10 Cars and Trucks That Should Go Diesel

April 19th, 2013

2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara

If you’re like any other car buyer in America, you’ve probably noticed the wider availability of diesel models in recent months. It seems like everybody is starting to get in on the diesel game, with Volkswagen adding more diesel models after the huge success of its Jetta TDI, Porsche introducing a diesel version of the Cayenne and Ram recently announcing a diesel 1500.

Attracted by higher fuel-mileage ratings, greater reliability and longer-lasting engines, consumers are becoming more and more receptive to the engines that were despised just a few short years ago, when diesel was synonymous with noise, pollution and foul odor. Driven by advances in diesel technology, the new engines have largely wiped away consumers’ bad memories and are now finding their ways under the hoods of sports cars, family cars, trucks and SUVs.

While there is already a large selection of diesels that will appear in the 2014 lineup from the likes of Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, BMW, Chevrolet, Audi, Jeep, Porsche and Ram, there are still many holes in that line-up that we here at CarGurus would like to see filled. In order help fix this, we’ve brought together the 10 cars we’d most like to see offered with a diesel option in the U.S.

The List

Ford F-150
Ford F-150

First on our list is America’s best-selling full-size pickup: the Ford F-150. While its immediate big brothers (Ford F-250 and Ford F-350) have both had diesel options for quite some time, that option is currently not available for Ford’s ultra-popular light pickup. A favorite among everyone from ranchers to weekend warriors, the F-150 is, without a doubt, the king of the American full-size truck market (and has been for quite some time). With higher fuel prices driving consumers to look for better mileage (while government regulations force makers to achieve better mileage), it seems that adding a diesel would be a logical option for the F-150, as it would allow both consumers and Ford to improve their overall fuel mileage, while also preserving the raw power that pickup truck buyers look for when purchasing. With the recent introduction of the Ram 1500 diesel (set to be the only diesel on the light truck market in the U.S.), Chrysler has set itself up to dominate all demand for diesel in the market. We would love to see Ford get the F-150 in on the fun.

smart fortwo
smart fortwo

Next on our list is a car that has largely been a disappointment in the U.S. (although it most likely would have been a wild success had a diesel version been introduced): the smart fortwo. Hailed as a major advancement when it first entered the American market in 2009, the fortwo never gained the popularity Diamler thought it would, as consumers were disappointed to learn that the car would get only about 34 mpg city and 38 highway – a far cry from the 71-mpg rating belonging to the car’s European incarnation, which is powered by a diesel engine. Until smart can get mileage ratings closer to the European levels, American consumers will never go for the fortwo, not while there are 4-door sedans that will do close to the same mileage.

Ram 1500
Ram 1500

Rumors have recently spread that General Motors is looking to produce a new midsize truck that can take a stab at the Toyota Tacoma. While this is all well and good, why is GM not focusing on making its full-size trucks (in a market that they normally do well in) more competitive? Like Ford, GM should be feeling nervous this week after learning of Ram’s plans to produce a diesel version of its 1500. Unlike Ford and its F-Series, GM doesn’t have the luxury of already owning the full-size truck market. Further, the F-Series has a rabid fan base that is not likely to jump ship anytime soon, and GM’s trucks just don’t command that same type of loyalty. Long the distant second to Ford, it would not be unlikely to see GM owners jump to Ram if they see the options they want on the new 1500. Like we concluded with the F-150, we’d love to see diesel become a factor in the light truck market, and we hope to see GM bid to keep it from being a one-Ram show.

Honda Civic
Honda Civic

Honda has built its image by producing some of the longest-lasting, most dependable cars on the road. From the Pilot to the Accord, the CR-V to the Odyssey, everything Honda touches becomes synonymous with longevity and reliability. Long one of the best-selling cars in the U.S., the Honda Civic is no exception to this rule. While the Civic has certainly already claimed its share of the market, Honda could always do more to make it the undisputed king of reasonably priced cars. Seeing as a large number of Civics are driven as commuter cars in and out of cities (many over 100 miles per day), it seems that Honda could grab an even larger share of the market if it were to begin producing a diesel version of the Civic in an effort to draw these commuters in with promises of more miles per gallon and improved reliability. Well, Honda already produces a diesel version of the Civic, and it is wildly popular – in Europe. Boasting 67 mpg and much sportier looks than its American cousin, Honda’s Civic i-DTEC would make an excellent addition to the U.S. market and would prove a formidable challenger in a segment dominated by Volkswagen. With Mazda and Chevrolet sent to enter the market next year (posing a threat to sales of gas-powered Civics), there is hope that Honda may decide to finally start selling the i-DTEC in the United States.

Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Tacoma

There is no vehicle that has ever dominated a market like the Toyota Tacoma. Ford, Mazda, Chevrolet and many others have tried to take down the mighty king of midsize trucks, and none have been able to do so. Popular for its reliability, functionality and better fuel mileage, the Tacoma has knocked both Ford and Chrysler completely out of the market, and GM is currently making a last-ditch effort to remain a contender. While the Tacoma already has an impressive resume, the resume of its older brother, the Toyota Hilux, is even more outstanding. Sold in the U.S. until the Tacoma came out in 1995, the Hilux is how most of the world knows Toyota’s trucks – and most of the world knows them as indestructible, particularly the diesel versions. Given the success of the diesel Hilux, we think a diesel Tacoma could tighten Toyota’s stranglehold on the market, turning a king into an emperor.

Mazda Mazda3
Mazda3

Is it just us, or does the Mazda3 seem like the most popular car out there these days? It feels like every time we turn around, another one just “zoom-zooms” by. Maybe that’s because 3 of us here at CarGurus own this sporty little ride. As a personal aside for me (Henry), when I went car shopping in 2010 and happened upon the Mazda dealership, the car that caught my eye was the Mazdaspeed3. While I have no regrets about the decision to take out a mortgage on one, I do get envious when I see ads for Mazda’s SkyActiv engine’s fuel economy boasting a number north of 30 mpg combined. What would really make me and other speed owners jealous, though, would be if Mazda decided to throw a 2.0L diesel in there and bump that number up into the 40s. Until then, we speedsters will deal with an unquenchable thirst for the premium stuff.

Toyota 4Runner
Toyota 4Runner

It’s safe to say that every car buff at one point in time has wanted a 4Runner. Whether it’s the durability factor or the fact that nearly every one of Toyota’s SUVs ages with style and grace, we’ve all had 4Runner lust. Not that the 4Runner was ever in any trouble, but it has surely has enjoyed a 13-year reprieve from the also iconic Jeep Cherokee. Well, watch out, Toyota, because the Cherokee is back, and despite the mixed reviews of its looks, it’s going to offer a diesel option.

Jeep Wrangler
Jeep Wrangler

The Wrangler is already one of the coolest vehicles of all time, there’s no denying that. With Jeep introducing a diesel version of the Cherokee, one can only wonder when the Wrangler will receive the same treatment. Rumor has it we might see the diesel engine option in the next-generation Wrangler, probably after 2015. We bet that a bunch of those Jeep enthusiasts who have been dying for diesel power might well end up springing for the ’14 Cherokee Diesel despite compunction over the radical redesign just to tide them over. In essence, the Cherokee Diesel is like an appetizer before the Wrangler feast. Well played, Jeep, well played.

Ford Focus
Ford Focus

Much like the Mazda3, the Focus is out in full force these days. It’s economical, sporty and affordable. Pressed by the countdown to tight CAFE standards, Ford would be smart to offer a diesel version to compete with American compacts like the Chevy Cruze. Does Ford need to make the Focus a diesel? No, of course not. Boasting a self-acclaimed fuel economy of 40 mpg (hmm, sounds aggressive), the Focus is by no means a gas-guzzler. Would it be sweet? You bet.

Toyota Corolla
Toyota Corolla

We can totally see a 2015 Corolla in the year 2030 with 200k miles and one of those “This Car Runs On Veggie Oil” bumper stickers – a major bonus for quirky owners of old diesel clunkers! In all seriousness, though, why should the Corolla be offered as a diesel? Simple: to carry on its legacy as the biggest-selling car in history. These days, the Corolla is under assault by innovative, sporty alternatives such as the Focus, Mazda3 and Forte, just to name a few. While most of the other compacts get routine makeovers, the Corolla just seems to sit there. We know that the Focus poses a serious threat to the Corolla, so please, Toyota, beat Ford to the diesel punch!

What car would you most like to see offered with a diesel engine? Do you have any to add to this list?

-zwaller & hspitzer

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Be Sociable, Share!

  1. Randy
    | #1

    Diesels are needed the most in trucks and SUV’s, especially SUV’s. (And even minivans.) I’m not sure why anyone would add several thousand dollars of cost to a minicar to get a 20% increase in mileage. The real dramatic gains happen when you put a good diesel in a big SUV that’s getting 16-18mpg and increase that to 25+, while generally actually improving drivability and towing power.

    As for the Smart car, the reason it was never successful in the North American market is because it has such a stiff ride that it’s virtually undrivable in most areas. Get in a really bad road area like Boston or Detroit and you’ll need an ambulance when you arrive at your destination.

  2. Tom
    | #2

    I second the diesel option for both the Tacoma and the Wrangler. A diesel option for both have been on my wish list for years.

  1. No trackbacks yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.