Chevy brings back the diesel

It’s been a long time since General Motors tried to sell a diesel-powered car to American customers, and the automaker surely hopes you’ve forgotten that it ever did.

Its slow and smoky V8’s of the 1980’s helped end an era for the fuel in the United States, where it’s only recently been making a comeback among passenger car buyers looking for fuel efficient vehicles.

But GM never stopped making them in Europe, and other parts of the world, and now it’s tapped into all of those years of expertise to bring the Chevrolet Cruze Diesel to the home market.

Introduced today at the Chicago Auto Show, the Cruze Diesel is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that pumps 148 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission that Chevy says should be good for 42 mpg on the highway when it goes on sale later this year for $ 25,695, including delivery and two years of maintenance.

Those numbers put it in the same league as the market-leading Volkswagen Jetta Diesel that it will compete directly against. Perhaps more important, however, is the fact that Chevy also sells the gasoline-powered Cruze Eco, which is also rated at 42 mpg highway, albeit with a manual transmission and less stump-pulling torque, for just $20,490.