For BMW, Mazda, Jeep, and Kia, Diesel is Back
New models from BMW, Mazda, Jeep and Kia are set to join those from GM and Jaguar Land Rover.
Fans of the great fuel economy and torque of diesel engines can take heart knowing that they've not been abandoned. Automakers are in the midst of launching an impressive range of diesel SUVs and crossovers in the U.S.
The popularity of oil-burners took a big hit in the U.S. after Volkswagen's 2015 Dieselgate scandal, when the automaking behemoth was caught cheating on emissions. The lawsuits, fines, and epic reputation-tarnishing that followed led VW—and its Audi and Porsche divisions—to stop selling new diesels stateside.
Mercedes soon followed. After decades of proffering well-received diesels on our shores, it ended their sale here more than a year ago out of uncertainty over tightening Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards.
But things are finally looking up for diesel.
GM has just begun offering its Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers with a 1.6-liter oil-burner. So equipped, the vehicles get an impressive 32 miles per gallon in mixed city/highway driving, according to EPA estimates.
At the higher end of the market, Jaguar Land Rover has been offering its Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Land Rover Discovery with a 3-liter diesel, and the Jaguar F-Pace and sexy new Range Rover Velar with a 2-liter variant. Torque with the bigger oil burner is 443 pound-feet, while the smaller engine makes do with a (still impressive) 318 pound-feet.
And more models are coming.
Earlier this month, The Drive reported that Kia will sell a diesel version of its Sorento crossover in the U.S., possibly using a 2.2-liter inline-four generating 197 horses and 325 pound-feet of torque.
Mazda too is getting in on the compression-ignition action. It's offered a 2.2-liter diesel in the sporty CX-5 for years, but only outside the U.S. But now, the company is teasing the powerplant's pending arrival in America.
BMW looks ready to supplement its X5 diesel with a smaller offering. Car and Driver reports that the marque will begin assembling a diesel X3 at its plant in Spartenburg, South Carolina. for the 2018 model year. There's no official word on which diesel engine BMW will use, but it seems reasonable to assume the brand's 261-horsepower inline-six oil burner (popular amongst European X3 buyers) is a strong contender. Keep your fingers crossed, because that 3-liter mill generates a whopping 457 pound-feet of torque in Old World trim. Even if U.S. emissions equipment reduces its output a bit, it should be a blast to drive.
Finally, Jeep announced that the 2019 Wrangler will be available with a 3-liter "EcoDiesel." This efficient engine had been available in the Grand Cherokee until recently, and it gave that vehicle more than 600 miles of highway range. It should work even better in the smaller Wrangler. Plus, off-roaders will welcome the diesel's 442 pound-feet of torque to power over obstacles.