Many efficiency-focused gasoline cars and some hybrids have achieved stellar window-sticker fuel-economy ratings, only to fall short in the real world.
Diesel cars may keep a lower profile than hybrids or battery-electrics, but they’re a good option for drivers looking to reliably save fuel.
Diesels generally don’t have that problem. In fact, they’ve been known to exceed EPA-rated highway figures in regular driving.
Thanks to mandated particulate filters and urea injection, today’s diesels are also much cleaner than the soot-spewing models many American drivers remember from decades ago.
Below is the Green Car Reports guide to every 2015 and 2016 model-year diesel car and truck on sale in the U.S., with full powertrain specs and fuel economy for each.
The Volkswagen Group is very enthusiastic about diesels, something that’s immediately apparent from looking at the lineup of its luxury Audi brand.
Starting from the bottom, the 2015 Audi A3 TDI features a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque.
CHECK OUT: 2015 Audi A3 TDI Diesel: Fuel Economy Review
A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are mandatory with the diesel, which gets an EPA-rated 36 mpg combined (31 mpg city, 43 mpg highway).
Next up are the mechanically-similar A6 TDI and A7 TDI, both of which use a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 with 240 hp and 428 lb-ft.
Both models are offered solely with an eight-speed automatic and quattro all-wheel drive, and get the same 29 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 38 mpg highway).
Audi also offers the same powertrain in the larger A8 sedan, which loses 1 mpg in the combined and 2 mpg in the highway category to its smaller siblings.
The Q5 and Q7 SUVs share the six-cylinder powertrain as well, although the Q7 is only rated at 406 lb-ft of torque. They return 27 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway) and 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway), respectively.
Note that an all-new Q7 TDI is due for the 2016 model year, with an upgraded 3.0-liter V-6 expected to produce 272 hp and 443 lb-ft.
The Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid variant will feature a diesel engine, although recent reports claim the U.S. version will get gasoline power instead.
BMW offers a wide array of diesels, including three sizes of sedan, two sizes of SUV, and even a station wagon.
That last model is the 328d Sports Wagon which, along with the 328d sedan, uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 180 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque.
The sedan is available with either rear-wheel drive or xDrive all-wheel drive, while the wagon is all-wheel drive only. An eight-speed automatic is mandatory on all models.
The rear-wheel drive 328d sedan returns 37 mpg combined (32 mpg city, 45 mpg highway), while the all-wheel drive sedan and wagon return 35 mpg combined (31 mpg city, 43 mpg highway).
In the middle of the sedan lineup sits the 535d, with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six producing 255 hp and 413 lb-ft. As in the 328d sedan, an eight-speed automatic is paired with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The former gets 30 mpg combined (26 mpg city, 38 mpg highway), while the latter loses 1 mpg in the highway category.
There’s also a larger 740Ld xDrive that uses the same powertrain as the 535d xDrive, with mileage reduced to 26 mpg combined (23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway).
In addition, diesel versions of the X3 and X5 SUVs share powertrains with the 3 Series and 5 series respectively. All-wheel drive is mandatory for both.
The 2015 X3 xDrive 28d is rated at 30 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 34 mpg highway), while the X5 xDrive 35d is rated at 27 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway).
General Motors is the only U.S. carmaker attempting to challenge Volkswagen in the entry-level diesel field, with the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel.
The Cruze features a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 151 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque, and drive the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
EPA-rated fuel economy for the small Chevy is 33 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 46 mpg highway).
The Cruze received a handful of updates for the 2015 model year, but an all-new version is expected for 2016.
Like the Cruze, the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is the only offering in its class from a U.S. carmaker.
Behind the Jeep badge is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 borrowed from parent company Fiat. It produces 240 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque.
An eight-speed automatic is the only available transmission, but the Grand Cherokee can be had with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
With rear-wheel drive, the Jeep gets an EPA-rated 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway), or 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway) with four-wheel drive.
The Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is Jeep’s sole diesel model at the moment, although have been reports that Chrysler is considering a diesel engine option for the next-generation Wrangler, which likely won’t appear before 2017.
Mercedes currently offers four diesel models, three of which use the same 2.1-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and seven-speed automatic transmission.
The 2015 E250 BlueTec sedan features 195 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, and a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Rear-wheel drive models are rated at 33 mpg combined (28 mpg city, 42 mpg highway), while all-wheel drive models are rated at 31 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 38 mpg highway).
The GLK250 BlueTec ML250 BlueTec SUVs both get a slight power bump to 200 hp, with mandatory all-wheel drive. They’re rated at 28 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway) and 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway) respectively.
The larger GL350 BlueTec uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6, with 240 hp and 455 lb-ft. As with the other SUV models, a seven-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are required.
Mercedes’ biggest diesel model nets 22 mpg combined 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway).
The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is the only diesel half-ton pickup truck on sale, and the most fuel-efficient half-ton as well.
Its 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 is shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, producing the same 240 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque.
An eight-speed automatic transmission is mandatory, with a choice of either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
The standard EcoDiesel gets 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway) with rear-wheel drive, and loses 1 mpg in each category with four-wheel drive.
For 2015, Ram also added an HFE (for High Fuel Efficiency) model to the lineup. Available only with rear-wheel drive, its more aerodynamic body boost fuel economy to 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway).
Even sporty brand Porsche isn’t excluded from the Volkswagen Group’s diesel enthusiasm.
The 2015 Porsche Cayenne Diesel employs a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 producing 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque.
An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are the only available drivetrain configuration.
EPA-rated fuel economy is 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway), while the base price is $63,295.
Volkswagen offers five diesel car models and one SUV. For 2015, all car models get a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
The engine produces 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It’s offered exclusively in front-wheel drive applications with six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
ADDITIONAL READING: 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf Vs. Golf TDI: Back-To-Back Test Drive
With this engine, the Golf hatchback is rated at 36 mpg combined (31 mpg city, 43 mpg highway) with the automatic. The manual loses 1 mpg in the city category, and 2 mpg in the highway category.
There’s also a 2015 Golf SportWagen that replaces the 2014 Jetta SportWagen. It gets slightly lower mileage than the hatchback, at 35 mpg combined (31 mpg city, 41 mpg highway) with the automatic and 35 mpg combined (31 mpg city, 43 mpg highway) with the manual.
The Jetta compact sedan gets 36 mpg combined (31 mpg city 45 mpg highway) with the automatic and gains 1 mpg highway with the manual.
The larger Passat gets 34 mpg combined (40 mpg city, 42 mpg highway) and 35 mpg combined (40 mpg city, 44 mpg highway) with the automatic and manual, respectively.
Even the retro-styled Beetle is available in TDI form. The coupe gets 34 mpg combined (31 mpg city, 41 mpg highway) with either manual and automatic transmissions, while the convertible loses 1 mpg in the city and highway categories.
Finally, the Touareg TDI SUV uses an Audi-derived 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 with the same 240 hp and 406 lb-ft as the related 2015 Q7 TDI and Porsche Cayenne Diesel.
With the mandatory eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, the Touareg is rated at 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway).