Diesel SUVs are making a comeback after having lurked in the background as niche options for many years. Although it's still largely a Euro-only cast of characters, the number of diverse diesel SUV options has grown to the point where buyers can expect to find a turbodiesel model in almost every segment of the premium market. A few less-pricy diesel machines are now also on offer, rounding out group of vehicles that leverage high torque and respectable fuel consumption as their most appealing qualities.
Let's take a look at nine of the best diesel SUVs currently available in the United States.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is a brand new addition to the off-road marque's lineup. Although not the first diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee to have been sold in America, the 2014 model is the most technologically advanced, sporting a 3.0-liter V-6 that makes use of direct fuel injection and ceramic glow plugs to product 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. The engine, which is sourced from Italy, is capable of returning 22-mpg in stop and go driving and 30-mpg on the highway, is matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and can tow up to 7,400 lbs. As with all Grand Cherokees, the EcoDiesel model can be ordered with four-wheel drive.
Best Diesel SUVs - 02 - 2013 Audi Q7 TDI
The 2013 Audi Q7 TDI has been providing German SUV fans with a turbodiesel option for a number of years. The largest sport-utility vehicle in the Audi lineup, the Audi Q7 TDI features full-time quattro all-wheel drive as well as an eight-speed automatic transmission. Its diesel drivetrain also consists of a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6, a unit which has been tuned to provide 240 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for the hefty Q7 is listed at 17-mpg city and 25-mpg highway. For those who want sportier looks with their full-size crossover, the Q7 TDI can be dressed up via S line options.
Best Diesel SUVs - 03 - 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC brings diesel power to the luxury brand's entry-level compact crossover. The Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC makes the vehicle's 4MATIC all-wheel drive a standard feature, and a seven-speed automatic transmission is also included free of charge. The SUV's 2.1-liter, turbodiesel four-cylinder engine provides a respectable 190 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, and while fuel mileage estimates have yet to be released, it's reasonable to expect them to best the 25-mpg on the highway offered by its gas-powered lineup-mate. The 2013 GLK250 BlueTEC also gains a number of styling revisions inside and out as a result of the crossover's recent platform refresh.
Best Diesel SUVs - 04 - 2013 BMW X5 xDrive35d
The 2013 BMW X5 xDrive35d is a diesel-powered version of the SUV known for its handling prowess, and this characteristic is not sacrificed in the search for more miles per gallon. Trading off-road capability for on-road heroics is a familiar theme for BMW, and it is one that is complemented by the BMW X5 xDrive35d's 265 horsepower and 425 lb-ft of torque. These numbers are derived from a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard with the diesel X5 - as it is with every model of the SUV - and fuel economy shows as 16-mpg around town and 26-mpg on the highway.
Best Diesel SUVs - 05 - 2013 Volkswagen Touareg TDI
The 2013 Volkswagen Touareg TDI is a premium SUV that isn't advertised as one. The Volkswagen Touareg TDI's extensive set of available luxury features is impressive, while its pricing keeps it competitive with other large crossover options in its class. All trim levels of the Touareg TDI are motivated by a 3.0-liter, turbocharged V-6 engine that can be counted on to produce 240 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. Towing capacity for the brawny SUV sits at just under 8,000 lbs, and an eight-speed automatic tranny and all-wheel drive are also included with the vehicle. Fuel economy for the thrifty diesel truck comes in at 20-mpg in city driving and 29-mpg during highway cruising.
Best Diesel SUVs - 06 - 2013 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC (you will notice the similar lengthy nomenclature amongst all diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz SUVs) offers a refined version of the model that helped to kick-start the luxury SUV craze in the 1990s. The Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC offers 240 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque from a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 engine, and all-wheel drive as well as a seven-speed automatic transmission are included with the model. Fuel economy for the mid-size SUV checks in at 20-mpg in stop and go driving and 28-mpg on the highway.
Best Diesel SUVs - 07 - 2013 Audi Q5 TDI
The 2013 Audi Q5 TDI - once it goes on sale this coming fall - will serve as the only real compact SUV competitor to the Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC. The Audi Q5 TDI crossover will one-up the Mercedes-Benz in terms of power thanks to two additional cylinders under its hood: the vehicle's 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 deliver 245 horses and 428 lb-ft of torque. Combined with the model's eight-speed automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive it should offer formidable performance, and while official fuel mileage has yet to be advertised one can project a rating as high as 30-mpg during highway cruising.
Best Diesel SUVs - 08 - 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel
The 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel represents a different path for fans of the high performance automaker to take when searching for a high capacity cargo hauler and people mover. The Porsches Cayenne Diesel might not be as quick as the Turbo edition of the SUV, but it makes up for it by providing a towing capacity of 7,716 lbs (matching that of every other version of the Cayenne) as well as fuel economy of 19-mpg in city driving and 29-mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive is standard, serving to distribute the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6's 240 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque equitably to all four wheels, and an eight-speed automatic is also included with the vehicle.
Best Diesel SUVs - 09 - 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC 4MATIC
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC 4MATIC rules the brand's diesel-powered SUV roost as the longest, heaviest, and tallest option available from the Silver Star. The seven-passenger Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC 4MATIC makes use of the same engine found under the hood of the M-Class, a 240 horsepower, 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 that is also good for 455 lb-ft of torque, and its tow rating shows as a very good 7,500 lbs. A seven-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for the sport-utility vehicle, and despite its full-time all-wheel drive the GL350 BlueTEC 4MATIC is able to boast fuel consumption figures of 19-mpg city and 26-mpg highway. This frugality is head and shoulders above its gas-powered cousins.