COTD: Why Did Diesel Die In The US?

Illustration for article titled COTD: Why Did Diesel Die In The US?

My introduction to diesel passenger vehicles came on the bench seat of my friend's dad's ‘80s Suburban, complete with its 6.2 liter engine with maybe ten horsepower and five thousand pounds-feet of torque. I loved it.

And while I adored that heavy Chevy (though others have despised its brethren), I never got any other experience with diesels in the US, other than stories about my dad's old Rabbit diesel hatchback. He bought that when diesel was cheap, but never thought of another since.

While we were smothering ourselves in the creamy torque provided by Audi's electric twin-turbo prototype over in the land of the sausage-eaters, CJinSD ruminated on why we don't have so many black smoke machines here in these United States.


I remember some pathetic first generation 5000TDs, but other than that I have little recollection of Audi trying to push diesel powered cars on America for ages. BTW, diesel didn't fail here for silly reasons. Only Mercedes made ones that worked and they were expensive. When gas became cheap again and manufacturers figured out emissions controls, performance shot up at rates Mercedes' turbo diesels couldn't match. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Oldsmobile, VW, and Peugeot diesel victims didn't want to repeat their mistakes. That's why diesels went away in the mid-'80s. Nothing silly about it.

Other readers have already pointed out that many buyers loved their Pug diesels, but we will admit that was a small slice of the car market pie.

Why do you think diesel died off (or never really got off the ground) for passenger cars in the US? And where do you see diesel trucks fitting into the equation?


Photo Credit: Chevrolet via

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Otto-the-Croatian-'Whoops my Volvo is a sedan'

I, as a lame European, have always wanted an 80´s Suburban. Ideally a late 80´s one with barn doors in the back.

Can anyone tell me for how much they usually go for?

And if they are mechanically sound if they are cheap?

Should I, one day, import one back to Croatia?