While the demand for U.S. diesel vehicles cannot match that of the overseas market, development and sales of diesel cars, CUVs, and SUVs are taking off in the States as a fuel efficient alternative to hybrid and electric vehicles, although lagging them when it comes to air quality.
The three biggest reasons why diesel automobile sales lag in the US seem to be related to the memory of terrible diesels of the 1970s, the higher cost of diesel fuel (and the engine itself) compared to gasoline, and the clean diesel requirements that make for a much lower number of diesel engines that can pass our strict air quality rules here.
We’ve looked at current and potential diesel models from all the major car manufacturers to track where this promising industry is headed.
New additions to the 2014 lineup include the Audi A8L, Audi Q5, Audi A6, Audi A7, BMW 328d, BMW 535d, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Mercedes E250 BlueTEC, Mercedes ML250 BlueTEC, and Volkswagen Beetle TDI convertible.
Audi offers clean diesel options for sedans and SUVs for the US market.
Audi recently entered the CUV diesel market with its seven-seater sleek Q7. Its 2014 model will be released soon and retains the 2013 TDI engine with a 28 highway mpg average. New features include Xenon headlamps, optional wheel package, paint color, and technological enhancements.
Q5, A6, A7
Audi has also announced plans to roll out Q5, A6, and A7 diesel models for 2014. With the A3 out of the lineup this year, the Q5 is expected to be Audi’s most affordable diesel vehicle. Pricing, performance, and fuel economy details are already out.
Like its German competitors of Volkswagen, Audi and Mercedes, BMW makes a respectable showing of both sedans and SUVs with a clean diesel engine for the US market.
A 328d sedan will be released by the end of the summer as a replacement vehicle for the 335d, discontinued last fall. BMW claims the fuel economy will improve by at least 20% over the 328i automatic. The highway fuel economy may even hit 45, says BMW.
BMW’s only diesel SUV will be redesigned and released in 2014 Q3 and feature a 3.0-L TwinPower Turbo inline-six engine. Estimated mpg is 19/26.
The 2014 5-Series is being redesigned and will offer a 6-cylinder diesel engine option for its 535. Like the 328d, BMW expects significant fuel economy improvement over its 535 gasoline counterpart, but no official ratings are out yet.
735d or 740d
Still undeclared is what model of the 7-Series will get a future diesel nod: the 735 or 740.
BMW may also release a V-6 diesel in its luxury 8-series sedan line in the 2014 year.
Although Cadillac offers diesel engines for the European market, there isn’t anything currently available in a clean diesel for us here, at least for 2014.
This sedan’s diesel engine will only be available to European drivers, despite rumors of a U.S. appearance.
A diesel engine is being considered, perhaps after Cadillac observes how the Audi A6 and BMW 535d luxury sedans fare.
The Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is on the market! Chevy’s website claims it gets the best highway fuel economy of any gasoline or diesel engine car in America: 46 mpg. It goes for around $25,000. Car and Driver has reviewed it. Cnet reviewed it with video.
300 – The 300’s diesel engine future is still uncertain and a decision is unlikely for 2014.
Ram trucks (pickups) continue to dominate this auto manufacturer’s diesel lineup. Rumors of an upcoming Durango diesel model proved to be untrue.
Like Dodge, Ford pickups offer diesel engines, and even the Transit got a diesel engine for 2014. The U.S. diesel car market is still devoid of Ford models, however.
Honda continues to release new diesel cars overseas, but none yet in the U.S. market.
Still no U.S. diesel models from Hyundai, who has already established itself as one of the most fuel-efficient automakers in America. They do offer diesel outside the US.
XF – Details of the 2014 ECO2 engine (fuel economy has been rumored to be around 48 mpg) have surfaced, but the sedan has not yet been incorporated into the existing XF lineup, which has itself been slightly redesigned. Here is some coverage of Jaguar’s potential plans.
Grand Cherokee – Yet another version of the Grand Cherokee is available. This newest trim offers a 6-cylinder, 240-hp EcoDiesel that gets about 22/30 mpg.
Wrangler – If the Grand Cherokee does well, the Wrangler might be the next model to receive a diesel engine.
Land Rover Diesels
Land Rover is still considering a U.S. diesel but there are no solid plans.
Lexus appears to be getting away from diesel engines overseas, and has no plans to bring a clean diesel engine into the US market. For Toyota / Lexus, hybrid is the direction that they have committed to.
Mazda’s SkyActiv-D engine has its own informational webpage, and the Mazda 6 will be the first clean diesel Mazda available in the USA market. Car and Driver has already test driven the car, giving it a good review. We covered this vehicle in great detail earlier on our site here, and are very excited to see it. This car won the Grand-Am Brickyard Grand Prix, for the GX class, after having won five of the eight races it has so far been entered. It is the first diesel car to win.
Most of the diesel cars available in the US market come from Germany, and Mercedes offers a good selection of SUVs and sedans with a clean diesel engine.
The 2014 SUV gets a new exterior, interior, and increased fuel efficiency of 24/33.
Completely redesigned with improved fuel economy (19/26) over the 2012 SUV model.
This S-class diesel sedan has a 3.0L turbodiesel V-6 with 240-hp and gets 21/31 mpg.
The same S-class diesel engine is featured in this SUV, which gets 20/28 mpg.
Not offered in 2014 are the R350 BlueTEC or E350 BlueTEC. Instead, await a 2014 4-cylinder E250 BlueTEC sedan to replace the 6-cylinder E350. Similarly, a 4-cylinder ML250 BlueTEC SUV will also replace the 6-cylinder ML350.
U.S. drivers have requested MINI diesels for years, and MINI has finally expressed genuine interest in bringing one to the States—albeit with a completely different MINI design. We’ll see if we really get one over here or not.
As reported last year, Mitsubishi execs plan to bring a diesel hybrid Evo XI sports car to the U.S. lineup for 2014, but no release date has been confirmed yet. Sounds like another one that won’t actually make it here to us.
Released last year, the Cayenne continues to be Porsche’s only available US diesel — an SUV. The V-6 Cayenne gets an impressive 29 mpg highway.
Rumored is a 2.0L diesel engine in the upcoming 2015 Cajun SUV model.
There is virtually no chatter about bringing diesel models to the U.S. No surprise, as Toyota / Lexus / Scion is committed to hybrid cars and SUVs instead.
With its successful hybrid Prius family, there appears to be no room for diesels in the U.S. Toyota lineup within the next few years, even among its pickups. In the past, there was talk of Toyota gearing up its diesel offerings. But now it appears to have put diesels aside.
Volkswagen is doing great things with high mileage, clean diesel engines in the US market. They sell the most diesels in the US. For 2014, they continue to expand their number of offerings with sedans, wagons, hatchbacks, Beetles, and an SUV.
The Passat is unchanged from last year and gets 31/43 mpg, but the 2015 will come with a bi-turbo TDI engine. Expect that release in mid-2014.
An upcoming version of the Golf TDI has been redesigned to be slightly larger but also lighter. The U.S. powertrain version has not yet been announced, but the current model gets 30/42 mpg. No word yet on when it will reach dealerships, but likely during the first half of 2014, like the Passat, and will be a 2015 model.
Jetta SportsWagen TDI
The newest SportsWagen will become, literally, a Golf Variant, likely a 2015 model. The new SportsWagen/Variant will have a 108-hp engine, nearly identical exterior dimensions, but increased cargo space by up to 20%. The current model offers 30/42 mpg.
The most fuel efficient TDI is the Jetta, which currently gets 30/42 mpg. The 2014 model is receiving some upgrades such as technology, handling, and an updated engine that offers 8 more horsepower and has a highway mpg of 43.
Newly released for 2013, the Beetle TDI gets 28/41 mpg with its 2.0L, 140-hp Clean Diesel engine.
New to the Volkswagen TDI lineup is a Beetle convertible. It offers the same 28/41 Beetle TDI fuel efficiency rating and 2.0L, 140-hp engine. Look for a 2014 R-Line trim that boasts both interior and exterior cosmetic enhancements, but no performance improvements.
The only Volkswagen TDI SUV, the Touareg packs 225-hp in its 3.0L V6 and gets 20/29 mpg. An R-Line trim is also forthcoming in 2014. A 2015 version has been spotted and may feature redesigned bumpers, grills, or lights, but no word on performance upgrades or fuel efficiency improvements. Rumors say the 2015 version will be released in the fall of 2014.
This fall, keep your eyes out for the 2014 Volkswagen GTI turbo-diesel to hit dealerships. The GTI is a sporty variation of the Golf with a three-door model, five-door model, and possible cabriolet down the road.
In the fall of 2013, Volvo plans to once again release 4-cylinders in the U.S., hinting at a desire to provide more fuel-efficient vehicles. They haven’t ruled out an American diesel option, either.
Other USA Diesel Articles and Coverage
US News covers US diesel cars and acknowledges that they definitely save fuel, but questions whether or not they actually save money overall.
MSN covers 5 diesel cars that you can buy in the US, along with 5 other models that you can only get outside the United States.
Green Car Reports does a similar post each year about available diesel cars and trucks in the US market.
Forbes writes that diesel ownership in the USA is way up, but still just a tiny fraction of overall US car sales.
The US Department of Energy covers diesels at fueleconomy.gov.
Edmunds offers a good buyer’s guide to diesel cars.
Diesel Power also offers a buyer’s guide.
Auto Guide covers the diesel car scene fairly regularly.
Do you own a diesel? Are you considering one of these? Is there anything we left out? Let us know in the comments!