Well, I finally hit the first milestone in my 2014 Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel. (Well, that’s not 100% accurate – I am actually at 49,439 miles as of this writing, but figured I was “close enough” to do this writeup.) When I first bought it, it was more of just a curiosity, something I thought I would play with for a while and then sell, as I have done so many times before. I’ve owned more than 80 cars and have a short attention span, so it’s not unusual for me to trade a new car with 10K miles. (…or 1K miles. My record is a 2009 Toyota Highlander I traded with 731 miles on it. Ouch.) So I was surprised when 10K, 20K, 30K miles showed up on the odometer and I still loved the car. My story will be a bit random and I will jump around to different topics, so be prepared as you read it.
So, as I promised in another post a while back, here is my writeup about what it’s been like to drive this car 50,000 miles or so. I drive in a variety of situations, but the balance (if you consider time and not miles) is about 25% city, traffic and short trips. The other 75% is long haul highway trips. In short, the car has proven to be 100% reliable and trouble free. I got one of the first ones off the production line, and it looks like they got this car right, right from the start. In comparison, I had a 2012 Civic before this and it needed fuel lines and a CV axle in the first few months of ownership. (I wasn’t really all that crazy about the Civic, but I had set a goal to put 100K miles on it, which I accomplished then promptly got rid of it)
Here are my impressions of the CTD overall: At first, I was not so sure about the comfort of the seats, but somehow I managed to get the seat set so that it was all-day comfortable. At my friend’s suggestion, I pulled the fuse for the seat so that the parking attendants or friends or service technicians who drive the car can’t change it. The car is serene and quiet on the highway, and a level of quiet, comfort and driving dynamics that I would associate with an entry-luxury sedan rather than an econobox. This is also the first car with EPS (electric power steering) that has a good feel to it. I think it is weighted perfectly. It really is quite an extraordinary piece of automotive machinery. I also love the sound of the engine at idle and at low speeds. I will often drive with the windows open just to hear the engine better.
Things I have noticed as the miles have added up: The engine sound really hasn’t changed all that much that I can tell. It pretty much still sounds exactly the way it did when I got it. One thing I noticed is that after about 20-30K miles it sometimes would make some new sounds when I first started it on a cold morning, but nothing that really ever sounded out of the ordinary for the car, especially with a few miles on it. It did seem to gain power as the engine broke in. I am pretty sure it’s more powerful now than it’s ever been. I would imagine with synthetic oil (GM Dexos2 partial synthetic for the first 30K miles, then Total Quartz INEO 5W30 thereafter) the engine break in is still going on, even with about 50K miles. Oil consumption is negligible and really doesn’t change much on the dipstick. I do not have to add any oil in between changes. It always starts quickly and settles into a smooth idle. No perceptible differences since new.
When I first got the car I wondered how long the injectors and glow plugs would hold up, but they are all working perfectly so far. I think I read somewhere that the glow plugs are good for 100K and the injectors are good for 200K. These are most likely jobs I will take on myself and write another DIY for the forum. I would like to do the timing belt myself, but will have to see about that one. I’ve never done one before on a car but I have tensioned a timing belt on a 2.5 Chrysler engine once, and the engine did not self destruct after I was done, so that is a good thing.
My lifetime fuel economy has been right around 41 MPG. This is with June-March ownership. I am sure that will improve slightly over the warmer months. I was getting 42-43 overall in the warm weather and 38-39 overall in the winter. Roughly 10% difference likely due to the blended fuel, snow tires, thicker air, etc.
I have driven the car through some pretty bad weather on multiple occasions and I can safely say that when equipped with Michelin X-Ice XI3 tires, it is fantastically stable and secure in the snow. It also has very good grip and has always been able to make it up my steep unplowed driveway without issue.
A hotly debated topic is engine break in. I drove it like I stole it from day one. WOT, redline and long trip cruise control on. All the taboo “no-no’s” and my engine is just fine. I think oil consumption and power are good indicators of the overall health of an engine, and as mentioned earlier, mine doesn’t really use any oil and has great power.
Is there anything I don’t like about the car? Yes, but really a very minor complaint. This issue goes for all Cruzen instead of a diesel specific characteristic. I find that the front window defroster could have been a bit better designed. It doesn’t get the whole window and the side windows don’t seem to have a way to get good defrosting action. I don’t consider it a major issue as I was always able to get enough visibility to drive safely.
One of my favorite features of the car is the electric heat. It is so nice to be able to get into a very cold car and have meaningful heat after a couple minutes. I use the manual mode to keep the engine at higher RPMs to get it to heat up to operating temp faster. This combined with the heated seats make it very nice to drive in the winter.
In summary, I am very impressed with this car. For what essentially amounts to a completely new powertrain (for the US) and with mine being one of the first off the production line, it’s truly been a flawless execution. To anybody who has any concerns about buying one, I can 100% safely say I would do it all over again and would recommend this car to anybody without hesitation. Yes, some members have reported problems, but they all seem to be minor and there aren’t that many of them. I’ve been active on this forum since I purchased my Cruze and I think the number of reported problems by members can be counted on one hand, which is also very impressive. For a contrast – take a look at the Maserati Ghibli forum. EVERYBODY on that forum has at least a couple issues with their new Ghibli.
And of course, I welcome any questions about my experience so far or if you are wondering about anything I may have forgotten to mention.