The Diesels are Coming: Is Kia Next?

High gas prices make most people think differently about driving. Carpooling, driving less, switching to more fuel-efficient vehicles – those are all options many consider. Truck and large SUV sales usually correspond closely with changes in prices. Hybrids are one way to do that, but so are diesels. In the rest of the world, particularly Europe, diesels are by far the largest sellers.

They’ve never caught here because in the past they’ve been loud and dirty. Today’s clean diesels have a much different character. The biggest seller of diesels in the U.S today is Volkswagen, with its TDI engines. We rave about it a lot, but the new Passat TDI really does offer an impressive package for those looking for a mainstream, fuel-efficient sedan. But, we digress.

Kia has signaled that it is considering adding a diesel engine to its lineup. We hear a lot of about manufacturers adding diesels to their lineups, but it really is beginning to happen. Chevrolet, as mainstream as they come, is preparing a big push with the upcoming Cruze Diesel. It is a pretty forward looking move for them.

On Kia’s North American PR Facebook page, they recently posed the question: “Would you drive a diesel?” They did this in response to a post on EfficientDynamics speculating about the possibility of bringing the Optima Diesel over here to the U.S. In Europe, the Optima is only available as a diesel. The engine in question is a 1.7-liter CRDi (Common Rail Direct Fuel Injection) turbo diesel making 134 horsepower and 244 pound feet of torque. 0-60 takes 11.5 seconds. Yikes. A more powerful version of the engine is being debuted by Hyundai though, making 160 hp. That would make a lot more sense. So would having it in the Forte small car. Then, Kia could go directly against the Chevrolet Cruze and Volkswagen Jetta TDI. So, what does all this mean? Kia does have the diesel technology and appears to be considering the idea. They’ll probably monitor Chevrolet’s introduction of the Cruze closely before pulling the trigger on anything. If it is successful, a raft of competitors will be sure to follow.

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