Diesel has taken quite some time to catch on in the U.S, but several manufacturers are finally seeing the potential of compression ignition--and the range of available cars is increasing.

That's good news for buyers wanting to eke out the most miles to every gallon, particularly on long, steady trips.

But who will win the diesel war over the next year, now that significant models have started to hit the market?

The first of the challengers has to be Chevy, not least because its Cruze Diesel has bumped Volkswagen off its perch by offering the highest-mpg diesel available.

Its 46 mpg EPA highway rating puts the Cruze 4 mpg above the Volkswagen Jetta TDI on that particular metric--while offering an automatic transmission as standard.

Even the manual Jetta, traditionally the best way to get maximum mpg, doesn't reach the Chevy's figures. Though it has to be said, Jetta drivers seem to have little trouble beating that car's EPA estimates, and there's a chance Chevy drivers will do likewise.

Don't forget the Volkswagen Beetle TDI either--same engine as the Jetta, but in a more carefree package. It drops only 1 mpg on the highway to its more conventional cousins.

Between coupe and convertible, is the Beetle the most stylish way to get high gas mileage on the market?

The Volkswagen group does have an ace up its sleeve, however. In fact, two aces--both based on the same platform. The 2015 Volkswagen Golf and 2015 Audi A3 sedan will both offer diesel options, and both utilize an all-new unit that should best the current versions of each.

All those diesel sedans are worthy contenders, but Chrysler could also have a sales success on its hands when the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Ecodiesel arrives.

The headline figures here are 28 mpg highway--comfortably better than typical gasoline equivalents--and 420 pounds-feet of torque from the 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine. Will it take the SUV market by storm?

Ah, but there's one diesel contender we haven't yet mentioned. A dark horse, if you will.

Due on sale shortly, the 2014 Mazda 6 diesel, with its 2.2-liter diesel engine, should develop upwards of 170 horsepower and return a highway figure in the 40s.

And if Mazda's recent products are anything to go on, it should be fun to drive too.

So which of the diesel contenders listed above are you most excited about? And are there any others you're eager to try?


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.