2013 Audi TDI rangeEnlarge Photo
The latest generation of diesels are significantly cleaner than their older brethren, with particulate filters and urea injection reducing harmful emissions. And, the economy and performance of modern diesels often beats their gasoline equivalents, while strong torque and low noise make them more relaxing to drive too.
As gas prices increase, diesel sales are steadily rising as more and more consumers make the switch to reduce their fuel bills.
Below is the GreenCarReports guide to every 2014 and 2015 model year diesel car on sale in the U.S. We've updated the article to take account of some of the latest models.
Audi has launched a diesel offensive in the U.S, which will continue to roll out over the next few years. On the EPA's Fueleconomy.gov website Audi diesel models are curiously absent--until you reach the luxury A6 and A7 models--but rest assured, the choice will soon be very wide indeed.
Of these, it's the 2015 A3 TDI set to top the economy charts. EPA figures haven't landed yet, but an early drive in the sedan variant suggests VW and Audi's new engine performs very well and should return great highway economy.
At the moment, Audi's 2015 A6 and A7 TDI return identical economy figures: 29 mpg combined, 24 mpg city and 38 mpg highway from their 3.0-liter V-6 TDI engines. The larger A8L TDI drops 1 mpg overall and 2 mpg on the highway, but otherwise matches its smaller brethren. Audi also offers diesel power--the same V-6 unit--in the Q5 and Q7 SUVs, with 27 and 22 mpg combined figures respectively.
BMW is kind to its diesel fans, offering a diesel engine in its 3-Series, 5-Series, 7-Series, X3 and X5 model lines.
The first of these, the 2014 BMW 328d, is actually the most fuel-efficient diesel of any sort currently on sale in the U.S. It's officially rated at 37 mpg combined (32 mpg city, 45 mpg highway) by the EPA, figures that only drop by 2 mpg if you opt for the all-wheel drive xDrive model, or its Sport Wagon counterpart.
Move up to the powerful 535d and you'll achieve 30 mpg combined (26 mpg city, 38 mpg highway). The X3 xDrive28d matches that combined figure, gains 1 mpg in the city and loses 4 mpg highway. The larger X5 xDrive35d reaches 26 mpg combined (23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway), numbers matched all-round by the 740Ld xDrive.
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, 2013 Chicago Auto Show [photo: Brian Kersey for Chevrolet]
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, 2013 Chicago Auto Show [photo: Brian Kersey for Chevrolet]Enlarge Photo
To its credit, Chevy was one of the first U.S. automakers to realize the value of a diesel-powered compact car, releasing the Cruze diesel a few years back. The 2.0-liter diesel punches out 148 horsepower, and drivers will stir a six-speed manual gearbox to reach 60 mph in 8.6 seconds--quicker than the VW Jetta diesel.
Economy just misses out on the Jetta TDI though, overall at least--33 mpg combined, 27 mpg city and 46 mpg highway makes it less efficient in city driving and overall, but it's actually a top-performer on the highway. Considering it's also automatic transmission only, its economy--and its $25,810 price--doesn't seem too bad. You can read more at our Cruze Diesel Ultimate Guide.
U.S. automakers are really getting on the diesel bandwagon. First there was the Chevrolet Cruze Diesel, as above, and then came news of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel.
The 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel puts out 240 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque, more than up to the challenge of towing or off-road use. Official economy figures aren't too bad at all--25 mpg combined, 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway for the two-wheel drive version, while the four-wheel drive manages 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway).
Further good news? If demand is there for the Grand Cherokee, even the Wrangler could get a diesel engine.