Most of the money that gets investing in an off-road vehicle probably goes toward regular maintenance and truck mods. But what if drivers could down on standard costs and focus solely on the enhancements they want to make to their automobiles? With diesel engines, it may be possible. That's why so many manufacturers are turning their attention to alternative sources of fuel, especially when it comes to pickup trucks and other large SUVs.
Diesel is an attractive alternative to gasoline because of the improved efficiency it offers. Many diesel engines can deliver up to 30 percent better fuel economy, even matching hybrid vehicles in some cases, which makes it a cost-effective way to power an automobile. Fans of off-road driving will appreciate the fact that these engines provide more torque than traditional gasoline-powered cars, allowing motorists to tow heavier loads and reach greater speeds without expending as much effort.
Another benefit of diesel engines is that they don't use the same system as traditional vehicles. There are no spark plugs or distributors, and eliminating the need for these parts also reduces the amount of vehicle maintenance drivers have to provide. In fact, diesel-powered machines can typically go longer without upkeep than their standard counterparts and usually don't need as many large repairs.
What brands are doing
General Motors is one manufacturer making waves with its anticipated diesel offerings. Chevrolet already has a light-duty diesel truck, the Cruze Diesel, but the company plans on creating even more options for drivers everywhere. Rumors indicate the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon will both boast diesel options and could be sold in the U.S. within the next two years.
Similarly, the Ram is planning on debuting the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, a light-duty truck that would use a turbodiesel V6 engine. Not only is this motor going to come to one of the nation's most popular trucks, but there are also plans to install it in future editions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Although this is not as powerful as the Nissan engine, it is still powerful enough to handle basic off-roading.
GM's focus on diesel engines signals a change that is taking over many members of the truck and SUV communities. If the models are a success, more brands could follow suit and introduce a wider selection of trucks with alternative fuel sources.
"It would show that they're serious about competing on fuel economy in their truck lineup and that they're trying to leverage their global resources," Michael Omotoso, a senior manager of global powertrain forecasting told Automotive News. "But we don't know what the demand for a diesel in a mid-sized pickup will be."
Nissan is also jumping on board with diesel trucks. The 2015 Titan will be a Cummins-powered truck that is capable of reaching impressive levels of fuel efficiency while also offering enough power to meet the needs of drivers - something that would be a boon for Nissan, which has generally been less popular than brands like Ford or GM.
What off-roaders can expect
The benefits of diesel fuel within the world of off-roading is obvious. Drivers can get more power and better fuel economy out of their vehicles without putting as much time and energy into maintenance. As more state and federal regulations begin addressing the fuel economy of vehicles, drivers may find themselves forced to make a change. While truck modifications and similar updates may help to reduce the impact these laws have on off-roading or heavy-duty work, turning to advancements like diesel engines may soon become a more popular option.