Diesel Automobiles and Fuel Economy: Understanding the Real-world Efficiency


While gas engines are more common among passenger cars, diesel vehicles remain popular in some markets. Diesel automobiles offer better fuel economy than gasoline models and are often more affordable to operate over the long term. However, higher purchase prices and other expenses can offset these advantages and make owning a diesel car or truck less appealing for some drivers. The best way to decide whether or not a diesel model is right for you is to assess your driving habits and compare the benefits with your current vehicle needs. If you commute a lot of highway miles, a diesel engine can save you a significant amount of money at the pump. Diesel engines can get as much as 30% better highway mileage than gasoline models, and they also tend to perform smoother over long distances than gas-powered engines.

Unfortunately, city driving can eat away at these advantages, as frequent stops and starts reduces efficiency. To help combat these inefficiencies, manufacturers are adding technologies that reduce drag to improve fuel efficiency for diesel vehicles. Some examples of these technologies include fairings, vented mud flaps, side skirts, and wheel covers. Many of the larger pickup trucks you see on the road use diesel engines. This is understandable, as these are the kinds of vehicles that need a lot of power to carry heavy loads and tow large trailers. However, smaller, passenger vehicles also use diesel engines, such as the Volkswagen Jetta TDI that gets 42 miles per gallon. Some mid-priced car makers like Mazda and Chevrolet have even jumped on the diesel train by offering diesel versions of their models that rival hybrids in fuel efficiency. Diesel engines offer more torque than gasoline models, which means they can move a vehicle more quickly and overcome heavier loads with less effort.

This can translate into more time on the highway or more cargo space in a trunk. In addition, because these vehicles run at lower rpm, they require fewer maintenance requirements than gas engines. One major reason why diesels aren’t more popular in America is that they tend to be more expensive to purchase and maintain than gas-powered models. This is because it costs more to manufacture a diesel engine, and the price of diesel fuel can be slightly higher than gasoline. This can put a strain on some budgets, especially in areas where you might not find as many diesel pumps. In the end, a diesel or gas engine is the right choice for some drivers.

It all depends on your driving habits and how you intend to use your vehicle. If you can save money at the pump and can afford a bit more upfront cost, then a diesel might be worth the investment for you. However, if you are looking for instant gratification and want to pay a little less at the pump, then a gas-powered car might be a better fit. Regardless of the type of car or truck you choose, stay on top of the latest fuel prices to ensure that your fleet is operating at its most efficient level.