Diesel Preview: Five New Diesel Models Coming to America

Diesel Preview: Five New Diesel Models Coming to America

For what seems like forever, North America has been left behind when it comes to diesel cars. Sure there are a few options, but nowhere near as many as our friends in Europe. In fact, according to the Automotive Industry Data Newsletter, 52% of all new car sales last year in Western Europe were diesel powered.

Diesel engines offer unique advantages, with plenty of torque making tiny power plants more useable in small cars, while making modest size engines a functional alternative to much larger gasoline ones in SUVs. Towing, after all, is not something hybrids are known for. Additionally, diesel engines can provide fuel economy closer to that of a hybrid, without any of the worries surrounding new technology; plus, there’s no battery pack compromising passenger or storage space.

With those advantages, not to mention a push by automakers to meet increasingly strict corporate average fuel economy standards, a slew of diesel models are set to arrive on our shores in the near future. If you’re considering the switch to diesel power, here are a few options you’ll soon be able to consider.

Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC

The new 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC is a hearty four-cylindered alternative to most V6s found in crossover utility vehicles. Compared to the GLK350, the gas powered version of the German crossover, the GLK250 has 112 less horsepower, but 96 more lb-ft of torque. There’s no official EPA numbers on what the new GLK250 BlueTEC diesel will get, but last year’s European GLK diesel gets around 36 to 38 mpg in mixed driving conditions. European numbers are always much higher than EPA ones, however, so expect something closer to 30 mpg – still a very impressive rating.

Devin Lindsay, a Senior Analyst from IHS Automotive talked to us about alternative powertrains and their significance in the future. He said “Typically German manufacturers have had a presence when it comes to diesel vehicles.”  That said, the GLK250 isn’t unexpected. These next diesels, however, are.

Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

The Cruze Eco with a standard six-speed manual transmission is the most fuel-efficient gas-powered/non-hybrid vehicle in America, with an EPA-rated 42 mpg on the highway. A member of GM’s Powertrain communications team told us that the diesel Cruze is early in development, and can’t comment on the new car’s fuel economy estimates. But rumors of its diesel have been flying, some calling it the Eco-D, with Chevrolet apparently targeting 50 mpg on the highway. Not much is known about the upcoming diesel, but if its European sales are any indication, it could be quite popular; the diesel Cruze in Europe sold 33,000 models last year. It’s also currently available in Australia as the Holden Cruze CDX (above).

Cadillac ATS Diesel

Looking to rival the BMW 3 Series in all ways, a diesel powered version of the new Cadillac ATS is a must. At the car’s reveal at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, however, Caddy dropped a bomb, announcing that it would also offer a diesel-powered version for our shores.

If a diesel Cadillac sounds interesting to you, hopefully you’re patient. Cadillac hasn’t given a release date for the car and has only said it will be offered some time during the current model’s product cycle.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel

Jeep has been showing off its diesel powered vehicles at all the major auto shows, but always carefully mentioned that it was for Europe and Non-U.S. markets. However Chrysler recently announced that it hired an extra 1,100 workers to help get a diesel version of the Grand Cherokee to the U.S. The European-spec diesel grand Cherokee gets about 28.4 mpg combined using the European equivalent of our EPA test – again, a more lenient test. The old Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD (on sale in America from 2007 and for a few years after) got a rating of 17/22 mpg, so look for slightly higher numbers for this new model.

Mazda Skyactiv Diesel

Mazda will be bringing a diesel engine offering to the North American market for 2012 and 2013. It’s expected to make its way into several models with Mazda first showing a Skyactiv-D engine in the Takeri concept (top), which will inspire the next-generation Mazda6. It also wouldn’t be much of a surprise to tsee the same engine dropped into the new CX-5 compact crossover. Mazda expects it to get 43 mpg highway, which is quite comparable to some hybrids available on the market. Additionally, Mazda has touted start-stop technology that will help optimize fuel efficiency.

We’ve actually already driven the new Skyactiv-D engine in a prototype Mazda6 (read it here) and came away thoroughly impressed. Making somewhere around 160 hp and over 300 lb-ft of torque perhaps the best feature is that it revs higher than competitors, up to 5200 rpm, with no torque fall-off, allowing it to feel more like a powerful gasoline engine.

So there you have it, five new diesel offerings heading our way, but will it make that big of a difference? According to hybridcars.com diesel take-rate in January, is still below that of hybrids, although hybridcars.com editor Bradley Berman says things are improving with, “A number of clean diesel products enjoyed higher sales as compared to a year ago.”

One thing holding back further proliferation of diesels in the US is cost, but according to Lindsay at IHS, automakers may be willing to shoulder some of that burden in order to help promote diesels in the short term as a solution to rising Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards. However, innovations in diesel are coming to a crawl thanks to CAFE standards that provide credits for electric and hybrid cars.

Lindsay helps shed some light on why European brands like BMW or Mercedes-Benz go diesel. “Diesel is still quite expensive per gallon. Since those BMWs or Mercedes-Benz owners would be putting premium gasoline, it’s not that big of a difference from diesel, which has efficiency advantages.” Some diesels also use a urea treatment which helps keep diesel emissions clean. This is an additional item to maintain and can add costs.

But more options in the market should help bring the costs down. In that regard, diesel could soon become the choice you’ll be making in your next car purchase.

  • We have owned 3 Mercedes diesels over the past 40 years–all of them made good family cars. All of them traveled over 240,000 miles in the process, averaging in the low 20s around town, and high twenties on the highway.  Driven slower, I am sure the low 30s were easily doable.  I never had to put one in the shop, for repairs, as they were of a simple design, stout and reliable.  I overhauled all 3 as the engines gradually lost compression until they would only start with glow plugs, even when hot!  The ’66 200D (62HP) is notable for pulling a 3000# load of furniture 1800 miles–top speed 62 MPH,  waaaay less on hills!  Whatever gear it would be in, it was foot to the floor driving all the way.  The ’74 240D is notable as it survived my college aged son’s efforts to beat it into the ground.  It took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’!  He knew to add oil when the oil pressure gage dropped when rounding a corner!  Ya Think!  The ’79 300SD (first turbocharged diesel sedans) is still in our stable after 30 years and 266,000 miles.  It runs great, the AC works, as does most everything else.  Notable is the original yellow paint, polished and waxed so many times the pinstripping is wearing off.  The original MB tex (synthetic leather) interior is still intact and pliable( thanks to Leatherique products) .  Still running is the original 4-speed automatic, only opened to change the oil and filter.  The original Bilstein shocks still work fine, and the original exhaust system is still there too!  This is the first car in my possession to get synthetic oils as they became readily available. Who knows how far it can go? 

  • Shane

    The Holden Cruze is actually an Australian vehicle, not European. Here in Aus, it gets an average of 5.6l/100km, which is about 42 MPG in the U.S, and offers 120kw (161 horsepower) and 360nm (266 foot pound) of torque, which are pretty amazing numbers for a car of this size. I would assume that 50mpg is possible in an Eco-D version, and i certainly hope they would bring it to Australia! You Americans have no idea what you are missing out on, avoiding diesel power!

  • Colum Wood

    Quite right! It has been corrected. Thanks for bringing that up.

  • guest

    We aren’t avoiding diesel as I have never seen a car, SUV, or small truck with a diesel option. All Diesel vehicles in the USA are heavy duty trucks like the 18-wheelers or tractors. In fact the vehicles in this article would be the first family oriented vehicles to be offered in the united states, and I for one am of the opinion “its about time.”

  • Volkswagen has been doing family oriented diesel vehicles for a couple of years here in  the US, so concept is not that new.

  • Chemicalgutter

    I agree with Michael Robitaille.  Volkswagon has had many diesel models available (since around the late 80s).  The good turbo powered ones came out in the mid 90’s.  The most “family oriented” and also the most sought after VW diesel is the 1996 and 1997 Passat TDI Wagon.  These were the only years that the Passat could be found equipped with a TDI Wagon.  These were always 5-speed and routinely get 40-50 mpg.  This is a vehicle that can seat 5 along with 2 dog crates in the back.  What is more family oriented. 

    these cars are being found for sale today with 300,000 miles on them and people are asking $7000.  And they get it. 

    For those that are not willing to wait for these rare cars, there are lots of used Jetta TDI cars (mostly sedans, but some wagons).  Expect to pay above Kelly Blue Book suggested price due to the demand.  You won’t find one running for less than $4-$5000 (1999-2005).  And never with less than 150k miles on them. 

    I have been searching for a TDI family car for almost a year now.  It is slim pickings and you have to act fast.  It is about time that the rest of the automakers start giving us more options.  That way, 5-10 years down the road, I might be able to find a reasonably priced used diesel vehicle…

  • Capital Automotive

    I think if American people would drive a diesel car they never go back to gas cars.

  • Dezifox

    I have a “08 ML diesel, and LOVE it!!! The 500-600 mile range is amazing !!!  As a long distance road vehicle it is a total pleasure to drive and has alot of room inside to carry your things!!!  No regrets here!!! I am spoiled by it!!

  • Humteen

    just 2 points to  make if the epa would allow the same emission standards for diesel powered suv and cars as the have for semi tractor trailors there would be more available in this country to purchase.
     also diesel cost less to refine from crude than gasoline at the refinery, so why is it more expensive than gasoline at the pump?

  • Bring more diesel cars to the US!

  • Hams

    I totally agree. We generally drive long distances… much longer than in Europe anyway.. and the fuel economy would really show.


  • Jkbrowning1122


  • My Jeep built in Belvidere Il was in line with other Jeeps assembled with Mercedes 2.5 diesel. They build them with diesels for export.

  • Kirk

    VW jetta has offered a diesel model in the US since the early 80s.  Though it hasnt been widely advertized. 

  • guest

    Actually that is not true my parents had a late 70s or early 80s Chevette that got almost 50mpg with a diesel, they also had a 85 Oldsmobile Cutlass that had a V8 diesel, both cars were naturally aspirated and they got 30mpg with the Cutlass.  I currently drive a 1990 1/2 ton Suburban with a 6.5L diesel also naturally aspirated and I get 22 mpg.  The gas model of my suburban only gets about 14mpg.  The old diesels smoked a lot and smelled awful and they shook terribly.  A lot of Americans were turned off by that.   It is time though that the US brings the diesel passenger car back.

  • I am waiting for this Mazada in California 

  • Diesel-Rules

    To the person above me: Diesels have been available from VolksWagen and Mercedes Benz for decades here in America! 
    Diesel is THE WAY to go, especially here in America where unfortunately everything is FAR away! 
    It is unfortunate that the Diesel lineup in America falls indeed short compared to Europe. 
    In Europe you can equip ANY model, of ANY make with a diesel, apart from sports-cars. 
    Even Mini’s / Smart’s / SUV’s / Crossovers / Station-wagons / Vans / Passenger Bus you name it! 
    In fact Mercedes Benz  & Volkswagen have a seriously NICE looking Van / SUV / Station-Wagon lineup in Europe, and guess what,..all of them are available with DIESELS! 
    But you can’t get those diesels models here. (which is bollocks!)

    Infact, last year I was working on IMPORTING my own Mercedes Benz Viano Diesel out of Europe, one equivalent to this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIUZ9-2uWns
    But guess what,…too IMPORT that or any other European vehicle (and you read in-between the so-called “import-regulations” lines),..it comes down to the fact that you’ll HAVE to turn DOWN the European FUEL EFFICIENCY by the American EPA Law / Government (guzzle) standards before it’s allowed on US roads!
    In other words: it’s not worth importing it your self, since the (guzzle) conversion is going to add about 10k!

    So,..I gave up on the “importing” idea and just bought a 2012 VW Jetta TDI here in the USA.
    Which does get impressive MPG “compared to domestic vehicles” right?
    Well,..the MPG’s of my brand new Vw Jetta TDI is on average about 15MPG less than the Exact same European model, my buddy has got over there!

    So “who’s Fault” is it that it’s so hard to buy a REALLY fuel efficient vehicle here in America? 
    Answer: Our Oil companies / Government have THAT in control, and make it HARD on manufacturers, by demanding LESS fuel efficiency!!!
    Which ADDS extra cost, due to the fact the the manufacturers have to RE-DESIGN their fuel efficient diesel Engines, too MAKE them LESS fuel efficient!

    Oh,..and lets NOT forget the European TRACTORS!
    Domestic tractors: Mack, Kenworth, Peterbild, International, Westernstar, ect,….all run on average about 5 to 10 MPG right?

    European Tractors: Mercedes Benz Actros, MAN TGA series, Scania R series, Daf XF series, Volvo FH12 series, Renault Premium series, ect.
    All run on “EURO 6 engines” on average 18 to 26 MPG!!   

    It doesn’t make sense does it?But THATS how it REALLY goes, with our domestic so-called “greener than Europe” EPA laws! <<Bullocks! All European vehicles including Tractors are a WHOLE LOT greener!

    Just my 2 cents.

  • V4Diesel

    Test drove a Passat TDI at the auto show, i had to ask the agent to confirm if i was driving a diesel. Very smooth and qucik accelration. I would like to see VW have tiguan in TDI not sure if VW has plans for that. RAV4, CX5 and Escape will be a irresistable packages when fitted with Diesel engines.

  • Adam Morton

     Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes offer plenty of diesel powered vehicles in the US. You could go out right now and get a diesel powered sedan, hatchback, station wagon, or SUV in the US. I would say all of those classify as “family oriented”.


    amazing to me how fucking stupid the us is in regard to diesel 4×4 pickups and suv emissions standards. a tractor trailer gets less than 10mpg and blows black shit out of its exhaust from start to finish… NO EMISSIONS STANDARDS… 3/4 & 1Ton vehicles… same but better economy, generally speaking. DOESN’T THIS SCREAM OUT LOUD THAT THE FUEL COMPANIES DON’T WANT THE US TO BE MORE EFFICIENT AND *LET* US DRIVE 4CLY/6CLY DIESELS THAT GET 30MPG?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!!! COME ON!!!!!!

  • Albertogcela

    It has no explication why there are so few diesel car in the USA. And the one who has more the VW has this option in all models but the Tiguan This is even weirder you can have a beetle diesel buy not the Tiguan  that has a much lower MPG  .
    The only thing will be that if they have the diesel nobody will buy the same car gasoline…

  • Bob Dowell

    I rented a Toyota RAV 5 diesel in Costa Rica 6 years ago that got 60mpg. They are not bringing in the 70 to 80 MPG cars the rest of the world is driving. Look at how much tax money the Fed and the states would lose. Looke and how many gallons less the oil companies would sell.  In 1985 I bought a Ford Escort diesel that had a Mazda 4 cyl engine in it. It got 55 mpg. They only made them 2 years. It is a conspiracy, make no mistake about it. Check out MSN CARS UK TO SEE WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE IS DRIVING. Even if it is a dirty engine, if you are getting 80 mpg, how much can be left over?

  • mbrosch

    I learned to drive in Germany in a 190D. It was a standard 4 speed manual. It had more than 600,000 miles on the car and it could still do 150k on the Autobahn. Diesels last forever if there built correctly.

  • Cole

    I could not agree more, Bob. I drive a 2011 Volvo C30 Turbo 5 Cylinder. I love the car, but get at most 30 mpg highway. In Sweden, a 3 cylinder turbodiesel (that still gives wonderful performance) is rated at 62 mpg. I don’t understand how people do not see the obvious conspiracy here. In the United States, tax is paid per gallon of fuel. It is obvious that it would not be in the government’s best interest to have vehicles with better MPG ratings. Instead, why don’t we tax tires? A tire will last the same amount of time regardless of the type of fuel used to power the car. Now there’s an idea that neither a democrat or republican could come up with…

  • Jason Carpp

    I’d like to see more diesel powered cars and compact trucks sold here in the USA. Is diesel for everyone? No, they’re not. But for those who want one and/or need a diesel powered car or truck, they should be allowed the option of a diesel powered car or truck.

  • DeeBeeCooper

    here’s your explication: when it comes to cars, americans are knuckleheads.