Diesel redux: 2018 BMW 540d sedan certified for US sale (but will it matter?)


2018 BMW 5-Series

2018 BMW 5-Series

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BMW has announced it will resurrect the diesel 5 Series sport sedan, in the form of a 540d model, one year after the introduction of a thoroughly updated 5 Series.

The company says the diesel edition will list for $62,995, including destination, once it arrives at dealerships in February.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the new executive sedan is rated for 26 mpg city, 36 highway, 30 combined in all-wheel-drive form—the only driveline available.

DON'T MISS: For 2018, only 12 diesel vehicles offered in U.S. (guess who has most)

Those numbers might seem a bit low to those who've been eyeballing BMW's plug-in hybrid 5 Series: the 530e.

That comes in two versions, one with xDrive all-wheel drive, rated at 28 mpg combined when operating as a hybrid, and 67 MPGe when running electrically for its 15 miles of range.

The rear-wheel-drive BMW 530e is slightly better, at 29 mpg, 72 MPGe, and 29 mpg combined. It's also cheaper than the diesel, too, by more than $7,000.

2018 BMW 5-Series

2018 BMW 5-Series

Enlarge Photo

Still, for road warriors who rack up copious miles on highway drives, the 540d may be a better choice.

Under light load at highway speeds, modern diesels often return better fuel-economy numbers than their EPA rating.

While specs for the 540d aren't currently available, its 3.0-liter I-6 turbodiesel is expected to offer similar performance to the 530d sold in European markets.

READ MORE: Those fuel-efficient diesels? Actually worse on lifetime CO2, study says

Overseas, the 530d develops 265 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque. It sends that power to its four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The latest addition to BMW's American lineup is its third diesel model for 2018, augmenting the smaller 328d (offered in rear- and all-wheel-drive sedan and all-wheel-drive wagon flavors) and the X5 xDrive 35d SUV.

The 540d will compete with the Jaguar XF diesel, though not directly: The British sedan is powered by a much smaller but much more efficient 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel.

2012 Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel

2012 Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel

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Jaguar-Land Rover also uses that engine in its Jaguar XE sedan, Jaguar F-Pace crossover utility, and Land Rover Velar models.

In total, automakers will sell diesels under 15 separate nameplates in 2018.

Currently, it's General Motors that offers the most diesel models with five separate nameplates: Chevy Cruze, Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain, Chevy Colorado, and GMC Canyon.

While diesel engines are expected to remain a significant part of the mix for pickup trucks and perhaps a smaller proportion of crossover utility vehicles, the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal has rendered their fate in passenger cars unclear.

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