Diesel engines are gaining in popularity and vehicle manufacturers are taking notice.
Registrations for diesel cars and sport utility vehicles rose 24 percent in the United States from 2010 through 2012, according to data compiled by R.L. Polk and Co. for the Diesel Technology Forum. Experts are predicting this trend will continue, as American buyers move toward more fuel-efficient vehicles.
What’s most striking about this growth in registrations is the fact that few diesel car and SUV models have been available in the United States. But that’s changing. In August, General Motors announced its plans to add an array of diesel passenger models. General Motors joins manufacturers Volkswagen, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, who have been marketing diesel vehicles for years.
This new generation of diesel is cleaner, quieter and more fuel-efficient than your grandfather’s diesel-powered farm truck. Today’s diesel engines are 20 to 40 percent more fuel efficient than equivalent gasoline engines.
Here are some of the latest diesel-powered models to hit the market.
Volkswagen Golf TDI
Volkswagen, a veteran in the diesel engine industry, is introducing a redesigned version of its popular Golf TDI in 2015. Currently, the Golf TDI gets 30-mpg city/42-mpg highway. But with the new model’s lower weight, six-speed transmission and redesigned engine, it wouldn’t be a surprise if fuel economy improved.
The 2014 Cruze was Chevy’s first diesel passenger vehicle in 28 years. The 2015 model includes new styling that borrows from the Malibu and Impala models, as well as a touch screen and voice-controlled connectivity. The 151 horsepower car gets 27-mpg city/46 highway.
Ram 1500 EcoDiesel V-6
Ram has buyers rejoicing: finally, a light-duty pickup with diesel power. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine boasts 25-mpg highway fuel economy with 9,200 pounds of trailer-towing capacity.
Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec
While diesels are nothing new for Mercedes-Benz, the E250 BlueTec is the most fuel-efficient model in their lineup. The four-cylinder turbodiesel engine carries its own with 195 horsepower and 369 pounds-feet of torque. EPA estimates for the E250 are 24-mpg city and 38-mpg highway, compared with 22/33 for the premium-unleaded-fueled V-6 engine of the E350.
Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel V-6
The 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel puts out 240 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque, the same as the 5.7-liter V-8 model. And the fuel-economy ratings aren’t bad either: 22-mpg city/30 highway. If you want the diesel upgrade, you’re going to pay a bit more though. The diesel engine is only available on the three top Grand Cherokee models and adds $4,500 to the cost of a Limited, Overland or rear-wheel-drive Summit. Add $5,000 for the diesel version of the all-wheel-drive Summit.
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