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Brace Yourselves – The 2014 Diesels are coming

Kamil Kaluski December 5, 2012 Featured, The News!

First, apologies for the leading image, no one should be exposed to that sort of thing. Second, you’re welcome, if you’re into that sort of thing. And by the thing, I obviously mean GM’s LF9 350 V8 diesel.

Moving right along…

Where model year 2012 was all about “40 MPGs”, the upcoming 2013 and 2014 model years appear to be about diesels. While some companies have embraced the hybrid and electric vehicles (Toyota, Honda), or began making the conventional engines more efficient (Ford, Hyundai), others are either experimenting more with compression-ignition options (Porsche, GM), or are throwing Hail-Marys (Mazda) in the name of Dr. Rudolph in order to save themselves from demise.

At this time there is no clear answer as to which technology will prevail here in North America. Historically, diesels do not have the greatest of reputations, but the fuel economy numbers alone maybe enough to turn some nay-sayers around. The refinement of modern diesels helps too. Electric cars are still limited by their driving range and hybrids work great in cities and in traffic, but most of the driving here is done on highways where diesel is king.

Today we look into the confirmed models, and some rumors, of the upcoming North American diesels. Our European readers will likely make fun of us, and that’s fine – we’ll just respond with the fact that our gasoline is still much cheaper than theirs and that most of us can afford a new V8 Mustang on half of our annual salaries, so there.

Mazda:

The all-new for 2014 Mazda6 will be available with a new 2.2-liter four-cylinder. The new Skyactiv-D will produce 165 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque and will be matched up to manual or automatic transmission. Autoweek’s Andrew Stoy explains very succinctly why this car matters.

BMW:

BMW had sold the E90 3-series sedan and X5 with a diesel engine for some time. Now, with the new F30 3-series out, the plan is to bring the sedan, and perhaps wagon, the 5-series, and possibly the X1 and X3, over with a 2.0-liter 180 hp and 280 lb-ft four-cylinder.

For now, the X5 diesel remains as the only diesel BMW on the market with the 3.0-liter inline-six, and it is fantastic. I wrote an in-depth article about the 330d and X5d when they first came out.

Porsche:

Here is something we couldn’t have predicted forty years ago; a Porsche truck SUV family vehicle. That’s not really so mind-blowing anymore, as the Cayenne is now in its second generation. What’s mind blowing is choice of engines: V6, V8, another V8, twin-turbo V8, and another, more powerful, twin-turbo V8.

But wait, there is more! For 2012 Porsche added the supercharged V6 hybrid, and for 2013 the Cayenne is also available with a 240hp/406tq diesel. Yes folks, a diesel. In a Porsche. In a Porsche truck SUV family vehicle. I know how the purists feel about that, I just don’t know how I feel about it.

Chevrolet:

The small Cruze will come with a diesel but I couldn’t find any details on it yet. Nor have I driven the Cruze, hence no opinion.

Jeep:

Sounds like the Grand Cherokee may be getting a 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel, and it maybe announced in January at the North American Auto Show. Previous generations of the Grand Cherokee were available with the diesel engine too, and it wasn’t too popular, but now the times are different and the Grand Cherokee is better than ever. I can’t wait to drive that.

That same engine may go into a light-duty RAM pickup truck too, which is what at least five potential buyers and millions of car-guys have been asking for about twenty years.

Wranglers build for export do get a 2.8 turbo four-banger but don’t expect those to be sold here. A shame really, as I know of at least one person who would buy that new… and eighty thousand who would wait for a killer deal on a used one.

Audi:

In addition to the current offerings of the Q7 and the A3, Audi will bring the diesel versions of A8, A7, A6 and the Q5. All vehicles get a 3.0 V6 with 240hp and 406 torques, but mileage will depend on the model. Great looks, best in business interior, annoying light-patterns, and the safety of all-wheel-drive, now with the efficiency of the diesel engine – what more could you ask for?  (Don’t answer that)

Volkswagen:

The king of diesels, Volkswagen, offers the Golf, Jetta, Passat, and Beetle with the 2.0-liter TDI which pumps out 140 horsies and 236 torques. That engine might also end up in the Tiguan, but at this time it’s not available on the U.S. market.

The Toureg comes with a 3.0L, 240 hp. It seems to be the same engine that is used in the new Audis and in the Porsche. The price difference between these vehicles is not that great, unless you order your Porsche with leather on parts where other cars don’t have parts.

Mercedes-Benz:

Mercedes’ E, S, ML, and GL classes are available with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 delivers which delivers more than 210 hp, and 400 lb-ft of torque, depending on configuration. GLK250, with a 2.1-liter turbodiesel in-line four, with 190 horses and  369 lb-ft, should be available soon. That same engine may find its way into the C-class too.

Read my quick drive of the 2013 S350 BlueTEC here.

Others:

Just about every manufacturer offers a diesel version of the cars which they sell in the North America, they just don’t sell them here. Yet.

Blame the government and California’s Air Resources Board. Blame higher prices of diesel and higher prices of the vehicles themselves. Blame the old GM for giving diesels a horrible reputation.

While on my European travels last year, I drove a Land Rover Discovery4 (LR4 here) with the new twin-turbo diesel V6, and it was magnificent. When combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the result was over 30mpg on the highway, in a loaded 5000lb vehicle with full-time AWD. That engine is available on various Jaguars too, and the big Range Rover comes with a turbo-diesel V8.

Subaru has a seriously efficient boxster diesel too. Volkswagen offers a three-cylinder diesel but no one in U.S. would buy that despite 70mpg+. Japanese companies have diesels too and there is no doubt that they will be watching this market closely and are ready to bring their product over if they can sell it.  Same for Korean Kia and Hyundais, they can pull the trigger at any time too.

Most of us would love to see diesel engines in the bigger vehicles; small pickup trucks and SUVs. Hopefully others will follow BMW and VW in making this happen. The question remains – are American new car buyers ready to pay more upfront in order to pay less later?

 

Currently there are "73 comments" on this Article:

  1. Devin says:

    As someone who frequently forgets to plug in his engine block heater, and lives in a land of ice and snow, I think I might let the diesel thing pass me by.

    • Sjalabais says:

      Diesels have been wildly popular in Scandinavia for years. The problem in the cold lies with particle emissions and meteorological phenomenons like inversion – creating strong local pollution. Also related to NOx-emissions. The engines themselves seem not to be bothered by the cold.

      • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

        My step father in law showed me the fuel in a line from a city bus that would not start one particularly cold December morning, it was almost like paraffin. I was astounded.

        • Sjalabais says:

          Wow, I thought they had fixed that with some additives? I remember Norwegian gas stations advertising for diesel that would be good until -30 degrees Celsius. Personally, my driveway has a 35 degree angle, and I am the impatient kind, so I have to have long-stroke petrol cars and have no other reference for my diesel-claims but hearsay. Colleagues and others lured by Rudolph's red-nosed promise have only been agitating about automatic handbrakes and such that would freeze in winter, so that is not diesel-related at all…

          • Manic_King says:

            There's couple of special winter diesel grades, in cold north gas station will sell you -29 or -44 deg C resistant grade if weather so demands. In Northern-Europe refineries or shore tank terminals will send out right grade depending where your gas station is and what forecast says. Sometimes when there's extremely fast weather change and gas stations still have summer diesel only and some owners have that same grade in their tanks it means big mess and many unhappy people as IIRC viscosity of summer grade increases quite fast with colder temp.

            <img src="http://www.upload.ee/image/2883824/Diesel-talvi.jpg"&gt;

            • Dean Bigglesworth says:

              Some people are always caught by that.. Which is not surprising for first time diesel owners, considering that some cars can easily go 1500km+ on one tank so for many people it will be a month or more between fill-ups. Fill it up with summer grade fuel in mid october, and have it solidify in the tank in mid november. Or go on a two week holiday and get back to a tank full of solid fuel. Or fill up with -29°C fuel in the south, drive to lapland and have it solidify at -40°C. You can get "arctic" fuel in the southern parts, but it's pretty rare.

              It's even more fun for trucks that come up here from central europe with 300l of cheap latvian fuel in the tank, which freezes solid a while after you get off the ferry. It takes a while to thaw 300l of diesel, and it's impossible to fix on the road so it has to be towed to a warm garage to just sit there for a day or so, so it's not cheap either.

              Another "fun" thing is all the foreign trucks with summer tires that get stuck all over Finland when the first snow arrives.

              • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

                Yeah, our motorcoach can go about 1,300 km on a tank, and we'll take it anywhere, so this time of year, particularly, if significant elevation or latitude change is involved, like will be in a few weeks, I'll make certain to fill with local diesel fuel to avoid gelling.

                A few years back, we were returning from Lost Wages (Las Vegas) in winter, and the only fuel at an Amarillo station was bio-diesel.

                That stuff started gelling on me about 50 miles later and it ran like crap until we got to warmer ambient temps.

          • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

            Good answers below, basically that's what happened. It gets cold in Warsaw, but usually not THAT cold. Well for about three days it did and it came on very suddenly, I think it was '01. My step FiL worked for the police. There was a bus that was stranded, some police buddies of his were there, so we stopped as well, and he showed me.

      • Maymar says:

        I'm going off a bit of hearsay on this, but diesel pickups are very popular in Northern Alberta. Very, very popular. It also gets very cold in Northern Alberta. Many of the diesel pickup driving guys deal with this by just never shutting it off (supposedly), and don't care for certain emissions control systems (whatever the Cummins Ram has, I believe) because under so much idling, it clogs up quickly.

        • ptschett says:

          Diesel engines and their aftertreatment systems aren't really designed to sit there idling all night. They're designed for normal loading. They can cope with overnight idling on #1 fuel, but there are risks like clogging the DPF with particulate matter from not being able to regenerate. In the case of the Ram I'd expect an improvement on the 2010+ chassis-cabs that have SCR with DEF and also the 2013+ pickups that get the SCR aftertreatment, due to the opportunity to retune the engine for a different NOx/PM tradeoff with higher engine-out NOx and less PM.

          (*I design construction equipment for a living, w/ a focus on engine systems…)

  2. $kaycog says:

    Geez! If you're going to feature a picture of Diesel, at least show him with a sexy car.

    <img src="http://images.hitfix.com/photos/690725/Vin-Diesel-and-a-1966-Ford-GT40_gallery_primary.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

  3. skitter says:

    I might actually have to buy a diesel 6. But I wonder, with their new Skyactiv range, how much more efficient it really will be than the gasoline motor, so I'm almost on the fence except for THREE HUNDRED FIFTY FOOT POUNDS.

  4. Alff says:

    I'll take that wagon, if someone will file off the VIN.

    • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

      Aw dang, I replied to OA above before seeing this :( I has better contributes something worthwhile. Hey Europeans, I can afford two, even more new* v8 mustangs!

      * new to me.

  5. Jeff_Glucker says:

    Worst.Lead.Image.Ever

    Well done…

  6. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

    When there were rumors Honda was going to have a diesel Fit, I about went apoplectic.

    Didn't happen, which is a shame…because 70 MPG in what amounts to a true minivan.

    FWIW, while I know a couple of people who have been cursed by the GM LF9 (one Olds, one Cadillac), I'd take one over the LF7, any day.

    I'd take an HT4100 over the LF9. It's not better, but rather, slightly less horrible.

  7. Modeleccentric says:

    As the former owner of a Diesel S-Class, YES!

  8. danleym says:

    If people will buy a Prius, they will buy a 3 cylinder diesel for the 70mpg. No one buys a Prius because it looks good, or is fast, or anything else, they buy it because it gets 50 or so mpg, and that reason alone (ok, some buy it for the smug-green-I'm-better-than-you-because-my-car-plants-trees-and-revives-extinct-species-while-driving-down-the-road factor, too). Volkswagen needs to give that thing a shot over here, with higher gas prices probably here to stay and even if they aren't there's enough people who think that, I think they would sell well.

  9. CABEZAGRANDE says:

    I hope and pray to any god that will listen that Mazda puts the Sky-D into the CX-5 with a manual transmission and AWD. Because that would make for one of the few truly desireable little CUVs out there obviously, but that's not the primary reason I want this to happen. I want this to happen because it would mean that the transmission would be applicable to the 6 as well. And then AWD MANUAL DIESEL SEDAN. And that would be the second best thing ever. But then Mazda could make the holy grail of awesomeness, the AWD MANUAL DIESEL WAGON. Oh please oh please Mazda. You've done things that made no monetary sense before just because they were awesome (see 40 years of rotaries), you can do it again!

    • Kamil_K says:

      To my knowledge, the manual CX-5 is FWD only.

      When my mom was car shopping in '99 I convinced her to get a AWD CR-V EX… 5-speed. And she did!!!

      I was always tempted to throw a B18C cylinder head on it… or a turbo…

      • CABEZAGRANDE says:

        I always wanted a CR-Vtec too :)

        Wonder how much you can pick up an old CR-V for, now that I have money and space for such ridiculous ideas……

        • Kamil_K says:

          You'll have trouble findning one, especially with stick. The guy who bought our shipped to Russia. We actually dropped it off at Port Newark.

          • CABEZAGRANDE says:

            Yeah, got to looking at CL, and there is exactly one AWD manual in the KC area, and they're asking $4500 with 192,000 miles. Guess I'll look else where for my next odd project :(

      • IronBallsMcG says:

        CR-V EX is a disturbing name.

  10. Tanshanomi says:

    And yet we still don't get the diesel Transit Connect. Go figure. I must assume there is either a regulatory/technical reason why we CAN'T get it, or Obvious Engine Choice isn't so obvious.

    • Maymar says:

      I'm going to assume because fleets want gas (figuring the drivers would screw up something like a diesel or a manual). It's that, or because parts for the I4/Autobox it uses were already well supported, but Ford doesn't have a single diesel in the American market except the Powerstroke.

      • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

        Are the gas ones flex fuel? That's like a stupid check box some fleet buyers need checked.

  11. LTDScott says:

    While I'm happy to see this, it'd be a tough sell for me where diesel is 20-40 cents a gallon higher than gasoline.

    • danleym says:

      I think that will be an initial turnoff to a lot of people, I would imagine if you do the calculations based on the mileage difference between the diesel and the gas model, it would bridge that gap. I'm sure it will vary model to model, but take a gas model that gets 30mpg. You'll use 4 gallons to go 120 miles, @ $3.60/gallon=$14.40. If the diesel gets 40mpg, you'll use 3 gallons, @ $4/gallon=$12. Obviously these are all round numbers and assumptions, but that 40 cent difference can be covered if the mileage difference is big enough.

      • LTDScott says:

        I know how the math works, but I personally don't drive enough to justify the higher initial cost, higher maintenance cost, and higher fuel cost of diesel.

        • danleym says:

          I get it on the higher initial cost, not so sure about higher maintenance costs- I think that would depend more on the particular vehicle than diesel in general (but I've never owned a diesel, so I could be completely wrong here). But as far as the fuel costs- if the diesel is more efficient, the fuel costs per mile are not higher, no matter how much you drive. If you don't drive much than it would take a lot longer to over come the higher initial cost- I get that, and I'm not trying to say a diesel makes sense in your case. Just saying fuel cost has to be looked at on a deeper level than cost per gallon.

          • LTDScott says:

            Again, I understand, I'm just saying it wouldn't make financial sense for *me* when all factors are considered.

            The oil changes on most recent model diesel trucks cost significantly more than a similar gas engine due to larger oil capacity. And many newer diesel cars require a periodic refill of urea, which I understand isn't cheap.

      • Tanshanomi says:

        The problem for me is that the gasoline/diesel gap seems to vary widely and randomly change week-to-week. I would not be comfortable calculating what the average might be over several years.

        • Devin says:

          Diesel was briefly cheaper where I live. Now it's slightly more expensive. So, it's a wash.

        • Scoutdude says:

          A friend of mine who has a TDI while his wife has a gasser tracked fuel prices in our area for a year and he figured based on the places they bought fuel that a 35mpg gasser would cost as much to fuel as his TDI that averages 42mpg in his driving. Of course that doesn't factor in the difference in purchase cost and the higher maintenance cost of the diesel. An yes it does cost more to maintain a diesel since air and fuel filters much be changed much more frequently and they are much more expensive.

          Also consider UPS who used to use diesel delivery trucks exclusively and now are only buying gas powered trucks at least in my area. You know with the thousands of trucks they have they did the math down to the penny.

    • K5ING says:

      If you drive lots of miles, it's a no-brainer. Let me offer myself up for example.

      I bought a new 2001 Golf TDI back in '01. I've driven that car 435,000 miles since. Here's how the fuel savings break down using numbers drawn out of my a$$ for fuel cost (somewhere between what fuel cost then, and now) and EPA figures for MPGs. Adjust as needed.

      Diesel powered Golf:
      435,000 miles / 48mpg = 9,062 gals * $3.00/gal = $27,187

      Gas powered Golf:
      435,000 miles /28mpg = 15,536 gals * $2.50/gal = $38,839

      Total Savings = 6,474 gallons, or $11,652. That's around $1,000 per year of savings over 11 years.

      Not insignificant. I know I may drive more than most (40K/year average), and like electric cars, what works for me may not work for you, but the option should be out there.

      And no, it doesn't cost any more to maintain a diesel than a gas engine. VW cars in general are picky about what fluids you use in them, but that holds true for both gas and diesel versions. Timing belt changes are required for any car that uses them, gas or diesel. The diesel engines cost less over the long haul because they last much longer too.

      • Scoutdude says:

        But a diesel vehicle should have it's fuel filter changed every 15k at a much higher cost per filter than the gas version that only needs its fuel filter changed every 60-100K. Air filters also need to be changed more frequently and cost much more too.

  12. jtk2 says:

    I'd be happy to buy a diesel 6 (or a diesel BMW, for that matter) but after the previous announcement about the Mazda, I started looking around to see where I could buy diesel fuel. None of my usual stations sell it (Shell or Mobil, although there are also Marathon and BP stations in the vincinity). The Marathon used to but now they park a truck in front of the diesel pumps so people don't try to use them.

    So I'd have to go out of my way to get the fuel. May not be a dealbreaker, but it's certainly a consideration…

    • Kamil_K says:

      It's a good thing that most diesels can get 400+ miles from a tank.

      • K5ING says:

        I get 700 miles before my low fuel light comes on.

        I'm not sure where jtk2 lives, but in most areas it's hard to find a station that doesn't sell diesel.

        • jtk2 says:

          There are definitely stations around that sell diesel, what I meant was that they aren't the stations that I actually pass on my route to and from work.

          Kamil, I usually get 380-390 per tank (Mazda 3).

  13. wisc47 says:

    So if Mercedes puts a turbo V6 diesel in the C-Class, the only Merc you can get with a manual, could it be possible that the good old days of manual transmission turbo diesel Mercedes will return? Probably not, but I sure hope they do.

    • Kamil_K says:

      If they put a diesel in the C-class, it will be the 2.1 4-cyl from the GLK… and I still doubt they would offer it with a manual.

      • wisc47 says:

        But if they did I think that would be my dream daily driver. That or a diesel Alfa, but that'll never happen in my lifetime.

    • Maymar says:

      Didn't Mercedes drop the stick from the C-Class a year or two ago (at least in North America). Now, a diesel SLK with stick would be properly weird and interesting.

  14. Rust-MyEnemy says:

    You can take our share of diesels away if you like.

    I like them in trucks, I enjoy the stump-pulling rort of a Diesel SUV, I like the motorway economy, I like the immediate shove for lane-changes and last-ditch overtakes, I like the noise that those with six or more cylinders make, I even like the smell of pump diesel. But… I've not driven a diesel engined conventional car where I don't prefer the petrol version.

    I just don't find them fun. Mercedes sticking the four-banger diesel into the SLK took a sports car (with the emphasis already firmly away from sport) and removed the responsiveness, the soundtrack and the appeal. An expensive sports car with diesel engine is like a caviar and margarine sandwich.

  15. TDI_FTW says:

    In my opinion a diesel engine makes a lot of sense for any car that is used to drive long distances. It's not ideal for track use, but there are plenty of diesel powered cars (tuned) that would give a lot of gas powered cars a good run for their money.
    I'm addicted to the low end torque of turbo diesel engines and the efficiency. Being able to drive 700 miles on a tank of diesel is very convenient.

    I'd say: bring them all :-) the more the better!

  16. facelvega says:

    I think that a 320d could be a big deal in the us– it's one of the most common versions of the 3 series in its home market, for the good reason that it is cheaper than most of the big gas engines, is light and thus moves quite well, and gets ridiculously good fuel economy. Between that car and the Mazda6 I imagine we could see a real diesel renaissance.

  17. DR1665 says:

    This past June, I drove a 2012 Mitsubishi ASX4 diesel in England for a week. I think it was 1.8L turbo. Loaded, with four people onboard, we got an easy 67mpg in that thing, with one of the nicest 6-speed manuals I've ever driven. It was brilliant and I would buy one in a heartbeat, were it available stateside.

    By the time we get a Mitsubishi diesel back in the States, I'll just import an old Delica and be done with it. 4M40s are nice, but I can do good things with a 4D56T. ;)

  18. Tomsk says:

    I'm still hoping against hope GM restarts development of the baby Duramax, and offers it in the soon-to-be-unveiled new half-ton pickups and SUVs. Offering it as a crate motor would be icing on the cake.

    <img src="http://image.hotrod.com/f/featuredvehicles/9467453 w1600 st0/hrdp_0802_02_z inside_the_oes 4.5l_duramax_v8.jpg">

  19. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

    Diesel fuel does cost more, however this is more than offset by higher MPG.

    There is almost always a higher initial vehicle price. If you purchase used, this can (mostly) be offset.

    I don't buy the extra maintenance cost. I've put 80K miles on our ISB-powered 30K lb. motocoach, and have replaced the air filter one time, out of guilt, I shouldn't have, cost was 'bout $100. Fuel filter, once. Oil changes, which are four gallons each time have cost mitigated by Cummins having a 15K mile change interval. Oh, and gallon jugs of oil at my least-favorite retailer, though they're a challenge to find, elsewhere, Wal-Mart, are $10 each.

    Bonus for the Allison MT-643, the trash truck transmission as I call it, 'cause it was designed expressly for in-town garbage trucks, uses C4 motor oil as it's 'fluid'. Bitchin'.

    What amazes me is the 30K lb., 100 square FEET of vertical frontal area machine manages about 10.5 MPG on the road…better by about 2 MPG than the '73 Coupe deVille I used to own.

    They're about equally comfy, however…with similar feedback, i.e. none.

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