To better understand consumers, NACS conducted an online survey last month of almost 1,200 Americans who buy gasoline. (Read the related report: "Ethanol doesn't spark interest among consumers.")
These diesel-curious shoppers will find an increasing number of vehicles to choose from, including the well-established Volkswagen Jetta and Passat, luxury SUVs like the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK250, and the new Chevrolet Cruze. And there are many more diesels coming to market soon.
To learn more about electric cars and hybrids, visit our alternative-fuel car guide.
|The reasons for considering diesel||Percent|
|Better fuel economy||59|
|Better for the environment||33|
|Are more reliable||30|
|Less maintenance than gas engines||29|
|Ability to use biodiesel||25|
|More power/towing ability||24|
|High resale value||23|
|Are more rugged||15|
|The desired vehicle requires diesel fuel||11|
We have found that diesel models can provide exceptional fuel economy, although the powertrain often carries an added expense and the fuel prices tend to be higher than regular gasoline. Right now, diesel averages about 22 cents more per gallon, although its fuel economy benefits are generally much greater than the price premium. (See the latest national gasoline prices by region.)
Other answers strike us as curious, such as being better for the environment. While a diesel car may burn less petroleum, the smog-forming emissions are typically greater than with a contemporary gas-fueled car.
Likewise, the reliability perception born from past performance may no longer be so distinct. In our reliability surveys, we have not seen an appreciable difference with most models offered with gas and diesel powertrains where we have adequate data.
As surveys often point to, it is important for car shoppers to not base their selection strictly on perception. Check the data--readily available at ConsumerReports.org for all major models--before buying.
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