This week it’s a spin in one of my Star Cars of the year… and a great addition to Chevrolet’s Compact lineup:The 2014 Cruze Diesel.

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The Cruze is already one of Chevy’s most successful cars in years. Introduced in 2011 and built at the General Motors Lordstown plant it meets head on or beats almost anything in it’s segment!

The one thought that kept going through my head as I chauffeured the Cruze Diesel through the streets of New York City over the holiday was that this could be the car that makes America aware of what the rest of the world knows, diesel powered cars rock! I know I have been singing the praises of Volkswagen/ Audi’s  TDI Diesel for years, but there is something about seeing it all come together in a Chevy that makes you feel strangely proud as an American.

What Chevy does with the Cruze diesel is add on to an already successful formula of a  well built compact car that is comfortable and keeps you interested. They drop the Cruze’s new 2.0L turbo-diesel that cranks out a very responsive 151 horsepower and 264 lb.-ft. of torque.  Peak torque is achieved at a low 2,600 rpm, The engine also has an overboost feature capable of increasing torque to an estimated 280 lb.-ft, for stronger acceleration periods of about 10 seconds. Those numbers are delivered through a 6 speed automatic… although word is that a manual is on the way…hopefully. One interesting note the EcoTec Diesel uses the same injectors that Audi engineers raved to me about in a recent interview. They thought they were a big reason for the success of the TDI engines.

The engine that is leading the domestic diesel charge! Photo courtesy General Motors

The engine that is leading the domestic diesel charge! Photo courtesy General Motors

What does it all mean? You now have a compact car made in America that delivers everything a Jetta does engine wise… spectacular performance when and where you need it…like dodging taxis on Manhattan’s West Side or trying to hit the flow of traffic from a short entrance ramp. This is a car that eats up city streets!

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But wait there’s more!

The Cruze Diesel also delivered big time on the trip home to Pittsburgh. The diesel which can be a bit noisy on the streets of NY seems to quiet down to it’s country environment while getting might stingy on the fuel. I actually averaged above the EPA numbers on the highway hitting 48 mpg on the turnpike. City driving came in at a 25 mpg and I was being a bit on the Mario Andretti side with the gas pedal.

The Cruze Turbo Diesel gets a number of upgrades as standard equipment including leather seats, softer interior appliques on the dash and doors, Chevy’s My Link system,17 inch tires and wheels, and a performance package that includes lower grille shutters, aero panels and a rear spoiler designed to lessen the drag and increase the mileage. The car I drove had the enhanced safety package with rear parking, cross traffic alert blind zone alert and lane departure warning.

Sticker price $28,105 and the Cruze gets a Five Star safety rating by the Federal Government. Depending on the way you drive you could go more than 700 miles between fuelings.

The 2014 Cruze Diesel puts a lot of distance between you and the pump. Photo credit Vinnie Richichi

The 2014 Cruze Diesel puts a lot of distance between you and the pump. Photo credit Vinnie Richichi

I couldn’t help thinking as I motored the Cruze Diesel through the mean streets of NYC that I would see these all over the place painted in yellow by this time next year. More importantly I thought as I drove past the plant near Youngstown, Ohio where the Cruze is built that this is the car, the engine that could finally turn America on to the clean little secret that the rest of the world knows. That the chuggin’ little diesel should be in the engine mix of every manufacturer and best of all, that there is no shame and much joy in  going 700 miles between gas station stops.

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Look for the “Drivetime Star Cars of 2013 Awards” the week of December 16th