Life After Dieselgate Part 2: Luxury European Diesels

For Part 2 of our Life After Dieselgate series, we’re taking a turn toward luxury. It’s a segment that has, at times, been grossly neglected by the media and in many instances is now associated with the deceitful TDI-powered Audi, Porsche and Volkswagens that once belonged in this category. Even though Volkswagen has withdrawn from the North American diesel market completely, a couple big name OEMs remain committed to offering compression ignition engine options here. Among them are BMW and Jaguar Land Rover, and the diesel-powered vehicles they offer are the epitome of refinement. They’re quiet, comfortable and powerful. Cool, calm and collected. Of course, they’re fuel efficient, too.

If you’re after a diesel-powered luxury sedan, Jaguar offers the XF 20d and XE 20d, while the BMW 328d comes with ample fun-factor. If a top-of-the-line SUV is more your thing, Land Rover has you covered with its Range Rover Velar, Range Rover and Discovery models, while BMW’s X5 xDrive35d boasts 413 lb-ft of twist and sprints to 60 mph in just six seconds. Even Jaguar jumped into the luxury crossover foray in 2018 with its 33 mpg F-Pace. While VW’s TDI-powered cars and SUVs have disappeared from this segment, we can’t say they’re missed. After all, each of the remaining players are offering cleaner engines making the same, if not more, power.

The following sedans and sport utilities are the finest diesel-powered vehicles you can get your hands on in North America.

BMW 328d

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For a lot of reasons, BMW’s 3-series is legendary. It’s sleek in appearance, agile on the road thanks to a near 50/50 weight distribution and has a ton of options. As for the 328d model, it can be had in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (xDrive) form. When optioned with xDrive, the 2.0L four-cylinder diesel can grip and zip the 3,700-pound sedan up to 60 mph in a reasonable 7.3 seconds (rear-wheel drive 328ds require an extra tenth of a second to get there). A well-refined, ZF-manufactured eight-speed automatic keeps the torquey 2.0L in the meat of its curve (where 280 lb-ft is sustained from 1,750 to 2,750 rpm) and helps rear-wheel drive models achieve a 43 mpg highway rating.

Hard Facts

  • Engine: 2.0L B47, direct-injection, TwinPower turbo I4
  • Injection System: Bosch high-pressure common-rail
  • Horsepower: 180hp at 4,000 rpm
  • Torque: 280 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
  • Emissions Equipment: Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel particulate filter (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR)
  • Transmission: ZF eight-speed shiftable automatic
  • MPG Highway: 43 mpg (RWD), 40 mpg (AWD)
  • MPG City: 31 mpg (RWD), 30 mpg (AWD)

BMW X5 xDrive35d

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BMW’s original luxury crossover, the X5, has come a long way since being introduced in 2000—and they still sell exceptionally well. Now in its third generation of X5 production, the model we’re showcasing here is the xDrive35d, which with its dual overhead cam 3.0L diesel inline-six packing 255hp and 413 lb-ft of torque can complete a 0-60 mph sprint in just six seconds. If you can manage to keep your foot out of it, a respectable 29 mpg can be gleaned while out on the highway. As for comfort, ride quality is about as plush as it gets thanks to BMW’s Dynamic Damper Control system. As is becoming more common on small-to-mid-size SUVs these days, a third row seating option is available as well, although it’s best-suited for short trips due to space.

Hard Facts

  • Engine: 3.0L N57, direct-injection, TwinPower turbo I6
  • Injection System: Bosch high-pressure common-rail
  • Horsepower: 255hp at 4,000 rpm
  • Torque: 413 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm
  • Emissions Equipment: Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel particulate filter (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR)
  • Transmission: ZF eight-speed shiftable automatic
  • MPG Highway: 29 mpg
  • MPG City: 23 mpg

Jaguar XE 20d

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Surprisingly, opting for the 2.0L Ingenium diesel engine in Jaguar’s XE 20d makes it the second most affordable path to owning one (pricing starts at $37,225). The 122 ci inline-four cranks out 180hp, a healthy 318 lb-ft at just 1,750 rpm and, in turn, can propel the compact luxury sedan from 0-60 mph in 7.4 seconds. While that kind of get-up isn’t life-altering, it’s not bad for a car with a curb weight approaching 4,000 pounds. In the mileage department, the XE 20d’s 42 mpg highway rating (rear-wheel drive) definitely delivers. Around town, 30-32 mpg seems to be the norm. As for interior comfort, the XE 20d receives high marks for its spacious cabin, although it’s noticeably noisier than one of its foremost rivals: the aforementioned BMW 328d.

Hard Facts

  • Engine: 2.0L Ingenium, direct-injection, turbocharged I4
  • Injection System: High-pressure common-rail
  • Horsepower: 180hp at 4,000 rpm
  • Torque: 318 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
  • Emissions Equipment: Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel particulate filter (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR)
  • Transmission: ZF eight-speed shiftable automatic
  • MPG Highway: 42 mpg
  • MPG City: 32 mpg

Jaguar XF 20d

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A step above the XE 20d you’ll find the XF. Now in its second generation, this luxury mid-size isn’t nearly the seller the XE is, but it holds its own with the 5-series and offers diesel power where the 5-series (or anyone else in the category) doesn’t. It shares the same 180hp 2.0L engine with the XE, as well as the same ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic. The diesel power plant is nowhere near as explosive as the optional 380hp supercharged gasoline 3.0L V6, but if you want a car with elegant styling, upper tier ride quality and a tank that rarely requires a fill up, this is your sedan.

Hard Facts

  • Engine: 2.0L Ingenium, direct-injection, turbocharged I4
  • Injection System: High-pressure common-rail
  • Horsepower: 180hp at 4,000 rpm
  • Torque: 318 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
  • Emissions Equipment: Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel particulate filter (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR)
  • Transmission: ZF eight-speed shiftable automatic
  • MPG Highway: 42 mpg
  • MPG City: 31 mpg

Jaguar F-Pace

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Built to compete with the likes of BMW’s X3 and Audi’s Q5 in the luxury compact SUV class, Jaguar’s F-Pace brings unique styling, above-average agility and (of course) diesel power to the table. It’s powered by (you guessed it) the same oil-burner found in the already-mentioned XE and XF sedans. In all-wheel drive crossover form, the 2.0L diesel and eight-speed automatic deliver a 33 mpg highway rating, along with 26 mpg in the city. The F-Pace’s on-road comfort and driving mannerisms are tough to beat. Venture off the pavement, on the other hand, and you might wish you didn’t (leave that to its Range Rover cousins). Pricing for a diesel-optioned F-Pace starts at $48,500.

Hard Facts

  • Engine: 2.0L Ingenium, direct-injection, turbocharged I4
  • Injection System: High-pressure common-rail
  • Horsepower: 180hp at 4,000 rpm
  • Torque: 318 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
  • Emissions Equipment: Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel particulate filter (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR)
  • Transmission: ZF eight-speed shiftable automatic
  • MPG Highway: 33 mpg
  • MPG City: 26 mpg

Land Rover Range Rover Velar

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Nestled in between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport, the Range Rover Velar is new for 2018. This crossover too shares the 180hp 2.0L Ingenium diesel found in the Jaguar F-Pace and XE and XF sedans, while also resting on the same foundation as the F-Pace. Thanks to its Terrain Response system, optional air springs and well, the fact that it’s built by Land Rover, the Velar is one of the more capable compact crossovers you’ll come across when it comes to off-roading. It’s been praised for its top-notch interior materials, but that it’s a bit heavy with touchscreen technology. Fuel economy checks in at 26 mpg city, 30 mpg highway.

Hard Facts

  • Engine: 2.0L Ingenium, direct-injection, turbocharged I4
  • Injection System: High-pressure common-rail
  • Horsepower: 180hp at 4,000 rpm
  • Torque: 318 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
  • Emissions Equipment: Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel particulate filter (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR)
  • Transmission: ZF eight-speed shiftable automatic
  • MPG Highway: 30 mpg
  • MPG City: 26 mpg

Land Rover Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Discovery

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If you want access to Land Rover’s more powerful HSE Td6 3.0L V6 diesel, you’ll have to spring for one of the larger SUVs listed above. It’s been said before, and we agree, that the Td6 engine option is for the rare Range Rover owner who cares about fuel economy. He or she doesn’t necessarily calculate the fuel savings by driving one, but burning fuel efficiently seems to fit the mindset of 8-17 percent of Range Rover owners. The ultra-quiet 254hp 3.0L V6 diesel turns out 443 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm. Better yet, independent testing has shown the Range Rover’s EPA mileage ratings of 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway can easily be topped. In fact, many owners report freeway numbers in the low 30s.

Hard Facts

  • Engine: 3.0L HSE Td6, direct-injection, turbocharged V6
  • Injection System: High-pressure common-rail
  • Horsepower: 254hp at 3,750 rpm
  • Torque: 443 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
  • Emissions Equipment: Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel particulate filter (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR)
  • Transmission: ZF eight-speed shiftable automatic
  • MPG Highway: 28 mpg (Range Rover)
  • MPG City: 22 mpg (Range Rover)

The Diesel-Powered Mazda CX-5 Is on the Way

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It’s been years in the making, but Mazda is finally bringing compression-ignition to the U.S. Does anyone remember when Mazda had plans to release a 2.0L compound turbo’d SkyActiv-D for the Mazda6, then didn’t, then did again, then shelved it? Anyway, the popular CX-5 crossover will be graced with a diesel, and it should debut in the somewhat-near future. Why do we think it’s a sure thing? Because its fuel economy ratings have been posted on FuelEconomy.gov. There you’ll find that front-wheel drive versions should be good for 28 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

Hard Facts

  • Engine: TBA (but likely the 2.0L SkyActiv-D)
  • Injection System: TBA
  • Horsepower: TBA
  • Torque: TBA
  • Emissions Equipment: TBA
  • Transmission: TBA
  • MPG Highway: 31 mpg (FWD)
  • MPG City: 28 mpg (FWD)

Want to know how the domestic diesels are doing? Spoiler alert: really well.

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