The Pros and Cons of Diesel Cars

diesel versus gasoline

Today's diesel cars are cleaner and more fuel efficient, but do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages?

In recent years, diesel cars have made a serious comeback.  With cleaner, more fuel efficient engines comparable to some of the industry's most efficient hybrid engines, diesels have actually become a serious purchase consideration among green car buyers. While they're not the slow 'Smokey Joes' of yesteryear, diesels still face obstacles.  Below, we highlight the pros and cons of today's diesel cars to determine if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.



Improved Fuel Economy

Today's diesel cars boast enhanced fuel economy due to higher compression ratios and higher combustion temperatures for more effective mechanics.  Bottom line — the diesels of today are more efficient because they burn less gas, with some of the newer models capable of EPA estimates in the 40 to 50 mile range.


Diesels have long been known for their durability and today, like years past, they carry on that tradition. Diesel engines are built with stronger parts to withstand high compression ratios and high combustion temperatures.  What's more, diesel fuel offers better lubrication compared to regular gasoline, creating a well oiled machine — in this case, an engine capable of lasting approximately twice as long as its gasoline counterparts.

Added Power

The makeup of a diesel engine allows for greater torque which yields greater power. A diesel engine typically doesn't get above 2,000 RPMs, however, its massive torque allows it to pull very heavy loads.  What's more, the power of a diesel engine is delivered on a more consistent basis than the power delivered by a gasoline engine.

Fewer Emissions

Today's diesels generate fewer greenhouse emissions. Plus, enhanced diesel technologies allow for the filtering and trapping of more particulate matter and NOx emissions (oxides of nitrogen) which lead to smog. Collectively, these characteristics make diesel cars a serious contender among green car buyers.



Limited Selections

Diesels are widely available throughout Europe, but in the U.S, diesel vehicles are somewhat limited. In fact, until recently, some states had prohibited the sale of diesels because of emissions restrictions. However, automakers have been able to produce models that now conform to very strict emissions standards, with diesels back in business in all 50 states. Still, the selection of diesel makes and models remains limited.

Higher Price Tags

Diesel cars tend to cost more than their gasoline engine counterparts due in part to expensive engine components used in their design. In turn, these components hike the premium you can expect to pay for a diesel.  Depending on the car, you may pay anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 more.

Limited, Costlier Fuel

Diesel fuel is more limited than gasoline. In fact, you could find yourself driving around looking for a station that actually sells diesel in some parts of the country. And over the past several years, a gallon of diesel fuel is more expensive than a gallon of gasoline.

The Stigma of Diesels

Undoubtedly, diesels have come a long way compared to years past.  But even after evolving into clean, green, efficient machines, some car buyers find it difficult to get beyond the vision of yesterday's diesels — those bellowing, chugging, sluggish air polluters your grandparents used to drive. The stigma of owning a diesel could be the very thing that inhibits its widespread acceptance among today's car buyers.

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