The Car Connection's Best Diesels To Buy 2015

March 4, 2015

If you have long-distance commuting needs, tend to do a lot of highway trips, or have towing needs, chances are a diesel vehicle would be a very good fit for your household.

And after a dearth of diesels earlier this decade, there are now at last plenty of choices on the market—especially if you have a luxury budget.

We're assuming you're headed into this with some understanding of the pros and cons accompanying diesels, but we recommend you brush up on them at our companion resource Green Car Reports. They aren't for everyone; for example, you shouldn't consider diesels if you make only very short trips.

One note: Many diesel models today are marketed as—and badged as, in many cases—"clean diesel" vehicles. And we think that can be misleading to the diesel segment as a whole. The truth of the matter is that all light-duty diesels, of the kind you'd get for family or personal use, are clean diesels—with no visible soot or smoke.

While the idea of creating a separate 'best' list simply for a type of engine (and fuel) might seem a bit odd, diesel shoppers are a dedicated lot. We understand why, and we bet that once you've owned one modern diesel, you'll want another.

Which new diesel car, truck, or crossover should you buy? The Car Connection has some help. Finding your way to the best new vehicle can be as time-consuming as studying a few of those important factors and letting them lead you through the process.

Or you can take our shortcut. We've looked at the data, we've considered the ratings we apply to every new model we review--and have come up with this buying guide, to more quickly help you find the best diesel-engine model you can buy.

To qualify as one of our Best Diesels To Buy 2015, a vehicle must:

  • score at least an 8.0 rating on The Car Connection's full review
  • have a base price of less than $100,000—twice the amount we allow for our Best Car To Buy competition
  • have no reported score lower than four stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Keep in mind, these diesels may finish with higher scores than our annual Best Car To Buy winner—because that vehicle is chosen from brand-new or significantly changed vehicles in a model year. These rankings pit all vehicles against each other, regardless of how many years they've been on the market, and they're open to every vehicle on sale during the current model year.

After vetting all the diesel models offered for the 2015 model year, we've narrowed it down to the following set of vehicles, and given our insight in the bottom line from our original review. They're ranked in the order of scoring as of our latest update. Since our reviews are updated frequently for safety data, late model changes, or fuel-economy revisions, the order may change occasionally.

Also keep in mind that there are a few vehicles that narrowly missed the cutoff for our full review score but are excellent choices from a diesel or fuel-efficiency standpoint. One such example is the 2015 Volkswagen Golf, which is offered in an affordable, high-mpg (and fun-to-drive) TDI version. It definitely deserves an honorary mention on this list.

Otherwise, by the standards above, these vehicles stack up as the best models today offered in diesel versions:

TCC Rating: 9.2

2015 BMW 7-Series

2015 BMW 7-Series

2015 BMW 7-Series

The 2015 BMW 7-Series is exceptionally quick and technologically advanced, but also very luxurious and wonderfully comfortable. Read more »

TCC Rating: 9.0

2015 Audi A8 L

2015 Audi A8 L

2015 Audi A8

The Audi A8 gains standard LED headlamps, a more powerful twin-turbo V-8, and a more efficient diesel engine for 2015. Read more »

TCC Rating: 8.8

2014 Audi A7 TDI

2014 Audi A7 TDI

2015 Audi A7

The A7 is handsome no matter how you slice it, but it's the brawn S7 and brutish RS7 that really gets our blood flowing. Read more »

TCC Rating: 8.6

2015 Audi A6

2015 Audi A6

2015 Audi A6

The 2015 Audi A6 may look a little sedate, but it's a brilliant performer–thanks to its diesel-driven TDI, the supercharged A6, or turbocharged S6 versions. Read more »

2015 Audi Q5

2015 Audi Q5

2015 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML-Class doesn't crow about off-roading: it's more concerned with things like fuel economy and in the AMG, superhero acceleration. Read more »

2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class (ML350 BlueTEC)

2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class (ML350 BlueTEC)

2015 Mercedes-Benz M Class

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML-Class doesn't crow about off-roading: it's more concerned with things like fuel economy and in the AMG, superhero acceleration. Read more »

2015 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

2015 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

2015 Mercedes-Benz GL Class

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class offers the most Mercedes luxury to the most people, with a pleasant ride and easy driving dynamics to boot.Read more »

TCC Rating: 8.4

2015 Audi A6

2015 Audi A6

2015 Audi Q5

The 2015 Audi Q5 remains one of the most elegant, truly car-like crossovers on the market.Read more »

2015 Audi Q7

2015 Audi Q7

2015 Audi Q7

Though the 2015 Audi Q7 might show a little of its age, there are so few faults here that it's hard not to love this big SUV. Read more »

2015 BMW X3

2015 BMW X3

2015 BMW X3

Among compact crossovers, the 2015 BMW X3 doesn't try to be rugged; instead it's one of the sportiest and most fuel-efficient in its class, and this year's new sDrive and diesel models add to that while the lineup gets even more tech and active-safety options. Read more »

2015 BMW X5

2015 BMW X5

2015 BMW X5

The 2015 BMW X5 is a handsome, capable, tech-filled vehicle for the shopper who wants a luxury SUV.Read more »

2015 BMW 3-Series

2015 BMW 3-Series

2015 BMW 3-Series

The 2015 BMW 3-Series lineup is a sport sedan at heart, but with Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo (hatchback) models, it's a lot more than that. Read more »

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, New York City, Jan 2014

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, New York City, Jan 2014

2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee offers an engine for everyone, and a feature list as extensive as those found in luxury sedans.Read more »

2014 Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec

2014 Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec

2015 Mercedes-Benz E Class

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class lineup is many vehicles in one, with comfort and luxury across the board and sporty manners for those who want them. Read more »

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

2015 Ram 1500

The 2015 Ram 1500 is a half-ton favorite, with fuel economy and ride comfort being its main strengths once again. Read more »

TCC Rating: 8.2

2015 BMW 5-Series

2015 BMW 5-Series

2015 BMW 5-Series

Whether it's more of a classic sport sedan or a technology-packed tourer you seek, the 2015 BMW 5-Series fills both roles admirably.Read more »

2015 Porsche Cayenne

2015 Porsche Cayenne

2015 Porsche Cayenne

Yes, Porsche does make a family car, and this is it; the Cayenne runs the gamut from sporty errand mule to track-worthy sports SUV, with some interesting green options in between.Read more »

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