It has been very interesting to see how, as the saturation of alternative fuel sources increases, the technology used in the U.S. has been dramatically split between the two different countries that are most integral to America’s automotive landscape.
Japan has graced the world with mass-market hybrids; generally, companies in Japan from Toyota to Honda have put most of its ‘green’ eggs in one basket by funneling large amounts of money and resources into developing complex hybrid systems that use an electric motor alongside a conventional gasoline engine.
Germany, meanwhile, has spent its time and resources backing clean diesel technologies, expending additional efforts to ensure that its cars are qualified to meet the States’ stringent emissions codes. While hybrids have been catching on in a big way, diesels have been taking their time — but it, too, has begun to find its stride.
Despite the cost premium up front, diesel engines might be a smart investment depending on the type of use that it will see, as it can offer a lower cost of ownership than gasoline. Here are six luxury diesel sedans that will run a bit more up front, but can reward the buyer for years after purchase. Since we here at Wall St. Cheat Sheet haven’t driven the vehicles in question ourselves, we turned to the automotive expertise of Edmunds.com, Car and Driver, and others for some insight as to the pros and cons of each vehicle. The following are ranked alphabetically.
1. Audi A3 TDI
Base price: $29,900 for gasoline model; TDI not yet disclosed.
Fuel economy: Unknown, but likely better than the 2013′s 30 miles per gallon city and 42 on the highway.
Pros and cons: Little is known about the new diesel Audi (VLKAY.PK) A3 sedan, as it hasn’t yet reached showrooms; however, buyers can expect commendable fuel economy, a lengthy options list, and look forward to Audi’s knack for gorgeous interiors. On the downside, the A3 may not offer as much cargo space as its rivals (and the new hatch version is so far unconfirmed for the U.S.), and the TDI engine will likely put a healthy premium on the car’s base price.
2. Audi A6 TDI
Base price: $57,500
Fuel economy: 24 miles per gallon city, 38 miles per gallon highway.
Pros and cons: Motor Trend noted that the mileage was very good for a large German luxury sedan, though it fell short of some rivals; however, they described the TDI engine as “potent” but also “quiet and refined,” which are usually the three big things luxury sedan buyers are after. However, the A6 TDI comes at a steep premium to the base A6, and is only available on Audi’s Premium Plus trim.
Power and drivetrain: The A6 uses a 3.0 liter turbocharged V6, that produces 240 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, routed to all four wheels via Audi’s eight-speed transmission.
3. Audi A8 L TDI
Base price: $78,800
Fuel economy: 24 miles per gallon city, 36 miles per gallon highway.
Pros and cons: The Audi A8 L offers tremendous highway mileage for a car in its class, and has the edge of being the only large luxury sedan on the market with a diesel option. Unfortunately, it’s an honor reserved to just the long-wheelbase model; after options, the car can be plowing past the $100K mark in no time. “It is big, elegant, and beautifully appointed and boasts enough rear cabin room to host the local Illuminati meeting,” Car and Driver said. Just be ready to put down some cash for it.
Power and drivetrain: The A8 uses the same 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 that’s found in the A6, which produces 240 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, routed to all four wheels via Audi’s eight-speed transmission.
4. BMW 328d
Base price: $38,600
Fuel economy: 32 miles per gallon highway, 45 miles per gallon city.
Pros and cons: The previous BMW 3 Series diesel was more about getting as much torque to the wheels as possible for performance’s sake, but the new model is all about efficiency. It has perhaps the best mileage ratings in its class, and produces a respectable 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. However, it is on the expensive side for an entry-level sedan (the base 3 Series costs about $6,000 less), and BMW’s options are rarely cheap.
Power and drivetrain: BMW’s new 3 Series diesel uses a new 2.0 liter turbocharged diesel unit (new to the U.S., that is), that pumps out 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels, or to all four with the xDrive option.
5. BMW 535d
Base price: $56,600
Fuel economy: 26 miles per gallon city, 38 miles per gallon highway.
Pros and cons: Edmunds noted that the 5 Series’ “elegant interior is well built and packed with high-tech features,” with “supportive” front seats and a spacious backseat to go with the 535d’s outstanding fuel economy. However, Edmunds said that it is “not as sporty or engaging to drive as some rivals,” and suffers from a small trunk.
Power and drivetrain: BMW’s fuel-frugal 5 Series uses a creamy 3.0 liter turbocharged diesel V6 that produces 255 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. Like the 3 Series, that can be sent to the rear wheels, or all four.
6. Mercedes-Benz E-Class BlueTec
Base price: $51,400
Fuel economy: 28 miles per gallon city, 45 miles per gallon highway.
Pros and cons: Edmunds enjoyed the “smooth and efficient four-cylinder diesel,” the Mercedes-Benz (DDAIF.PK) E-Class’ extensive safety features, and the “superb” ride. They also found, however, that it was “less involving to drive” when compared to its rivals, perhaps due to the suite of drivers’ aids that Mercedes deploys in its cars. It’s also less powerful than its direct competition, but it makes up for that in superior fuel economy.
Power and drivetrain: The E325 BlueTec uses a 2.1 liter, 195 horsepower twin-turbo in-line four, which sends power to either two wheels or four, if Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system is selected.