What are the changes that transform a gas Cruze into a diesel model?
Let's start with the engine itself. Chevrolet installs the Italian-designed, German-built "2.0 TD" diesel engine into the Cruze body going down the line at the Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant. Shipped with it are a number of Opel European parts found under hood, such as the hulking battery which looks nearly large enough to power a hybrid.
Starting the Cruze can be done one of 3 ways: Via the switchblade-style key inserted into the steering column (no push-button start is offered), the innovative OnStar Remote Link Mobile App (which also offered a slew of other nifty features such as remote door lock and diagnostic information), or the handy-dandy Remote Start button on the key fob.
The cars instrumentation cluster has 2 new indicators for diesel drivers. There's the "Glow Plug" light that resembles a horizontal spring. In Winter the glow plugs heat the engine cylinders so combustion can occur, and you must wait a few short seconds until the light goes out before starting the car (the Remote Start would wait that amount of time for you). The second indicator looks a little more puzzling, located above the speedo needle's base that combines drops of water, a pool below, and a sideways VW Beetle on stilts - the low "Diesel Exhust Fluid (DEF)" indicator. If the warning light is not enough the Driver Information Centre (DIC) also has a digitial display with the condition of the level of DEF in the tank too. I'll talk about DEF more in a minute.
As you can hear in the video, once started Cruze has that familiar muted diesel clatter at idle. Others may disagree but It's a sound I really quite like, a bit of music to my ears, adding that extra bit of 'character' to the car. As I mentioned earlier the interior is pretty quiet, so with the windows up it's less noticeable and at speed the engine barely makes itself known.
Anyone who's owned an older diesel vehicle knows that heating the cabin in freezing Winter temperatures is an exercise in futility, matched only by the fortitude (or lack of nerve endings) it takes to drive with gloves and hat on, breath visible in the air, looking through a tiny hole in the scraped windshield (which won't defrost because the heat out of the vents isn't warm enough) until the car is driven far enough to warm it up in the sake of fuel economy. I know because that's been me, resisting the temptation to use the windshield washer fluid that freezes on contact and praising the heated seats warming my core.
Thankfully diesel cars have come a long way in recent years and Cruze Diesel has a standard auxiliary electric heater so that when the vehicle is started remotely there's a chance it can actually warm the cabin and start to defrost the cabin some.
When it's time to refuel the car the fuel gauge on the instrument cluster reminds you to use "Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel Fuel Only", as does the gas flap and the gas cap itself is green marked "Diesel". If you miss all three - as many unfamiliar with or borrowing the car might do, Chevy may need to resort to what Volkswagen is now doing by creating a contraption that restricts smaller gasoline fuel station nossles from entering the tank. Running a diesel engine on any amount of gasoline is a recipe for catastrophic engine disaster, which isn't covered by warranty. Luckily in my experience finding fuel stations that carry diesel is becoming less and less of a issue, so that concern shouldn't factor into whether to purchase a diesel vehicle or not.
On the plus side Cruze Diesel is rated to run on B20 BioDiesel, should that be available in your area.
The final obvious difference an owner must be aware of between a gasoline and diesel Cruze is the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) system. DEF is also known as urea, and marketed as AdBlue by European carmakers. It should be noted Volkswagen's Beetle, Golf, and Jetta compact TDI models don't use DEF, and instead rely on a "regenerative" exhaust aftertreatment system that uses some diesel and precious metals to effectively burn-off particulates. The Cruze's DEF tank holds a capacity of about 17.5L and under normal driving conditions should well exceed 16,000 kms before it needs to be refilled, so it's something the dealer would look after when oil changes are completed.
The tank itself is housed under the rear cargo area, taking up residence where the spare tire usually is. To refill the DEF tank, simply lift the floor carpet of the cargo area, unscrew the DEF reservoir, and pour in.
As for other maintenance, the timing belt and tensioner should be serviced every 160,000 kms and the water separation system has a sensor that reports when it's full and requires draining.
All in all, there are some unique diesel-only specifications and instructions owners should be aware of, but nothing overly complicated, worrisome, or excessive.