For more than a decade, automakers have vowed to bring a phalanx of new diesel-powered vehicles to these shores, and for a decade those promises have gone unfulfilled due to a mix of hurdles. Today, Jeep showed off its long-expected diesel expansion with the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, offering 30 mpg on the highway in a sport utility vehicle that can tow 7,400 lbs.
Diesel engines account for a majority of new vehicles sold in Europe thanks to lower taxes on diesel fuel than on regular gasoline, but in the United States diesels have been slowed by whipsawing fuel prices and the extra expense of tougher emission controls. Luxury automakers and Volkswagen have been moderately successful with their diesel variations, but many promised diesel-powered experiments die before they ever reach the road.
With no hybrid system available, Chrysler turned to Fiat to supply a 3-liter V-6 diesel for the Grand Cherokee, making 240 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. Tied to the eight-speed automatic transmission used in the Ram pickups, Jeep says the Grand Cherokee will get 21 mpg in city driving and 30 mpg highway in rear-wheel-drive models, giving the Grand Cherokee a 730-mile driving range. The 4x4 model will average 20/28 mpg.
Rising fuel economy standards mean every new model introduced at the Detroit auto show this year will need some kind of strategy for better efficiency. In addition to the Grand Cherokee, Jeep revealed updated versions of the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot with six-speed automatic transmissions. In the near future, one of the best ways to save gas may be to burn oil.