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.
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
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
Double Green: B20
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sounds Like a Diesel
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
Upscale, Top Trim
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
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
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.