It's taken many years, but we've finally gotten a few diesel cars to choose from in the U.S. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen are all offering versions of their cars with diesel engines, and from what we've seen the fuel economy can be impressive. And unlike older diesel cars, these new models have good acceleration and no black soot spewing from the exhaust.
With falling gas prices dampening enthusiasm for alternative fuels, and poor economic conditions causing automakers to tighten their belts, plans for new diesel car launches in the U.S. have slowed. However, diesel engine cars still present a good option over gasoline-powered cars, generally getting much better fuel economy. Although automakers scaled back their plans, Bosch, which makes diesel engine components, still wants to change the perception of diesel cars in the U.S. so the public will be more receptive, and even demanding of this technology from automakers.
To that end, Bosch loaned us a 2007 BMW 123d, a car you can't currently get in the U.S., so we could see how it performed in comparison with gasoline cars. Combating the image of soot-spewing diesel trucks, Bosch adopted the slogan "good, clean fun" for its diesel technology, and the BMW 123d was a means to make sure we had some fun.
BMW started selling its 1-series car in the U.S. last year, as the 128 and 135, in coupe and convertible formats. While we found both cars to be very enjoyable, the 123d is a hatchback, a style that makes much more sense with the diminutive sports car. Increased rear headroom makes the cars rear seats more usable, although still tight, and the hatchback means you have substantially more cargo area. After driving the 123d, we really wish BMW would bring the 1-series hatchback to the U.S., with a diesel or gas engine. It didn't hurt that this 123d was also fitted with an M kit, meaning a sport-tuned suspension. … Read more
Mercedes-Benz has announced the addition of new four-cylinder E 200 CDI and CGI BlueEfficiency models to the European 2010 E-Class lineup.
The thrifty E 200 CDI is powered by a common-rail, direct-injected, 2.1-liter, diesel engine that outputs 136-horsepower and a staggering 365 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 62 mph happens in a decent 10.2 seconds, but what's most impressive is the 45.2 mpg that it averages while doing so.
Those who want a little bit more speed can hit 62 mph in 8.7 seconds in the E 200 CGI, which is powered by a turbocharged, … Read more
OGDEN, Utah--I love my iPhone, but usually, I try not to depend on it keeping a phone call active for that long if I'm moving around much.
But on Sunday, I had what I thought was a noteworthy session of iPhone continuity. On my Road Trip 2009 project, I was here in Ogden, Utah, nestled at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, about an hour north of Salt Lake City.
It was a stunningly beautiful day, and Ogden features hiking trails that go straight up into the canyons of these first few miles of the Wasatches. So I drove … Read more
BMW confirmed today that its BMW X1 crossover SUV will debut in the United States during the 2011 calendar year. The X1 will be available in rear-wheel drive and xDrive all-wheel drive flavors powered by both gasoline and diesel power-train options.
In Europe, the X1 will be available in six trim levels, from the 258 horsepower, straight-six gasoline powered X1 xDrive28i to the turbodiesel X1 xDrive23d, which produces 295 pound-feet of torque. BMW isn't telling which, if any, of the European power trains we will see in the North American X1, but the press release makes special mention of … Read more
The maker of some of the world's safest vehicles will soon be the maker of one of the world's most fuel-efficient vehicles. Volvo announced today plans to produce a plug-in hybrid vehicle that will be available in 2012.
"Most car journeys are short trips, for instance to and from work. We will be able to offer a product that fulfills this transportation need. In order to cover longer distances as well, the car will also be equipped with one of Volvo's fuel-efficient diesel engines," Volvo President and CEO Stephen Odell said in a press statement.
The new development will be a joint venture between Volvo and Swedish energy company Vattenfall. Volvo plans to create a plug-in version of an existing model rather than create a new one, and its charging systems will be developed and supplied by Vattenfall.
Volvo has previously stated its plans for a fleet of 10 plug-in hybrids. The Swedish car company did not name which of its existing cars will be the first to go plug-in, but last year Volvo road-tested the ReCharge Plug-in Hybrid, which is based on the C30 coupe platform and uses a diesel engine to power the lithium ion batteries. … Read more
We were recently given the opportunity to take the 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL320 BlueTEC on a long-distance road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back. While this seven seated behemoth was probably not the best vehicle to transport one journalist across the state of California, we figured this long trip down Interstate 5 would be a good opportunity to see how close the fuel-efficient diesel powerplant could get to its EPA estimated mileage.
The powerplant in question is a 3.0-L turbodiesel V-6 that outputs 210 horsepower and a beefy 398 pound-feet of torque. The engine sends its power through a seven-speed adaptive automatic transmission to Mercedes-Benz's 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive system. Keeping the diesel's emissions clean is an AdBlue injection system that scrubs up to 80 percent of NOx from the exhaust gases. Greenies will be happy to know that the BlueTEC diesel is also approved for use with B5 biodiesel.… Read more
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DETROIT--A diesel engine for the Ford F-150 light-duty pickup is looking dicey.
Ford had said it would sell a diesel F-150 beginning in 2010. Last spring, dealers were shown a 4.4-liter V-8 diesel said to deliver more power and torque than the F-150's 5.4-liter gasoline V-8 and offer a 20 percent fuel savings.
But last fall, with diesel and gasoline prices sliding from a summer peak above $4 per gallon, Ford officials said they would delay the introduction.
No new date has been scheduled, Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, told Automotive News late last … Read more
New particle trapping technology and significantly lower sulfur diesel fuel has opened the door for more diesel-powered vehicles to be sold in all 50 states. But the increase in engine cleanliness hasn't translated into increased diesel vehicle sales the way German automakers wanted.
The problem? Consumer perception hasn't caught up with engineering advances.
To combat the dated stigma that diesels are dirty, slow, expensive, and won't start in the cold, VW has launched TDI Truth & Dare, a new Web site that aims to debunk these myths.
The videos may provide a bit of entertaining education, but … Read more