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Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel

Written by Police Fleet Manager Staff

The administrative and special service fleet makes up about 20 percent of the police fleet. Importantly, this admin fleet does not (generally) have the task-oriented requirements of the patrol fleet. This opens us up to a wide variety of alternate fuel, hybrid and electric vehicles, all from the same companies that provide vehicles for our patrol fleet. It also shows the community that the police leadership is leading from the front.

 

Clean Diesel

The term “clean diesel” is not a marketing claim; instead, it is a widely acknowledged industry definition. It means the use of Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel and full compliance with current on-highway standards for odor-free, soot-free emissions. The Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel meets Tier 2, Bin 5 emission standards, the newest generation of clean diesel requirements. The Cruze Diesel is the darling of the pro-diesel movement.

The Cruze Diesel is powered by a 151 hp, 2.0L turbocharged diesel 4-cylinder. This engine in the Cruze Diesel is not new. This turbodiesel is based on the proven drivetrain already used in Europe, where 40 percent of all Cruze sedans (Opel Astra) are powered by the diesel. Last year, GM sold 400,000 diesel-powered cars, and 35,000 of them were the Cruze.

American powertrain engineers worked with their counterparts in Kaiserlautern, Germany and Torino, Italy to adapt the 2.0L I-4 to the U.S. and Canadian markets. They faced two challenges: more stringent diesel emissions standards and a wider range of driving conditions, both colder climates and higher altitudes. The Aisin 6-speed automatic is unique to the diesel-powered Cruze.

With a diesel, horsepower is less significant than torque. The Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel engine has an overboost feature. This will increase the peak torque from 258 lb-ft to 280 lb-ft for 10 seconds. That explains both the aggressive zero to 60 mph times (10 seconds) but less aggressive zero to 100 mph times (26 seconds). When the overboost feature on the turbo engine kicks in, the 2.0L I-4 in the Cruze Diesel produces more torque than the 3.6L V6 in the police Impala and Caprice.

The Cruze Diesel uses a particulate filter plus urea-injection to reduce smoke, soot, smell and oxides of nitrogen. Don’t get stressed out over the need to use Diesel Exhaust Fluid, DEF. The DEF tank below the trunk holds 4.5 gallons and it is good for 10,000 miles. So, fill the DEF tank every 7,500 miles you change the oil and rotate the tires. DEF refills, along with scheduled engine oil and filter changes, are free for the first 24,000 miles.

 

Double Green: B20 Biodiesel

An even greener step is the fact that the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is certified by Chevrolet to run on B20 biodiesel. Importantly, General Motors has certified the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel to run on B20 biodiesel. Biodiesel (B20) is a mixture of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent ULSD diesel. It is common for city buses and school buses to be powered by B20 biodiesel.

Biodiesel is a form of clean-burning, non-toxic diesel fuel. Biodiesel is made from soybean oil and recycled cooking oil (yellow grease) that may contain canola, palm, soy and other oils. Other possible, sustainable biodiesel feedstocks include oils from corn, peanut, sunflower, cottonseed, canola and animal fats such as tallow and lard.

Biodiesel is safe, biodegradable and produces less air pollutants than petroleum-based diesel. Since soybean oil is the dominant oil produced in the U.S., the development of biodiesel has focused around soy oil. One bushel of soybean produces about 1.5 gallons of biodiesel.

B20 biodiesel is reported as having between 5 to 10 percent less energy and thus less fuel efficiency than ULSD diesel fuel. Yet recent studies by the agriculture experts at Purdue University indicate no loss in power from the enviro-friendly B20 biodiesel.

“In terms of performance, reliability and maintenance costs, it was basically a was (?) (between B20 biodiesel and ULSD diesel), said John Lumkes, assistant professor of agriculture and biological engineering at Purdue. Lumkes led the yearlong study that compared two, 10-vehicle semi-trailer truck fleets. “The only differences are environmental and economic.”

B20 biodiesel generally costs between $0.02 and $0.13 per gallon more than ULSD diesel. However, during our October 2013 test drive, B20 had a nationwide average cost of $0.02 per gallon lower than ULSD. Vehicles average about 2-percent lower fuel mileage on B20 than ULSD, so our 38.5 mpg (average) on ULSD would be about 37.7 mpg.

Sulfur is an emissions impurity in diesel fuel. The impurity level has been lowered from 500 ppm for Low Sulfur Diesel to just 15 ppm for Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel, ULSD. However, sulfur also adds to the lubricating value of diesel fuel. Blending just 1-percent biodiesel with ULSD diesel increases the lubricity of diesel fuel by 65 percent.

“Modern diesel engines powered by ultra-low sulfur biodiesel provide tailpipe emissions as clean as natural gas…while providing true diesel fuel economy and horsepower,” said Steve Howell, Technical Director for the National Biodiesel Board. “The new technology diesel engines are the clean and green technology of the future.” 

B20 biodiesel actually delivers on all the broken or unkept promises of E85 ethanol. It produces cleaner emissions, is made from renewable feedstocks, and lessens dependence on foreign petroleum. Most importantly, B20 has a dollars per gallon versus miles per gallon that makes economic sense. Rudolf Diesel would be proud.

 

Midsize or Compact?

The Chevy Cruze is the best-selling car made by General Motors. The Cruze is not a compact sedan. Based on EPA definitions—and they set the standards—the Cruze is a midsize sedan. To determine the size class, the passenger volume (94 cubic feet) is added to the trunk volume (16 cf). The resulting 110 cf is right on the line between midsize (110cf – 119cf) and compact (100cf – 109cf).

In comparison, the midsize Chevy Malibu has a 116cf total and the large-size Chevy Impala has a 124cf total. Think of the Cruze as a shortened but almost as wide Malibu, where the Malibu is a shortened and as wide Impala. However, the DEF tank takes up 3cf of trunk volume. That means, while the Cruze sedan is a midsize, the Cruze Diesel is technically a compact.

 

Interior Space

The Cruze Diesel has plenty of head, elbow, shoulder, hip and legroom for most plainclothes officers—including the 6-foot, 4-inch, 225-pound author. It is very easy to enter and exit. In fact, overall, the Cruze Diesel is quite comfortable, but only for the driver.

In general, the Cruze has one major and two minor interior concerns. The major one is front passenger room, specifically, lack of it. The Cruze Diesel is a borderline midsize-compact sedan and is perfectly comfortable for one larger adult, or for two smaller adults but definitely not for a larger adult and any other adult. And the rear legroom? There just isn’t any.

One minor concern is knee splay. For officers who drive with knees farther apart, the center console is a little confining. Not uncomfortable, but a bit tight. The other minor irritation is the hand-operated parking brake. That is just plain stupid. Fortunately, the hand brake is biased toward the passenger’s side, which again, this makes the Cruze a great, one-person, fleet vehicle.

The visibility out the Cruze Diesel is excellent in all regards except one. The critical front angle (intersection) visibility is excellent, as is the all-around visibility back to the normal rear blind spots. The exception is the driver’s side B-pillar. It is wide enough to limit visibility to the rear of the B-pillar even with a rearmost seat position. Safety-wise, the Cruze Diesel has a NHTSA 5-Star crash rating. It has 10 airbags and all-speed traction and stability control.

 

Beats the EPA Estimates

The Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is rated at 27 mpg City, 46 mpg Highway, and 33 mpg Combined. In our admin use, we beat every single rating. In two weeks and 1,500 miles with the Cruze Diesel, it averaged 38.5 mpg. That dipped down to about 30 mpg in urban driving and reached over 50 mpg in highway driving.

During our test period, the national average of ULSD diesel was $3.93 compared to regular gasoline at $3.49. That means the gas-equivalent average mileage for the Cruze Clean Diesel is just over 34 mpg, which certainly meets the spirit of most green initiatives.

Diesel is priced about the same as premium gasoline, which is an average of $0.45 per gallon above regular unleaded. The 15.6-gallon fuel tank and 38.5 mpg (our average) gives the Cruze Diesel a very long, 600-mile driving range.

The Cruze Diesel uses the “aero” package from the Cruze Eco to get the best possible mileage. This includes aero skirts, under-body aero panels, and active grille shutters. The tires on the Cruze Diesel are maximum fuel economy-oriented with a low rolling resistance. These tires are marginally acceptable for admin use but have a lot of tire squeal when pushed hard, and are a bit slippery when wet.

The handling is of the Cruze Diesel is downright sporty. The steering is easy and precise. Since the Cruze Diesel weighs a bit more than the standard Cruze due to the heavier, iron-block diesel engine, it comes with slightly larger front brakes. In some aggressive driving, we found the braking performance from the Cruze Diesel to be excellent.

 

Torque Wins Drag Races

The Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is quicker and more responsive than any 4-cylinder powered sedan has a right to be. It reaches 60 mph in 10 seconds flat and 100 mph in 26 seconds. That said, mashing the gas pedal from an idle results in a pronounced, one-second turbo lag. However, that stop-light drag race scenario is the only time any turbo lag whatsoever is felt. During normal driving and even fairly aggressive passing, no lag whatsoever is noticed.

In true diesel manner, 95 percent of peak torque is available between 1800 rpm and 3000 rpm, which is where most driving occurs. At any engine speed above 1800 rpm, the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine pulls hard. The slight delay in throttle response when the pedal is floored is the time it takes the engine to rev up from idle to 1800 rpm.

At any engine speed above 1800 rpm, like when cruising down the road, the turbo diesel is very responsive to the throttle. The enormous and instant low-rpm diesel torque makes the Cruze Turbo Diesel feel quite sporty. 

 

Sounds Like a Diesel – Not.

Diesel engines have a definite hammering sound at idle. There is no such thing as a quiet diesel. Yet, Chevrolet has sound-deadened the engine and under-hood enough to reduce the vast majority of the diesel engine noise. Standing outside the Cruze Diesel, you can clearly hear that the vehicle is powered by a diesel.

However, when sitting inside the Cruise Diesel, the story is totally different. This upscale Chevy sedan uses sound-proofing from the very upscale Buick Verano. The Cruze Diesel has special engine bay baffling, a special underhood blanket, and a special inside dash mat.

Inside the Cruze Diesel, the diesel’s hammer, rattle, clamor and clatter has simply been eliminated. Sitting in the car, at idle, with the HVAC off and the radio off, you cannot hear the diesel engine. You hear an engine running but it sounds like any other 4-cylinder engine. Same thing at highway speeds…no typical diesel engine sounds. Quieting the diesel is a major engineering accomplishment—kudos! And clean? There is no smoke, no soot, no smell.

 

Upscale, Top Trim Level

The Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is the top trim level in the Cruze lineup. It has an MSRP of $25,810, which is actually higher than the LTZ version at $24,630. In comparison, the low-trim level Cruze LS (with automatic) has an MSRP of $19,280. The upscale Cruze Diesel features include leather bucket seats, power-adjustable and heated front seats, a 6-speed automatic and aluminum wheels.

This Clean Turbo Diesel trim level also includes Chevy’s MyLink infotainment systems, which includes a 7-inch touchscreen, voice commands, Bluetooth and redundant steering wheel controls. An app in MyLink shows the nearest retail location to buy ULSD diesel. Rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, side blind-zone alert, and rear vision camera are all optional.

At such a high trim level, the Cruze Diesel is really only suitable for the highest levels of police admin. For the right police use in urban communities (city buses, school buses) and rural counties (farm implements) where the use of ULSD diesel and B20 biodiesel is appreciated, the Cruze Diesel is an excellent choice.

Overall, the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel has V6 levels of torque, hybrid levels of fuel economy, and the side benefit of being B20 biodiesel certified. As a non-gasoline sedan, the police chief or sheriff driving a Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel will certainly be leading the green movement from the front.


Published in Police Fleet Manager, Jan/Feb 2014

Rating : Not Yet Rated


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