There was a time in my life when I really, really wanted a truck. I was eventually talked out of it, and have been a "car" guy ever since. When I was in college in Texas in the mid-'90s, I remember there was one station where 87 unleaded was 78 cents a gallon. No joke. I know that makes me sound like an old fart, but it's completely true. Too bad I didn't have a point & shoot digital camera back then to take a snapshot.
Well, those days are long gone, and probably never coming back. I'm still driving a compact four-cylinder car, but appreciate and envy the versatility of trucks and SUVs. Yet at the same time, I'm reluctant to cough up $70+ at every fill-up, every 250-300 miles.
Now I'm sure I'm going to get some disagreement on this, but I'm sticking to my guns. I think the recipe to get more fence-sitters like myself into the truck camp is by offering more diesels in light-duty trucks. Some point to the new GM two-mode hybrids as the wave of the future, but I'm taking a little more of a wait & see approach with that one. For those that will do little if any towing, the hybrids may be a good option, but taking a 4,000-lb. hit in towing capacity isn't an option for a lot of people that use their trucks for work.
Yes, I know diesel engines and diesel fuel are expensive. At least as much a gallon as premium unleaded, sometimes more. But the upside is diesels don't seem to mind how heavy a load they're carrying, and don't seem to be as affected by weight when towing or hauling as an equivalent gas engine. So here is my wish list of diesel trucks I'd like to see in the showroom in 2-3 years:
Silverado & Sierra 1500: These are pretty much already a done deal. Look for them for the 2010 model year with the new 4.5 Duramax and around 310 horsepower and 520 lb./ft.
Ford F-150: You knew Ford wasn't just going to stand on the sidelines and watch GM eat their lunch on this one. Ford has its own light-duty diesel in the wings for '09 or '10.
Chevy Colorado: This may seem like a strange one, but I think it's entirely feasible. I've heard from various sources that the new 4.5 Duramax is a modular design, and a V-6 version would not be too far-fetched. Scaling it down would yield a 3.4 liter engine with approximately 227 horsepower and 390 lb./ft. Not too shabby. Figure on close to 30 mpg on the highway, and this looks like one attractive option.
Jeep Wrangler: If any vehicle needed some help in the powertrain department, this is it. The new Wrangler is a great all-around package with one exception, the wheezy minivan-based 3.8 V-6. The extra torque provided by a diesel would be the perfect complement to this off-roader. Prototypes have been shown. This one could happen.
Nissan Frontier: If you read my review on the Frontier, one of the comments I made was I'd like to see a diesel option. I still would. As noted, overseas versions of this truck have a large four-banger diesel option. I don't know how wild American consumers would be with a growly, shaky four-pot diesel. I suggested a longitudinal application of the upcoming 3.0L V-6 diesel in the Maxima. Figure this one would be good for at least 200 horsepower and 320 lb./ft. of torque. I'd sure take a look.
Honda Ridgeline: Okay, I know this is the oddball geek kid that everyone likes to make fun of. Even I'm a little unsure about it. But mainly because with it's current gas V-6, it doesn't get a whole heck of a lot better mileage than some domestic full-size V-8s. But with a diesel V-6 in the equation offering superior economy and torque to the gas mill, I'd reconsider.
What models would you like to see with a diesel option?