What We All Need: A Compact, 4-Cylinder Diesel Pickup

by Adam Brandon
(Austin, Texas)

Truckers have known it for years: diesels rule! And we’re not the only ones who think so. Countries around the world manufacture diesel vehicles routinely, and they’re much more common than their gas-engine counterparts.

Unfortunately, American manufacturers have virtually ignored diesel engines altogether except for the largest vehicles—like the long-haul trucks that are the backbone of this industry. But just imagine the benefits of having a compact little diesel pickup, one you could easily and affordably take anywhere you wanted to go. Think about the advantages that this pickup would offer:
• Use it for everything. This truly utilitarian vehicle would be perfect for nearly every use—from commuting back and forth to work, to hauling building materials, to grocery shopping, to taking the kids camping for the weekend.
• Diesel engines have a lot more torque than gasoline engines, and a compact 4-cylinder pickup would have no problem pulling a small trailer or boat.
• The diesel engine is so superior to the gas engine. In fact, diesels are usually 30 percent more fuel efficient than their gasoline counterparts.
• Truck drivers know it better than anyone—the diesel engine will outlast a gasoline engine by a lot. In fact, many diesels make it to 500,000 miles or more.
• Then there’s the increased fuel mileage. There’s no reason an American-made small diesel pickup can’t get 40 mpg or more. In fact, German diesels were getting 70 mpg back in the 1970s!
• Because of
the diesel engine’s durability, diesel cars and trucks also have a greater resale value.

After looking at all the advantages, many of us are probably shaking our heads and asking, “So why aren’t U.S. manufacturers making more diesel trucks available to American consumers?” That’s a good question. The truth is that many U.S. automakers don’t believe that a good market exists for small diesel vehicles, and at one point in time that was probably true. Back in the late 1970s, partly as a reaction to skyrocketing fuel prices, manufacturers produced some less-than-desirable diesel vehicles in the U.S. Many consumers were turned off by these cars—they were hard to start, smelly and expensive to repair. So there probably was, at one time, a bias in this country against diesel vehicles. But those poorly designed vehicles were made over 40 years ago. We got over it.

The wave of diesel popularity that has overtaken most of the rest of the world is bound to take hold with U.S. automakers eventually. When it does, let’s just hope that they keep the 4-cylinder compact pickup in mind. It really would be the “do-everything” little truck. And what a nice bonus for truckers—we could go from driving our diesel big rigs on the job to driving our diesel “small rigs” at home!

Adam Brandon is a blogger for Leonard's Garage & Service Center, located in Austin, Texas, specializing in auto repair and motorcycle repair.

for image
Image by mick/Lumix

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