Most Popular Diesel SUV Models

June 25, 2014

A look at 5 popular diesel SUV models, their cost savings, and tips for researching and purchasing diesel SUVS.

A diesel SUV is a great way to get better performance and have lower associated costs, as diesel engines need fewer repairs, and diesel fuel costs less. When compared to other SUVs, diesel models offer some of the best mpg and are some of the most fuel-efficient SUVs. Original diesel engines were very loud and smelly, but the newest models are very quiet, run smooth, and offer excellent performance.

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Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD
This is one of the first mid-size SUVs that runs on diesel. A very versatile SUV, it offers great driving on the road and off. The V6 engine is built by Mercedes Benz. However, not any old diesel fuel can be used. The CRD can only burn ultra diesel with is a low sulfur fuel. This produces low CO2 emissions and is legal in 42 of the 50 United States. The Cherokee can seat five passengers comfortably while providing plenty of room for storing their gear. Operating with a 26 MPG highway rating, the Cherokee starts at $35,000.

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Volkswagen Touareg TDI
The original version of the Touareg was one of the worst vehicles for the environment, but the TDI has replaced the V10 engine with a V6 turbo. Therefore, this SUV still has plenty of torque and horsepower, but it also has much better fuel economy than the equivalent gasoline engine. Safety has always been a major factor with Volkswagen engineers, and the Touareg is no exception. Receiving top honors for safety and impact testing, many people who own one of these diesel SUVs give good reviews on how safe they feel while driving it. A sleek design, it is comparable to the Audi in design, but closer to the Cherokee in mileage. This is one of the best diesel SUVs for an excellent balance of performance and fuel economy.

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BMW X5 Xdrive35d
The BMW diesel SUV offers high performance and can go from zero to 60 in just under seven seconds. It gets 26 mpg for highway driving and 19 mpg for city driving. This is considered a sports activity vehicle that is a luxury SUV. It was originally offered with a gas engine, but is also available with diesel. The diesel version has increased the fuel economy by 30 percent, and also produces much more torque.

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Mercedes GLK250 Bluetec
This is a compact crossover with a boxy body and a high roof. Mercedes Benz was the first manufacturer to offer diesel passenger cars and it still offers this for all types of vehicles. The diesel engines have low enough emissions that they are legal in all 50 states. BlueTec is the pollution control system, which contains two catalytic converters and particulate filters.

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Audi Q7 TDI
One of the things that will strike you about this top selling diesel SUV is that it doesn't look like an SUV. Rather, the Q7 resembles a slightly larger wagon that offers five doors and seven passenger seating. With a powerful 3.5L engine, the Q7 will also prove to be one of the more powerful diesel options in the SUV class. The price tag may be a small hindrance, but it is backed by the legendary Audi reliability. The TDI is one of the cleanest diesel SUVs in the world, and is greener and more efficient than other models in its class. The Q7 has an ultra low emission certification and produces 15 percent fewer emissions than other engines. It produces 406 lb-feet of torque and 225 horsepower. While being a luxury vehicle, it still has enough pull for towing. The gas mileage ranges from 30 to 33 mpg.

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Economic Pros and Cons of Diesel SUVs

It is important to consider the economic advantages and disadvantages of buying a diesel SUV. Be sure to use a website like CarsDirect to find diesel SUVs for sale in your area. Remember, if you have any particular questions about an SUV for sale, contact the seller directly.

Economic Advantages

  • Better fuel economy. A diesel SUV can get much better fuel economy in both city and highway driving conditions. Visit to learn more about the differences in fuel economy between gasoline and diesel-powered SUVs. By getting better fuel economy, you can save money on gas, although you will have to make a larger initial investment to purchase a diesel SUV.
  • Better resale value. Diesel SUVs can be worth much more than gasoline SUVs. When fuel prices spike, the values of gasoline-powered SUVs fall while diesels rise in value. This higher resale value may be offset by a higher initial cost, but you will definitely face less depreciation with a diesel SUV.
  • Less frequent maintenance. The heavy-duty engine and transmission combinations used on diesel SUVs mean you will spend less time in dealership service departments. While gasoline SUVs may require oil changes as frequently as every 3,000 miles, some manufacturers recommend a service interval of up to 10,000 miles for diesel SUVs. Refer to an owner's manual or maintenance schedule for the specifics on diesel SUV maintenance. Economic Disadvantages
  • Larger initial investment. While a diesel SUV offers excellent fuel economy and higher resale value, they also cost much more than similar gasoline-powered models. For example, on General Motors trucks and SUVs, the Duramax diesel option can cost up to $7,000 more than a non-diesel. Depending on how many miles you drive the truck, it could take years to offset the higher initial investment with the savings from spending less on fuel. This break-even point will come sooner for high-mileage drivers, and will be most beneficial to high-mileage drivers who keep their SUV for many years.
  • Higher finance rates. If you are taking out a loan, you may find that your interest rate is higher on a diesel SUV. Some lenders simply do not finance diesels, and others view all diesel vehicles as commercial vehicles, which normally have higher interest rates. You are most likely to encounter higher rates if you purchase your diesel SUV new, as captive lenders like GMAC and Ford Motor Credit may not offer their no or low-interest deals on diesel vehicles, while rates as low as 0 percent APR are available on gas SUVs.
  • Urea injection. Modern clean diesels may require urea to reduce exhaust gas and pollutants. The urea tank must be filled at regular maintenance intervals, normally at the time of an oil change. While urea is generally cheap, dealerships may charge a significant amount for this service.

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Diesel SUV MPG: Will You Really Be Saving Money?

As people are searching for more fuel efficient ways to travel, diesel engines are finding their way into everyday life. More and more vehicles are being powered by diesel engines. This is true of sport utility vehicles. These larger vehicles are notorious for the gas they consume to drive their larger bodies and bigger payloads. A diesel SUV gives the same convenience of a large vehicle, but costs much less to operate, as it uses less fuel.

Diesel Has Come a Long Way
For many years there was a stigma with diesel engines that they did not deliver enough accelerating power and were too loud. We have all heard the telltale sound of a diesel truck driving by with its loud knocking sound. However, because of new technologies, and especially work by the Volkswagen engineers, diesel engines have come a long way. The power has been drastically increased while the noise has been suppressed. Many people in America were not so willing to give diesel a try in their SUVs until Ford introduced their diesel Excursion.

Saving Money with Diesel
Larger SUV engines need a lot of fuel to give them the power to do the things that an SUV is made for: hauling large families, being able to tow campers, boats or other trailers and just generally having enough room. This means that a regular gas engine will only give you about 24 MPG on a 6-cylinder engine. Even then, in the larger SUVs this is not enough power. A V-8 is used. This engine then drops the MPG even further. Diesel engines have created a fuel efficient SUV as they can now get between 28 and 32 MPG for the much larger vehicles.

Cleaner and More Efficient
A diesel engine is a great alternative to regular gas, as it will burn much cleaner. Regular unleaded gas gives off deadly carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases. While a diesel does give off some harmful gases in its exhaust, it is not as much as an unleaded gas engine. The way the fuel is consumed is most of the reason. Instead of wasting gas by mixing it with air and then compressing it, a diesel engine injects the fuel into the air after it has already been compressed. No spark is required, as the air is already heated enough because of the compression. This uses less fuel to run, creating a more efficient engine.

Gas Prices vs. Diesel Prices
In many parts of the country diesel prices are actually higher than regular gas. While you may be paying more for your gas at the pump, you are not at the pump as often. This means that you save more money than someone in a comparable SUV that uses regular gas. There are other parts of the world where diesel is regulated by the country, so the price does not rise higher than regular gas.

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Differences between Diesel and Hybrid SUVs

It is worth pointing out a few of the biggest differences between SUVs with a diesel engine and the ones with an electric motor hybrid. It is true, hybrid cars and SUVs are becoming more and more popular, but cars and SUVs that run on diesel enjoy longstanding popularity due in part to their gas mileage and clean running.

Price is always going to make a difference when comparison shopping. Many diesel SUVs tend to be luxury models from manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes and Audi. Volkswagen is a lower priced diesel SUV model, but believe it or not, the Lexus RX 450h beats them all in price. It starts at about $50,000. The next closest is the Volkswagen Touareg TDI at $52,000, and then it jumps up to $58,000 and $65,000 for the Mercedes ML320 and BMW X5 respectively. So in terms of money, the Lexus hybrid beats out the competition.

Although this is not important for some consumers, it is for others. Acceleration can denote the power capability of a vehicle, and sometimes--in a real world situation--better acceleration is necessary. Once again, the Lexus RX 450h gets the blue ribbon. Getting from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds does the BMW X5 better by 3/10ths of second. Interestingly, the Mercedes came in last.

Fuel Economy
This feature of the comparison, perhaps more than any other, bears the most weight on the discussion. The idea is to get better gas mileage, but diesel engines are known already for getting up to 30 percent better gas mileage than their gas powered counterparts. Electric hybrids are reputed to have even better fuel efficiency, but in reality it only happens in certain situations. When a hybrid is coasting downhill the gas mileage is off the charts. Drive uphill in cold weather, however, and it is a different story. Still, the Lexus RX 450h wins again getting 23 mpg, but that is only one mpg better than the BMX X5.

Taken all together, a hybrid SUV might be the way to go. It is a matter of taste, of course, and considering that the gas mileage is not astronomically better than a diesel SUV, you might still opt for the luxury diesel model. Keep in mind, though, that diesel prices are considerably higher than standard gasoline, so this will influence the overall efficiency rating. In terms of price, acceleration and fuel economy, the Lexus hybrid SUV offers the most compelling argument for purchasing it.

Rumor has it that a diesel-electric hybrid is in the works by some of the same companies that produce diesel SUVs. This could be a match made in heaven, combining the best of both worlds. Compare diesel SUVs to hybrid SUVs for yourself and weigh all of your options when you're thinking of purchasing one. Each type offers something out of the ordinary, whether it is style, substance or great gas mileage.

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How to Buy a Diesel SUV for Cheap

Many manufacturers today are producing SUVs with a diesel engine because of their popularity and because of the fuel economy of a diesel engine. Sport utility vehicles are notorious for guzzling a lot of gas because of the power needed to drive their larger frames and payload. Diesel SUV vehicles give owners a better option for keeping gas consumption under control. If you are looking for the best cost diesel SUV, here are a few steps to ensure you get the best price.

Look Online for Cheap New SUVs
With a click of the mouse you can search through thousands of diesel SUV listings from around the country. Go to CarsDirect to begin your search and see where some great deals are.

Check Classified Listings
Instead of looking at new SUVs, you can also buy a diesel SUV used. This is where you will find some potentially big savings as far as price and quality goes. Look online at places like Craiglist or Ebay. These online classified websites will list SUVs from around the country. You can even narrow down your search for more local results. There are times when someone needs to sell their diesel SUV because of reasons that have nothing to do with the vehicle. There is a degree of caution to be used when buying from these places, but you can generally get a great buy.

Sign Up for Email Notices
Several times throughout the year, manufacturers offer rebates for many of their vehicles. If you are looking at a new Tahoe, sign up for email notices on when rebates are available from the Chevy website or from your local dealer. There are also times when they offer email only rebates, which are exclusive to people on their list.

Buy at Specific Times
Wait for special times during the year to make your purchase. At the beginning of summer is always a good time to buy, as dealers want to start the summer season off right. They will offer discounts and special incentives for first time buyers. The end of the year is another powerful time to buy a new SUV. Local dealers want to get rid of their old inventory so they are not stuck with paying taxes on it. Deep discounts, rebates, and special incentives are offered during this time.

Know the Power of Negotiation
There are times when you need to buy a vehicle quickly. This does not mean that you have to be stuck with paying too much. Learn the power of negotiation and use it to your advantage. Do not fall in love with a vehicle before you buy it. Be willing to walk away from it if you do not get your price. Usually, within a few days you will receive a call wanting to continue talking about that vehicle.

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A Buyers Checklist for Avoiding Lemons

A lot of buyers are looking into buying diesel SUVs, so you are not just looking for the best deals, you are competing with other buyers to find the best vehicle on the lot. If you are in the market for a new or used diesel SUV, here are a few things to look out for to avoid some of the lemons sitting in the lots.

Ask for a History Report
You might have seen the commercials already, but asking for a vehicle history report from a company like AutoCheck will give you a good look at what the car has been through. This means any floods, repairs, accidents and even recalls associated with the vehicle. A lot of dealers will not volunteer this information. You must ask for it.

Check the Blue Book Price
Not as accurate as it once was, the Kelley Blue Book is still a good place to start when looking at the perceived value of diesel SUVs. It will help you know if the car you're looking it is overpriced.

Check Local Prices
A better view of where the car should be valued is to look at the local prices and what a used diesel SUV is actually selling for. These real world numbers will show you if the SUV you are looking at is overpriced or underpriced on the lot. While it may seem like a good thing that a car is underpriced, it is also an indicator that something is wrong with it and the dealer wants to sell it quickly.

Look for Signs of Trouble
There are some signs that a used diesel engine is going to give you problems. Look for exhaust marks on the side of the vehicle. Look for any cracks in the firewall, or along the block itself. Look at signs of oil that has splattered around the engine compartment. Look under the car itself for signs of leaks and even pieces of metal.

Look at Fluids
Two major fluids in used diesel engines are the coolant and oil. Take a look at both of these fluids to see if anything internal is going wrong. Coolant that has streaks with a lot of gunk in it is not a good sign. Also, if the oil has some white coloring, or is milky in texture, there is a problem with the engine.

Check the Tires
Tires are a very good indicator on used SUVs. Look at the tread wear and see if the vehicle has problems staying in alignment, or vibrates a lot. Too much wear on the inside or outside of the tread is an indication of handling problems. A cupping of the tire tread is an indication of excessive vibrations.