The best diesel cars for 2019

We’re going to let you in on a little secret: diesel isn’t evil. Diesel-powered cars return better fuel economy than comparable gasoline-powered models, and they offer plenty of torque. None do it better than the Chevrolet Equinox. Its 1.6-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder returns up to 39 mpg, which is impressive for a vehicle this size. It has a well-appointed cabin with lots of room for people and gear, and it’s available with useful tech features like a Wi-Fi hotspot.

While the diesel-powered car is a dying breed in the United States, there are still several options to choose from, and Digital Trends has driven them all. We appreciate the driving range they offer, and we’re surprised at how refined the technology has become over the past few decades. If the Equinox isn’t for you, we’ve selected the best diesel-powered SUV, the best diesel-powered pickup, and the best diesel-powered luxury car.

At a glance

Product Category
Chevrolet Equinox Best diesel overall
Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6 Best diesel SUV
Chevrolet Colorado Diesel Best diesel truck
Jaguar F-Pace Best luxury diesel

Chevrolet Equinox Diesel

The best

Chris Chin/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: You want a crossover that’s as efficient as it is practical.

Product card: The Equinox Diesel boasts up to 39 mpg and 63.5 cubic feet of cargo space.

Who’s it for: Families who hate stopping for fuel.

How much will it cost: $29,600+

Why we picked the Chevrolet Equinox diesel:

Crossovers are hugely popular in the United States, but a vast majority of them leave the factory with a gasoline-burning engine between the fenders. That’s what makes the Chevrolet Equinox Diesel so unique: It’s the only diesel-powered model in its segment, though the competition is preparing to fire back, and it returns up to 39 mpg on the highway when ordered with front-wheel drive, according to the EPA. The penalty for all-wheel drive is a single mpg. To add context, the most efficient gasoline-powered Equinox returns 32 mpg.

The Equinox receives the same 1.6-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine as the now-discontinued Cruze, meaning it offers 137 horsepower and a solid 240 pound-feet of torque. It rides on the same platform as the Cruze, too, so it delivers car-like ride and handling in spite of its taller silhouette.

Chevrolet designed the Equinox with families in mind. To that end, the model boasts 29.9 cubic feet of trunk space with five passengers on board and 63.5 cubes with the rear seats folded flat. That’s big enough to fit a bike without taking it apart, or a flat-screen TV.

Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6

The best diesel SUV

The best diesel cars for 2019

Why should you buy this: 443 lb-ft. of torque – ‘nuff said.

Who’s it for: Adventurers with something to tow.

How much will it cost: $69,500+

Why we picked the Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6:

If you haven’t driven a diesel since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6 will leave you totally flabbergasted. It’s everything a modern diesel six-cylinder should be: quiet, smooth, powerful, and efficient. Land Rover went to great lengths to design an oil-burning engine it can market to discerning luxury buyers.

The 3.0-liter Td6 V6 develops 254 hp and a massive 443 lb-ft. It propels the SUV from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, which is comparable to the supercharged, gasoline-burning V6 also available on the entry-level Range Rover Sport. Land Rover estimates the diesel’s fuel economy is 32 percent better, however.

It’s not all about fuel mileage figures. The V6 generates peak torque at 1,750 rpm, so the Td6-powered Sport is well-suited to towing heavy loads and going far off the beaten path. Listen up, adventurers. This is the engine to order if you don’t want to step up to a more expensive V8-powered model.

Chevrolet Colorado Diesel

The best diesel truck

The best diesel cars for 2019

Why should you buy this: The Chevrolet Colorado Diesel is all the truck you’ll ever need.

Who’s it for: Buyers seeking a daily-drivable workhorse.

How much will it cost: $37,530+

Why we picked the Chevrolet Colorado Diesel:

Dropping a diesel engine in a compact pickup truck makes a lot of sense, especially for customers who need a reliable workhorse to drive daily. The oil-burner’s low-end torque makes towing and hauling a breeze, and the truck segment is one where any mpg improvement is welcomed like a Christmas basket.

Like the identical GMC Canyon, the Chevrolet Colorado benefits from a 2.8-liter four-cylinder developed by Duramax, the same company who designs the diesel engines used by Chevy’s heavy-duty trucks. It’s tuned to generate 181 hp and 369 lb-ft, and it returns up to 31 mpg on the highway. Additionally, Chevrolet notes the Colorado Diesel can tow up to 7,700 pounds when it’s properly equipped.

The Colorado Diesel is available in several configurations. The base truck comes with four doors and 61-inch long cargo bed. Buyers who need to put more junk in the trunk can order a 74-inch long bed, and those who want to hit the trail can select the ZR2 package. It adds serious off-road goodies like a special suspension with additional ground clearance, all-terrain tires, and skid plates.

Jaguar F-Pace

The best diesel luxury car

The best diesel cars for 2019

Why should you buy this: Efficiency, performance, and luxury come together in the F-Pace.

Product card: The F-Pace offers more torque and more range while using less fuel.

Who’s it for: Luxury car shoppers who drive a lot.

How much will it cost: $48,750+

Why we picked the Jaguar F-Pace:

You’re almost out of options if you want a luxury car powered by a turbodiesel engine. Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have ditched the technology, leaving sister companies Jaguar and Land Rover to carry the torch.

While the XE lost its turbodiesel engine as part of a recent mid-cycle update, the F-Pace remains available with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that sends 180 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque to the four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. It takes 8.4 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop, a figure that makes the diesel-powered model the slowest member of the F-Pace lineup. But, as a fair trade-off, it’s also the fuel efficiency champ; it returns 29 mpg in a combined cycle, 26 mpg in the city, and 33 mpg on the highway.

The diesel-powered F-Pace is as sharp to drive and as luxurious inside as its gasoline-powered siblings. It’s the most practical member of the Jaguar family, too, thanks to its roomy cabin.

How we test

The Digital Trends automotive team tests vehicles through a comprehensive scrutinizing process. We examine the qualities of the exterior and interior and judge them based on our expertise and experience in the context of the vehicle’s category and price range. Entertainment technology is thoroughly tested as well as most safety features that can be tested in controlled environments.

Test drivers spend extensive time behind the wheel of the vehicles, conducting real-world testing, driving them on highways, back roads, as well as off-road and race tracks when applicable.

Editors' Recommendations

You may also like...