Given the whole VW Dieselgate scandal, memories of black smoke puffing troublesome diesel Oldsmobiles from the early 1980s, and many people’s (at least in North America) general unfamiliarity with diesels, the idea of owning one is totally ludicrous in the minds of many new car buyers, more so than the thought of purchasing an electric vehicle. With less familiarity and positive press here in North America, I can understand why so many buyers have reservations. Yet in other parts of the world, especially Europe, diesels are immensely popular and economical, and few people seem to have any reservations in buying one over a gasoline-powered vehicle.
If I need any indication as to just how low diesel’s popularity in North America, I just have to look outside my window. Sitting here at Land Rover Hanover, we have just one leftover 2018 Range Rover Sport, and go figure, it’s a diesel. Despite its appealing black over almond color combination, popular options, and an unheard of discount of $12,000 (over 15% of MSRP), no one wants to buy it. Like the few other Td6 diesels we have, as soon as I mention that it’s a diesel, the prospective buyer will have the same wide-eyed, dear-in-the-headlights look, their face and neck will twitch, and they’ll exclaim in a fear-stricken voice something like “Oh I don’t want a diesel!”.
Even bestowing the benefits of diesel, including that their torquey engines are indeed efficient, providing comparable and sometimes better power, reduced emissions, far superior highway fuel economy, and vastly greater driving range on a single tank of fuel usually doesn’t get buyers to warm up to the idea of diesel. Furthermore, addressing concerns that apart from adding diesel exhaust fluid every now and then, everyday maintenance really is no different than owning a gasoline-powered vehicle doesn’t seem to help.
While diesel wouldn’t be my own first choice, I’d never write it off as a possible option for me, especially if the vehicle cost savings were substantially better than a similar gasoline-powered model. So, with that in mind, the question is simple: Would you buy a diesel?