The Truth About Cars » Diesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 23 May 2015 15:11:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Diesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com While You Were Sleeping: Jeep GC Pickup Render, Brilliance V3 Debut and Jobs, Jobs, Jobs (Or a Lack Thereof) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-jeep-gc-pickup-render-brilliance-v3-debut-jobs-jobs-jobs-lack-thereof/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-jeep-gc-pickup-render-brilliance-v3-debut-jobs-jobs-jobs-lack-thereof/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 10:11:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064017 As trucks ride a heat wave of interest from consumers, I look at this Grand Cherokee render and think, “That’ll do.” Jeep Trailhawk (Theophilus Chin) Self-titled Automotive Manipulator Theophilus Chin has put together a compelling image of a Jeep Grand Cherokee pickup. Exclusive: Honda Australia pensions off Civic diesel (GoAuto) As car enthusiasts scream for diesel […]

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Jeep Trailhawk Truck Render

As trucks ride a heat wave of interest from consumers, I look at this Grand Cherokee render and think, “That’ll do.”

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Piston Slap: What makes Premium Fuel More Expensive? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-makes-premium-fuel-expensive/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-makes-premium-fuel-expensive/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 12:21:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1041953   TTAC Commentator sastexan writes: Sajeev, I’ve been driving cars requiring premium fuel (91+ octane). When I bought my Contour SVT in 1998, high test was $0.20 more a gallon (just under a 20% premium over regular). But it was regularly always only $0.20 more. In the past decade or so, I noticed the delta […]

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Just the long and short of it. (photo courtesy: chemistryland.com)

TTAC Commentator sastexan writes:

Sajeev,

I’ve been driving cars requiring premium fuel (91+ octane). When I bought my Contour SVT in 1998, high test was $0.20 more a gallon (just under a 20% premium over regular). But it was regularly always only $0.20 more. In the past decade or so, I noticed the delta going to $0.30 and even more. The correlation did not seem to be to the price (eg, premium did not seem to track a consistent 15% increase). Rather, the difference appears to be a flat rate.

Question for the best and brightest – what in higher octane fuel makes it more expensive?

What inputs are there and how much more does it cost to manufacture?

This is not intended to be a debate about the “requirement” for premium – my SVT had an extreme dislike of 87 octane and I won’t try it in my FRS with the high compression engine. However my mother runs 87 in her  with no issue for the past 5 years despite the assertion from the salesman that the “premium product requires premium fuel” and did the same for her old I30 for 14 years (Camry engine and Maxima engine, respectively).

Sajeev answers:

I’m far from an oil and gas expert, but let’s hyperlink to relevant sources and give it the ‘ol college try.

What makes premium fuel more expensive is the effort to adjust the ratio of long to short chain hydrocarbons in grades of gasoline. A notable quote from the Quora link above.

“Effectively, the long-chain hydrocarbons (like asphalt and diesel) can be broken into shorter-chain hydrocarbons (like gasoline). You end up with more gasoline. You can also adjust the regular/premium output ratios with these methods.”

Perhaps more importantly, overall fuel cost is proportional to oil quality.

Not all crude oil is created equal. The Keystone XL pipeline (that everyone’s formed an opinion about) is proof: the quality of “tar sand” oil delivered to my Texas backyard is poor. Light, sweet crude is the good stuff: more expensive as a raw material but easier to refine. But there are varying grades here too: light crude oil is “defined as having an API gravity higher than 31.1 °API (less than 870 kg/m3).” 

Whatever that means.

Need more detail? Too bad I didn’t accept that Petroleum Engineering scholarship when I was a freshman. Perhaps there’s one within the ranks of our Best and Brightest?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: FCA Makes the Case for Czech Bicycle Ownership? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-making-case-bicycle-ownership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-making-case-bicycle-ownership/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 11:49:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1038801 TTAC writer Vojta Dobes writes: Hello Sa(n)jeev, As you already know, I had to get rid of the borrowed ’98 Town Car which served me for last 15 months. When I mentioned to you that I’m getting a ’94 Chrysler LHS instead, you told me that it would be wise for me to purchase a reasonable, domestically […]

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(photo courtesy: eBay.com)

TTAC writer Vojta Dobes writes:

Hello Sa(n)jeev,

As you already know, I had to get rid of the borrowed ’98 Town Car which served me for last 15 months. When I mentioned to you that I’m getting a ’94 Chrysler LHS instead, you told me that it would be wise for me to purchase a reasonable, domestically produced (which means European for me) car, so I have something that’s easy to fix and easy to get parts for.

I found afairly nice Alfa Romeo 164 Diesel, with just a few dings and scratches and in mostly working condition, save for some unimportantelectricals. Is that what you had in mind?Do you think those two cars will be enough to keep me mobile, or shall I better buy a new bicycle for times when there’s no press car for me?

Thanks for your input!

Sajeev answers:

Oh. My. Damn. Son.

I must remember all those Sierra parts you shipped for TTAC’s project car before I proceed. Because it’s very, very hard to avoid internet flaming when considering a transaxle-munching Chrysler LH car in the Czech Republic! And then, salt in the wound, maximum FCA  pain via used Alfa?

But you got press cars. (Not jealous!) And maybe your city is like others in Europe; flush with a strong infrastructure for bicyclists. Ditto public transportation. With that in mind, why not?

What could possibly go wrong?

You tell us, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Report: US New-Diesel Registrations On The Rise http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/report-us-new-diesel-registrations-rise/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/report-us-new-diesel-registrations-rise/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028297 Diesel hasn’t had the best reputation in the United States since the early 1980s. A new report says this attitude has changed as of late. According to Edmunds, IHS Automotive found in its report for the Diesel Technology Forum a double-digit increase in U.S. new-diesel registrations, jumping 13.5 percent between 2013 and 2014. Total diesel […]

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2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Highline brown

Diesel hasn’t had the best reputation in the United States since the early 1980s. A new report says this attitude has changed as of late.

According to Edmunds, IHS Automotive found in its report for the Diesel Technology Forum a double-digit increase in U.S. new-diesel registrations, jumping 13.5 percent between 2013 and 2014. Total diesel registrations in 2014 came to 7.4 million vehicles. California, Massachusetts and Nevada lead the rest of the country in those registrations.

Greater fuel economy, cleaner diesel technology, and more vehicles with diesels — like the BMW X5, Volkswagen Jetta and Chevrolet Cruze — are helping to fuel the spike in registrations, despite diesel still being more expensive at the pump per gallon than regular gasoline.

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DeltaWing Entering GT, Eyeing Future Showroom Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/deltawing-entering-gt-eyeing-future-showroom-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/deltawing-entering-gt-eyeing-future-showroom-debut/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 10:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027369 Coming soon to a track near you, DeltaWing will bring its signature design to the GT class, and eyes set on the showroom down the road. The latest racing variant is expected to demonstrate on the track “that with far less horsepower than many of today’s best sports cars, a two-seat performance car based on […]

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DeltaWing GT race car concept chassis

Coming soon to a track near you, DeltaWing will bring its signature design to the GT class, and eyes set on the showroom down the road.

The latest racing variant is expected to demonstrate on the track “that with far less horsepower than many of today’s best sports cars, a two-seat performance car based on the DeltaWing® architecture would deliver the same performance, yet with previously unimagined fuel economy and efficiency.”

The GT will, like the DWC13 Coupe campaigned by DeltaWing Racing Cars, be a coupe using weight distribution to its advantage, thanks to its narrow nose and wide backside putting 30 percent up front, the rest in back. The project won’t interfere with the team and its efforts in IMSA’s TUDOR series.

Meanwhile, that same basic design forms the basis for two- and four-passenger prototypes that could lead to a road-legal version of the DeltaWing. Preliminary data suggests the design would net “an unadjusted EPA fuel economy rating of nearly 74 mpg Highway and over 57 mpg combined rating,” adding that if one could buy a DeltaWing from the showroom today, they would have a vehicle that was not only the most fuel efficient conventionally powered vehicle in the United States, but would also meet the 2025 54.5 mpg standard. The ratings are for a DeltaWing powered by a 138-horsepower 1.4-liter engine placed in the four-passenger variant.

Aside from traditional ICEs, the company says the prototype could be fitted with hybrid, diesel, CNG, hydrogen and electric power, with results ranging from better range for diesel, EV and FCV versions, to a 42 percent reduction in emissions for gasoline models.

DeltaWing GT race car - early concept 1 DeltaWing GT race car - early concept 2 DeltaWing GT race car concept chassis DeltaWing common chassis

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GM Retaining Current Malibu, Cruze As Fleet Specials, Diesel Dead For 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/gm-retaining-current-malibu-cruze-fleet-specials-diesel-dead-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/gm-retaining-current-malibu-cruze-fleet-specials-diesel-dead-2016/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 11:54:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1025193 Although all-new versions of the Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu are set to debut by the end of the year, GM will retain the current versions as fleet-only vehicles, dubbed the “Cruze Limited” and “Malibu Limited”. While the Malibu Limited will be available in LS, LT and LTZ trims, the lone powertrain will be the 2.5L […]

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2014-Chevy-Cruze-Diesel-46-mpg. Photo courtesy AutoGuide.com

Although all-new versions of the Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu are set to debut by the end of the year, GM will retain the current versions as fleet-only vehicles, dubbed the “Cruze Limited” and “Malibu Limited”.

While the Malibu Limited will be available in LS, LT and LTZ trims, the lone powertrain will be the 2.5L I4. The Cruze will drop the diesel variant, but retain the “Eco” version, as well as the manual transmission option.

med_gallery_51_2_61213 med_gallery_51_2_38143

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-jetta-tdi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-jetta-tdi/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 13:14:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1021513 To say the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI isn’t about fuel savings is to miss the point. But to say it’s about all-around money-saving is to tell a lie. If your only mission was to spend less money on personal transportation in the new vehicle realm, jaw-dropping highway mileage generated by a 2.0L turbocharged diesel is […]

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2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI brownTo say the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI isn’t about fuel savings is to miss the point. But to say it’s about all-around money-saving is to tell a lie.

If your only mission was to spend less money on personal transportation in the new vehicle realm, jaw-dropping highway mileage generated by a 2.0L turbocharged diesel is not necessarily the ticket to personal financial freedom.


• USD Price As Tested: $30,020

• Horsepower: 150 @ 3500 rpm

• Torque: 236 @ 1750 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 44.4 mpg


There are much less costly ways of getting around town than in a highbrow Jetta like our test example, with its leather seating, navigation, upgraded audio, and Volkswagen’s dual-clutch direct-shift gearbox.

So why can’t the two objectives comingle? I’d argue that they can, that a new car buyer can enjoy the benefits of an upgraded, torquey, semi-luxurious, and spacious German compact car – and spend the money that’s required to do so – while also enjoying weeks of fuel tank range.

However, it’s not as easy for me to say that as it was in the past. After years of local parity or even diesel-favouring prices, diesel now costs significantly more than regular gas in Nova Scotia. The new turbocharged 1.8L four-cylinder gas-fired engine I experienced in the Mk7 Golf also eats into the TDI’s efficiency advantage in ways the old 2.5L five-cylinder never dreamt of doing. And the CAD $2300 premium for the TDI over that flexible 1.8T is frightening, at least before resale value is taken into account.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Highline brownThe TDI isn’t quite on the same level as a Tesla Model S, whose owner who can afford the initial outlay and enjoys the combination of electrified transportation and ridiculous performance. Nor can a direct comparison be drawn with a Chevrolet Volt owner who accepts the higher price of the car because he finds satisfaction in lengthy periods of electric-only driving without the penalty of limited range. Nevertheless, in a similar manner, the up-front cost and premium at the pump won’t hinder a TDI owner from sourcing pleasure in her car’s real-world pace and its aversion to fuel consumption.

See, just because a new car consumer purchases or leases a car with clear fuel saving intent doesn’t mean the consumer must showcase frugal tendencies across the board. They can still drive the car they want. And strangely enough, despite forgettable styling, a lack of auto headlights, not quite Golf-like steering, some wind whistle around the A-pillar, an antiquated infotainment unit, and one of the less effective DSG pairings, the Jetta TDI is, in fact, desirable.

Granted, I’d argue that it’s less desirable as the equipment level rises. The Highline-trim car loaned to us by Volkswagen Canada creeps deep into Passat territory. Yes, the Jetta is very roomy considering its exterior dimensions – at 182.2 inches long, it’s only two inches longer than a Mazda 3 sedan. But the Passat’s interior is utterly massive.

In the U.S., diesel-powered Jettas start at $22,460. The 6-speed dual-clutch automatic adds $1100. A Jetta SEL TDI with the DSG and the $1690 Driver Assistance package (forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, etc.) tops out at $30,020, including the $1750 diesel option. A mid-level Passat TDI costs $29,945.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta Highline interiorBut remember, the 2015 Jetta is not like the 2014 Jetta. Independent rear suspension aids ride quality, which really is quite serene. The upgraded interior, aside from the laggy touch screen system with its poor graphics, never once let me down in terms of material quality or ergonomics. Jetta steering still lacks the Golf’s sharpness, and the DSG’s lack of instantaneous response works with the comfort-minded chassis to steer you away from aggressive driving on twisty back roads. The Jetta’s overall on-road behaviour, however, provides a mature ambience, leaving me the with the feeling that the Jetta is perhaps better at taking the fight to midsize sedans as a slightly downsized alternative rather than challenging compacts with its upper-crust price tag.

Also updated for 2015 was the powerplant. The diesel is still a 2.0L with 236 lb-ft of torque, but it’s not the same 2.0L diesel of old. It’s quieter, smoother, and just a little bit happier to rev, and it’s also more efficient. The EPA highway rating moved up from 42 mpg to 45. In a week of driving around the city and its suburbs, the 44.4 mpg this Jetta registered was simply astonishing. With temperatures below freezing and a heavy right foot, the test example easily outperformed its city and combined ratings and very nearly matched the official highway figure.

Question the wisdom of spending $30K+ on a fuel miser if you must, but 44 mpg in city driving is the kind of mileage that engenders diesel loyalty. I just wish the 2015 Jetta still looked like the fourth-gen model, handled like the GLI, and could be filled up with fuel that didn’t cost an extra $0.47/gallon.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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France Encouraging Diesel Drivers To Go Electric Via €10K Incentive http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/france-encouraging-diesel-drivers-go-electric-via-10k-incentive/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/france-encouraging-diesel-drivers-go-electric-via-10k-incentive/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994258 Starting in April, France will encourage diesel drivers to replace their oil burners with electric power through an incentive up to €10,000 ($11,422 USD). Automotive News Europe the incentive would help “convince buyers to try an electric car,” per a Renault representative. The automaker’s Zoe would leave the showroom with a price of €12,400 ($14,203) […]

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Renault-ZOE-Leclerc-Brittany

Starting in April, France will encourage diesel drivers to replace their oil burners with electric power through an incentive up to €10,000 ($11,422 USD).

Automotive News Europe the incentive would help “convince buyers to try an electric car,” per a Renault representative. The automaker’s Zoe would leave the showroom with a price of €12,400 ($14,203) instead of €22,400 ($25,658), while its partner Nissan would see a drop from €18,090 ($21,650) to €14,390 ($16,483).

France Energy Minister Ségolène Royal says the nation “must eliminate old diesel cars that are more than 13 years old and have no filters,” adding that measures will make diesel “harder and harder” to use overall.

One measure in particular would align diesel taxes with those of gasoline. The alignment would help reduce smog, according to Royal, stating that “60 percent of the French population breathes air that isn’t healthy.”

At present, 80 percent of all French drivers move about with diesel power, though new-diesel sales have declined over the past two years, from 73 percent of all new cars to 64 percent.

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Glass’s: Falling Fuel Prices Mean Return Of Big Gas Guzzlers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/glasss-falling-fuel-prices-mean-return-big-gas-guzzlers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/glasss-falling-fuel-prices-mean-return-big-gas-guzzlers/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 15:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=983873 As the price at the pump continues to plummet — diesel not so much — British valuation guide Glass’s predicts big gas guzzlers new and used will return to the motorway. According to Just-Auto, Glass’s valuation chief Rupert Pontin says that despite such vehicles with 3-liter+ engines falling out of favor in the United Kingdom […]

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2014-rolls-royce-wraith-left-view

As the price at the pump continues to plummet — diesel not so much — British valuation guide Glass’s predicts big gas guzzlers new and used will return to the motorway.

According to Just-Auto, Glass’s valuation chief Rupert Pontin says that despite such vehicles with 3-liter+ engines falling out of favor in the United Kingdom since austerity took hold five years ago, falling oil prices could soon motivate consumers into ditching their Ford Fiestas for BMW 335i Sedans:

While no-one could call petrol and diesel prices exactly cheap, they are certainly falling to a level where some consumers won’t place fuel economy as high on their list of priorities as we have seen in recent years. Bigger engined cars are suddenly more viable.

Pontin adds that while this makes for a wonderful few years for bigger-engined vehicles, the environment could take a hit for the duration due to increased emissions from said vehicles.

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Nair: Ford Hard At Work On F-150 Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nair-ford-hard-work-f-150-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nair-ford-hard-work-f-150-hybrid/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 12:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955650 Losing 700 pounds may not be enough in the fuel economy for the 2015 Ford F-150, as plans are being made to add hybridization to the mix. Detroit Free Press reports global product development boss Raj Nair stated the automaker was “working very hard” on the hybrid system for the F-150, but that it was […]

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2015 Ford F-150

Losing 700 pounds may not be enough in the fuel economy for the 2015 Ford F-150, as plans are being made to add hybridization to the mix.

Detroit Free Press reports global product development boss Raj Nair stated the automaker was “working very hard” on the hybrid system for the F-150, but that it was too soon to go into detail on when it would hit showrooms or how the system functioned.

Regarding diesel, Nair said that fuel prices — already falling below $2/gallon in a few spots in the United States — are making such a thing tough to bring about, that even a hybrid system would pay for itself long before a diesel F-150 could. That said, if the demand is there, Nair believes Ford could tap into its diesel portfolio to make that model happen.

Speaking of fuel prices, truck marketing chief Doug Scott said he didn’t think sales of EcoBoost models would be dampened by cheap fuel, citing customers’ choice to buy an EcoBoost F-150 for the performance as well as fuel economy.

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France Begins Divorce Proceedings Against Diesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/france-begins-divorce-proceedings-diesel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/france-begins-divorce-proceedings-diesel/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954617 For the longest time, France loved the diesel. Alas, the thrill has gone away. Just-Auto reports the French government introduced a program aimed at removing the most polluting vehicles — diesel-powered passenger vehicles in particular — from the roadways, along with provisions for local officials to limit access to said vehicles. Prime minister Manuel Valls […]

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2006 Peugeot 908 RC Concept

For the longest time, France loved the diesel. Alas, the thrill has gone away.

Just-Auto reports the French government introduced a program aimed at removing the most polluting vehicles — diesel-powered passenger vehicles in particular — from the roadways, along with provisions for local officials to limit access to said vehicles. Prime minister Manuel Valls laid it out as such:

In France, we have long favoured the diesel engine. This was a mistake, and we will progressively undo that, intelligently and pragmatically.

Presently, 80 percent of the nation’s drivers operate diesel-powered vehicles, thanks to the lower price for the fuel over gasoline. Thus, to encourage them to consider more eco-friendly options, the government will raise the excise tax on diesel to €2 ($2.50 USD) per liter, and will begin in 2015 to identify vehicles by the amount of pollution they produce. Further, energy minister Segolene Royal introduced earlier in 2014 a tax credit of up to €10,000 ($13,500) for exchanging their diesels for an electric vehicle, while other subsidies linked to the new plan will help drivers in anti-pollution areas convert their old diesels.

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Editorial: Look To The Future For Further Ford Fuel Savings http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-look-future-ford-fuel-savings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-look-future-ford-fuel-savings/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950129 With its unprecedented shift to an aluminum body for the next Ford F-150, the Blue Oval appeared to be pivoting towards a serious improvement in fuel economy. But with the release of the official EPA figures, the newest truck appears to offer only modest improvements. Ford’s own release stresses a comparison between the new truck […]

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30-mpg-600x421

With its unprecedented shift to an aluminum body for the next Ford F-150, the Blue Oval appeared to be pivoting towards a serious improvement in fuel economy. But with the release of the official EPA figures, the newest truck appears to offer only modest improvements.

Ford’s own release stresses a comparison between the new truck and the 2008 model equipped with the now obsolete 4.6L V8 engine. One could make the argument that Ford is attempting to show how a returning customer might see significant gains from his old, V8 truck versus a brand new Ecoboost V6 rig. But Ford also didn’t compare the figures to the outgoing 2014 model, which is the typical convention.

That may be because the gains, on paper, are modest at best. Of the two carry-over engines, the 3.5L Ecoboost now returns 17/24/20 mpg (city/highway/combined), versus 16/22/18 mpg for the 2014 model. The 5.0L now gets 15/22/18 mpg versus 15/21/17 mpg. And the Ecoboost engines are notorious for doing well on standard EPA tests, while delivering lower results in real world driving.

If Ford’s past product rollouts are any indication, we will see incremental improvements over the next few years. A 10-speed automatic, due within the next 1-2 years, is sure to add further improvements in fuel economy. A new V6 diesel engine, set to compete with the Ram 1500 and its 28 mpg highway rating, is also said to be in the works.

 

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The Streets Of R-Ado http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/streets-r-ado/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/streets-r-ado/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936762 I felt like a spy within my own company. It was a hot summer day in 2003 and I was at the DaimlerChrysler proving grounds in Laredo, Texas to attend a focus group on the upcoming 2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class minivan/crossover/sport touring wagon. My dozen or so fellow attendees were all wealthy owners of high-end Mercedes-Benz cars. I was here because the […]

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2006 R500 Courtesy cimg.carsforsale.com

I felt like a spy within my own company. It was a hot summer day in 2003 and I was at the DaimlerChrysler proving grounds in Laredo, Texas to attend a focus group on the upcoming 2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class minivan/crossover/sport touring wagon. My dozen or so fellow attendees were all wealthy owners of high-end Mercedes-Benz cars. I was here because the Mercedes-Benz USA focus group invite filter did not recognize my net worth nor the fact that I worked for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. And I was not about to tell anyone that…

The Laredo facility included an assortment of handling, hill-climb and torture tracks, all on the infield of an imposing high-banked 5-mile circle track. The first impression of the scene was intoxicating to a car nut: Hey, there’s a Dodge Magnum, looks just like the spy photos! There goes the next generation S-Class! We were shown the upcoming GL-Class and the next-generation M-Class SUVs. Those vehicles, as well as the future S-class circling the track, were lightly masked but easily recognizable while the “sport touring wagon” was heavily, almost comically, disguised.  It looked like a giant black shoe box with a sloping hood.

My group of five folks and an engineer jumped into the future R-Class. The interior was well-crafted and amazingly roomy: I could stretch my legs out in the third row. Our moderator led us through the various obstacle courses around the grounds, switching drivers along the way. Finally we headed for the 5-mile circle. It was “Clockwise Day” which seemed strange to someone used to driving counterclockwise on oval tracks.  Our leader cranked it up to an indicated 150 mph and took one hand off the wheel to demonstrate the wagon’s stability. We were duly impressed.

We then each proceeded to take two laps each behind the wheel and several of us hit the magic 150 mph barrier. We were quietly cruising with six people aboard and blasting past Plymouth Neons on the inside lane doing endurance testing.  The original R500 with the 302 hp V-8 had a governed top speed of 135 mph. The Benz engineers would not answer questions about this drivetrain. In retrospect, I think it must have been the 503 hp V-8 from the planned R63 AMG under the hood.

We always said the R-Class would make a great hearse...

We always said that the R-Class would make a great hearse…

Years later I think: Were we really doing 150 mph with six passengers in a prototype with a drag coefficient of Melissa McCarthy?  Was the speedometer clocked? Or is driving on a banked, circular track as safe and easy as driving in a straight line? Regardless, I highly doubt there are many car companies who would allow a bunch of yahoos to drive their mock-up models at high speeds on their secret proving grounds. That day in Laredo was one of the highlights of my time in the car business.

Two years later when I first saw a production R-Class, I was shocked: it looked awful, a combo of awkward lines. I thought about Laredo. Were they hiding the R’s styling from us because previous groups had given it a thumbs down? Or was Germany so proud of the edgy styling that they did not want it leaked?  By disguising its looks, letting us behind the scenes to drive flat-out at their proving grounds, and not talking price or specs, were they guaranteeing that we each would  vote an enthusiastic “yes” when asked if we would consider buying one, which we did?

I was pleased to see one suggestion from our focus group about the poor location of the third-row shoulder belt hanger had been addressed.

 

It appears the Daimler is now selling their Laredo test track. Note the 2-mile oval track within the 5-mile highbank circle.

Daimler is now selling their Laredo test track. Note the 2-mile oval track inside the 5-mile circle track

The R-Class was released in the summer of 2005 to the sounds of crickets on the showroom floors. Press reactions were mixed, (“It’s big and it’s ugly, but inside it you can live like a king,” said the Sunday Times.) Within 30 days of the launch, Benz had to add dealer incentives to counter consumer resistance to the base MSRP of $48,000 for the R350 and $55,500 for the R500. A constellation of factors led to the R-class being a rare failure for Daimler: high pricing, murky marketing and product positioning, mediocre gas mileage, the recession and most of all due to its undeniable ugliness.

Sales of the R-Class in the US peaked at 18,168 units in 2006, far short of the corporate objective of 50,000 sales per year. Less than 3,000 were sold each year between 2009 and 2011 before the car was discontinued in North America in 2012. The R-Class continues to be assembled in Mercedes’ Alabama factory for sale in overseas markets. (US dealers toured the plant recently and upon seeing the R line, several joked, “Oh noooo, it’s back!”)

I had an R-Class company car in 2009 and it rode as well as I remembered, every bit an S-Class on the highway. Even better was the fact it was the CDI diesel variant with its gobs of torque and great gas mileage, a truly underappreciated engine.

I still think the R stands for Repulsive but if I could find one of those eighty 2007 R63 AMGs brought into this country…

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Porsche Injecting Diesel Power Into Macan For US Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/porsche-injecting-diesel-power-macan-us-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/porsche-injecting-diesel-power-macan-us-market/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931418 Porsche Macan enthusiasts in the United States who want diesel power will be able to order such a thing over a year from now, as Porsche is now hard at work bringing a diesel Macan to life. Automotive News reports the diesel-powered crossover will get its power from a reworked 3-liter turbo V6 diesel sold […]

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Porsche Macan enthusiasts in the United States who want diesel power will be able to order such a thing over a year from now, as Porsche is now hard at work bringing a diesel Macan to life.

Automotive News reports the diesel-powered crossover will get its power from a reworked 3-liter turbo V6 diesel sold in its native Europe and other markets, delivering at least 245 horsepower to all four corners. The vehicle would slot between the S and Turbo models as far as price is concerned, coming in at around $60,000 to start; the S has an MSRP of just over $49,000, while the Turbo begins at $72,300.

As for when the diesel Macan would arrive, the crossover may debut at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show before entering the showroom near the end of 2015 or at the start of 2016.

Meanwhile, those hoping for a base Macan in the U.S. will be waiting to exhale for quite some time. Porsche Cars North America vice president of marketing, Andre Oosthuizen, says there isn’t enough capacity to build the base model, sold in the United Kingdom and China, and won’t be under consideration “for the foreseeable future.”

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Hyundai/Kia Reconsidering US Diesel Market Stance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/hyundaikia-reconsidering-us-diesel-market-stance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/hyundaikia-reconsidering-us-diesel-market-stance/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930882 With their portfolio of hybrids and EVs in place in the United States, Hyundai/Kia are now reconsidering their stance on bringing diesel power over to the market. According to Ward’s Auto, Hyundai/Kia America Technical Center powertrain director John Juriga says his employer sees “some value with diesels,” stating the South Korean duo had planned to […]

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With their portfolio of hybrids and EVs in place in the United States, Hyundai/Kia are now reconsidering their stance on bringing diesel power over to the market.

According to Ward’s Auto, Hyundai/Kia America Technical Center powertrain director John Juriga says his employer sees “some value with diesels,” stating the South Korean duo had planned to bring them over as far back as 2009, only to back out due to then-upcoming regulations for cleaner diesels, the costs in creating them, and the higher price of diesel compared to gasoline. He says that while those issues “haven’t necessarily been eliminated, they’ve been understood better,” leading to a “more direct path” toward a U.S. diesel lineup.

Additionally, CAFE targets — especially the 2025 fleet target of 54.5 mpg — could necessitate Hyundai/Kia to add diesel to its green weapons arsenal. Juriga stated Hyundai may bring cylinder deactivation, PHEVs and EGR between 2016 and 2021, while nine- and 10-speed automatics could further its fuel efficiency game between 2021 and 2025.

That said, the duo’s diesel efforts would need to find the right fit in the U.S. in order to achieve success. Juriga explained that the Chevrolet Cruze Diesel made up just 3 percent of overall Cruze sales, and that the vehicle chosen by Hyundai/Kia would also have to go against Volkswagen strong diesel lineup. Though he didn’t offer what vehicle the duo had in mind, he believes the automakers’ customer base would be “more accepting of the technology and willing to pay a premium for the engine type in the correct product.”

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A 21st Century 240D http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/21st-century-240d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/21st-century-240d/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 20:16:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914898 The Mercedes-Benz ML is the latest victim of powertrain downsizing, but this time, it’s the diesel version that’s getting its cylinder count trimmed. For 2015, the ML350, with its 3.0L V6 diesel, will be killed off, replaced by an ML250, using the 2.1L 4-cylinder diesel used in the GLK and E-Class diesel. While the old […]

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The Mercedes-Benz ML is the latest victim of powertrain downsizing, but this time, it’s the diesel version that’s getting its cylinder count trimmed.

For 2015, the ML350, with its 3.0L V6 diesel, will be killed off, replaced by an ML250, using the 2.1L 4-cylinder diesel used in the GLK and E-Class diesel. While the old V6 was good for 240 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque, the new 4-cylinder will put down 200 horsepower and 362 lb-ft. Fuel economy is said to improve with the new mill, but a big car and a small engine tends to sometimes hurt real world figures, as the smaller mill must work harder to motivate the same amount of mass. Official fuel economy and towing ratings will be released later.

While AutoGuide.com quotes an M-B product manager as saying that the change comes from consumer demand for increased fuel economy, you can bet that CAFE had a lot to do with this change. Mercedes-Benz sells plenty of gas-guzzling cars, SUVs and AMG models and has been fined over $260 million for not meeting CAFE standards. No surprise that M-B has been a vocal opponent of the regime, which it says favors large trucks and SUVs.

So what better way to juice their CAFE averages than by saddling a large SUV with a tiny diesel engine? It’s not like this is something unknown for Mercedes-Benz. How many gutless, MB-TEX equipped 240Ds did they foist upon the American public, painted in hideous hues and sold at prices far beyond what many Americans expected a Cadillac or Lincoln to sticker at. Decades later, you’ll still have to fork out a $50,725 base price for the privilege of driving an ML250 BlueTec.

We may not exactly be in the Second Malaise Era – not with the advances made in automotive safety, fuel economy and power outputs, that let us have a 22 mpg Hellcat – but this ML250 is mostly definitely a modern day Brougham. Or a 250TD, if you prefer.

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Piston Slap: Have a SEAT in Spain? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-seat-spain/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-seat-spain/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:20:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=912322   Phil writes: I am going to Spain for 2-3 years for work but I have decided to sell my truck and only ship my motorcycle. Once I am there I will be looking to buy a cheap used small car, preferably a hatchback with a manual transmission. I am aware of some European brands […]

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greeting Medas Islands

(photo courtesy: www.whattoseeinibiza.com)

Phil writes:

I am going to Spain for 2-3 years for work but I have decided to sell my truck and only ship my motorcycle. Once I am there I will be looking to buy a cheap used small car, preferably a hatchback with a manual transmission. I am aware of some European brands like Seat, Alfa, Peugeot, Renault, etc. but do not know much about their modern line up. Gas or diesel is fine, can you help me with some recommendations?

Sajeev answers:

Since I don’t live in Europe and don’t know your budget–what’s up with you people not telling EVERYONE ON THE INTERNET how much money you have to spend on a car?–I say what I usually say: test drive a lot of cars in your price range.

And do a lot of virtual touring via Google Image search to see if you like a particular design.

Me? After seeing the SEAT Ibizia in person, I’d kinda go for that.  Or a Rio Brown MKI Ford Sierra Ghia…no wait, that’s already been done. Plus, SEAT is the Spanish offshoot of VW, with nice regional flare inside and out.  Lastly, depending on your budget, repairing a warranty-less VAG product in Europe is far easier/cheaper than in the Toyota-centric U.S. of A.

Luckily you have a motorcycle, there’s no reason to rush into anything.  Enjoy the buying process, and enjoy the local flavor by brand. Me thinks you’ll have a preferred brand in no time. Of course you can’t go wrong with a MKI Ford Sierra Ghia…even when you do.

Off to you, Best and Brightest!

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Mazda 6 Diesel Delayed Due To Need For After-Treatment http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mazda-6-diesel-delayed-due-need-aftertreatment/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mazda-6-diesel-delayed-due-need-aftertreatment/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 16:43:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=911226 The Mazda6 diesel, long awaited as the first major competitor to the Volkswagen Passat TDI, is being delayed due to difficulties meeting emissions standards without the need for after-treatment. TTAC has learned that Mazda is changing their strategy to incorporate an after-treatment, to help meet both emissions and performance benchmarks. According to our source, the after-treatment […]

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The Mazda6 diesel, long awaited as the first major competitor to the Volkswagen Passat TDI, is being delayed due to difficulties meeting emissions standards without the need for after-treatment. TTAC has learned that Mazda is changing their strategy to incorporate an after-treatment, to help meet both emissions and performance benchmarks.

According to our source, the after-treatment free Skyactiv-D diesel engine was unable to meet stringent US diesel emissions standards. When engineers finally produced a compliant package, the power output was reportedly considered too low to meet consumer expectations, leading to a major re-think of the diesel program.

The solution will apparently be an unspecified after-treatment, with the first diesel car slated to debut in one year’s time. While the Mazda6 is the first candidate for a diesel engine, our source said that its success could mean diesel variants of other vehicles like the Mazda3 and CX-5.

Mazda’s diesel engines previously came under scrutiny for reliability issues in Australia, which led to speculation that the diesel’s delay in our market was due to this issue. Perhaps these issues (of which there is no true solution) will be ironed out as well when the diesel arrives in North America.

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General Motors Prepares To Enter Diesel Car, Light-Duty Pickup Games http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/general-motors-prepares-enter-diesel-car-light-duty-pickup-games/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/general-motors-prepares-enter-diesel-car-light-duty-pickup-games/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=883258 General Motors has few diesel-powered wares at the moment, but with the U.S. diesel market expected to hit 10 percent of the overall market by 2020, GM wants as much as it can get. Automotive News reports GM vice president of global powertrain Steve Kiefer announced his employer’s diesel plans before those in attendance at […]

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General Motors has few diesel-powered wares at the moment, but with the U.S. diesel market expected to hit 10 percent of the overall market by 2020, GM wants as much as it can get.

Automotive News reports GM vice president of global powertrain Steve Kiefer announced his employer’s diesel plans before those in attendance at the 2014 Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich., proclaiming the current Chevrolet Cruze “will be the first of many diesel-powered passenger cars General Motors will offer in the United States.”

Meanwhile, the Duramax V8 offered in GM’s heavy-duty pickups will soon be joined by a 2.8-liter four-pot under the bonnets of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups. Beyond this, Kiefer hints that torque will be the driving factor on where more diesels will go. Thus, light-duty versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra may receive diesel engines to compete against the likes of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and the upcoming Ford F-150 SFE.

Kiefer concludes by stating GM will introduce more diesel power into the market “as appropriate and as the market accepts them.”

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Capsule Review: 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2014-chevrolet-silverado-2500hd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2014-chevrolet-silverado-2500hd/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 14:05:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=881746 This Duramax-powered 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD possesses an as-tested price that’s precisely triple the as-tested price of the 2014 Mazda 3 hatchback I drove around for a week back in late May. The Mazda had half as many cylinders as the Silverado HD, less than one-third the engine displacement, and no turbocharger. The Silverado […]

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2014 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD LT

This Duramax-powered 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD possesses an as-tested price that’s precisely triple the as-tested price of the 2014 Mazda 3 hatchback I drove around for a week back in late May.

The Mazda had half as many cylinders as the Silverado HD, less than one-third the engine displacement, and no turbocharger. The Silverado has 20% more seating capacity, a wheelbase that’s within eight inches of the Mazda’s overall length, 278% more cargo bed volume than the Mazda has cargo capacity behind the rear seats, and 2.6 times the weight.

The Silverado’s 6.6L turbocharged V8 diesel produces 242 more horsepower while generating more than five times the torque. Yes, it’s not quite three times as heavy as the Mazda, but the Silverado has the torque of five Mazda 3s. Mazda’s 3 operates only as a front-wheel-drive vehicle, but the Silverado can send power to all four wheels. Both utilize a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Naturally, none of this should be taken as a reflection of my opinion on the Mazda 3, which is probably the best car in its class at this moment. Take it as a prelude to my father’s concerns about my financial well-being. After all, GM Canada supplied me with the Silverado HD for a week, but the Cains supply the fuel.

See, I had told my parents that I could pick up their first-born and his wife and two of their kids and all their luggage at the airport in the Silverado HD so the patriarch and matriarch wouldn’t have to take two cars in order to manage the load. I was told that it would be quite late, and since I get quite sleepy rather early; since it’s a slightly longer drive from my house to Stanfield Airport way outside the city; since they’re anxious to see a family they haven’t seen in a year, I should just stay at home.2014 Chevrolet Silverado HD 2500 long box

The next day, however, I found out it was actually because my father didn’t think I should spend the money on fuel. Indeed, later in the week when we appeared at their place in our own car and not the Silverado HD, he once again asserted the view that it was because of fuel economy concerns, despite the fact that in long-box form, the Silverado simply didn’t fit in their parking lot. I kid you not.

But in real world terms, the diesel Silverado 2500 crew cab only consumed twice as much fuel as the Mazda. Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s certainly more than twice as capable.

Moreover, to what extent is (or should) fuel economy be a concern for buyers of a truck that costs $76,000 (before deep discounts) in Canada? That price, by the way, includes $23,040 in options on an LT-trim Silverado 2500, including the $11,115 Duramax diesel/Allison transmission combination, a combo which costs $8395 in the United States.

The Duramax isn’t installed in GM’s 2500/3500 pickups simply as a means of saving fuel. Diesels are the engines of choice in heavy duty pickup trucks because of the way in which their torque is delivered.

All of it comes on stream at 1600 rpm in the Ram Cummins, Ford PowerStroke, and this Duramax, although the Ram and F-Series diesels produce more torque, and the F-Series quite a bit more horsepower, too.2014 Chevrolet Silverado HD LT tow haul modeUnloaded and without a trailer, the Silverado HD didn’t so much feel like a torque monster as much as it felt like a very fast automobile. I can’t imagine how a full array of passengers, a fair amount of cargo, and anything less than a 6000-pound trailer would cause it to feel slow.

During its stay at our house, the Silverado didn’t max out its tow rating, I didn’t use a front end loader to throw a gigantic boulder into its bed like they used to in old Like A Rock commercials, and I didn’t transport five construction workers to a paving project on a main artery at rush hour.

This may have caused me to appreciate the Silverado’s range of abilities all the more, as its ride quality, mighty brakes, and genuinely normal handling by light-duty modern truck standards convinced me. I enjoy hushed cabins, comfortable thrones, masses of rear legroom, built-in bumper steps, and softly-sprung tailgates.

Outside of those extreme moments (of which there are surely more for the buyer of a truck like this) when the Chevrolet is pushed to its limits, this is a normal truck. And we live in an age in which normal trucks are very pleasant places in which to spend time. You won’t always tow a horse trailer. The bed will not always be loaded with lawn mowers and sod and mulch. I wanted to know if the Silverado HD was liveable, a normal vehicle to operate at times when it’s not executing abnormal job duties. It is.

I don’t like GM’s MyLink infotainment unit, because it’s slow, crawling through satellite radio stations like a snail who ingested too many of Colorado’s unique brownies. There’s quite a bit of disconnect in the steering for the first two inches or more on either side of center, though not an unexpected amount.

I’d like the HD version to be more stylistically differentiated from the 1500 trucks. The Z71 badges on the side of a bed this vast either need to disappear or grow large enough to look tough. Optional 20-inch wheels should look a lot more exciting than this quartet. If the front row’s middle occupant is going to be punished by a massive centre hump, couldn’t GM figure out a way to give them more than just a lap belt?

It’s also tough not to be tempted by the extra torque available in the GM twins’ two rivals. One might also assume that at some point, despite the goodness of their trucks, the concern analysts have over lost market share and the angst auto news writers have over recalls will cause GM’s actual buyers to rethink their own “time for a new Chevy pickup” notions.2014 Chevrolet Silverado HD LT woodsIncidentally, I did end up making it out to the airport. The neighbours and their 80-pound Husky/Border Collie didn’t want to pay to leave their car in long-term parking for nine days, and one morning they looked outside and saw an eight-foot bed attached to a four-door truck in the driveway next door. As you’d expect, the massive WestJet-approved dog crate and a load of luggage that included 50 pounds of meat for the dog didn’t test the cargo or payload capacity of the Silverado. Nor did the six pieces of eight-foot long quarter round trim I bought on the weekend.

Yet isn’t it interesting that the Duramax travelled 20.5 miles per gallon of diesel on that highway jaunt to the airport? (That’s about the same economy achieved by the Silverado 2500 HD in Winston Braithwaite’s hands.) Maybe it wouldn’t have been such a bad idea for the truck to complete the airport run earlier in the week, either, particularly considering the fuel economy of the Outback and Elantra that actually did make the trip: 23.5 and 31.4 mpg, respectively. Especially now that, in Nova Scotia’s regulated fuel market, diesel costs 23 cents less per gallon than regular gasoline.

Yes, this means instead of three Mazda 3s, you should buy one Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD Crew Cab.

In order to save money.

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Kia Eyeing Diesels For U.S. Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kia-eyeing-diesels-for-u-s-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kia-eyeing-diesels-for-u-s-market/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:20:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863481 Kia is apparently looking at expanding into the niche diesel market in the United States – but not just yet. Speaking to Just Auto, Kia’s Orth Hendrick, who is VP of Product Planning, said “The problem right now is that there are different emissions standards in Europe and the US, which means we would be faced […]

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Kia is apparently looking at expanding into the niche diesel market in the United States – but not just yet.

Speaking to Just Auto, Kia’s Orth Hendrick, who is VP of Product Planning, said

“The problem right now is that there are different emissions standards in Europe and the US, which means we would be faced with different after-treatments, and that makes it very expensive…But with EU6 in 2017-18 there would be the same standards in both Europe and the US, and that gives us a better chance.”

Now, the question is, what will be Kia’s first diesel? If I had to place a bet, I’d say the next-generation Soul.

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FCA Is Hungry For Diesels http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fca-is-hungry-for-diesels/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fca-is-hungry-for-diesels/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:22:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860921   Fiat Chrysler is hungry for more 3.0L VM Motori V6 diesel engines, but capacity constraints are limiting how many engines can be allocated for North America. VM Motori, a subsidiary of FCA, can build about 100,000 V6 diesel engines, with about half of those destined for North America. The V6 is offered in both […]

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2014-Ram-1500-diese-logo-450x337Fiat Chrysler is hungry for more 3.0L VM Motori V6 diesel engines, but capacity constraints are limiting how many engines can be allocated for North America.

VM Motori, a subsidiary of FCA, can build about 100,000 V6 diesel engines, with about half of those destined for North America. The V6 is offered in both the Ram 1500 pickup as well as the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

But a report in Automotive News paints an interesting picture of the demand for the V6 in each vehicle. The take rate for diesel Grand Cherokees has leveled off at about 8 percent, or 15,000 units annually.

By contrast, Ram boss Reid Bigland claims that

“We got well in excess of 10,000 orders in just the first few days that we opened this thing up, and that ordering and demand has really sustained itself,”

According to Bigland, the EcoDiesel Ram 1500s spend an average of 13 days on dealer lots, versus 94 days for gasoline versions. A search of Cars.com shows just 1,839 EcoDiesel Rams, but 3,907 Grand Cherokees, suggesting that the Ram (which sells in much bigger numbers) has a much tighter supply of their oil-burners.

Even so, Manley and Bigland denied that they are horse trading over diesel allocation for their respective brands.

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Next-Generation Jeep Wrangler To Take Fight To Soft-Roaders, Hold Rubicon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/next-generation-jeep-wrangler-to-take-fight-to-soft-roaders-hold-rubicon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/next-generation-jeep-wrangler-to-take-fight-to-soft-roaders-hold-rubicon/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860793 With more SUVs preferring the high street over muddy, rocky trails, Jeep boss Mike Manley plans for the next-generation Wrangler to better compete against these soft-roaders while still maintaining its Rubicon cred. Automotive News reports Manley’s plan to include “continued improvements of the powertrain package,” which may mean being fitted with Chrysler’s eight-speed automatic and […]

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With more SUVs preferring the high street over muddy, rocky trails, Jeep boss Mike Manley plans for the next-generation Wrangler to better compete against these soft-roaders while still maintaining its Rubicon cred.

Automotive News reports Manley’s plan to include “continued improvements of the powertrain package,” which may mean being fitted with Chrysler’s eight-speed automatic and either a smaller gasoline engine than the current 3.6-liter V6 or a diesel like that found in Ram’s 1500 EcoDiesel.

Regarding weight, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne believes aluminium would be another key ingredient in not only bringing down weight, but improving fuel economy on top of the aforementioned powertrain upgrades.

As for the solid front and rear axles that give the Wrangler its off-road prowess to compensate for increased weight and rougher highway travel, Manley didn’t say whether or not they would stay for the next generation of the iconic vehicle — due sometime in 2017 at the earliest — though he vowed Jeep would not “dilute what Wrangler stands for,” citing his killing of the two-wheel-drive Wrangler upon taking the brand’s reins.

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Capsule Review: Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-jeep-grand-cherokee-ecodiesel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-jeep-grand-cherokee-ecodiesel/#comments Sat, 05 Jul 2014 16:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=848298 To most North American consumers, diesel is an exotic powertrain option, full of promise when it comes to torque and efficiency. It rarely delivers on the promise. Based on our impressions of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, the same 3.0L V6 fitted to the Jeep Grand Cherokee seemed to be extremely promising – especially now that […]

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To most North American consumers, diesel is an exotic powertrain option, full of promise when it comes to torque and efficiency. It rarely delivers on the promise.

Based on our impressions of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, the same 3.0L V6 fitted to the Jeep Grand Cherokee seemed to be extremely promising – especially now that gas prices have spiked to record highs. But something was lost in the transition from truck to SUV.

The most jarring difference is the lack of smoothness that won us over in the Ram. The same engine that is nearly silent and effortlessly smooth in the Ram seems to have a much more audible, agricultural note, with inferior NVH characteristics. Somehow, the leisure-oriented SUV ends up feeling more like the work vehicle.

Diesel die-hards may shrug this off as panty-waist behavior from someone not used to compression ignition engines, but convincing customers to spend the extra $4,500 is going to be a tough sell for anyone who didn’t buy a diesel Grand Cherokee last time around. Especially when they hit the remote start only to be greeted with a school-bus soundtrack on cold starts.

That’s not to say that there are only drawbacks with the diesel. There is prodigious torque on tap (420 lb-ft, and 240 horsepower), and all that power is a great match for the silky smooth 8-speed ZF gearbox. Even compared to the 5.7L Hemi, passing is effortless at speed, while highway cruising tends to downplay the drivetrain noise. Only the woosh of the turbo is heard when you summon the prodigious twist of the VM Motori V6.

The rest of the car, like all Grand Cherokees, is superb. The steering has more feel than many passenger cars, while the air suspension gives superb ride characteristics on any road. I am on record as being UConnect’s biggest fan, and I can think of no better car to cover long distances in. Except for a gasoline powered Grand Cherokee.

Even though the EcoDiesel returned about 27 mpg (and that’s cruising at 75 mph with the A/C on – the EPA rates it at 28 mpg highway), I would find it hard to justify buying anything beyond the Pentastar V6/8-speed combo, similar to what Jack’s father bought.

If you are doing serious towing, or covering enough miles to justify the added cost of the diesel engine (and the higher resale value of the diesel should also help), then perhaps it makes sense. For myself, and many other consumers, the V6, V8 – hell, even the SRT – models will make more sense, given how quickly the higher trim level Summit models with the EcoDiesel can breach the $60k barrier.

As far as I’m concerned, the Grand Cherokee is still the best SUV on sale at any price. It has just the right mix of luxury, performance and discretion to be appropriate in any environment. The driving experience is more in line with premium European offerings than anything built by America or Japan. And given all this, I had high hopes for the diesel, and it did deliver on the promise of V8-like power with much better fuel economy. But I’m not sure it’s the all-purpose solution that many people were expecting. For me, that would be a nicely equipped Laredo with the gasoline V6.

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Don’t Hold Your Breath For A Diesel Jeep Cherokee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/dont-hold-your-breath-for-a-diesel-jeep-cherokee/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/dont-hold-your-breath-for-a-diesel-jeep-cherokee/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 12:30:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=853345 The Jeep Grand Cherokee received a diesel option earlier this year, but don’t look for the Cherokee to get one any time soon – at least not in North America. Speaking to Automotive News, Manley said that while the Grand Cherokee diesel take rate is about 8 percent, that number would have to increase before the […]

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The Jeep Grand Cherokee received a diesel option earlier this year, but don’t look for the Cherokee to get one any time soon – at least not in North America.

Speaking to Automotive News, Manley said that while the Grand Cherokee diesel take rate is about 8 percent, that number would have to increase before the Cherokee could get a diesel

“Cherokee is slightly different because of its weight and size. When I think about bringing Cherokee diesel here, I would like to see Grand Cherokee diesel get much higher than 8 percent…It would have to be in mid-double digits.”

While a diesel Cherokee likely has many fans on the internet, reality is more complex. A diesel Cherokee would have to sell in sufficient numbers to meet very stringent U.S. regulations, and would have to come in at a pricepoint that is palatable to American buyers. In the Grand Cherokee, the diesel carries a $4,500 premium.

There’s also the matter of capacity. With Jeep building about 250,000 units globally at its Toledo, Ohio plant, they may not have room to mess with the current model mix by adding a diesel. The Cherokee may not be tops on the compact CUV sales charts, sales are brisk and inventories are well controlled. Jeep is likely selling every Cherokee they can produce for the U.S. market, and a diesel may not be necessary – yet.

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