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5 Reasons You Might Want a Diesel

You want to save money on fuel, keep your vehicle for a long time, and have some fun, don't you?
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel 622
Diesel When Chevrolet announced it's bringing out a diesel version of the Cruze sedan this summer, it pretty much sealed the return of diesel power to the mainstream. Chevrolet announced the new addition to the Cruze lineup last week at the Chicago Auto Show, and it's the first time the GM division has sold a diesel passenger car on this continent in several decades. A diesel sedan may be a tough sell for American buyers, thanks to the loud, smelly diesel offerings many drivers remember from the 1980s. This diesel is different, though. If your opinion of diesel is stuck in the past, here are five reasons you should give it a second look.

1. New, Better Technology

Diesel has been rebranded as clean diesel, and it has the credentials to prove it. Not only does the new Cruze diesel engine emit 90 percent less nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions than the previous generation of diesel engines, but Robert Bosch LLC, a big provider of clean diesel technology, says that diesel engines in general produce 25 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than an equivalent gasoline engine.

2. More Efficient, Longer Range

Gasoline engines only use about 30 percent of their energy to power a car, which isn’t really all that efficient. Diesel engines convert 45 to 50 percent of their energy to power, so there’s less wasted potential. This translates to good fuel economy, especially at cruising speeds. Many diesel sedans on sale now earn between 40 and 43 mpg on the highway, easily achieving a goal that gasoline-powered cars have to strive for. Good fuel economy also means good range. With the Cruze’s expected 42-mpg highway rating and 15.6-gallon fuel tank, it could go well over 600 miles on a fill-up. Volkswagen and Audi’s various TDI models all have similar figures. By way of comparison, a 2013 Cruze with a traditional 1.8-liter gasoline engine and a manual transmission earns 36 mpg on the highway and, at that rate, would go about 100 fewer miles between fill-ups at cruising speed.

3. Plenty of Fun to Drive

American automakers have long offered diesel engines in their heavy duty pickup trucks, and diesel is the backbone of the trucking industry. Despite their wide application as workhorses, though, a diesel-powered vehicle can also be fun. Part of what makes diesel so attractive for commercial uses is high low-end torque. A gasoline engine typically reaches peak torque above 4,000 rpm, but a diesel engine car tends to reach peak torque below 3,000 rpm. This makes diesel engines ideal for towing, but it also gives them some extra kick off the starting blocks, which adds to the fun of driving.

4. Great Durability

Diesel engines are composed of sturdier parts than gasoline engines, and they operate at lower speeds (thanks again to the low-end torque), so they can last longer without needing major repairs. Jean and Tim Jennings are hoping for half a million miles from their diesel-powered Jetta SportWagen. It’s an unusual owner who would expect to get that many miles out of a gasoline powerplant.

5. Lower Cost of Ownership

For many buyers, the deciding factor between buying a diesel and sticking with a gasoline engine will be cost. Diesel cars can initially cost more than their gasoline counterparts–and diesel fuel is typically more expensive. But, over time, and depending on the car, diesel-powered cars may have a lower cost of ownership. Yes, the price displayed at the gas station is higher for diesel. But diesel’s significantly better fuel economy means that many owners actually save money on fuel compared with a car with a gasoline engine. This, combined with the higher resale value that diesel cars enjoy, means that many owners end up saving money over the life of the car. One example: In a 2012 University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study, a Volkswagen Jetta TDI was $3,108 less expensive to own over a period of three years than its gasoline counterpart. An Audi Q7 TDI was more than $5,097 cheaper than a gasoline-fueled Q7 over the same span of time.

Interested? So, What Are the Choices?

You already know you can get a diesel pickup, if that's your style (or need). Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, and Ram all offer diesel engines in their large pickups. But what about diesel-powered cars? The pickings have been rather slim until recently, but that is changing. Diesels The Volkswagen Group has a rather impressive lineup of diesel passenger cars, with offerings from VW, Audi, and Porsche. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee with EcoDiesel V-6 has just made its debut. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Mazda, and Chevrolet all offer or will offer diesel passenger cars for the U.S. market in 2013. And there's lots more on the horizon. Bosch predicts that there will be fifty-four new diesel models in the United States by 2017. That's enough of a selection to give anyone a choice they can live with. What about you? Would you consider making your next car a diesel?
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