Hooniverse Asks: What Vehicle Most Deserves a Diesel?

Got Diesel?

When’s the last time you looked forward to driving a minivan? Years back, I was gallivanting around Europe breaking hearts, causing diplomatic crises, and generally being irresponsible. When a friend’s parents came to visit, they rented an Opel Zafira turbodiesel (I’ve no idea if it was a 2.0, 2.2, or the 2.2 hi-po) mated to a slick manual transmission. “Oh great,” everybody else thought, “it’s just as cool as a regular minivan, except slower!” I meanwhile finagled the keys and found that it would light up the fronts at will, and proceeded to drift it through every roundabout I could find. From this brief and highly scientific experiment, I decided that turbodiesel makes everything better.
Back in ‘Merica, where Opel exists only on our game consoles, it’s long been a painful truth to the disciples of torque that on this side of the pond if you want a 21st century diesel car you have to fork over your money to ze Germans, mostly in the form of the VW TDi line of oil-burners, or to purchase a truck whose GVW is in the nuclear aircraft carrier class. Everyone else seems to make delicious compression-ignition motors for sale in Otherlandistan, while we’re stuck picking up 640 oz milkshakes from Sonic in our petrol-slurping Wagon Queen Family Trucksters. Thanks, Oldsmobile!
It begs the question though – which non-diesel vehicle sold in the US should ditch the spark plugs and go over to the sooty side?

0 Comments

  1. 1/2 Ton size pick-up trucks. The F-150, Silverdao, and Ram 1500 would do nicely with a 250hp/350ft. lbs I-6 or I-5 diesel. Just make sure it isn't a $5000 option, keep it priced about the same as the upsized V-8 (Chevy 5.3L or Dodge Hemi). A city mpg of 20-25 and a highway mpg of 30+ would be GREAT selling points.

  2. Ford Fiesta. 50+ mpg in Europe would make Prius drivers' egos whither and the Chevy Volt look like a bad marketing decision. The Focus should have a diesel option, too.
    Other than that, I want more diesel in the Jeep lineup (they briefly brought them, but I think the oil burning Jeeps are no longer available in our borders). A direct-injected, turbocharged compression engine mated to a manual and AWD could make the Taurus more interesting.
    Sadly, these are pipe dreams considering the federal (and a few state) government's obsession with hybrids and insistence that diesel engine particulate emissions be like those of gas burners. On top of it, the feds like to tax diesel fuel more than gas making the fuel prices unattractive to general consumers.

    1. A coworker has a diesel Liberty. My distaste for the Liberty notwithstanding, that motor is garbage. It sounds like you dropped your car keys into a blender and hit puree.

    2. I have to think that Mulally has really looked into the subject of bringing some small diesels over from yurrup. If he can't pull it off it ain't gonna happen.
      BTW, have you ever googled Alan Mulally Sad? You don't get much.
      <img src="http://blog.fleetowner.com/trucks_at_work/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/car3.jpg&quot; width="300">
      I my mind this represents how I'd expect him to look while listening to some politician blather on about why we can't change the regulations.
      image courtesy of fleetowner

    3. I'd be happy with the wagon focus as a turbo diesel. I drove a diesel focus wagon in Poland in '03 and I was impressed. It was not fast but it felt almost like a typical car. The bad thing was when I filled-up, I didn't like that diesel smell. And the pump handle was all grimy.

    4. Indeed, we're lacking in diesel Jeeps in North America – the VM Motori engine in the 2005 Liberty wouldn't pass updated emissions standards, and the MB engine in the 2008 Grand Cherokee was lost in the divorce.
      Mind you, the Pentastar in the 2011 GC gets better fuel economy than the old diesel, and yet people still fixate on it like it's combustible Jesus (and I doubt it's the low-end torque, except for a select few).

  3. The Ford Ranger did offer a couple of diesels back in the the mid 80's. Sadly, the parts were rare as hen's teeth then and like trying to find the lost treasure of Sierra Madre now.
    Toss in a diesel from one of those "world Rangers" and you'd have a hell of a truck!

  4. The most obvious answer is the Tiguan… since it's a Golf in disguise, it needs the Golf's oil burner.

    1. Only if we can get it with a 5-speed stick. But I doubt it since most Americans are too lazy to drive one.

  5. My '97 Accord. By that I mean honda needs to bring their N22 turbodiesel over here, and people need to start crashing them so I can buy the motor secondhand. Other than that, I want a cherokee with a mercedes OM617 turbodiesel swapped into it.
    But in seriousness, small trucks and SUVs. Something Ford Ranger sized with a 2.0L turbodiesel would probably be able to tow more than it can now, while getting amazing gas mileage for a truck. The F150 should get a bigger turbodiesel as well. I think a big market for it would be the crossover SUV things that are so common. They get shitty gas mileage because they are heavy, and you have to give them a bootful at low revs (at any rev with the 4 cylinder). My girlfriend's highlander pulls at best 23 on the highway. Its got a sweet sounding powerful V6, but I really think that a 2.5L turbodiesel would move it along perfectly.
    Basically, I love diesels, but hate huge trucks. I also don't trust or especially like volkswagen (mk4 jettas are basically civics that aren't made as well, aren't as reliable and don't handle), so I'd love compression ignition options that aren't from them.

  6. Hmmm… I'm so far out of the new car market lately that this is going to be a tough one… If they still made the TaurusX, I'd say go for that, and niche it out of the park. I once paper-projected what would be required to diesel-fy a first gen Mazda MPV. Surprisingly, not much. Mitsu diesels bolt to Mazda transmissions. a 4×4 would make an excellent all-weather family truckster.
    How about this:
    A Grand Vitara with a 2.5-3l diesel. Good mileage, good capability, and if you bought it, you'd have the only one in North America:
    <img src="http://www.autospectator.com/cars/files/images/2011-Suzuki-Grand-Vitara-022.jpg&quot; width="500/">
    Even better, an SX-4 with a little more ground clearance, a diesel, and a crawler 1st gear added to the transmission (in lieu of a transfer case).
    <img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/__9TTj0s27Vk/Sg2iYpDFvlI/AAAAAAAABGE/0ADnkQW2BkY/s320/SX4_OFFROAD4.jpg&quot; width="500/">

  7. A bunch of the European cars we get here have tremendously good diesels that the European press tends to consider the best engine option for each of the cars. A few spring to mind:
    1. BMW 320d, 325d. This is what everyone in Germany actually buys. As efficient as a Prius, but handle beautifully and aren't even really that slow.
    2. Volvo C30 D5. The diesel version of this car is widely considered brilliant, as opposed to the petrol version we get here, which never quite measures up to a GTI.
    3. Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi. If you can't get an ST, then this is the one you get. The gas engine we have isn't terrible, it's just that this engine is a little better and much more fuel efficient.

  8. Considering all the driving and idling cops like to do it would be great in a 9c1 Impala/Caprice or Taurus, any fleet vehcile for that matter. Speed wouldn't be a problem because I don't really care if a police car can't keep up with whatever I'm driving.
    Just please don't keep it police spec only, because this would make sense for civies too. It would at least make an Impala a tad more interesting.

    1. Speed wouldn't be a problem anyway- the Metropolitan Police (London) use 535d's as their pursuit cars. They're not as fast as the V70R which is the more usual choice for forces with a lot of motorway to patrol, but still a lot faster than a Crown Vic.
      I think the Carbon E7 (that one they wanted to build only for police from the ground up) had the same engine.

    2. I suspect most fleet managers would want to wait until diesel reached higher acceptance before switching over – whatever savings were realized would probably be eaten up by every time someone filled their vehicle with gas and the system had to be bled or flushed or whatever.

  9. A small hatchback like the Yaris or Fiesta. Small cars are all about economy so why not have the option of a diesel engine instead of a complex hybrid drive system that has a much shorter operational life? Compared to a hybrid car at 10 -15 years old a diesel is still economically viable to repair as it can be done by most home mechanics without the aid of a professional. The hybrid is something you really have to understand in order to not wind up dead when fixing it. Diesel? Not so much.
    I'd also add (while I look out my back door at the 1992 Geo Metro parked next to my pool) that 1 liter and smaller 3 cylinder engines need to make a comeback too. I hear Ford is considering a 0.9 liter eco-boost engine for the Fiesta as part of the mid cycle refresh and I am really hoping it makes it here. That way, in 10-15 years, I may be able to afford it a well used one to bring back to life.

  10. I'm afraid I can't answer this question, since on this side of the pond, every car already has a diesel. At least.
    BMW 635d is quite a recipe for WTF.

  11. Scooters. My buddy just bought a Ruckus and it would be funny to show him up with some 250 MPG diesel scooter with wheelie-popping torque.
    More seriously, a bare-bones sub-$20k sports car?

  12. Yeah, like a diesel Miata, only without the power hardtop, without power windows, without A/C, without leather, without a radio, without carpet… are we under $20K yet? No? Maybe without a roof at all… Without side windows too. Can we lose the paint?

  13. I've been thinking of a diesel Vette project for some time.
    Get a pre-smog crapped out C3 and drop in a 6.2 or 6.5 from an 80s GM truck that's seen a bit of love from Banks. C3s weigh like nothing and have decent aero properties (mostly by being small), so with a nice tall overdrive you could easily pull 40s mpg on the freeway.
    In a more realistic world, I'd love to see the VW bluesport get made, or any other lightweight sportscar. Rather than just a commuter penalty box, you could actually have something that'd be fun on the weekends, too.

    1. The decent aero properties of the C3 Vettes are ruined as soon as the sun goes down. That's when you have to pop up the two large barn doors for the headlights. This is easy to work around though.

  14. <img src="http://www.caranddriver.com/var/ezwebin_site/storage/images/reviews/hot_lists/high_performance/muscle_cars/2009_dodge_challenger_se_r_t_srt8_first_drive_review/2009_dodge_challenger_se_r_t_srt8_first_drive_review/2009_dodge_challenger_se_203/1593594-1-eng-US/2009_dodge_challenger_se_203_cd_gallery.jpg&quot; width="500/">
    Clackety-clackety-clackety-clackety-clackety-clackclackclackclackVrrrrpsssssssst…clacketyclacketyclack
    (Why yes, that is a Cummins 6-litre turbodiesel under there!)

  15. Minivans and crossovers. Few minivan owners have any reason to care about horsepower or 0-60 times, but they need torque, and fuel economy is a plus.

  16. It's a little too late for it, but the Lincoln Town Car would do nicely with an oil burner.
    Or a Mazda RX-8 – swap one form of burning oil for another.

  17. Something that should have been a diesel was that stoopid H2 abomination! At least a Dura-snooze would have made it a little bit better.

  18. Any piece of detroit iron that came with a big six or a v8 could, so easlily, take a 4bt or 4bd1T and an NV4500. To me pure automotive bliss is a 67 chevelle with a 4bd2T putting out 250hp and about 450ft•lbs through an NV5600.

  19. The bowtie badge is not waisting any time catching up with Camaro variants either , soon I believe they will take the lead .

  20. You just highlighted one of the biggest selling points for a diesel right there. 540,000 km </> 340,000 miles? I have seen a few gas motors in a work truck last that long, but those are few and far between. Though it is not uncommon at all to get a diesel there, and still running strong.
    Better fuel economy, often stronger performance, higher resale value and longer longevity. For a work truck – in my opinion – there is no other worthy alternative than a diesel. But how would those not be positives for ANY vehicle?

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