When the performance of diesel-powered vehicles is made an issue, diesel engines would always be a paramount consideration. Diesel cars and trucks deliver great fuel economy. They are 20 to 30 per cent better than comparable vehicles with gasoline engines. And while today’s diesels may not be impeccably-clean, they are most certainly a far cry from the noisy and smelly pollution hogs that they used to be.

Turbo diesel engines, for one, are made up of sophisticated parts that are engineered to blend horsepower and torque gains for the vehicle. According to auto Crankshaft Repair experts, fuel savings on a turbo diesel is so impressive that owners make up the extra cost of the engine in just a few years. “People that own them love them and tend to spread the gospel about them,” said Tony Fouladpour, a spokesman for Volkswagen of America. “First and foremost, it’s the fuel economy. On the New Beetle it’s almost 50 miles per gallon. You can drive from Chicago to New York without stopping for fuel. They’ve got tremendous driving range.”

In connection with Ford, its turbo diesel engines have established supremacy in performance. Any driver who likes to zip away from a stop sign would love the automaker’s diesel engine programmers’ pep. An auto expert said, “It will be noticeably peppier and more fun to drive. So not only do you have better fuel economy, you have better performance, more of a sporty kind of drive.”

Diesel programmers contribute appreciably to make vehicles great at towing. This is the reason why “real truckers” choose diesel-powered Ford trucks. Diesel vehicles handle heavy loads a lot better than comparable gasoline vehicles. Larger, heavy-duty pickup trucks from Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, Dodge and Toyota are available with diesel engines to boost overall performance.

Some aficionados are hesitant to use diesel because of its annoying noise. However, according to recent studies modern diesel engines are a lot quieter than diesels 20 years ago. “The engine is slightly noisier than a gasoline engine but they’re getting real close now. It’s really tough to tell,” said Robert Larsen, director of the Center for Transportation Research at Argonne National Laboratories.

Another bother about diesel engines is fueling up. Finding a neighborhood service station that sells diesel fuel may be difficult to some drivers. According to Diesel Technology Forum, only 30 per cent of neighborhood retail service stations sell diesel fuel. Hence, in purchasing diesel, it would be reasonable to consider diesel fuel availability in a particular area.

Only few automakers offer diesel engine in their lineup. In fact, in the United States, there are only 3.6 per cent of diesel-powered passenger cars. The list includes the Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, Passat, Beetle, Mercedes E-320 sedan, Volkswagen Touareg and Chrysler Jeep Liberty.

However, the biggest downside of diesel vehicles has to do with emissions. They are dirtier than gasoline cars and a whole lot filthier than hybrids. “What you see and smell out of the tailpipe is typically worse than with a gasoline engine,” said Larry Webster, technical editor at Car and Driver. Diesel cars emit more particulates like carbon (soot) and more oxides of nitrogen (NOx), which contribute to local smog.