For five days in the sun, the night and the rain at speeds up to 68 mph, I've done highway, I've done residential and I've done stop-and-go traffic for 500 miles in my Cruze Diesel. Ive also driven it back-to-back with my DTS.
Here are my impressions:
The Cruze Diesel is comfortable and capable. It is fun to drive. It has an abundance of power. The torque is readily apparent.
The engine's torque seems to come on about half-way through second gear, then drop down at the beginning of third then continue strong for the rest of third all the way through sixth. I presume this is the engine being torque managed.
It is VERY quiet at highway speeds. But at speeds of up to 35 mph with the radio turned off or set to 10 the engine sound is noticeable. It is a diesel sound reminiscent of the medium-sized John Deere that does my snow; although many magnitudes quieter, but nonetheless still there. Gasoline engines also have a sound - but it is a sound that I've heard all of my driving life. So the diesel sounds are more noticeable to me at this time.
It is very fuel efficient as we already know from the 15 listed on Fuelly.
I've had complaints from rear passengers that the Pioneer speakers on the parcel shelf are unpleasant to listen to at any volume above 12. Overall from the front seats the Pioneer system is decent but not as pleasing as the DTS's Bose.
The tires are not as grippy in the corners as either the Eagle RS-A on my departed Tahoe or the Michelin MXV4 Plus on the DTS. This may also be a factor of the electric power steering which so far I do not find objectionable.
The Z-link rear suspension is noticeable and a positive contribution to the driving experience when cornering over bumpy road. The shorter wheelbase of the Cruze makes it feel more direct and reactive to drive than my DTS but also has given me a slight feeling of twitchiness once or twice.
One odd thing about my Cruze Diesel is that it does not have a shaded windshield. When I say shaded, I mean the top four inches of the windshield in a deep blue tint. It feels like the only car I've ever driven without this shaded portion above the AS|1 mark.
By comparison my DTS feels more refined - but it did cost about twice as much: The seats are softer. The switch gear operates smoother. It has Rainsense wipers and Lane Departure Warning, better audio, HIDs and Intelibeam. It is understandably more luxurious and should be for the price premium. But these differences are incremental improvements from the driver's seat. They are not night and day differences. And they may not be noticed or appreciated by all drivers.
On a 1 - 10 scale I have to say that the Cruze Diesel is so far an 8. It could go higher but I need to get it through a winter to be able to more fully assess its capabilities.
So after five days and 500 miles I am pleased with my purchase decision.