These Are The 10 Best Diesel-Powered Vehicles Ever Sold In The United States

These Are The 10 Best Diesel-Powered Vehicles Ever Sold In The United States

In Europe, the diesel-powered car is widely popular and accounts for close to half of the car market. This figure is much higher in Italy and France, with over 70{09e594db938380acbda72fd0ffbcd1ef1c99380160786adb3aba3c50c4545157} of the market share. They love their diesel engines because they are more fuel-efficient and have greater longevity than gasoline. But it is a different story in the States, where the diesel engine has never been fully embraced, and the mention of diesel often conjures images of slow, smelly, loud, and polluting trucks. Even after automakers threw billions to develop cleaner and more powerful engines, it has remained an uphill task selling the Diesel idea to Americans. The recent Volkswagen ‘Dieselgate’ emission scandal further damaged the American consumer attitude towards diesel engines.

Still, plenty of diesel-powered vehicles have graced American highways over the years. Cummins, the American multinational specializing in diesel and alternative fuel engines, is one of the major diesel engine contributors. Their engines are quite popular with engine swaps, and the 12 valve Cummins is arguably one of the best diesel engines ever made. If compression ignition excites you, here are some of the best diesel-powered vehicles ever sold in the United States worth exploring.

10 Jeep Gladiator

The Gladiator is a legendary nameplate, and the current compact pickup truck evolved from the ashes of the large, powerful Gladiator of the 60s. They are totally different trucks, besides sharing the Gladiator name. The new model comes with an optional 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine introduced in the 2021 model to address the lack of powertrain diversity in the Gladiator lineup.

It produces 260hp and 442lb-ft of torque, which is 25hp less than the gasoline equivalent but is much torquey. The ample low-end torque makes the turbodiesel feel quicker around town than the gas engine, while posting a significantly better fuel economy.

RELATED: Jeep’s New Gobi Paint Color Adds Desert Flair To Gladiator And Wrangler

9 Mercedes-Benz 300 CD/SD Turbodiesel

Mercedes had been in the Diesel trenches since the 1930s, but they took a bold step in 1978 with the launch of the 300SD, a five-cylinder turbodiesel W116 model built exclusively for the North American market. It oozed pure luxury and great fuel economy when the oil crisis was ending. These cars were so well built that thousands of them are still running more than forty years later.

Also, arriving in 1982 was the Benz W123 coupe, using the powerplant from the 300CD Turbodiesel. These cars are still running and are increasingly subject to restoration jobs. They are easy to convert to run on the more sustainable biodiesel fuel.

8 Jeep Wrangler

We are often guilty of overusing the word ‘iconic’ but not in the Jeep Wrangler’s case, as the American icon has maintained a rugged profile with military roots going back to the second world war. Since then, it has generated an epic, loyal, and ever-growing fanbase. Also, it is one of the few American non-commercial vehicles to feature a diesel powertrain.

The Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel tri features an impressive V6 diesel engine that makes it the second-quickest four-door JL Wrangler yet, with a 0-60mph acceleration in 7.5 seconds. The V6 turbodiesel engine is shared with the Gladiator and RAM 1500.

RELATED: 10 Glaring Problems With Jeep Wranglers

7 GMC Canyon And Chevrolet Colorado

GMC has been producing the Duramax diesel engine since 2001. It earned the nickname ‘Dirtymax’ due to its tendency to smoke heavily once modified. The current generation GMC Canyon features a 2.8-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder Duramax engine, the same one you will find on the Chevrolet Colorado. Essentially, both trucks share the same mechanics, with the Canyon offering boxier looks.

Thumping out 181hp and 369lb-ft of torque at only 2000rpm, the Duramax helps the Canyon and Colorado to a 7700lb towing capacity. Both trucks have an EPA rating of 30mpg highway, although the four-wheel version lowers it slightly to 28mpg.

6 Ford F150

Being the bestselling vehicle in America for four decades straight makes the F-150 an undisputed American icon. The pickup’s ruggedness and reliability are by design, seeing Ford test it over millions of miles before it is released to the market. The F-150 came with a Power Stroke 3-liter V-6 diesel engine, which was discontinued in the 2022 model and replaced with a PowerBoost hybrid option.

While it was the least powerful engine in the lineup, with just 250hp, its 440lb-ft of torque made it the go-to option for those seeking maximum towing torque. But, the new hybrid replacement betters the diesel on all terms, with 430hp and 570lb-ft of torque.

5 BMW X5 xDrive M50d

Over the years, BMW has built and sold some remarkable turbodiesel engines. The best of the lot was the powerful 3-liter quad-turbodiesel engine, which sadly ceased production in 2020 because the niche high-performance engine played a small role in BMW’s strategy. That doesn’t take away the greatness of the six-cylinder behemoth powering the BMW X5 XDrive M50d. It is one of the most powerful diesel engines for passenger vehicle use, with 394hp and 560lb-ft.

This diesel engine has one of the best linear power delivery and smoothness, and with 42.8 mpg, the M50d has an estimated 621 miles tank range.

RELATED: Watch This YouTuber Take A Diesel Cummins Mustang On A Road Trip

4 Chevrolet Suburban And Tahoe

The current iteration of the Chevrolet Tahoe and its larger sibling, the Suburban, share a 3-liter turbodiesel V6 inline-six engine as an option to the two meaty V8 gasoline powerplants. The diesel motor also appears in other GM big trucks, likes the Silverado 1500 and is good for 277hp and 460lb-ft of torque.

Power is transferred via a ten-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels and returns a 28mpg fuel economy in the Tahoe and 27mpg in the Suburban. Both SUVs make good use of the torque and the Tahoe can tow 8200 lbs and the Suburban 8000.


3 Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI

Some readers may have watched the video where a blue Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI tows a decommissioned Boeing 747 while already packed with 15,498lbs worth of ballast to prevent a wheelie down the runway. That was a major flex that helped show off the capabilities of the 5-liter V10 diesel engine, which punched out 304hp and 553lb-ft of torque. These aren’t earth-shattering figures on paper, which makes the feat more impressive.

The V10 TDI also shines on the highway, often climbing mountains without breaking a sweat or downshifting. A V6 TDI Clean Diesel was also sold in America between 2009 and 2015.


2 Audi Q7 V12 TDI

Most diesel engines are built to achieve fuel efficiency with little focus on fun. Not with the Audi, as they pay attention to diesel enthusiasm. A good example is the 6-liter twin-turbocharged V12 TDI featured in the Q7 SUV, offered between 2008 and 2012. The engine was loosely based upon the diesel technology powering the Audi R10 TDI race car.

The engine was the only 12-cylinder diesel powerplant for a passenger car and was good for 500hp and 738lb-ft of torque. The result was a quick and angry-sounding beast that could launch to 62mph in 5.5 seconds, with a 176mph top speed.

RELATED: The Audi Q7 V12 Is The Pinnacle Of The Dirty, Torquey Diesel Era


1 Dodge RAM 2500/3500 Cummings 6.7

The fortunes of RAM’s heavy-duty trucks changed in 1989 when they planted an industrial-strength 5.9 Cummins inline-six turbocharged diesel engine under its hood, which earned it a legendary reputation. The truck has evolved with the latest generation RAM2500 and 3500 features a 6.7-liter Cummins six. It punches out 370hp and 850lb-ft of torque, with a 3500 High Output version tuned for an astonishing 420hp and 1075lb-ft of torque.

The result is an impressive 37,090 pounds of towing capacity, more than twice what you get from the 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine trim.


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