Buying Guides

The 5 Best Diesel Vehicles Deliver Potent Efficiency

Just because VW screwed it up, doesn't mean the others are giving up

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Diesels in America have taken a huge hit thanks to the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal, but it really has nothing to do with how great diesels can be. They possess strong acceleration, get excellent mileage and hold up incredibly well over time. Unfortunately, most automakers are holding back on 2017 diesel production until further testing. You won't even find Audi selling their diesel line right now. Mazda is also waiting until the air clears. But a handful of great 2016 models are still available for sale, and we've chosen the five best that you can buy right now.

2016 RAM 1500 HFE

Best

for Contractor

  • PROS: An insane 29 mpg for a full-sized pickup truck, clean and well-designed interior, big towing and hauling capacity.
  • CONS: Large chrome running boards are nice but decrease fuel economy, styling is a bit on the boring side compared to its competitors.

RAM injects its big rig with high-efficiency, long range comfort and great workman's abilities like big towing and hauling capacities. The interior is as luxurious as you'll find, comparable to upscale sedans in terms of comfort and materials. Storage options are plentiful, too. The 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel is robust with 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. It even comes with full-length running boards and a tough tonneau cover that cuts down on fuel-robbing drag.

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited V6 EcoDiesel

Best

for Family

  • PROS: An American SUV that's fuel efficient and has excellent off-road prowess, luxury feel and a slew of amenities.
  • CONS: Almost as pricey as the Germans, handsome but slightly dated in styling.

Jeep offers their flagship vehicle in diesel trim, and that's excellent news since it already does so many things so well. It's roomy, luxurious, handsome and can handle trails like a boss in 4x4 guise. The 240 hp EcoDiesel engine gets 21 city / 30 hwy and also comes with remote start, power lift gate, heated front seats, heated steering wheel and 18-in alloy wheels standard.

2016 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon

Best

for Commuter

  • PROS: Sports sedan handling, premium looks inside and out, as roomy as some crossovers, four-seasons traction.
  • CONS: Sometimes frustrating infotainment system, can get expensive when adding options, auto stop/start system is intrusive

One of the few wagons left in the world, this one has just about everything you'd want including luxury, sportiness, efficiency and room, the 328d xDrive Sports Wagon is spectacular and versatile. Powered by a 180-hp 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine, the 328d also has a healthy 280 lb-ft of torque, great for low-end grunt. But it also boasts a crazy 45 mpg highway, coming close to Toyota's Prius, even. Looking at it and sitting in it are sheer pleasures, and the 53 cubic feet of cargo space with the second row folded is pretty impressive.

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel

Best

for Weekend Warrior

  • PROS: Quiet for a diesel pickup truck, excellent towing capacity, best-looking midsize pickup, good steering feedback and precision, torquey.
  • CONS: Some cheap-looking interior bits, no extended bed available in diesel.

The Colorado is selling like hotcakes, and for good reason. Not only are midsize trucks hot right now, the Colorado gets rave reviews for its capability, drivability and looks. It's almost a full-sizer thanks to the 7,700 lb tow rating. The interior is well thought-out, the steering and handling are better than you'd expect from a truck, and it's also got the rugged looks without appearing like a war-time relic.

2016 BMW 535d

Best

for Driving Enthusiast

  • PROS: Gets great 5-Series performance and handling in an efficient package, costs less and gets better mileage than the 5-Series ActiveHybrid, very roomy and well-appointed, fun to drive, 550+ mile range on a single tank.
  • CONS: Expensive when fully outfitted, looks a bit bloated on the outside, weird shift knob can be knocked into neutral too easily.

A strong case can be made for the Bimmer sedan in diesel trim since you compromise nothing in the way of steering and handling, get impressive acceleration numbers and nail serious range thanks to 38 mpg highway and a big gas tank. Sit inside, and you're awash in luxury; mash the gas, and the 413 lb-ft of torque pushes hard at low rpms and getting you to 60 mph faster than the gas version. It's also a safe car thanks to the available robust accident avoidance technology.

What's great about diesels

  • They get excellent gas mileage, close to or matching hybrids
  • Torque numbers and acceleration are robust
  • Diesel engines last longer due to stronger components and less heat generation
  • Today's clean burning diesels eliminate tailpipe smoke and keep emissions low

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