Partly because there’s more energy available from a gallon of diesel fuel than from the same amount of conventional gasoline, there is a clear efficiency benefit for diesel-powered vehicles. When it comes to keeping the air clear, however, diesel engines have had their issues: It turns out that even some of the so-called “clean” diesels of recent years haven’t been quite clean enough for the EPA. Yet a handful of automakers do remain committed to offering diesel technology in U.S. cars and light-duty trucks, and that includes a new vehicle from Chevrolet.
A diesel version of the 2017 Cruze sedan will go on sale later this model year, and Chevrolet says it will offer “the highest highway fuel economy of any non-hybrid/non-EV in America.”
Cruze Diesel Details
The Cruze Diesel relies on a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that produces 137 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. For comparison’s sake, the base Cruze comes with a turbocharged 1.4-liter gas engine that makes 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque.
It’s the EPA ratings that matter most here, and the standard marks for the Cruze Diesel, with a six-speed manual transmission, are an impressive 30/52 mpg city/highway. When equipped with a new nine-speed automatic transmission, the Cruze Diesel is rated at 31/47 mpg city/highway.
It’s also worth pointing out that the car carries a 37 mpg rating for combined fuel economy with both transmissions. As for the most efficient gas-powered Cruze, it has EPA grades of 30/40 mpg city/highway, giving the diesel entry a full 30 percent advantage on the highway.
The Cruze Diesel will be offered only in the relatively upscale LT trim and have an MSRP of $23,795. Included in that price: a 4G mobile Wi-Fi hot spot, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a 7-inch touch-screen display, heated front seats, and a rearview camera system. Further, there will indeed by a Chevy Cruze Hatchback Diesel coming, although that’s not expected until the 2018 model year.
A diesel version of the Cruze was previously offered for 2014 and 2015 model years. However, fewer automakers are including diesel-powered vehicles in their respective lineups for 2017. Additionally, many of those that remain are from luxury brands.
Here’s a look at some of the other diesel models that are currently offered for the 2017 model year.
BMW 3 Series and X5
Though the German brands were once among the top proponents of clean-diesel technology, only the 2017 BMW 3 Series and BMW X5 have diesel variants on the market at the present time. More specifically, BMW’s iconic sport sedan is available in a 328d trim with a turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder power plant and available all-wheel drive. That engine can deliver 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, and gets matched to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission.
The tale of the tape for the rear-wheel-drive 328d also includes EPA ratings of 31/43 mpg city/highway, a 0-60 mph time of 7.4 seconds, and an MSRP of $40,250. The 3 Series additionally has the country’s only diesel-powered station wagon, the 328d Sport Wagon.
The all-wheel-drive X5 xDrive35d then checks in as the diesel version of BMW’s pioneering “Sports Activity Vehicle.” It’s 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine has been turbocharged to provide 255 horsepower, 413 pound-feet of torque, and EPA ratings of 23/29 mpg city/highway.
Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon
The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon can both be ordered with a four-cylinder turbodiesel engine with 2.8 liters of displacement. Output for that unit comes to 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, while EPA ratings for the trucks, which have standard six-speed automatic transmissions, are an identical 22/30 mpg city/highway. Also notable are the trucks’ towing capacities. Thanks to maximum trailer ratings of 7,700 pounds, the diesel-powered Colorado and Canyon are the most efficient and most capable models in their respective lineups.
Like the previously mentioned Chevy Cruze Diesel, the Colorado and Canyon only offer a diesel engine in uplevel trims, but that means the pickups have standard content like GM’s mobile Wi-Fi hot spot and Android/Apple smartphone integration.
Jaguar F-Pace, XE and XF
Here’s a surprise: If you don’t count heavy-duty trucks, the brand with the most diesel-powered vehicles in its lineup right now is Jaguar. All three feature the same 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that supplies 180 horsepower and 318 pound-feet of torque, but despite that, each vehicle showcases a distinct ownership experience.
The 2017 Jaguar XE is a compact sport sedan and the entry point to the Big Cat family, with rear-wheel-drive performance, high-tech amenities like a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot, and a sleek, dynamic exterior design. With that diesel engine and a standard eight-speed automatic transmission, EPA grades of 32/42 mpg city/highway also come standard. Next, the 2017 Jaguar XF puts the brand’s British style and aggressive driving capabilities into a midsize package, and the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace is the company’s first SUV. Agile, luxurious and fun to drive on a variety of surfaces, the two-row F-Pace touts EPA ratings of 26/33 mpg city/highway with its diesel engine.
Land Rover Range Rover and Range Rover Sport
There’s also a bit of engine-sharing going on with Land Rover, which offers a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 in the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Unlike the more efficiency-focused four-cylinder units, this engine was developed to support serious off-road capability in two of the industry’s top premium SUVs. It provides 253 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque in both the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, while also enabling owners to tow up to 7,716 pounds in either vehicle. Moreover, given all that grunt, and the fact that both SUVs have standard four-wheel-drive systems, fuel-economy is fairly decent: Both models earn identical EPA ratings of 22/28 mpg city/highway.
Of course, both Land Rovers are as comfortable as they are capable, and the diesel-powered SE and HSE trims can be configured with luxurious cues such as 16-way heated front seats in perforated Oxford leather and an InControl Touch Pro infotainment system with 10-inch touch screen.
The Near-Term Future of Diesel Engines
As the EPA has sharpened its scrutiny on their emissions, the number of new diesel vehicles on sale in this country has dropped dramatically for 2017.
Diesel versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ram 1500 and Mercedes-Benz GLS are still expected some time this year. All three were offered for 2016, but EPA testing for 2017 was not complete at press time.
There are also at least four new diesel choices expected during the next 12 months or so, including diesel variants for the 2018 Ford F-150 and three compact crossovers: the 2017 Mazda CX-5, 2018 Chevrolet Equinox and 2018 GMC Terrain.