Land Rover has slimmed down its Range Rover and Range Rover Sport SUVs in recent years by up to 700 and 800 pounds, respectively, by switching to lightweight aluminum in an effort to improve fuel economy. The weight reduction didn't equate to a big jump in EPA ratings (just 1 to 2 mpg between comparable engines), but the luxury SUV-maker takes another step toward boosting the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport's fuel economy with the introduction of a diesel engine for 2016 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Related: More 2015 Detroit Auto Show News
The newly optional turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V-6 in the 2016 Range Rover HSE and Range Rover Sport HSE delivers a 32 percent increase in fuel economy compared with Land Rover's supercharged 3.0-liter gasoline V-6. Land Rover estimates fuel economy at 22/28/25 mpg city/highway/combined, though EPA ratings are pending; the supercharged gasoline V-6 is rated at 19 mpg combined in both SUVs. With the diesel engine, the two become the Range Rover HSE Td6 and Range Rover Sport HSE Td6.
Big luxury cars are great. If you haven't actually had the chance to drive one, go try that 5-year-old Mercedes-Benz S-Class in the dealership's used-car section the next time you're there to buy a new Camry. But big luxury cars often come with other big things — big weight, big engines and quite a thirst for fuel. This is starting to change, however, as more of these large luxury cars start to feature alternative-fuel powertrains like the long-wheelbase 2015 Audi A8 L TDI and its turbocharged diesel V-6 engine.
Related: Research the 2015 Audi A8
German automakers have been at the forefront of diesel technology in passenger cars with all of them offering some form of it, and the fuel economy gains are significant. A standard Audi A8 L with the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine is rated at 19/29/22 mpg city/highway/combined. Not bad for such a big car. Move up to the turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 and your mileage drops to 18/29/22 mpg, a nearly identical rating. Splurge for the slick W-12 engine and you'll get only 14/22/17 mpg. But tick the diesel box and your big, comfy A8 L could return 24/36/28 mpg. The combined city/highway rating is 27 percent higher than that of the base engine.
Those are some impressive numbers for a vehicle this big and heavy, but are they realistic in real-world driving? We loaded an A8 L TDI with three people and some weekend luggage for a fall-color tour of southern Ontario earlier this year.
Volkswagen's refreshed 2015 Jetta starts at $17,035 (all prices include destination). That's up $520 over the 2014 model; the 2015 should be in dealerships by the end of September. The starting price gets you a 2.0-liter four-cylinder base model with a five-speed manual transmission and power windows and locks but no air conditioning or radio. Some dealers will stock them, VW spokesman Mark Gillies told us, but "it's a relatively small percentage of the mix." That's been the case for the base Jetta in recent years.
Related: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta: First Look
For most Jetta shoppers, the effective base model at dealerships is a stick-shift Jetta 2.0L S ($18,145), which adds air conditioning and a CD stereo plus Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio controls, cruise control and keyless entry. A six-speed automatic runs $19,245.
When I was 10, my dad set me and a go-kart loose in an abandoned parking lot, free to zip around the blacktop. At that age, you don't give a thought to how much gas costs; it's all about the fun. At this age, however, fuel economy is a big consideration when it comes to buying a car, but it doesn't have to trump the fun-to-drive factor.
There are plenty of cars that offer both fun and fuel savings, from affordable subcompacts and gas-electric hybrids to pricier luxury cars and diesel-powered vehicles. To qualify for this list, a car has to have an EPA combined rating of 30 mpg, while bringing out the inner go-kart-loving kid in all of us:
"The 2014 BMW 328d clean-diesel does a great job of delivering both excellent fuel economy and the BMW driving experience, but it sacrifices some in-cabin tranquility," said Cars.com Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder. Check out the review for more.
Cars.com photo by Evan Sears
When BMW's compact wagon showed up in our test car fleet, several parents on staff got excited — very excited. The pricey 328 didn't quite live up to their expectations, however. For our Car Seat Check, we tested the 328 in diesel trim and were pleased with its accessible Latch anchors but not impressed by the amount of room the wagon offered for our rear-facing infant seat.
How many car seats fit in the second row? Two
Competes with: Mercedes-Benz CLA250, Buick Verano, Acura ILX Hybrid
Looks like: Every other Audi, only smaller
Powertrains: 150-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel; six-speed S tronic automatic transmission; front-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Summer 2015
Audi's expansion of its entry-level A3 lineup continues with the announcement at the 2014 New York International Auto Show that the company will be bringing the A3 Sportback TDI diesel to the U.S. next summer. It will join the A3 sedan currently on sale, the A3 Cabriolet, TDI diesel sedan, Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid and S3 high-performance sedan, all arriving between now and summer 2015.
Audi adds a diesel version to the Q5's lineup for 2014, and the new TDI model has plenty of pep and is thrifty at the pump, says Cars.com reviewer David Thomas. Sport mode makes driving fun, Thomas says, and a pleasant cabin should keep everyone happy. Check out the video above for more.
The Audi A7 TDI offers a winning combination of beauty, speed and efficiency says Cars.com reviewer Aaron Bragman, but one thing it definitely isn't is affordable. The swoopy sedan's base price went up considerably for 2014, and the new TDI model adds even more of a premium. Is it worth it, and how do competitors measure up? Check out the review below.
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