the whole package–and a hatch!

The 2018 Cruze LT Diesel Hatch is begging you to pack-up and hit the open road. The EPA rates the Cruze Diesel at 48 mpg on the highway, but we got a tick over 50 mpg. The smooth operating turbocharged engine purrs along for mile after mile after mile, while the fuel gauge seemingly barely drops.

The Cruze diesel hatchback’s versatility for cargo and passengers, exterior and interior design, fit and finish and fuel economy, for a price under $30,000, should get your attention. It apparently has done so with savvy buyers of small cars as the hatchback accounts for 20 percent of all Cruze sales.

So, could the Cruze hatchback be a good fit instead of a more expensive, and more costly to operate crossover or SUV? Maybe. Guess visiting your Chevrolet dealer for a lengthy test drive should be added to your day planner.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

Related Stories You Might Enjoy: Other Diesel Options

Road Test: (Larry’s view)

Road Test: (John’s view)



Smarticd is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at [email protected].

John Faulkner is Road Test Editor at Smarticd. He has more than 30 years’ experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent’s 1950 Studebaker. He is a journalist member of the Motor Press Guild.

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