Diesel vehicles are losing favor with buyers quickly, even though they offer several advantages over regular gas engines. They usually get better fuel economy and can usually tow more than their gasoline-powered counterparts because of their comparatively large torque figures.
Despite their reputation for spitting out harmful emissions and being a bit more pricey than gasoline-powered vehicles, there are still many buyers who seek them out to use for work and play.
Even though there are several popular diesel pickup trucks on the market, like the Ford F-Series, Chevy Silverado, and RAM 2500, there are only five new SUVs that you can buy if you want a diesel-powered family hauler.
Here they are, along with a few other used options if you cannot spend the money on a new SUV or you want a more refined crossover SUV instead.
Best New Diesel SUVs:
2023 Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler is the only non-GM SUV that offers a turbo-diesel engine option for both the 2022 and 2023 model years. Its V6 EcoDiesel offers buyers 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque through a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. It is available on all but two of its many trim levels.
As a $4,000 option, the EcoDiesel is quite expensive, but you can save some cash on diesel fuel since you can achieve up to 29 MPG on the highway. With standard four-wheel-drive, that is hard to beat, even though the gasoline four-cylinder turbo engine option is not far behind, achieving 24 MPG highway.
Of course, you cannot beat the Wrangler for its incredible off-road performance regardless of which of the five engine options you choose. It is not the most refined vehicle, it has fewer safety features than many of its crossover rivals, and it is a little lacking on the tech front, but that is the Wrangler way, and it is still a wildly popular vehicle on the market.
2023 Chevrolet Tahoe
The Chevy Tahoe is only one of four General Motors’ diesel-powered offerings, and it is the most affordable and approachable of the lot. Despite its smaller size compared to the Chevy Suburban, Cadillac Escalade, and GMC Yukon XL, it still boasts 25.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, plentiful passenger space, and impressive towing capacity.
Though not standard on any trim level, GM’s 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel is available on all trim levels except the off-road-focused Z71. Choosing it over the standard 5.3-liter V8 engine on all trims but the High Country will only cost about $800 more. Going with the diesel option on the High Country will actually save you about $1500 as the more expensive gas V8 engine is standard on that trim.
With 277 horsepower and a whopping 460 lb-ft of torque being pushed through a ten-speed automatic transmission to either the rear wheels or all four wheels, you can recoup some of your money at the fuel pump. Two-wheel drive models achieve an EPA-combined rating of 24 MPG. Four-wheel-drive models drop to 22 MPG combined, but that is still better than the best that the standard 5.3-liter V8 can do: A combined 17 MPG.
2023 Cadillac Escalade / Cadillac Escalade ESV
The Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV are essentially ritzier Chevy Suburbans. That does not make either model any less special. Both models can be powered by the same 277-horsepower six-cylinder turbodiesel as its GM siblings while achieving six or seven more combined MPG than the most fuel-efficient gas-powered Escalade.
Choosing a two-wheel drive model will return 21 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway. Four-wheel drive models only make those numbers drop by one. That is impressive for a vehicle of its massive size. With cavernous amounts of passenger space, 25.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, and a maximum towing capacity of around 8,000 pounds, the Escalade is a monster.
The extended wheelbase Escalade ESV offers even more passenger and cargo space for those who want it, but space is not the only thing the Escalade offers. Since the Duramax turbodiesel is offered on a number of trim levels, you can have features like wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, a 36-speaker stereo system, adaptive cruise control, night vision assist, magnetic ride control, and a rear-seat entertainment system.
2023 GMC Yukon / GMC Yukon XL
The GMC Yukon and the extended wheelbase Yukon XL model fill in the middle ground that the Tahoe, Suburban, and Escalade fail to cover. Base level Yukons come with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, rear-wheel drive, lane-keeping assist, and a few other standard features that make it nice, but you really pay for its size rather than any groundbreaking features.
The Denali trim level features are closer to what the Escalade has, but the six-cylinder 3.0-liter turbodiesel found in all of its GM siblings carries into the Yukon as well. The off-road-oriented AT4 trim is not available with the turbodiesel, but all other trim levels are available with the same 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque as GM’s other full-size SUVs.
Along with its monstrous amounts of cargo and passenger space, its ten-speed automatic transmission, its truck-like exterior, and great towing capacity, no Yukon model equipped with the turbodiesel option dips below 20 MPG. At its worst – in the city on four-wheel-drive models – the Yukon will see 20 MPG. Rear-wheel drive models can achieve up to 27 MPG on the highway.
2023 Chevrolet Suburban
The venerable Chevrolet Suburban is the largest non-luxury SUV on the market, and the one everyone will reach for when they have to transport their family while towing that necessary piece of equipment to the next job site. Its large size can also allow pickup truck-like hauling in the rear if more fragile cargo requires some additional shelter.
There is not much to say about its available diesel engine option. The same 277 horsepower turbodiesel found in its GM siblings also powers the Suburban. Fuel economy is consistent with its siblings with combined estimates of 23 MPG for rear-wheel drive models and 22 MPG for four-whee- drive models. The most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered Suburban can only muster a combined 17 MPG.
It is less upscale than both the Yukon XL and Escalade, but you still get some nice standard features like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hotspot, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and tri-zone climate control. It is the last of the brand-new SUVs on this list that you can still equip with a diesel engine.
Best Used Diesel SUVs:
2017-2018 Jaguar F-Pace
So, you would rather have a smaller crossover SUV that has some more style and refinement than the supersized Tahoe or Yukon? You might want to take a look at the Jaguar F-Pace, but to do so, you will have to look for a 2017, 2018, or 2019 model as the diesel option was discontinued for the 2020 model year.
If you opt for a used diesel-powered F-Pace, you will be rewarded with standard all-wheel-drive, a 2.0-liter turbodiesel powertrain, an EPA-estimated 26 MPG in the city, and an EPA-estimated 33 MPG on the highway. The next best highway fuel economy figure from among the gasoline engines only barely edges out the city MPG of the turbodiesel engine.
For a luxury SUV, some of the cabin materials are lacking compared to German rivals like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. And with only 180 horsepower on tap, the diesel engine can struggle to get going, but for under $40,000 you can find plenty of used examples with low miles, and you can brag to your friends that your crossover looks better than theirs.
2014-2018 BMW X5
The first midsize crossover on our list, the BMW X5 has also gone the way of the Jaguar F-Pace with its diesel engine option being discontinued for the 2019 model year. If you want one, though, you can still find plenty of used third-generation BMW X5 diesel models with reasonable miles for around or less than $40,000.
With standard all-wheel-drive, nearly 6,000 pounds of towing capacity, just under 36 cubic feet of cargo capacity, and a 255-horsepower turbocharged six-cylinder diesel, there is much to like about this luxury SUV. Add in upwards of 25 combined MPG with even greater fuel economy in earlier third-generation models, and you have an underestimated vehicle on your hands.
Even though the diesel-powered X5 outclassed the best gasoline-powered X5 in the fuel economy department by a full three combined miles per gallon, it also had to compete with a plug-in hybrid X5 model in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Make sure not to tell anybody, but the diesel even bested that model by one combined MPG when it ran in hybrid mode.
2019 Mazda CX-5
Mazda put forth a ton of effort toward offering a diesel engine option in their flagship crossover SUV, the Mazda CX-5. The result of their efforts was short-lived with only one model year of production. It was only offered in the top-of-the-line Signature trim, came with the choice of front or all-wheel drive, and came with everything that everyone loves about a Mazda.
Front-wheel drive models returned estimates of 28 and 31 MPG in the city and highway respectively while all-wheel-drive models dropped by one MPG in both areas. Even though the most fuel-efficient gasoline engine could match the turbodiesel’s highway fuel economy, city economy dropped the combined ratings below that of the tiny 2.2-liter turbodiesel.
Because of their low production models, there are not many on the used market. If you can find one, though, you will be purchasing one of the best-looking SUVs available, you will be treated to Mazda’s excellent interior, you will have a modern vehicle with plenty of tech and safety features, and you will get an athletic SUV that makes the most of its non-athletic 168 horsepower.
2016-2021 Land Rover Range Rover
Land Rover is known for combining off-road capability with luxury. The Land Rover Range Rover is the epitome of this philosophy. Serving as more of a status symbol for many than a vehicle, these SUVs are packed to the brim with quality interior materials, luxury features, and a high price tag to match, at least when they
Some of the newer, lower mileage used examples on the market can soar above $60,000, but good used examples can be found for as low as $40,000. That is quite good considering its high original price tag. For sheer capability, you cannot do much better, though maintenance is known to be quite problematic.
Considering its size and that all Range Rover models come standard with four-whee- drive, its EPA estimates of 22 MPG city and 28 MPG highway are good numbers from its 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine. 254 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque help this beast get moving with 7,700 pounds of towing capacity as an added bonus. The next most fuel-efficient model only manages 23 MPG on the highway, at best.
2017-2020 Land Rover Discovery
The “Disco” is essentially the midsize SUV version of the Range Rover. It is still stylish and luxurious, and you can go just about anywhere with one. You may even be able to get to a few more places than the Range Rover because of the Discovery’s more compact size, but that also means that its third row is not very user-friendly for those with families.
Up until the 2020 model year, you could get the Discovery with the turbodiesel V6 also fitted in the Range Rover. It produces 254 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, but in the Discovery, fuel economy drops to 21 MPG in the city and 26 on the highway. Discos with gas engines are actually not far behind in fuel economy with their best ratings at 21 MPG city and 25 MPG highway.
Between the two, the Range Rover is probably the better buy for those who want the extra space and the slightly better fuel economy. If you can deal with the smaller, yet still spacious Discovery, you should be able to find a nice one readily available on the used market for between $40,000 and $50,000.
2015 Audi Q7
Despite its age, there are many things to like about the Audi Q7. You have to reach back at least seven years to get the diesel engine, but you will be rewarded with much better fuel economy than if you were to get a non-diesel Q7. Its 240-horsepower output, along with its 406 lb-ft of torque, helps it achieve a combined fuel economy rating of 22 MPG, four more than the standard Q7.
Buyers who want the luxury SUV experience without having to pay more than $30,000 will doubtless be able to find a good used example on the market. Many have higher miles, but some are still low enough to instill confidence that massive repairs will not creep up the day after buying one.
With stellar safety ratings, Audi’s Quattro AWD system, a stylish exterior, an upscale interior, and room for seven, the Q7 will make an excellent family transporter that uses diesel fuel to help you save a little at the pump.
2014-2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee
If you love the idea of the Jeep Wrangler’s off-road capability, the Chevy Tahoe is a bit big for you, you want to avoid paying those new car prices, but you want to reap some of the benefits that a diesel engine brings with it, the Jeep Grand Cherokee might be the best choice for you. Its diesel engine option was discontinued after 2018, but there are plenty on the used market from which to choose.
The 3.0-liter turbodiesel churns out 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. It also helps two-wheel drive Grand Cherokee models get up to 30 MPG on the highway. Four-wheel drive models are rated at 21 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway. That is well above the 19 and 26 MPG ratings brought by the next best Grand Cherokee with a gasoline engine.
A third row is not available in the midsize Grand Cherokee, but what is available is 6,800 pounds of towing capacity, a spacious interior, and some pretty good off-road capability with four-wheel drive-equipped models. You can easily find these on the used market with reasonable miles for under $30,000.
2016-2021 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
The Land Rover Range Rover Sport is essentially a Land Rover Range Rover lite. It has a little less space, a little less luxury, some fewer standard features, and a lower price tag. One thing that remains the same between the two is the 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel used in both models. It was available for the Range Rover Sport through the 2021 model year, after which it was discontinued.
Now, you should not think that just because the baby Range Rover plays second fiddle to its bigger brother that it is neither luxurious nor less capable. The Range Rover Sport still has an excellent four-wheel drive system that makes it an excellent performer in any terrain. It also still has an upscale feel from its use of quality materials, its beautiful design, and a hefty original price tag.
Something that will not cost you as much is the price of diesel fuel as you achieve up to 28 MPG on the highway and 22 in the city. Compared to the next best all-gasoline powered model, that is three combined miles per gallon better. If you want one, look for the 2016 to 2021 model years, and you should be able to find a good one for $50,000 or less.