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Cars That Should Get Diesel Engines In The U.S., Now!

 
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2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel, 2012 New York Auto Show

2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel, 2012 New York Auto Show

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If diesel is your fuel of choice for high gas mileage, then you might be a little disappointed with the limited selection of vehicles available.

Certainly, the U.S. lags behind Europe as far as choice of diesels is confirmed, but there seem to be some glaring omissions in North America's diesel market.

We've narrowed down a list of cars and trucks that really should get an economical diesel option--but we're sure you can think of even more.

Sedans

A logical starting point for the diesel sedan market--vehicles to rival the class-leading Volkswagen Jetta TDI--would be the new Dodge Dart.

Based on Europe's Alfa Romeo Giulietta and already sharing its efficient 1.4-liter gasoline MultiAir turbocharged engine, Dodge could also adopt the Alfa's diesel engines. They're around 15 percent more economical than the 1.4 judged on European fuel consumption figures, so you could be looking at as much as 45 mpg highway and high 30s combined--better than the Dodge Dart Aero.

Since we already know the Chevrolet Cruze is set to get a diesel engine, why not offer the Malibu a similar option? We're sure buyers of the bigger car would appreciate the improvements in economy just as much as Cruze buyers will.

Premium vehicles

Diesel versions of premium and luxury sedans actually work much better than you'd think. With modern, smooth and quiet diesels, most of the disadvantages of previous diesels have evaporated, while strong torque ensures they perform as well as their gasoline counterparts.

The German makers are specialists at diesel, so the Audi A4 and A6, BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class should definitely get diesel options. The Audis get 2.0-liter units similar to those found in TDI Volkswagens, but generally offered with more power--170 horsepower is the norm. Europe's Audi A6 is also supplied with a powerful and creamy-smooth 3.0-liter V6 diesel, with a combination of power and economy that U.S. buyers would kill for.

Mercedes-Benz has already comitted to putting its 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel in the GLK crossover, and the C-Class seems like a natural fit--particularly since it already has the option in Europe. BMW too offers diesel 5-Series, from the ultra-economical 520d EcoDynamics (there are some on BMW's Olympic fleet), to the hugely fast M550d xDrive, with 375 horsepower. That would certainly be enough to turn U.S. buyers on to diesel...

Trucks, SUVs and crossovers

Heavy-duty trucks are often offered with diesel options for drivers who really need to haul, so why not offer smaller, more economical options for vehicles like the Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, Dodge Ram and Ford F-150? Hybrids and Ecoboost versions are great, but we think diesel's highway capabilities would really help some drivers save money.

Other vehicles would suit diesel too. A diesel version of Toyota's retro FJ Cruiser would score big butch-points for the rock-crawling brigade, and the same could be said of the Jeep Wrangler. This car already gets a diesel over in Europe, and  the Grand Cherokee will be supplied as a diesel--so there's little excuse.

If Ford put a diesel in the F-150, then it'd also make sense to chuck it in the Explorer. And with Mercedes already set to offer diesel in the 2013 GLK, we can't imagine it'll be too long before Audi equips the Q5 with an efficient TDI, and BMW does the same with its mid-range X3 crossover.

Others

We've got plenty above to keep us dreaming, but there are almost certainly some we're missing. We're certainly tempted by cars like the Smart ForTwo Cdi, a car we tested a few years back, and achieved an easy 60 miles per gallon. Okay, so it only has 54 horsepower, but with that sort of economy it's certainly more tempting than a gasoline-powered Smart.

Ford also does an "Econetic" Fiesta in Europe, with great fuel economy and low emissions--but perhaps Ford's own 1.0-liter 3-cylinder would make that model redundant.

Can you think of any more? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Comments (25)
  1. Totally agree that diesels make sense in trucks & SUVs. In addition to their better efficiency, diesels are great at towing.

    C'mon Toyota, you sell boatloads of small diesel pickups worldwide -- bring them to America.
     
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  2. clean diesel add significant cost to the car. Almost as much as a hybrid.

    Also, most diesels productio are geeared towards industrial use. You can NOT switch oil to all diesel from gas. Gas and diesel are both the product of oil.
     
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  3. While it's true that Diesel is produced in the initial fractional distillation of Crude Oil along with Gasoline, Kerosene, etc - It's also true that the denser distillates can and are cracked into lighter fluids, therefore Diesel can be made into Gasoline.
    If the US used a more balanced mix of Diesel and Gasoline fuels, we wouldn't have to expend as much energy in the Cracking process, thereby making more efficient use of the Crude distillates.
     
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  4. That is true. But if most people switch to diesel, then we WILL have a shortage of diesel as industrial usage still dominates. The price of diesel will also go up as a result of that as well.
     
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  5. if 1/3 of the US switched to Diesel we could end our dependance on foreign oil.
     
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  6. @Mike: Does diesel fuel not come from oil? Or are you saying that the improvement in fuel efficiency would save a volume of oil equal to the percent we import?

    As you may know, U.S. gasoline consumption peaked six years ago and is projected to fall pretty much continuously into the future:
    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1052787_u-s-gasoline-usage-peaked-in-2006-will-plummet-in-future
     
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  7. I own a 2012 Golf TDI, manual trans and get better mileage than a hybrid. It's quick and I'm getting 35mpg city and just took a 650 mile trip on a single tank of fuel @ 52mph overall. you have to be a fool to own a hybrid and not a clean diesel, forgot the cost. Just sayin...
     
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  8. When you drive in your "quick" mode, you won't be getting the same mpg as your 650 mile trip. As clean as your so called "clean" diesel goes, it is still way dirtier than a typical hybrid. Diesel also cost as much as Premium fuel in California.
     
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  9. EPA figures Prius Hybrid,city 51mpg,Hwy48mpg...Golf TDI, city 30mpg,Hwy42 mpg. Yes they can both be improved upon and have just visited a VW forum where one of the top MPG figures was 97 but the guy drove half of a 38 mile trip down a mountain! Go Figure whose the fool now.
     
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  10. I have two 2008 Prius, one for me one for the wife. My commute is over 100 miles a day with a pretty good variety of side streets, freeways and big SoCal hills.

    50MPG just about every tank.
     
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  11. start saving up when you have to replace 2 batteries!
     
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  12. If we are looking toward future renewable fuels there are far more ways to make diesel biofuels than gasoline. I believe diesel engines were designed to run on peanut oil. Many of these biofuels require minimal(if any) modifications to diesel engines. This is not true for ethanol, cng or any gasoline alternative fuels. Even without "clean" diesel tech it's generally cleaner per mile than gasoline(for some reason it's normally compared per gallon).
     
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  13. There are more comments in this thread
  14. I am sure that the Chevy Cruze Diesel will change the perception of "small" diesel vehicles in the USA. Chevy will not be able to keep up with demand.

    A Cruze will deliver economy in everyday use equal to that of a prius at 80% of the MSRP.

    The only issue then will be what do the Refineries do with all the excess Gasoline capacity, which I think is main reason Diesels have not had the push in the USA that they have had in the rest of the world.

    The Oil business will adapt like it has always done in the past.
     
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  15. @Jeremy: The MSRP of a 2012 Toyota Prius starts at $24,000. If you have info that the 2014 Cruze Diesel will be priced at $19,200 or less, please forward it to me at john (at) highgearmedia (dot) com. I'm not aware that Chevy has said anything about pricing this long before the intro. And, frankly, I doubt it will be that low--though we'll see.
     
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  16. you are not including the government tax credit for the prius, add the $7500 back and the overall livetime cost of the maintenance of the prius. look at all the numbers and then only a fool would buy a trendy prius.
     
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  17. @Mike: The standard 2012 Toyota Prius receives no tax credit. Those were used up long ago. The base price of a standard 2012 Toyota Prius is $24,000--and I note Jeremy has not provided the info I asked for, which is a shame.
     
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  18. I was under the impression that larger diesels required a urea tank that had to be filled every so many thousand miles. I'm not sure most Americans are ready for that yet, which is why only tiny diesels under 2.0L are being proposed.
     
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  19. @Ben: Diesels are sold in the U.S. with the 'AdBlue' or 'BlueTEC' urea tank by Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and others. VW still has some models (e.g. Jetta TDI) that just squeak by the current emissions regs without using AdBlue.
     
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  20. Good reason for a rest stop but it better be behind some bushes.:)
     
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  21. Diesel is not the answer because of the particulates and other emissions.Think about it...would you rather be stuck in a garage with a running diesel, a running gas motor, or an electric vehicle?

    A diesel engine puts out about 500 times more fine particulates than equivalent gas engines. Particulates kill millions of people a year worldwide, and it's the health issue of the decade according to UN and WHO.

    Why support the "die sell"? We have much better options now.
    (example google "thorium cadillac")
    It's time to stop the burning altogether.
     
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  22. Modern clean diesels are VERY clean. Look around for the video of the Ford F350 that was measured to emit cleaner air from the tail pipe than the air common to the Los Angeles basin. It actually cleans the air.
     
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  23. Actually, I idle my Golf TDI in the garage all of the time... Can't smell a thing...but my head starts to spin and I get lightheaded. New diesels have to pass California emissions laws that don't distinguish between gasoline and diesel cars. They are just as clean as gas cars and e- cars (Unless you have your roof covered with solar panels, use geothermal heat piped out of your back yard to run a turbine, ride a stationary bike with a generator on it, and convert your kids' xBox dance pad into a piezoelectric generator, your e- car DOES create harmful emissions.)
     
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  24. Ecoboost gives drivers the fuel economy advantages of diesel, with the convenience and availability of spark-ignition fuels (pretty much everything from butane, LPG, natural gas and propane to ethanol blends and gasoline).

    Yeah, hydrogen and methanol are out because each is too chemically aggressive, but the adaptability of the Ecoboost system for flexible fueling has hardly been tapped.

    With modern electronic controls, it may be possible to construct a diesel able to burn ethanol or E85, but only at extremely-reduced power levels, at the added costs of both efficiency and longevity.

    Even at minimized power levels, straight gasoline would ruin the rings, etc. in (at most) hundreds of miles. Diesel isn't available everywhere.
     
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  25. Ecoboost F150 gets the same mpg as older V8 Models. No Actual improvement. Ford has an Amazing!!! marketing campaign
     
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