• Cruze Diesel now available at dealerships
  • Fuel economy is 27 mpg city/46 mpg hwy
  • Pricing starts around $25,500 with shipping

The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel is officially on sale. Chevrolet recently announced the Cruze Diesel is now in showrooms, marking the first time in decades that Chevrolet has offered a diesel-powered car.

Dubbed the Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, the new model returns 27 miles per gallon in the city and a whopping 46 mpg on the highway. That makes for a combined rating of 33 mpg.

Those gas mileage figures easily top the base-level Cruze, which returns 25 mpg city/36 mpg hwy. They even beat out the Cruze ECO, which is tuned for maximum fuel economy. That model returns 28 mpg city/42 mpg hwy with its standard 6-speed manual transmission.

But the Cruze Diesel's fuel economy gains come at a price. Fitted with its diesel engine, the small sedan starts around $25,500 including shipping. That's a big jump over the base-level Cruze, which starts around $18,000. It's also a hefty premium over the Cruze ECO, which starts around $20,500.

Chevrolet says the premium is easy to justify. One reason is the Cruze Diesel comes standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission. That isn't true of the base-level Cruze or the Cruze ECO.

It's also not true of the Cruze Diesel's top competitor, Volkswagen's popular Jetta TDI. That model starts around $23,500 in sedan form and offers 30 mpg city/42 mpg hwy. Drivers interested in a Jetta TDI automatic have to pay an extra $1,100, which makes pricing much closer to the Cruze.

Chevrolet also says the Cruze Diesel boasts more equipment than competitors. That's also true, as the Cruze includes leather seats and GM's MyLink infotainment system. It also trumps the Jetta's highway fuel economy figure by 4 mpg. But many shoppers looking to save at the pump may not be willing to pay a premium for the Cruze.

The last Chevrolet available with a diesel engine was the 1986 Chevette. Sourced from Isuzu, the Chevette's engine was a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that made just 51 horsepower.

What it means to you: The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel provides an American alternative to the popular Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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