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2014 Car and SUV Diesel Buyer’s Guide

The Next Wave Of Diesel Options

Text By Trevor Reed, Photography by The Manufacturers

Never before has the U.S. consumer had so many diesel vehicles to choose from. This month, we are focusing on all the diesel-powered cars and SUVs that will be available in 2014, with some familiar—albeit updated—faces, and some new entries never before powered by diesel in the U.S. marketplace. The following guide touches on all the things you need to know about this coming year’s crop of clean-diesel offerings.

Audi
Luxury automaker Audi is tripling the number of diesel models its selling in the United States. The A6 and A7 midsize sedans, A8 L extended-wheelbase large sedan, and the Q5 small SUV are now all available with a diesel under the hood. This is in addition to the Q7 SUV and the A3 small wagon already available. All of the new TDI models come standard with an eight-speed shiftable automatic transmission, Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system, and the second generation of Volkswagen Group’s 3.0L V-6 TDI engine. That powerplant is rated at 240 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque for the A6, A7, and Q5. It gets 240 hp and 406 lb-ft in the A8 L and the Q7, with peak horsepower and torque available for 250 rpm longer than in the other configuration. The 3.0L turbodiesel allows the A8 L to get 36 mpg, while the A6 and A7 can achieve up to 38 mpg.

Coming Soon:
Technically, the Audi A3 is currently unavailable, because it’s skipping the ’14 model year in preparation for the very early introduction of the 2015 model. The all-new A3 will include a four-door sedan trim for the first time, will be available with the 2.0L four-cylinder diesel, and will include Audi Drive Select, which allows you to adjust the throttle response, shift points, and steering effort. President of Audi of America, Scott Keogh, has been quoted saying the next generation of A4 will come to the U.S. with a TDI model, and we have our fingers crossed in hopes that the SQ5 TDI will also make its way here. That model adds a second turbo to the 3.0L for 313 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. It can also propel the small SUV from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds, while still managing a great fuel economy rating of 35 mpg.

BMW
BMW expands its diesel offerings this year with three new models and two new engines. The 3 Series diesel is back with an impressive 45 mpg highway rating (32 mpg city and 37 mpg combined ratings). The ’14 328d is powered by a new 2.0L four-cylinder turbodiesel that’s rated at 180 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The engine has a start-stop function that keeps it from wasting fuel while idling at stoplights, and it’s backed by a new eight-speed shiftable automatic transmission that can decouple from the engine for coasting. The 328d is also equipped with a brake energy regeneration system that disconnects the alternator during acceleration and uses brake power to keep the battery fully charged. Even with all these fuel-saving features, BMW says the 328d can travel from 0 to 60 mph in a little more than 7 seconds. Along with the rear-wheel-drive model, BMW is also selling an xDrive all-wheel-drive version of the sedan and an all-wheel-drive Sports Wagon that both get 43 mpg on the highway.

The updated ’14 BMW 5 Series sedan is also being offered in both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations. Under the hood of the 535d and 535d xDrive is an all-new 3.0L inline-six, which puts out 255 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque, propelling the luxury sport sedan from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds. This engine uses a single variable-geometry turbo in place of the previous two-turbo sequential design and is hooked to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The same drivetrain is also found in the all-new South Carolina–built ’14 X5 xDrive35d SUV.

Coming Soon:
Nothing has been confirmed, but it’s possible a BMW 7 Series with the 3.0L diesel could come to the U.S. to compete with the Audi A8 L and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class fullsize sedans. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see 2.0L diesel versions of the X3 small SUV and 1 Series compact sedan now that Audi and Mercedes-Benz are selling similar models with diesel engines.

BMW
Displacement: 2.0L
Configuration: Inline four-cylinder
Power: 180 hp at 4,000 rpm
Torque: 280 lb-ft at 1,750 to 2,750 rpm
Turbocharging: Variable-geometry turbo
Bore x Stroke: 3.30 x 3.50 inch
Valvetrain: DOHC 16 valves
Head Material: Aluminum
Block Material: Aluminum
Transmission: Eight-speed shiftable automatic

Displacement: 3.0L
Configuration: Inline six-cylinder
Power: 255 hp at 4,000 rpm
Torque: 413 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm
Turbocharging: Variable-geometry turbo
Bore x Stroke: 3.30 x 3.50 inch
Valvetrain: DOHC 24 valves
Head Material: Aluminum
Block Material: Aluminum
Transmission: Eight-speed shiftable automatic

Chevrolet
The 46 mpg highway rating of the new ’14 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel is the best of any non-hybrid vehicle on sale in the U.S. That’s a pretty good way for Chevy to erase the memory of its last diesel car sold in the U.S.: the underpowered ’86 Chevette. The Ohio-built Cruze employs an Italian- and German-engineered 2.0L four-cylinder engine that’s the cleanest diesel ever placed in a GM vehicle. The engine makes 151 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque under normal conditions, and up to 280 lb-ft of torque for 10-second blasts when the engine is allowed to “overboost.” The diesel is backed by an Aisin AF-40 six-speed shiftable automatic transmission, which is specific to the diesel model, and this drivetrain pushes the midsize sedan from 0 to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds.

Coming Soon:
The all-new midsize Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup will get at least one diesel option for the U.S. market when it is announced next year. Currently, the rest of the world gets to choose from a 2.5L diesel engine that makes 150 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, or a 2.8L with 180 hp and 346 lb-ft of torque.

Cadillac
GM hasn’t confirmed any future diesel models, but Cadillac has said that Europe will get a diesel version of the ATS, which could be a step toward it being sold here. Plenty of other Chevy, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac cars and crossover SUVs can be envisioned with the four-cylinder/six-speed automatic drivetrain debuted in the Cruze, but GM hasn’t publically announced any plans.

Chevrolet
Displacement: 2.0L
Configuration: Inline four-cylinder
Power: 151 hp at 4,000 rpm
Torque: 246 lb-ft at 2,600 rpm (operational)
Torque: 280 lb-ft at 2,600 rpm (maximum)
Turbocharging: Variable-geometry turbo
Bore x Stroke: 3.26 x 3.54 inch
Valvetrain: DOHC 16 valves
Head Material: Aluminum
Block Material: Cast iron
Transmission: Six-speed shiftable automatic

Jeep
The ’14 Jeep Grand Cherokee is available with the 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 manufactured by VM Motori. The engine is good for 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Jeep estimates this setup will be good for 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway for two-wheel-drive models, which gives it a range of more than 730 miles on one tank of fuel. The engine is backed by an eight-speed shiftable automatic transmission, and the SUV has an Eco Mode that optimizes the shift schedule for fuel economy along with lowering the ride height on models with air suspension. Unlike models with the Hemi gasoline engine, which have a 3.09:1 axle ratio, the diesel gets 3.45:1 gears, along with electro-hydraulic steering, a bigger battery, and a more powerful alternator.

Coming Soon:
While not a Jeep, rumor has it that we could see the same diesel engine show up in the Chrysler 300C. The popular sedan is already being offered with this setup overseas, where it is known as the Lancia Thema. On the off-road side, we understand the next-generation Wrangler could finally be equipped with a diesel engine here in the States.

Jeep
Displacement: 3.0L
Configuration: V-6 60-degree
Power: 240 hp at 3,600 rpm
Torque: 420 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm
Turbocharging: Variable-geometry turbo
Bore x Stroke: 3.26 x 3.62 inch
Valvetrain: DOHC 24 valves
Head Material: Aluminum
Block Material: Compacted graphite iron
Transmission: Eight-speed shiftable automatic

Mazda
Mazda is taking a very unique approach to modern diesel engine design with the ’14 Mazda6 Skyactiv-D 2.2L four-cylinder diesel that meets emissions regulations without the need for urea injection. The engine is expected to make 173 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque and manages to avoid the need for DEF thanks to its low 14.0:1 compression ratio. The unique, low-pressure design allowed engineers to reduce the weight of the engine by 10 percent and reduce the friction of moving parts inside the engine by 20 percent compared to the previous design that was sold overseas. This is combined with an electronically controlled sequential two-turbo setup, piezo injectors capable of nine injection events per combustion event, ceramic glow plugs, and variable exhaust valves that are opened during the intake stroke to maximize efficiency. Fuel economy is optimized with the use of a six-speed automatic and the I-ELOOP brake energy recapture system that constantly refills a fast-acting capacitor with enough power to run all the electronics in the car without draining the battery. The gasoline version of the Mazda6 is capable of achieving 40 mpg on the highway, so it’s not hard to imagine the Skyactiv-D model will far surpass that rating.

Coming Soon:
It’s likely the station wagon configuration of the Mazda6 will also be offered with the Skyactiv-D drivetrain, that is, if the wagon is ever sold here in the U.S. The CX-5 crossover SUV gets the diesel engine overseas, so it’s also a likely candidate if Mazda decides to expand its diesel lineup for the U.S.

Mazda
Displacement: 2.2L
Configuration: Inline four-cylinder
Power: 173 hp at 4,500 rpm (est.)
Torque: 310 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm (est.)
Turbocharging: Two turbos – small and large
Bore x Stroke: 3.38 x 3.70 inch
Valvetrain: DOHC 16 valves
Head Material: Aluminum
Block Material: Aluminum
Transmission: Six-speed shiftable automatic

Mercedes-Benz
The ’14 GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC and E250 BlueTEC 4MATIC have been added to the Mercedes-Benz diesel lineup. They both use a new 2.1L two-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine that makes 200 hp and a healthy 369 lb-ft of torque, which is sent to a seven-speed shiftable automatic transmission. The GLK-Class has been updated inside and out for the ’14 model year and is rated to get 33 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg around town. The E-Class has also been extensively updated for 2014, and the diesel model comes with a standard 4MATIC all-wheel-drive.

The rest of the Mercedes-Benz diesel lineup relies on the company’s tried-and-true 3.0L V-6 that makes 240 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. This engine and a seven-speed automatic transmission can be found in the M-Class SUV, GL-Class large SUV, and the S-Class fullsize luxury sedan. The R-Class minivan/wagon/crossover/SUV with the 3.0L is still being built alongside the other SUVs at the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, assembly plant, but now it’s only available for export markets outside the U.S.

Coming Soon:
Nothing has been officially announced, but it’s possible the new 2.1L engine could also wind up in the E-Class wagon, coupe, and convertible; C-Class sedan; CLA-Class sport coupe; and the upcoming ’15 GLA-Class compact SUV.

Mercedes-Benz
Displacement: 2.1L
Configuration: Inline four-cylinder
Power: 200 hp at 3,800 rpm
Torque: 369 lb-ft at 1,600 to 1,800 rpm
Turbocharging: Dual, sequential
Bore x Stroke: 3.27 x 3.90 inch
Valvetrain: DOHC 16 valves
Head Material: Aluminum
Block Material: Aluminum
Transmission: Seven-speed shiftable automatic

Displacement: 3.0L
Configuration: V-6 72-degree
Power: 240 hp at 3,600 rpm
Torque: 455 lb-ft at 1,600 to 2,400 rpm
Turbocharging: Variable-geometry turbo
Bore x Stroke: 3.27 x 3.62 inch
Valvetrain: DOHC 24 valves
Head Material: Aluminum
Block Material: Compacted graphite iron
Transmission: Seven-speed shiftable automatic

Porsche
The Porsche Cayenne Diesel is available with a 3.0L V-6 turbodiesel that’s rated to get 29 mpg on the highway. The engine is tuned for 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque and pushes the Cayenne from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. An eight-speed shiftable automatic transmission is standard along with a full-time, four-wheel-drive system. The drivetrain uses a Torsen limited-slip center differential along with the Porsche Traction Management system of electronic assistants to maximize traction and stability.

Coming Soon:
Porsche hasn’t announced any new diesel models, but the popular Panamera four-door sport sedan is sold overseas with the 3.0L turbodiesel. The soon-to-be-released Porsche Macan small SUV shares its architecture with the Audi Q5, so please let us entertain you with some wild speculation that there will be a Macan equipped with the 313hp and 479-lb-ft twin-turbo 3.0L diesel found in the European-spec Audi SQ5 TDI.

VW
Once again, VW has the most diesel vehicles for sale in the U.S., with seven different TDI models. The Jetta sedan, Jetta SportWagen, Golf hatchback, Passat sedan, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, and Touareg SUV are all available with turbodiesel engines. All models, except for the Touareg, use VW’s 2.0L four-cylinder engine that’s rated at 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. That engine is hooked to either a six-speed manual transmission (the only manual available for diesels in the U.S.), or a six-speed DSG auto-manual transmission that uses a dual-clutch system instead of a torque converter like a traditional automatic. Jetta models now have a fully independent rear suspension, which replaces the unpopular minivan-style torsion beam setup VW tried for a few years to reduce costs.

The ’14 Touareg TDI continues to be sold with the first-generation 3.0L V-6, but it now makes the same 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque as Porsche’s Cayenne (up from 225 hp last year). The engine is mated to an eight-speed shiftable automatic and VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system with a Torsen center differential and electronic enhancements. The Touareg is now available in R-Line trim that includes sport suspension tuning, 20-inch aluminum wheels, unique LED tail lamps, and lots of interior and exterior appearance upgrades.

Coming Soon:
Volkswagen has announced that the ’15 GTD “hot hatch” diesel based on the Golf will finally be coming to the U.S., equipped with a hopped-up, next-generation version of the 2.0L diesel engine and tuned to 184 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The more pedestrian version of the next-gen 2.0L will also arrive for the ’15 model year in the Jetta, Passat, and Beetle. Unfortunately, the limited-run XL-1 diesel-electric plug-in hybrid with its 800cc two-cylinder drivetrain capable of 262 mpge is not slated to come to the U.S.

Engine Specifications
Audi/Porsche/VW
Displacement: 2.0L
Configuration: Inline four-cylinder
Power: 140 hp at 4,200 rpm
Torque: 236 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
Power: 184 hp at 4,200 rpm (GTD—Europe only)
Torque: 280 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm (GTD—Europe only)
Turbocharging: Fixed-geometry turbo
Bore x Stroke: 3.19 x 3.76 inch
Valvetrain: DOHC 16 valves
Head Material: Aluminum
Block Material: Cast iron
Transmissions: Six-speed manual or six-speed auto-manual

Displacement: 3.0L (first-gen)
Configuration: V-6 90-degree
Power: 240 hp at 3,500 rpm
Torque: 406 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
Turbocharging: Variable-geometry turbo
Bore x Stroke: 3.27 x 3.60 inch
Valvetrain: DOHC 24 valves
Head Material: Aluminum
Block Material: Compacted graphite iron
Transmission: Eight-speed shiftable automatic

Displacement: 3.0L (second-gen, select ’14 Audi models)
Configuration: V-6 90-degree
Power: 240 hp at 3,500 rpm
Torque: 428 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
Power: 240 hp at 3,500 rpm (A8 L/Q7)
Torque: 406 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm (A8 L/Q7)
Turbocharging: Variable-geometry turbo
Bore x Stroke: 3.27 x 3.60 inch
Valvetrain: DOHC 24 valves
Head Material: Aluminum
Block Material: Compacted graphite iron
Transmission: Eight-speed shiftable automatic

Diesel MPG Shootout
The fuel economy rating system by the Department of Energy outlines various test procedures meant to mimic driving in city traffic, highway cruising, or a real-world combination of both. Unless the Mazda6 or Mercedes-Benz E-Class pulls an upset, the Chevy Cruze and BMW 328d will hold bragging rights for the best fuel economy ratings for model year 2014.

Vehicle City Combined Highway
Audi A3* 30 34 42
Audi A6 24 29 38
Audi A7 24 29 38
Audi A8 L 24 28 36
Audi Q5 24 27 31
Audi Q7 19 22 28
BMW 328d 32 37 45
BMW 328d xDrive 31 35 43
BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon 31 35 43
BMW 535d 26 30 38
BMW 535d xDrive 26 30 37
BMW X5 xDrive35d TBD TBD TBD
Chevrolet Cruze 27 33 46
Jeep Grand Cherokee 2WD 22* TBD 30*
Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD TBD TBD TBD
Mazda Mazda6 Skyactiv-D TBD TBD TBD
MBZ E-Class TBD TBD TBD
MBZ GL-Class 19 22 26
MBZ GLK-Class 24 28 33
MBZ M-Class 20 23 28
MBZ S-Class* 21 25 31
Porsche Cayenne 20 23 29
VW Beetle (manual) 28 32 41
VW Beetle (auto-manual) 29 32 39
VW Beetle Convertible (manual) 28 32 41
VW Beetle Convertible (auto-manual) 28 31 37
VW Golf (manual) 30 34 42
VW Golf (auto-manual) 30 34 42
VW Jetta (manual) 30 34 42
VW Jetta (auto-manual) 30 34 42
VW Jetta SportWagen (manual) 30 34 42
VW Jetta SportWagen (auto-manual) 29 33 39
VW Passat (manual) 31 35 43
VW Passat (auto-manual) 30 34 40
VW Touareg 20 23 29

*2013 MPG ratings; 2014 ratings may be higher.
Check fueleconomy.gov for the latest updates.

SOURCES
Porsche
Atlanta
GA
http://www.porsche.com/
Jeep
877-426-5337
http://www.jeep.com
Mercedes-Benz
3 Mercedes Drive
Montvale
NJ  07645
800-367-6372
www.mbusa.com
Audi Of North America
www.audiusa.com
Volkswagen
2200 Ferdinand Porsche Drive
Herndon
VA  20171
703-364-7000
www.vw.com
BMW of North America
300 Chestnut Ridge Rd
Woodcliff lake
NJ  07677
www.bmwusa.com
U.S. Department Of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington
DC  20585
202-586-4403
http://www.fueleconomy.gov
Mazda North America
800-248-0459
www.mazdausa.com
Chevrolet
P.O. Box 33170
Detroit
MI  48323
www.chevrolet.com
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By Trevor Reed
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1 comments
CanadaDennis
CanadaDennis

The Skyactiv diesel Mazda is offering is the most intriguing of the whole group.   Unfortunately it is not available yet due to emissions testing.  Maybe will be available in the new year.