2012 Diesel Cars in USA: Here’s the Lineup

2012 Volkswagan Passat Diesel
2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI courtesy of VW.com

Update: Our 2013 Diesel Cars in the USA article is now available!

In the market for a vehicle and thinking about buying a new diesel car in 2012? It’s an idea worth considering.

From images of long-haul trucking, to nightmares of sitting in the back of a grandparent’s noxious Olds vista cruiser diesel, Americans haven’t shown too much interest in diesel cars in the past. Yet with the economy still in the doldrums, and gas prices rising faster than an express elevator, diesel cars are suddenly getting a lot more attention.

The good news is that many of the world’s manufacturers make great diesel products. The bad news is that lack of domestic demand and tightening budgets mean that few have been certified for sale in the U.S. The EPA has more stringent requirements than Europe does for controlling NOx – Nitric Oxide, the key compound that produces smog. The technology to meet these standards exists, but it’s expensive (to develop, manufacture and certify), which is why many of the diesels you see on the market in the U.S. are at the high end of the price range.

This issue is also the reason why there are so many diesel cars available in other countries that are not available in the United States. Simply put, it’s so expensive to develop a diesel engine that meets US emissions standards that most manufacturers don’t bother. Particularly since diesels have never been a popular engine choice in the US market.

It also doesn’t help that the average price per gallon of diesel in the U.S. (as of June 2011) is 25 cents more than gasoline. However, a diesel’s increased miles per gallon means that it usually comes out ahead on overall savings, thus the new surge in consumer interest. Check out this article for more on the differences between American and European diesel markets.

Nonetheless, there are some excellent diesel alternative cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks for sale in America right now.

Here’s the lineup. We’re still adding photos of these cars as the 2012 photos become available.

Audi Diesels

Audi is a marketing leader when it comes to diesel, despite having a small product offering in showrooms. Recent Superbowl ads, dominance in sports car racing with diesel-engined winners, and several global awards have put Audi TDI Clean Diesel Technology in the forefront of many shoppers minds. Availability is a concern, as evidenced during a recent trip to a local Audi dealer when a dealer informed me earliest delivery would be in 4 months. However a quick search on cars.com and autotrader.com showed there are indeed TDIs available — you just have to be prepared to take a drive to get one.

A3 TDI – The A3 currently for sale will be replaced by an updated model for 2012. Expect the same award-winning handling and performance/economy balance. New will be a fresh interior, bringing the A3 up to date with the latest Audi A8 and A6 designs. The exterior too will be new, and offer for the first time a sedan variant (the current model is offered only as a compact wagon). Fuel economy will likely remain unchanged as Audi has not indicated the current TDI engine will be replaced by a vastly different unit. MSRP of the 2011 A3 TDI is $30,250, and a slight increase in price is likely for the 2012 model. Fuel economy is the A3’s strong suit, and it’s doubtful that the 30 city/42 highway MPG figures will decrease at all.

Q7 TDI – The Q7 will remain unchanged for the 2012 model year. Unlike the much smaller A3, the Q7 is a full-size luxury SUV. The engine up front is bigger, while performance is similar. Fuel economy however drops considerably from its little brother. Car & Driver magazine observed an average of 22 MPG in testing. Prices start at $51,450 for a TDI Q7.

BMW Diesels

BMW is well-known in Europe for their sublime diesel engines, and we’ve been enjoying one of those engines in several models here in the U.S. for the past few years. BMW is planning a replacement of the 3 series for 2012, with no indication if a diesel model will remain available. The rumormill is rife with stories of the 3.0 diesel currently offered making its way into other models, but there has been no confirmation from the manufacturer.

3 Series – What is certain is that BMWs bread-and-butter 335d model is getting replaced for 2012. Expect new styling, new interior design, an optional turbo 4-cylinder gas engine and an 8-speed automatic. What is unclear at this point is whether the 335d engine from last year will continue, or if we will get a new diesel engine, or if the diesel option will be discontinued altogether. A hybrid is also rumored. The current 335d gets 23/36 MPG. Expect the new model to improve upon that figure. MSRP is not available. 

X5 xDrive35d – Refreshed for 2011, the X5 family of SUVs soldiers on with few significant changes for 2012. The well-regarded diesel option remains 19/26 MPG for close to the current MSRP of $51,800. Buyers love the regular X5 for its uncanny mix of road car smoothness and handling, with the high seating position and cargo room of a crossover. The 35d keeps the fuel bills reasonable.

Chevrolet Diesels

Chevy hasn’t made a diesel passenger car in years, but they do offer the GM family Duramax 6.6L V8 turbodiesel in several full-size trucks and vans. Fuel economy is improved slightly from the standard V8 models, but the real draw here is monster torque to haul serious cargo. If your primary focus is hauling and you love the Bowtie brand, look no further. Update: Chevrolet has announced they will release a diesel version of the Cruze in 2013.

Express Cargo & Passenger Van Prices start at $38,000 for the Cargo model, $44,000 for the passenger version. These vans are large, sturdy traditional full-size vans. Minivan shoppers won’t be able to fit these in a typical garage. However, if you own a small business the Express family of vans are a good value for hauling maximum cargo. Mileage figures were not given by Chevrolet.

Silverado 2500/3500 – Pickup trucks for power users, the Silverado 2500 is the smallest truck buyers can get with the optional Duramax diesel. Power is king with this admittedly pricey option (which must be bundled with a heavy-duty Allison automatic transmission) bringing the entry price to $37,800. However 765lbs/ft of twist is enough to haul a 30-foot boat, or yank stumps from the ground. According to Chevy, expect fuel economy improvements of 15% or greater with the Duramax diesel engine. 

Dodge / Ram Diesels

Dodge has recently spun the Ram brand off as a separate entity, encompassing its full range of pickup trucks. The idea was to distinguish Dodge products in the showroom as sporty, powerful cars, while the Ram brand could focus on a full range of truck products.

Ram Pickup 2500/3500 – The Ram 2500 is the starting point for diesel Ram trucks. A 6.7L Cummins turbo diesel engine that hits the pavement with 350hp and 650lbs/ft is optional on the 2500 and standard on the 3500. MPG figures are not given by Ram, but the manufacturer cites a 15% improvement over the standard engine when towing, hauling or traversing challenging terrain. MSRP for a base Ram with the Cummins package is $35,400, but can vary by region.

Ford Diesels

Ford is another player in the diesel pickup market domestically. Overseas, however, buyers of smaller Fords have enjoyed diesel engines for years, including in the Focus and Mondeo mid-size sedan (which is not sold here). Unfortunately, that trend doesn’t look to be changing any time soon, as Ford US has committed to investment in hybrid and electric technology for domestic cars. Nevertheless, these technologies are far too young to replace the big diesel V8s in Ford trucks for the foreseeable future.

Superduty F250/350/450 – Powered by a Ford-designed 6.7L engine marketed as the Powerstroke, the Superduty line of Ford trucks was designed to maintain Ford’s market dominance. Offering buyers the most power and ability in their class, the 400hp and 800lbs/ft of torque neatly wins numbers bragging rights. Ford claims a 20% fuel economy improvement over their previous diesel. Count on stylish interiors, and class-leading options packages. Prices start at $36,550 for a base F250XL with the Powerstroke diesel.

GMC Diesels

What goes for Chevrolet goes for GMC. The GMC brand exists as a truck-only division of GM (much like Ram for Dodge Chrysler), many of which are rebranded Chevrolet products. So the Chevy Express van becomes the Savanna, and the Silverado 2500/3500 are the GMC Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD.

Where GMC pulls ahead is a focus on luxury, offering Denali versions of the Sierra trucks. The focus in the Denali models is interior features, additional sound deadening, exterior styling improvements from the regular models, and standardization of many desirable features and packages. For 2012 the GMC diesel lineup remains unchanged. Prices are similar to comparable Chevy models, while the Denali line with the Duramax diesel starts at $44,000.

Honda Diesels

Part of Honda’s global strategy is to provide engines appropriate to each market. As a result, Honda Europe offers a 2.2L turbo diesel in the Accord, Civic, and CRV. Despite interest from diesel fans stateside, Honda continues to pursue an exclusively hybrid and fuel cell strategy in the United States, and is likely to discontinue diesel development altogether globally.

Hyundai Diesels

With each successive generation, Hyundai’s offerings only get better. In the rest of the world, Hyundai does offer diesel alternatives to gas and hybrids. For the foreseeable future that looks unlikely to change, especially given Hyundai’s introduction of the Sonata Hybrid and several electric concepts at recent domestic auto shows.

Infiniti Diesels

Nissan’s luxury brand has expanded into Europe recently, and now offers a diesel V6 engine for the complete range. There are no plans to bring that engine here.

Jeep Diesels

The Jeep brand has had diesels engines up until recently, when the Liberty and Grand Cherokee models were redesigned. Jeep will not have any diesel models for 2012, but the big industry buzz is on the 2013 introduction of a brand-new diesel engine for the Grand Cherokee. Prices have not yet been released. Jeep is now part of the Fiat empire, so the engine is sourced from VM Motori, another Fiat division. Early tests of the powerplant are promising, showing 20/26 MPG. The Wrangler and Liberty models are available overseas with smaller diesel engines, but Jeep has not confirmed that either will be available in the U.S. by 2013.

Jaguar / Land Rover Diesels

One brand that has had much success in Europe with diesel is Land Rover / Range Rover. That trend continues for 2012 with the new compact Evoque. The U.S. will be getting the new baby Range Rover, but not the European diesel option. The 2.2L diesel introduced with this compact crossover is also going to be available on the Jaguar XF, however there are no plans for a U.S. introduction at this time. The rest of the Land Rover European family continues with a range of efficient, powerful and reliable turbo diesels. Hopefully Land Rover and Range Rover will see fit to offer one of them optionally in the U.S. in the future.

Mazda Diesels

The zoom-zoom brand is slated to introduce the Skyactiv engine family next year. These economical gas engines are tipped to provide diesel-like economy while burning regular gasoline. In the interim, Mazda Europe has developed diesels for all models aside from the RX8 and MX roadster. None of these diesels are for sale in the U.S. now, but there are rumors that a 4-cylinder diesel engine could be hitting our shores in late 2012 — possibly for one of their SUV models.

2012 Mercedes ML350 BlueTEC Diesel
2012 Mercedes ML350 BlueTEC courtesy of mbusa.com

Mercedes Benz Diesels

If any company has kept the glowplugs lit for diesel it has to be Mercedes Benz. They have offered a diesel engine in their domestic lineup for decades. Thankfully, the 2012 Mercedes lineup doesn’t show that changing. The core of their diesel family is the 3.0L V6 BlueTEC engine. This sophisticated powerplant manages to earn its “clean diesel” name from use of AdBlue, an additive that helps reduce NOx emissions. The only downside to the BlueTEC engines is the tank of AdBlue needs replacement every 15,000 miles, and the car will not run if it goes dry (Audi and VW clean diesel engines also require an additive for maintaining their emissions compliance). What might stretch that tank of AdBlue out double or triple the distance is the rumored 2013 introduction of Mercedes’ first diesel hybrid: the E300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Concepts of the powerplant have been shown recently, so it is only a matter of time until it is available for customers to take home.

E350 BlueTEC diesel car – With class-leading dynamics, timeless design and refined engineering the E has been a critical car in the Mercedes Benz lineup. Redesigned in 2011, the 2012 E Class remains unchanged. For $50,900 buyers get 24/34 MPG rating in a true luxury sedan. Sadly the wagon no longer gets the diesel option as most domestic buyers gravitate to the ML and GL SUVs. Acceleration belies the oil burner underhood, getting to 60 mph in quick 6.4 seconds.

ML350 BlueTEC diesel SUV – For $410 less than E350, buyers can choose the ML BlueTEC SUV. For tradeoffs in economy (figures drop to 18/25 MPG) owners get to enjoy all-wheel-drive, a cavernous trunk and a high seating position. MLs drive similarly to the BMW X5 – which is to say car-like and agile. I can personally attest to the exceptional performance of the ML350 diesel, having driven one on the German autobahn. 

GL350 BlueTEC diesel SUV – Lovers of large cars, German luxury and SUVs will find plenty to appreciate in the GL350. Trading a bit of car-like athleticism for massive presence might not be to every buyer’s liking, but seating for seven and a 7500-lb tow capacity might prove to be the hot ticket for buyers willing to part with the $61,000 base MSRP. Fuel economy is class-leading, at 17/21 MPG. 

R350 BlueTEC diesel crossover wagon – For $9,210 less than the GL, Mercedes offers one of the world’s few luxury crossover vans in the R-Class. With seating for 6 or 7, 18/24 MPG and All Wheel Drive, the underrated R350 might be the sweet spot in the Mercedes diesel lineup for buyers who put a premium on space. Contemporary road tests laud the R’s comfortable ride, quiet interior, and sedan-like layout. If you can live with the van shape, then you might find a lot to love here too.

Mini Diesels

Mini offers diesel cars in its complete range in Europe, and has recently introduced for 2012 “S” models in diesel, bringing the fun of the Cooper and Clubman S models to the frugality of the D models. The new for 2011 Countryman crossover is available with a diesel as well. But Mini has not announced any plans to make these diesel models available in the U.S.

Nissan Diesels

Nissan CEO Carlos Gohsn announced back in 2008 that Nissan would be bringing a clean diesel engine to the United States in the 2010 Maxima. With that date come and gone, the future looks uncertain for a return of diesel in domestic Nissans. They are available overseas however, and perhaps the recession only delayed a launch. But with the introduction of the Leaf, and a redesigned Altima Hybrid due next year, Nissan may be banking on electric and hybrid models for the U.S..

Porsche Diesels

The seminal sports car (and now SUV and sedan) brand offers diesel engines in the Cayenne SUV and Panamera sedan in Europe. And we might just be lucky enough to get them here in the United States. “We are discussing internally if we should introduce the Cayenne diesel in the U.S. this year. Also a Panamera diesel is an option,” Bernhard Maier, the brand’s sales and marketing chief, told Automotive News Europe in February.

Saab Diesels

Saab is still with us, after a tumultuous saga that nearly ended with the brand’s death in 2009. The diesel Saab cars offered overseas will remain just that, as Saab focuses on new products to grow their small lineup.

Smart Diesels

After initial excitement faded, the Smart microcar has struggled to find buyers. Of concern for most would-be buyers is the disappointing fuel economy of the gas-engined version. The diesel Smart Car, available since the brand’s introduction in Europe, returns outstanding mileage. Sadly, there are no current plans to bring that engine to the U.S. for its 2012 redesign.

Subaru Diesels

Subaru is a brand loved by fans of the outdoors and the environment, so it is a shame they have not yet brought the Europe-only green diesel engine available in their Impreza, Legacy, Outback and Forester models to the U.S. The Impreza compact has been redesigned for 2012, so it is possible that the engine may make it here in that car at a later date. For now, Subaru has not confirmed or denied that possibility.

Toyota / Lexus Diesels

Toyota continues to pursue its all-hybrid strategy in the United States, despite offering Toyota diesel cars in Europe. For 2012 the focus is on the new Prius models, so a diesel reveal is unlikely. The Lexus brand offers diesel versions of their IS and forthcoming GS models in Europe but shows no sign of bringing them to the U.S.

Volkswagen Diesels

Volkswagen is the only manufacturer that currently offers affordable diesel cars in the United States. Thankfully, it has made sure to offer a wide range of products to appeal to a variety of buyers. From the compact Golf and Jetta to the luxurious Touareg SUV, VW’s TDI clean diesel range offers the best alternative to hybrids, electrics and compact-engined small cars.

Beetle TDI – The Beetle TDI is expected to arrive in Spring 2012. It will be powered by Volkswagen’s efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine with 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. Fuel efficiency is expected to be about 40 mpg highway. The 2012 Beetle has an updated style that has been described as “bolder” and “more masculine.” The price has not yet been announced but is expected to be around $23,000.

Golf TDI – A bestseller and award winner in Europe, VW’s compact Golf hatchback has been the smart buyers diesel choice. The current design Golf dates back to 2010, and has been available in relatively limited supply with the TDI engine. Equipped with either a manual or 6-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission, the Golf TDI is zippy and entertaining with a standard sport suspension and grippy seats. Options do drive the price up rapidly, but a base 2-door Golf TDI starts at a reasonable $23,225 and it delivers 30/42 MPG. 

Jetta TDI – The cheapest way to get behind the wheel of a 140hp VW TDI engine is the Jetta, which starts at $22,995. Redesigned for 2011, the 2012 model will be unchanged. Critics pan a recently downgrade in finish and quality, with a less sophisticated chassis than the Golf TDI. Nevertheless, the Jetta offers excellent value for buyers who put a premium on efficiency.

Jetta Sportwagen TDI – While same in name to the 2011 Jetta, the Sportwagen is crucially similar to the Golf. Being based closer to the Golf means it has a higher quality interior, and more sophisticated rear suspension than the 2011 Jetta. Softer suspension tuning however means this is not one for enthusiasts. Instead, buyers will find a versatile interior with ample cargo space out back. Options like a panoramic glass sunroof and upgraded stereo mean buyers can enjoy taking it easy on the open road. At $24,995 and the same excellent economy of the the Jetta and Golf, buyers will find they’re getting a lot of car for their money.

Passat TDI – VW’s full-size offering was redesigned for 2012, and has been sized and featured more like a full-size family car than ever before. While this may disappoint buyers used to the Audi-on-a-dime Passats of old, it will likely appeal to a wider swath of the population. The 2.0L TDI engine returns here to offer a great mix of mainstream sedan with Germanic efficiency and character. Fuel economy is excellent at an EPA estimated 43 MPG highway. MSRP starts at $25,995 for the sedan-only model, as the wagon variant has been discontinued. 

Touareg V6 TDI Sport SUV – The only Volkswagen to offer a 3.0TDI diesel engine (shared with the Porsche Cayenne diesel, Audi A4 and A6 overseas exclusively) the TDI Touareg is as economical as the compact Tiguan crossover.  For 2011 the Touareg has been redesigned, and offers a sumptuous interior and a refined ride rivaling the best German luxury crossovers on the market. At $47,950 it undercuts their pricetags too. A hybrid Touareg will be new for 2012, but the TDI remains the more economical alternative at both the dealership and the pump. EPA estimates the economy at 19/28 MPG. As ever, your mileage will vary.

Volvo Diesels

Volvo offers diesel cars in the European market, but as of yet has not seen a strong case for certifying one for U.S. sale. By 2013 the V60 wagon is rumored to be introduced with a diesel plug-in hybrid, which should radically blend the best elements of diesels, hybrids and pure electric vehicles. U.S. sales look unlikely at introduction, but expect an evolution of this innovative platform to make it to our shores in the future.

So there you have it, the diesel car, diesel SUV and diesel truck and pick up lineup in the USA for 2012.

Did we leave anything out? Did we make any mistakes?

Leave a comment and let us know!

If you’ve test driven or own any of these cars, please leave your review to help others who are researching. Tell us about your real life gas mileage too.

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About the author: Jonathan Eziquiel-Shriro is an industrial designer specializing in transportation and product design, and an automotive industry pundit with over a decade of blog and magazine experience.

195 thoughts on “2012 Diesel Cars in USA: Here’s the Lineup”

  1. Enjoyed reading the posts here. I live in Ottawa and drive a 2005 Passat Tdi. Best car I’ve ever owned, even with the few issues I have experienced over the years which included a faulty EGR. The engine is bullet-proof and gets 800-900 a tank. With engine rpms of 2000 @ 100 km/hr and 247 lb/ft torque on tap, it pulls like a v8. I recently upgraded the suspension with new control arms upper and lower up front and installed Biltein HDs for a slightly higher ride height.
    As I can’t afford an Audi Q7, I’m hoping Nissan will import the 2.5 and 3.0 litre Pathfinder Tdi’s to Canada in the near future with the 5 or 7 speed auto and standard trannys. I just can’t justify spending money on a vehicle which returns only 15-17 mpg. at today’s fuel prices. There is a chance we may see a 4cylinder Tdis coming from the famed Cummins brand in the near future for the Nissan Titan lineup. I’ve never been a fan of the electric hybrids due to their environmental footprint (even though we’ve been running diesel electric trains here in Canada for decades). That said, I believe we’ll all be running on electric cars in the future with the continued development of solar panel technology (magnification) coupled with a replacement of the lithium ion battery. My 2-cents worth!

  2. I’ve been using a Jeep wrangler (had 3 over the years) for my small lawn/residential snow plowing business. I’ve wanted a small diesel truck for many years and keep holding out for one. The last jeep I bought new was $38000 special edition Rubicon that when the dealer found out from someone I used it for snow plowing they voided my warranty for everything even a simple door seal. So its 8 years later I’m still waiting for a small diesel truck and my jeep is getting somewhat tired and I just went and looked at what I can get in a diesel. I could buy a giant Ford F250 with a 6.5 diesel for $20 000 used with only 198000km it probably won’t fit in my garage so I would have to park it outside and it probably won’t fit in most of my residential properties that I plow because I’m hired by my clients because I use a small vehicle that causes little damage to their properties. I would also have to sell my plow and buy a new one that is more expensive because its much larger…another 5 or 6 grand. and lets look at the fuel economy, I get 15 miles to the gallon with my jeep and looking it up the large truck gets just a bit better from 12 to 17 mpg…I just want to say to the automotive companies you do not know what you are doing and I was hoping the big three would fail and out of those companies better smaller companies would bring new ideas and better vehicles, instead Europe/Asia and every other country in the world gets it and we don’t…BULLSHIT.

  3. I have to laugh when I read these rants about how the “evil” US auto makers and “Big Oil” are somehow conspiring together to keep diesel cars out of the US. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You’re probably all too young to remember this, but during the Carter gas price explosion EVERY automaker had diesel powered cars in their lineups, even Cadillac. They went NOWHERE with the American public, even though diesel was much cheaper than gasoline at the time. Diesels were noisier, harder to start in cold weather, diesel fuel stations were not as common as gasoline stations, and they produced smelly black exhaust. What happened between then and now? Environmentalists were aghast at trucks cruising our roads while burning pollution-heavy diesel, so they lobbied Congress to reformulate diesel fuel to make it contain less pollutants, and they also lobbied for more EPA requirements on diesel engines. I’ll venture a guess that ALL of you who are complaining about the “evil” corporations that won’t produce diesel cars are the SAME useless idiots who were head-over-heels in love with those environmental regulations at the time. As a result, the diesel that we used to be able to buy for 25% less than gasoline now costs 25% more than gasoline. The diesel engines we used to be able to make now are prohibited because they produced too many nitrogen oxide emissions. Another thing most of you fail to understand is that American cars also have FAR more stringent safety requirements too.

    Example – The diesel Ford Focus EcoCentric gets about 65mpg, and costs about $25,000 in England. It has a manual transmission, no air bags, the engine does not meet EPA nitrogen oxide standards (THANKS, lefties!) and would fail current crash standards in the US (thanks AGAIN, lefties!). With a manual trans, you’re automatically eliminating 95% of the US consumer market, so an automatic is required. To add that and air bags, and make the engine pass NOx testing, and change the vehicle body to pass crash testing requirements (stronger B pillar, etc), would cost bare minimum $12-15,000, and your mileage would drop to about 55mpg. So you’d be left with a $40,000 car that gets 40mpg on diesel fuel. Why would any automaker want to sell it? You can already buy a variety of $20-30,000 subcompact gasoline powered cars that get 40mpg, and since gasoline is cheaper, why pay more for the same mileage?

    One last thought for the conspiracy nuts – Why would the car makers want to not sell cars that get better mileage? They get money from selling CARS, not gasoline! Believe me, if Ford or GM could produce a car that every single person in America would buy from them, they wouldn’t care if it ran on gasoline or sh–, as long as they got their money for it when you bought it. As far as the oil companies go, since you have to pay them for diesel too, they don’t care one bit if you drive a 50 mpg gasoline powered car or a 50 mpg diesel powered car. It’s the SAME MONEY for them. Try writing your legislators and getting them to repeal the safety and EPA regulations on cars now, and then you’ll get your 65mpg Ford Focus here too. Good luck with that though, because environmentalists want to eliminate ALL fossil fuels, not just gasoline, and they’ll oppose every piece of legislation that promotes the use of internal combustion engines. They would tell you that electric or solar is what we should be driving, not diesel.

  4. wish our government would get out of the way , diesels are still being punished by the epa for 50 year old technology not being used today , there are legions who would love a diesel suv,car ect . but everytime a manufacture designs one epa regs in usa stop there progress,,,,,,,,,call your congressman

  5. We have had the Passat TDi for 6 months and this is an absolutely great vehicle. Mileage is a stunning 48 MPG combined. We get close to 800 miles between fill-ups!!!

  6. The US is way behind on engine technology compared to the rest of the world as it has never had to pay the high fuel prices Europe etc has. [Turbo] Diesel is one solution but smaller more economical engines for commutes is what is needed as well. If Europe can get away with 1.2L engines, the US can get away from 6L cars

  7. I dont expect a gainly acceptance of diesel automobiles in the USA. People see price per gallon and typically diesel is higher than gas. If government would drop the ridiculous tax on diesel then there would be competative pricing. I haul fuel, road diesel and off road (red dye) diesel is the same fuel out of the same drum. The only difference is pushing the red dye plunger button for farm use, one quart of red dye per 3100 gallons of diesel. Goverment then imposes a 28 cent per gallon tax on no dye.
    Engines are starting to outlast automotive bodies, hardware, electronics and drivetrains, paying more for engines that last twice as long doesnt always make sense.
    Diesel powered automobiles are more expensive to buy and maintain with the high tech fuel delivery systems used. Good diesel mechanics are in demand and get paid premium wages.
    Goverment talks about high fuel prices and energy conservation. Yet it makes more money off of fuel than those that produce it. Keep pushing ethanol which isnt doing your automobile any favors and takes more energy to make than it produces. They tax the heck out of diesel because it allegidly pollutes more even though MPG is notably much higher with diesel.

  8. It’s not entirely the government that is against diesels. Big oil controls the government’s decisions on having fuel efficient vehicles. I know the game, I worked in automotive R&D for 30 years and I know who has the final say. They do not want us to get 50+ MPG. They want us all driving 400 hp muscle cars or 5,000 lb. SUV’s that get 10 MPG.
    It’s all about money. If we all had fuel efficient diesels then they would have to jack-up the price of fuel to make up the difference. This would cause open road truckers to either go broke or raise the price of goods to the point there would be riots.
    Too bad we are all hooked on gasoline, but then again they wouldn’t have it any other way.
    By the way I do own a diesel vehicle.

  9. The day a company brings out a diesel AWD wagon is the day I go buy a new car. Not before. I wonder how long of a wait it will be.

  10. What sad is the USA consumes so much fuel and switching to Diesel would increase city MPG by 25%

    25% less fuel used + add in algea based biodiesel = even more savings.

    Cleaner air + more torque + less fuel used = no brainer

    then again USA has no brains

  11. My dream car would be an affordable 6-passenger diesel sedan with bench seat in the front. Not sure if it will ever happen… I believe Chevy Impala is the only model left that offers bench seat as an option. And it’s hard to imagine a Chevy Impala with diesel… Wish VW offers bench seat…

  12. I am potentially moving from the UK to the US and both my wife and I drive diesel cars. I drive a Mercedes CLK 220CDi and my wife a Volvo V70 D5.
    I would like to ask; Why is the American consumer having large engined vehicles shoved down their throat by the car manufacturers, when vehicles like my Merc 220CDi (2.1L Diesel engine) performs as well as I’ll ever need it to perform, but at the same time getting 50mpg (UK gallon)..???
    The industry in the US appears to be obsessed by large powerful engines, that quite honestly fail to perform, due to the shocking set up of the rest of the vehicle, compared with their European equivalents.

  13. I own a 2012 VW Golf TDI with the 6 speed manual. I am averaging 40.5mpg’s in the city and between 50-65mpg’s on the highway. These cars’ mileage is extremely under rated. I am logging fuel ranges of over 550 miles in the city. Given my 33 mile round trip commute each day and considering the fact that the motor will increase in efficiency once it’s broken in (not until 80k miles), I have many more years to come of excellent fuel economy along with wheel spinning turbocharged performance!!. VW please release the Golf GTD in the states!!!

  14. I’m in the UK every year to visit family and friends. All my friends living and recreating in the country have smaller pickup trucks, SUVs, and estates (wagons), all are diesel. no smoke, no noise, super fast, twice the torque and longevity as gasoline engines. When I see US politicians braying about gas prices and energy independence in the US this election year, it makes me deeply cynical.

    I currently drive a 1986 Toyota 4X4 pickup, a 1998 T100 pickup, and my wife drives a 2011 Subaru Outback. The Outback and Forester are available in the UK and continental Europe as sweet, pancake diesels with over half again the fuel efficiency of the USA gas powered cars. I won’t buy a new truck in the US until I can get a diesel half ton with minimum 30 mpg.

  15. The lack of diesel vehicles available in the United States is an utter joke. I get better mileage in my Sportswagen TDI than my friends who own Prius. Of course, with Federal lies like these: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/best-worst.shtml I can see why people continue to shell out thousands more for worse technology.

  16. jetta 2003 tdi. 44 to 51 mph depending on driving attitude. great car. auto trans. 206,000 miles. maintenance was simple, did everything except belt changes. Car was quick to pass when needed. Enjoyed it greatly. Too bad some idiots put large black boulders across the highway, shoulder to shoulder just over the crest of the hill I was driving home at night in the rain. did not see til too late. plowed right through and gutted the underside of car. Airbags worked perfect, not scratches or bruises on face. Car totaled . Got a new 2010 Jetta tdi after the incident. 7 years later with a bigger engine and manual trans. VW tech for mileage is even better. it is April 2012 77,000 miles on it. runs great, 45 to 56 mph, again depending on driving attitude. Most of my driving is 50 mi. each way daily commute on highway,(reason for higher end on mpg. great car. Would love to see a Diesel – Elec trice from VW. but not to be. This is a faster and more powerful tdi car. will keep it for a long time, as long as something does not happen to it.

  17. Lack of domestic demand? I so disagree. I believe it’s tightening emissions regulations and rising prices that prevents diesel from becoming a popular alternative fuel. While I can understand the wish of the people to breathe cleaner air, I don’t believe blaming the fuel itself solves the emissions problem, nor does changing the fuel. If you want cleaner emissions, you should change the way the engine burns the fuel. Banning diesel fuel for cars and light trucks is hardly the best way to go. People need diesel fuel to power their cars, trucks, trains, semi trucks, etc.

  18. My dream car would be an affordable 6-passenger diesel sedan with bench seat in the front. This is a faster and more powerful tdi car. will keep it for a long time, as long as something does not happen to it.

  19. I’m currently living in the US although I’m British. I really think that if you had the choice of more diesel cars available in your market you would soon make the change to diesel.
    One thing for certainm, is that until diesel cars are made by your home market, you will not have a big export market for future cars!
    Modern Diesel’s give the same driving characterisits as the big lazy V8’s; coupled to a modern semi auto transmission you get the best of low down power and decent fuel economy.

  20. This is totally absurd… Are the Auto manufacuturer’s really that corrupt and that much in bed with the oil companies that they resist putting diesel cars on the road… Obviously there is a great demand for these vehicles… Maybe it has to do with the fact that once consumer’s do get into more diesel cars – the cost of diesel will go up significantly driving up the cost for the truckers and in turn the goods that we all use on a daily basis… But still if there could be a 25% reduction in overall fuel consumption – why not try and maximize this savings for the people – who are all struggling as it is in this major economic depression….
    And why can’t these gasoline hybrids be produced for a similar or just slightly elevated cost to the regular vehicles…. If they offered a Hybrid Mini-Van or Large SUV that had $3000 worth of batteries in it that ran on a small Turbo-diesel Powerplant that could also be plugged in at night making the first 20 or so miles pure electric – People would jump on this and purchase them and be very happy with our Big Three American Automakers – but surely this will take 20 years to combine all of this technology that is already available and in use… ????? What the heck ???? This shouldn’t be a fantasy that takes 20 years to come into fruition….. Any MIT task force with a few auto engineers could build this in 6-months to a year…. There are people that convert regular gas vehicles to PURE EV’s in less than six months for less than $8K……. Why not maximize ($$$) savings ($$$) if we are really trying to go Green and save the environment, reduce our carbon footprint, and most importantly save the economy !!!!! Just my personal $0.02 !!!

  21. the goverment needs to back off on diesels i have a 5.9 cummins twin turbo ive got 600+hp at the wheels no emmisions crap

  22. My dream family car is now the Audi A6 Advant TDI with a 3.0 engine. Not available in the US even though that same engine is in the Q7 and I believe the Tourage TDI. While B20 biodiesel is fairly available, we need to do way more in this country to develop and promote biodiesel, which of course is what the original Mr. Diesel intended.

  23. Did I hear if the US gets out of the way ? We could have been on compressed natural gas decades ago. Utility compampanies have been doing it for years and convert them back before auction. Dip stick shows very clean oil at 200 K . We have enough natural for crnturies and they want to screw around with Hybrid and eletric oops solar. They only want our money. After boot camp in 73 I refused to buy gas at .76 when I left it was .30. It’s a joke my friends

  24. Hay , we need more diesel cars and small pickups and Suv. What can’t we have the diesel smart car auto dealers here are afraid! Diesel crewcab pickups , Toyota, since before 1981!! Come on USA get it together and offer affordable diesel autos and etc. here too. Catch up with the rest of the world.!

  25. I have 3 diesels. a VW Jetta that gets 40-53 mpg, a MB GL and ML that get 20 to 33 mpg (33- highway, steady 65 on cruise). If the government taxed diesel only for truckers, and not for vehicles less than 8000 lb gvw, We would all use diesels and use about 30% less fuel. I guess Exxon wouldn’t like that though.

  26. Why are the EPA mpg ratings so low on diesels? I drive a 2004 VW Jetta TDI Wagon with 5 speed stick. It now has 145000miles and has averaged 43mpg overall and regularly gets 50+mpg highway. I have a friend with a 2011 Jetta TDI Sportwagon and he too gets 50mpg highway. My nephew gets 48mpg on his new Passat TDI with only 15000 miles. Most VW Jetta or Golf owners tell me that they get 50mpg highway or very close…yet these cars are EPA rated 43 mpg highway!
    For the Dan that wants a diesel wagon with awd, so did I and I solved that with the Mercedes R Class….AWD, GPS, big moonroof and just below 30mpg highway! I have only driven it 30,000 miles but it rides nice, is so quiet that everyone thinks it is gas, great acceleration and lots of cargo space.
    Ford needs a diesel in their SUVs. When will they wake up?

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  28. I drive a Dodge 3500 truck with a Cummings diesel. It will haul/pull anything I want. I would love to buy a luxury SUV for my wife with a diesel engine. The choices are SO limited. I see this as the future. With gas/diesel prices so high, the better the fuel economy the more the public will like it. Wake up Detroit and make a quality diesel SUV!!!!!

  29. The United States of America Inc is in bed with Big Oil and Big Oil is in bed with the car companies and the car companies are in bed with big banks. Most reality checkers know that incestrial behaviors between all of these players will continue and go around and around and around. Do not forget we live in a CAPITALIST country.

  30. if the US would get its head out of its ___! then maybe we could catch up with the rest of the world with diesel technology and produce diesels in the US markets.. Good ole USA common sense

  31. Owning a 06 jetta I can tell you the fuel savings is out the window with the high maintenance cost
    Example &100 oil changes
    Replace timing belt at 100,000 miles @$1000 +
    Replace bad designed cam at 120000 @& 2000+
    Now at 133000 car needs flywheel replaced @ 1500+
    Would have been beter with 20mpg
    Internet says I am not alone
    Good luck

  32. All you happy people need is to move to Europe. Everything is better there and the cars are just perfect. I am happy with all my US products.

  33. We need to use diesel cars in the U.S., we do not have the privilege like the Europeans and Latin Americans people, because they can use car turbo diesel cars, powerful and very economical in fuel consumption, while more durable engine. Hyundai, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Kia, do not sell his diesel cars in The USA, and this are considered his fine vehicles.

  34. The Chevy volt should have (IMO) had a small turbo diesel instead of a gasoline engine. The VW 1.2L “3” is an example. When needed, run that diesel in its sweet spot of torque/rpm/load (computer controlled of course) and the Volt would really be a car to get.

  35. Diesels are the better then hybrids, last longer and cost less.
    Why America is forcing consumers to buy big diesel engines is an enigma to me. Mercedes Sprint has only 3 L diesel and you can load more then any American van with almost 7 L diesel engine. Absurd. Europe as mentioned above enjoying diesels in all spectrum of products. The question is why smart and pragmatic, and good business oriented Americans have to cope with this injustice, not to mention stupidity of supposed to be bankrupt 3 manufacturing giants?

  36. Jonathan,

    Excellent post. The reason I am suddenly looking for a diesel car after years of turbo-charged Volvos is that I suddenly realized that the US government is trying to ram ethanol down my throat and I am not happy about it. I can’t see any alternative except diesel. I’d be interested in your opinion of my opinion; am I being an over-excited crank, or is this a real issue for lots of people? Thanks.

  37. How about an AWD diesel sedan for the frozen northeast? I will be the first one in line for a 4Motion TDI Passat. Not everyone needs/wants a bloated SUV or thirsty American diesel pickup. Give me a four-wheel driven diesel WITHOUT hatch or bed, please!

  38. Low to mid-range cost Diesels ($20K-$30K)are not being marketed in the USA because the major players (GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda) all prefer to sell high mark-up gasoline hybrids that have 15+ year dealer-only service requirements attached to them. No one has any interest in marketing a car that sells for 20% less but gets the same or better highway mileage than their flagship hybrids and can be serviced by virtually any garage. There are apparently infra-industry sanctions keeping out everyone else but VW, who seems to be tolerated as long as they don’t get too reliable. Another group not interested in better mileage is “Big Oil”, as an influx of 40-60 MPG affordable vehicles would obviously adversely impact their revenue.

    Strangely enough, every US car maker also offers quite good $20 – $30K diesel cars and trucks in Europe. In the USA we have carefully worded emissions regulations that are providing plausible deniability to importing small diesel vehicles, yet simultaneously manage to ignore Diesel trains, ships, generators, commercial vehicles, and a bewildering variety of $50K to $90K 15 MPG giant pickups, 25 MPG luxury sedans, & 15 MPG SUV’s.

    So to sum up: it is apparently impossible to import a $25K, 35MPG AWD diesel (a Ford KUGA comes to mind) but it is OK to buy a $65K 16MPG Dodge RAM 3500 or 25MPG $80K high end BMW/Mercedes/Audi. Right…

    The Golden Rule states it quite simply: “They that have the gold make the rules.” The only reason we don’t have affordable diesels offered for sale in the USA is that the automakers and oil companies can make better profits from prohibiting access to them. They have the money to hire the right lobbiests, Senators and Representatives to do it for them. It’s just “too bad” for you and me; we’re not even allowed to buy the equipment that would make the average guy more competitive and the USA less dependent on oil imports. The same equipment that is offered for sale to most of the rest of the “free” world right now.

  39. I’m interested in the small diesel engined cars that emerging asian countries are producing. One of my favorites, is the Tata Nano diesel, 700 cc diesel engine, and their little people mover the Magic Iris, with it’s single cylinder diesel engine. I know they’ll never be sold here, but i can dream.

  40. I have been experienced with a diesel engine. I bought a brand new Nissan Sentra Diesel in 1984. I drove it almost everyday for 9 years. I love this one because its gas mileage was great. My habit was very rough driving with it. Only few problems with electricity (alternator failed 3th times) and replace new fuel injection pump two times, After warranty expired, I lost it and sit in junkyard for years. My experience that 1980’s technology but what about 2010’s technology ??

  41. Let me summarize why (IMHO and studies) US doesn’t have very many diesel cars. I used to own a 84 Ford Escort with the diesel engine. It would get me avg. 36 mpg city and 45-49 MPG avg highway driving. The diesel engine it in was a Mazda engine, very good engine. I miss that car.

    Here are my thoughts on why US doesn’t get very many diesel engine cars. (Mind you, I love diesel vehicles and I wished also that we would have more available in the US)

    1. They are noisier than a gas car. The diesel rumble turned off a lot of people. Newer technology has quieted down the diesel engines a lot over the past 10 years though.

    2. GM sort of ruined diesels in vehicles by using “converted gasoline engines” as diesel engine. Those engines were horrible! They left a nasty taste in the mouths of the US consumers. Prices of diesel cars fell very badly in the 90’s in the US if it had a diesel engine.

    3. High cost of diesel fuel vs. gasoline. I’ve done some reading and this is what I hear. Diesel fuel is higher because of the following reasons:
    A. They have to refine is twice now to get the sulfur level lower for EPA guidelines.
    B. In the winter time, the same fuel base as diesel is also used for home heating oil in many parts of the US. This drives demand up as well as the price up.
    C. Commercial enterprises know the value and efficiencies of diesel fuel and use a lot of it to power much of what they do. I understand that this is a major contributor as to why diesel fuel is more expensive. Again, supply and demand.
    D. With taxes on diesel fuel, the govt. has added in their the cost of heavy trucks (the big trucks are the cause of most of the wear and tear on the roads, justifying this higher tax). These prices are not removed for regular vehicles. In the 1980’s, people who used to drive diesel powered vehicles used to be offered a $145-$200 tax credit to offset this tax. No longer. I averaged in the tax credit into how much I paid to drive my diesel Escort, and I figured that with the less I paid on diesel (back then in the 1980’s) and add in the tax credit, I just as well have averaged about 65-68 miles to the gallon cost wise. Sure wished I didn’t have to pay that truck tax with every diesel fillup that I do, but alas, I do. Thank you US govt. (NOT!)

    If the US consumer was not so soured by piss-poor diesel implementation in cars in the 80’s, it would be far more popular today driving the consumers more to demand it. If oil refineries would be allowed to build more refineries in the US, diesel prices would drop a lot! (limited refineries producing diesel doesn’t keep up with the total demand in the US for this fuel). If car makers keep improving diesel injection systems and pumps to be quieter, and produce less black smoke (that evil black smoke, oh my!!!!). Diesel engines have a ton of potential, even with EPA regulations severely limiting things. Until we quit getting in our own way, we will always keep making up foolish notions to go green. In my studies opinion, diesel is the best “green” option out there for billions of dollars less than hybrid dreams. Even with diesel prices as high as they are, factor in a Prius who’s batteries have to be changed out. At 46 mpg for a Prius (probably 55-60 if it were diesel instead of gasoline :-), replace them batteries, a cost somewhere between $5000-$9000 about every 8-11 years, then tell me what you saved in gas with this “wonderful hybrid technology”. Then stack that up to the VW people testifying about getting 45 + MPG out of their TDI’s and tell me what hybrid technology bought you. Diesel is the true green alternative, without a doubt!

  42. I would love to have the VW California diesel camper van. Otherwise, not enought bang for the buck

  43. So why is it diesel OR hybrid? Why not a diesel/electric hybrid? Can you imagine the mileage?

    Me? I have a 2006 TDI beetle, and I don’t plan on changing that unless I have to…. at least not until there is something so much better out there that it gives me a good reason…. and I’m not seeing anything like that available now, nor coming down the pike any time soon.

  44. I drive a Jeep Liberty with the CRD. I get around 30 mpg with this and about 20 mpg pulling a 4000 lb trailer. I have 125,000 miles on it now and hope that I will be able to find a car like it when it gets old. I would also like to see our diesels get the kind of mileage I read about from the european drivers.

  45. Unfortunately, the VWs cap the use of biodiesel in their engines to 5% (B5). Some report being able to push to B20, but not beyond. It isn’t really the engine, it’s the exhaust system. The irony is that if you were running B100 without the special exhaust system, you would have a better emissions profile than dino diesel with the system.

  46. Driving a 2002 Jetta TDI. Getting over 500 miles a tankful on cruise control at 65.

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