I recently spent some time touring the GM plant in Oshawa. The GM people were talking about a diesel-powered 2015 Chevrolet Cruze and I took a mental note because my buddy Elvis said this was the vehicle he wanted to buy.
I've only ever owned gas-powered cars, and didn't know much about the benefits of diesel. But I was intrigued and did a little research.
Today, you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate a diesel from a gas-powered vehicle. There’s no smell, with just a soft tick-tick-tick from the engine – you don't even have to warm the glow plugs. In fact, they have more torque than comparable gas engines and are often quieter and smoother running, partly because they operate at a lower rpm than a comparable gas version. That’s on top of getting 30-35 per cent better real-world-driving fuel economy. Any diesels sold in North America must meet emission standards of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the most stringent in the world.
However, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who knows this. Diesels make up about half of all car sales in Europe, but the engine has only a 3 per cent share of the North American market. It still can't shake the perception of being agricultural, and that’s something auto makers are trying to change.
Without a doubt, diesel offers superior fuel economy, but you do pay a premium for the privilege. Depending on how you do the math, you're paying at least $1,500 to $3,900 to move from the gas-powered Cruze to the diesel powered Cruze. The reason for the math discrepancy is the fact GM won't sell you a diesel-powered Cruze without upscale features like heated leather seats. Pity, that. As a guy who still has manual windows in his car, I'm not particularly interested in heated leather seats.
But I am interested in your experience with diesel-powered cars. Have you ever owned one? How were the fuel savings? Was it worth the extra cost for the vehicle?