If you need a luxury SUV with go-anywhere capability, but prefer the greater fuel economy of a diesel engine over a gasoline one, you don’t really have any options in the U.S. market today.
Mercedes-Benz’s M-class and BMW’s X5 are both available with turbo diesel engines, but neither can take you as far off the beaten track as a Land Rover can.
There’s good news on the horizon for fans of both Land Rover and diesel engines; the company has confirmed that it will begin offering diesels here in “the next few years,” which just happens to correspond with the switch from Euro 5 to Euro 6 emission regulations in 2014.
The Euro 6 standard for emission regulations will mirror the requirements already in place by our own EPA, meaning that manufacturers won’t need to make substantial changes to diesel engines for import into the United States.
Land Rover is making the move for two reasons: offering diesel engine options will help the automaker achieve the upcoming Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements, and customers are demanding improved fuel economy, even on luxury vehicles.
The take rate for diesels from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW is roughly 30 percent, so Land Rover should have no trouble in selling diesels on this side of the pond.
The timing may also correspond with the launch of a new Land Rover Defender, based on the DC100 concept shown in Frankfurt and said to be coming in 2015.
The next generation Defender may not have the original’s off-road credentials, but it will be more civilized, more fuel-efficient and easier to live with on a daily basis. The compact platform would work well with Land Rover’s 2.2-liter diesel, already a popular choice in Europe.