Editor’s note: This is the second part in a two-part series.
Day 4: Windsor to Pismo Beach
Leaving Windsor in the beautiful California wine country we encountered or first real traffic with the thousands of commuters, usually one to a car, headed south over the Golden Gate in to the city.
After the bridge we hit a quick right and followed the famous 49-Mile Drive through San Francisco toward the Great Highway that runs along the beach. Then we connected with Highway 1 south toward Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz before stopping to have lunch with Barbara’s sister in Aptos.
So far the Chevy Cruze is impressive. The seats are especially comfortable, which we appreciate because of number of hours we are spending in them each day. Barbara is a big fan of heated leather seats which are standard in the Diesel Cruze -- she gave them a good workout and she said it helped keep her from getting ‘fanny fatigue.’ The Cruze handles well with no harshness. There’s a little body roll on faster corners, but overall it has a very stable, balanced ride.
By mid-afternoon we are soaking in the Big Sur scenery. Although we’ve probably driven this road a 100 times it’s been eight or ten years since we were here last and it’s still breath-taking. The narrow windy road cut into the edge of the cliffs also slows down many drivers who seem to be afraid of the heights or simply enjoying the scenery. This means we had to make lot of quick passes, when the broken lines appeared. The passing takes a bite out of the fuel economy, too, dropping the average on the trip computer in the 42 mpg range.
Inside you don’t hear the engine except when pushing it hard. Outside it definitely has a diesel clatter, but it’s not much louder than a four-cylinder gas engine. Bottom line, we’d buy the diesel.
As with earlier parts of the trip, there was plenty of road construction and flaggers, allowing lots of extra time to look around.
We started to notice, that our endurance was starting to decline, and we were more tired at the end of the day.
Day 5: Pismo Beach to San Diego
We probably go to Southern California four, six or eight times a year between occasional personal trips and to new car introductions, but we can never get used to the mass of traffic moving at high speeds over four to eight lanes of freeways.
By the end of our road trip, we’ve covered exactly 2,000 miles, of course that’s driving from home to our start near the Canadian border to the Mexican border and then back to Los Angeles airport where we dropped the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel and then flew back to Portland, Ore. We used 46.3 gallons in four fills making the final fuel economy 43.2 mpg. That’s very good considering we tried to stay close to the speed of traffic, which always seemed to be five to 10 mph over the speed limit. Plus there was much more stop and go then we expected. The EPA estimates the Cruze Diesel fuel economy at 27 mpg city, 46 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined, so we actually did quite well.
The Cruze is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel with a six-speed automatic transmission. This is the cleanest diesel engine General Motors has ever built – it generates 90 percent less Nitrogen Oxide and particulate emissions than previous diesel engines. The engine is rated at 151-hp and 264-lb.ft. or torque. The Diesel also has a longer five-year 100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, and a two-year maintenance plan that includes oil changes, tire rotation and diesel exhaust fluid top-offs. The DEF is Urea, which is injected into the exhaust system to make a final cleaning of the exhaust.
The Cruze comes in five gasoline-powered trim levels, with pricing ranging from $18,080, including the destination charge for the LS up to $24,615 for the LTZ. The Diesel is the sixth trim level of the Cruze lineup rather than the diesel being a standalone vehicle with various models trim levels of its own. The Diesel is priced at $25,695 and includes approximately the same equipment as the 2LT model, which includes features like leather seating, remote start, heated front seats, the normal power equipment, OnStar, cruise control, the Chevrolet MyLink communications and audio system with XM radio.
No navigation system in our Chevy Cruze meant we used our own Magellan system, which works well, but certainly isn’t as convenient as a built-in system. One other piece of equipment we used for the trip was a Cobra iRadar detector which links by Bluetooth to Bill’s Android phone. The radar detector wasn’t necessary because we stayed close to the posted speeds, but it’s nice to have some warning in the event speeds strayed into the danger zone.
The Diesel trim also adds some features to improve fuel economy like an aero performance package with lower front grill air shutter, mid-body aeropanels, front fascia air dam and rear spoiler.
In San Diego, we stayed at the new Worldmark in the Park hotel, which is one of the newest properties in our timeshare collection. This is a beautiful hotel, which has been remodeled recently and is one of the nicest Worldmark properties we stayed in…we plan to go back for a longer visit.
With our flight home already booked, we didn’t have a lot of tourist time, but we did do a bit of sightseeing and even finished the jaunt to the Mexican border on the Tijuana Trolley. We also saw the Midway aircraft carrier, the life-size sculpture of Bob Hope entertaining the troupes and the giant statue replicating Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photo of the sailor kissing the nurse in Time Square.
Of course, every trip to California includes a stop at In-N-Out Burgers, too.
By the time we arrived home we’d completed a Trains, Planes and Automobiles adventure, with much less struggle than Steve Martin and John Candy experienced in the 1987 movie by that name.