$5 Gas? Yup: It's Diesel


Not two months after Dave reported $4.20 for a gallon of premium — we should be so lucky today — I pulled in to the local BP to fill up the 2008 Volkswagen Touareg V-10 turbodiesel we’ve been testing, and a gallon of diesel cost $5.059. Geez. Throw in another buck and you’re Grand-Slammin’ at Denny’s.

I shouldn’t be so surprised. AAA pegged a gallon of regular in Chicago, where Cars.com is located, at $4.20 per gallon today. That ranks it the seventh highest of 10 cities surveyed by the EPA. (Even worse: Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Eat it, Lakers fans.)

Evidently, I live in a particularly gas-starved section of town, as a gallon of regular was $4.55. Even so, diesel seems to be a comparative deal where I’m at: It runs $4.79 nationally, or 18% more than regular ($4.06), according to AAA’s data. The Midwest has roughly the same 18 percent premium, yet my station’s $5.05 diesel was just 11% more than its 87-octane. The added cost of filling up with diesel is even less when you take into account the fact that, like the VW Touareg I was driving, most diesel cars and SUVs on the market today are of the luxury variety, so non-diesel versions would require premium gas. Using national averages, that means the savings over their diesel counterparts is down to about 7%.

Diesel is getting expensive faster than regular gas in part because demand is so high. A dozen years ago it ran $1.24 a gallon. (A Denny’s Grand Slam, incidentally, was $1.99) That represented just a 1 percent premium over regular, which made diesel engines and their comparative mileage gains much more attractive. Even so, today’s drivers are still using it. At the station this morning, the cashier said diesel has been over five bucks for a month now, but a lot of people — particularly truckers — still buy the stuff.

So we’re curious: Diesel users, what are you paying? How much more is it than regular? Let us know in the comments below.



Hey,Kelsey. L.A. at least has great steak (Kobe). Chicago just has a lot of cheap bull (LOL)...


"...At the station this morning, the cashier said diesel has been over five bucks for a month now, but a lot of people — particularly truckers — still buy the stuff..."

What are they going to do, stop running their trucks or drilling their cylinder heads to install spark plugs?
Besides, truckers don't pay for diesel, their clients do.


So Kelsey, are you getting 15 mpg city from the Tourareg?


I'm paying $4.69 for diesel. 87 is $3.89 here. So I'm paying a 17% premium. But my diesel truck averages 17.5 MPG on my daily driving. My old truck only managed 12.5 average. So I'm running with 29% better gas mileage than the old truck.

Towing is an even bigger difference. I get 34% better fuel economy towing AND its far more capable than the gas truck I was towing with.


Here in Redding, CA, $5-plus diesel can be found all over town. But I have a Safeway grocery club card; if I buy $50+ worth of groceries, I get a $0.20/gallon discount. Last diesel fill-up in my '07 Dodge Ram 2500 was at $4.69/gallon. 87-octane is about $4.05/gallon with the same discount. I get 20mpg in this rig, which I can't touch in a gasser. Next research project = get a load of groceries at the discount, non-union outlet that sells food for obscenely low prices compared to Safeway, to see if I'm getting a false economy on the diesel.

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