For most manufacturers, the 2017 model year started over three months ago. But you wouldn’t know this if you were looking for a diesel, because many 2017 light or medium duty oil burners, like the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel in the picture above, are not available for purchase yet, because the EPA still hasn’t finished certification.
We recently received an email from a distraught reader whose only wish in life is to sip from the fountain of torque that is the Ram 1500's 3.0-liter diesel engine. The reader said he asked a dealer about Ram’s burly diesel truck, and received in return a voicemail saying:
Unfortunately, I’ve come to the realization...that FCA Chrysler is not making the EcoDiesel available for any vehicles in ‘17... So that engine has been discontinued. I don’t know if it’s on a temporary basis, but I cannot even order one.
Upon hearing of our reader’s woes, I feverishly contacted Fiat Chrysler about EcoDiesel availability on the Ram and Grand Cherokee, and their spokesperson said simply “Certification is pending.” Still.
Automotive News did report in October that the EPA was taking extra measures to make sure diesel vehicles pass emissions testing (you can thank Volkswagen’s emissions scandal for that), and that was reiterated by an EPA spokesperson after I asked about the Jeep and Ram situation:
It is true that diesel vehicles are getting extra scrutiny and that has extended the certification process longer than normal. In general, manufacturers have been supportive of this additional testing and have adjusted their timing to account for the additional test duration.
While it’s not surprising that the EPA, which normally only audits 10-15 percent of automakers’ fuel economy claims, could be a bit overwhelmed by having to make sure automakers don’t cheat on diesel emissions like VW did, it’s hard not to wonder why certification for the EcoDiesel, which isn’t expected to be any different from the engine found in Grand Cherokees and Rams since 2014, is taking this long.
Of course, Fiat Chrysler isn’t the only one in this boat. Check out the EPA’s website, and though you’ll see that the BMW 328d, BMW xDrive35d, Chevrolet Colorado Diesel, and Jaguar XE have made it through certification and began shipping to customers months ago, the carryover Land Rover Range Rover and BMW X3 xDrive28d are both missing from the fuel economy database as well.
I called up Land Rover, who confirmed to me that 2017 Range Rover diesels were indeed in the cards for the U.S. market, but that they were being held up by EPA testing. I also rang up BMW, and their spokesperson said that yes, the X3 diesel was going to be available for ‘17, but they weren’t sure if it had made it through certification.
I called a BMW dealership near me to see what’s up, and the salesman said that their dealer order database does not show 2017 X3 xDrive28d as an available model for 2017.
So yeah, if you were looking to buy a 2017 model year diesel before the calendar year rolled around, so you could brag to your friends how fancy you are, your choices are limited. Thanks to Volkswagen.