Chevrolet Dodges a Dieselgate as Judge Finds No Evidence of Cruze Diesel Software Tampering

Even Chevrolet vehicles that have been discontinued in the U.S. are still massively popular. Everyone remembers the legendary and reliable Chevy Impala, but the Chevy Cruze was also an excellent sedan for its time. It was even available with a turbodiesel engine that got fantastic gas mileage.

This is the reason people have started talking about the Cruze again, despite its cancellation years ago. GM Authority reports that the Chevy Cruze almost had its own Dieselgate, but the situation seems to be resolved. Why did the Chevy Cruze cause enough controversy to warrant a lawsuit?

All about the deceased Chevy Cruze

The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze with a turbo-diesel engine
The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze | Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Chevrolet Cruze was first released for the 2011 model year, available with just one engine. A turbodiesel was optional for the 2014 and 2015 Chevy Cruze, though it was removed for the 2016 redesign. This engine was reintroduced for the 2017 model year but wasn’t able to be paired with the hatchback until 2018.

The Chevy Cruze came standard with a fairly peppy turbo-four capable of 153 horsepower for its final model year. It was paired with a traditionally engaging six-speed manual, but Car and Driver said it actually proved a detriment. Editors were more impressed with the available turbodiesel, making less horsepower but getting an automatic nine-speed transmission. 

The turbodiesel naturally has a deeper growl than the turbo-four engine, but Car and Driver says it behaves itself on the highway. The turbodiesel Cruze is all bark and no bite, so don’t expect overly sporty maneuvering. Still, the Chevy Cruze has a supple ride and responsive steering no matter which engine it has.

The Chevy Cruze diesel model also excels in gas mileage, rated for up to 31/48 mpg for city/highway driving. Car and Driver managed to get 52 mpg on the highway, four points above its EPA rating. In contrast, the Cruze’s standard engine actually fell short of its EPA estimate.

The Chevy Cruze diesel lawsuit is officially closed

In 2016, a lawsuit was filed against Chevy alleging that Cruze diesel models from 2014 and 2015 were equipped with “defeat devices.” This is software that can temporarily limit a car’s emissions while it’s pushed through EPA testing. General Motors was fully compliant with the case officials, allowing the lawsuit to enter the discovery phase.

Even after years of investigations, the judge could find no evidence that GM had engaged in any illegal activity. A single Cruze was found to have subpar emissions, and one plaintiff’s attorney owned it. It seems to be either an isolated incident or an elaborate attempt to get money from GM.

While the case is dismissed now, it was a fairly big deal years ago. Premium diesel fuel isn’t cheap, so many consumers rightfully felt cheated after buying the car. Plus, many environmentally-conscious buyers were upset thinking about how many tons of C02 they helped produce with a supposedly cleaner vehicle.

Despite the Cruze’s bad press, the diesel engine reportedly didn’t play a part in its demise. According to Detroit News, Chevy wanted to shift away from the compact car segment and focus on bigger SUVs. That’s also why the Chevy Sonic, an even smaller vehicle mainly popular for its budget-friendly price tag, was discontinued.

What even was “Dieselgate” anyway?

In 2014, the EPA discovered that 482,000 Volkswagen models across its entire lineup were outfitted with defeat devices. According to the BBC, this allowed the cars to produce 40 times more pollutants than permitted by environmental officials. This scandal was dubbed Dieselgate. VW later confessed that as many as 11 million cars worldwide were affected. The Chevy Cruze is a fine little sedan, especially with the turbodiesel, so we’re glad its reputation has been restored.

RELATED: Lawsuit Settled: Volkswagen Paid Its Dieselgate Victims More than $9 Billion