The official EPA estimates are in, and while the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze diesel breaks the 50-mpg barrier, there are a few caveats to that number.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel front 3/4 view

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

It's official. The 2018 Chevy Cruze Diesel has broken the 50 mile per gallon barrier according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates. But while that's certainly something to crow about, after taking a closer look it appears that a lot of buyers won't see that number on their window sticker, much less get close to it in real-world driving.

Why? Well for one thing, in order to hit the magic 52-mpg figure, you'll have to order Chevy's compact diesel sedan with a 6-speed manual – a transmission choice that most American buyers tend to shy away from.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel rear 3/4 view

Secondly, that lofty figure is achieved on the highway. Drive it around town and EPA estimates show that you'll only manage 30 miles per gallon, while a combination of the two, also according to the EPA, will net you 37 mpg. That last number is also excellent, especially for a non-hybrid, but it's not that far from an automatic-equipped 2017 Honda Civic (EPA-estimated 36 mpg combined) or a 2017 Hyundai Elantra (an EPA-estimated 35 mpg combined) also equipped with an automatic transmission.

Now let's take a look at a 2017 Cruze Diesel with an automatic transmission.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel steering wheel and instrument panel

According to the EPA, driving one of these will net you an estimated 47 miles per gallon when cruising down the interstate – still excellent for a vehicle without electric assist. In the city, the EPA estimate actually rises – to 31 mpg. But here, both the Civic and the Elantra beat it by 1 mile per gallon. The automatic Cruze Diesel's combined EPA-estimated mileage matches that of the manual version, at 37 mpg, but, again, just 1-2 miles per gallon better than those two rivals.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel front fascia

2017 Cruze Diesel prices

So what it really will come down to is driving habits, convenience, and, of course, value.

Drivers who spend a lot of time on non-congested freeways could save a bunch of money on fuel costs, provided the disparity between gasoline and diesel fuel isn't that much. In addition, that kind of fuel economy also translates into saving time with fewer stops to refuel.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel front seats

The second sticking point, of course, is convenience. While most gas stations now carry diesel fuel (without, we might add, having to line up behind an 18-wheeler), it still isn't a given that every station dispenses it.

Finally, there's the value equation. With a starting price, including destination, of $24,670, the Cruze Diesel has an MSRP that's $5 less than the Civic (hardly a fair comparison as the EX-L features a standard automatic transmission, leather interior and moonroof – all options on the Cruze diesel) and it's also $3,000 more than the Elantra.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel decklid badge and taillight detail