Which later model diesel car should I consider?

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May 12, 2005
Silicon Valley
A good friend of mine has an 87 Mercedes 300SDL which he brews biodiesel for, and I would like to participate. I love diesels, and we used to have an 80 Audi 5000 (non-turbo) about 20 years ago that we couldn't stay on top of. So I'm not really a fan of VW products, even though a 5spd Golf or Jetta or Passat wagon would really suit my needs. I'm also not that keen on a late 90s Mercedes diesel, which is the only other car available here with a diesel engine. I don't want an SUV, van, or truck. Do I just have to wait a couple of years for other manufacturers to begin selling diesels, or have I overlooked something?
The Jeep Liberty has a turbo common rail MB engine that seems to be good. Most current MB engines are reliable and produce decent power. A friend has a VW Bug diesel and it has performed flawlessly so far. Good power and economy and I like the idea of transmission which is basically two 3 speed manual gear boxes side by side with two clutch packs. Much more of a simplified design than a traditional automatic.

If those options don't appeal you will have to either import something, convert something (A model Cummins being converted for use in my Ford Ranger currently) or just wait a year or two.
Jeep Liberty has a rubbish Italian diesel, not MB.
I have considered the possiblity of importing the Euro Honda Accord Tourer (TSX wagon). It's everything I ever wanted: diesel, wagon, 5spd, cloth...
I believe, but could be wrong, that the Italian engine builder is a subsidiary of MB. I think that the outfit is VM Motori which originally was owned by Detroit Diesel which is now owned by MB.
I have a '03 Jetta TDI wagon with 200K miles that I run 100% soy in. Other than the odometer, you would never know the miles. It starts/runs/drives great. Wagons are made in Germany, the rest are made in Mexico. I personally would not buy a Mexican VW.
I have the '06 VW jetta TDI with DSG. I am in love with the car, I love to drive it. It is truly a "sports car lovers" economy car. Only 42K on it right now, but it is doing great.

I did have one problem with the car early on, but to VW's credit, they paid for the rental car and made 1 car payment. I consider that issue (a bad solenoid in the trans valve body) to be fully made right by VW.

I get 42MPG fast highway, 35 city. Worst 34, best just a tick under 65MPG. I did that one by driving 1 lane highway back roads at 49MPH instead of 55. I coasted to a stop using 1/2 mile each time, AC, fan and headlights off. (yes I have to mod to turn off the lights).

I have never tried biodiesel in the car, as there were some 'net reports that VW would not cover fuel system related failures if Bio was detected in the tank.

I hear what the above poster says about Mexican VW's. Not likely to be a problem, as the engines and trans are not made or assembled in Mexico. The engine is Polish and the trans German.

Also, the Europeans require all car components to be recyclable. That results in very poor rubber quality along with short life hoses, plastic, seat foams, HVAC ducting and foams etc. This includes the paint! Mexico is not subject to such regulations. So the better paint and rubber and plastics come out of Mexico.

Ask any Mercedes or Audi mechanic what happens to the older ones. They deteriorate quite early. 5 years in Florida!

Originally Posted By: Tosh
Jeep Liberty has a rubbish Italian diesel, not MB.

GM now owns at least 50% of VM Motori, which they purchased from Penske. Mercedes never owned any part of VM Motori.

As for the engine in the Jeep Liberty, there were so few of them sold that I think it's hard to get a good sample of owners' reports. I occasionally run into a Liberty owner when he's filling up with B99, and he likes it a lot. Again, one is not a representative sample.
Subaru has the first boxer diesel out in Europe but won't be available in th US until 2010 ,and their has been a lot of good reviews on the design.
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Originally Posted By: Tosh
Jeep Liberty has a rubbish Italian diesel, not MB.
I have considered the possiblity of importing the Euro Honda Accord Tourer (TSX wagon). It's everything I ever wanted: diesel, wagon, 5spd, cloth...

That "rubbish" Italian diesel is used in a lot of marine applications and has a pretty decent track record.

I have one of these CRD Liberty's and really enjoy it. There are a number of issues that are not related to the engine itself. Mopar did a few things that cause problems, like the EGR setup, water/fuel separator quality, etc. But the engine is a real workhorse that does its thing as good or better than any other engine I have owned.

Not bad when a little 2.8L diesel can get over 30 mpg on trips in a vehicle with the aerodynamics of a brick and weighs 4300#. And it can pull my 300 gallon fuel wagon without even a complaint. I even pulled out a stuck Interstate Batteries truck a couple of winters ago while other stood around and thought I was nuts hooking up my "little" Liberty to a large straight truck. I have never had a problem except with other add-on components either Mopar felt they wanted on or our wonderful folks in D.C. decided to mandate. But some of these issues bring out the inventiveness in people and a lot of work arounds are out there.

Oh well.. down it all you want. I like it and my wife would probably put a shotgun under the chin of anyone who tried to take it from her.
VM Motori is part of Daimler AG (Mercedes Benz). It was taken over by Detroit Diesel and the via the Penske transaction it became part of Daimler AG (MB). Penske is still a major Shareholder as part of that deal

It has joint venture supply arrangements with GM and Daewoo which at present is part of the GM Group

VM Motori makes some very good diesel engines and has done for a very long time
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