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by Dan Carney
Everybody knows that Americans hate diesels, and that while they may be very popular with Euro-weenies because taxes there make diesel less onerously expensive than petrol, car makers can forget ever foisting off those slow, smoky noisy, smelly oil burners on us. Right?
Err, about 8000 people who bought Jeep Liberty diesels didn’t get the memo. We’ve been told that GM’s disastrously converted Oldsmobile gas V-8 engine has forever stained the name Rudolf Diesel here. But maybe the people for whom that is conventional wisdom have failed to notice that a bunch of today’s car buyers, especially in the entry level cute-ute segment, weren’t yet conceived when those Olds diesels were neighborhood laughingstocks.
Meanwhile VW has cultivated a following among the youngsters who like its cars for its TDI diesels, and Dodge Ram diesels are practically an icon for toughness and durability.
As some consumers may be starting to realize, today’s diesels have enjoyed a mechanical extreme makeover. What was once slow as a linebacker on a quiz show, now sprints smartly away from a standstill.
“Low-end torque,” they always said. “That’s what diesels have got. That’ll getcha goin’.” Trouble was, it never did. Whatever low-end torque was, it didn’t have anything to do with acceleration. Especially in the passing lane.