1. Volkswagen Tiguan: VW’s “smaller” SUVs are unfortunately not available with diesel power. They are however built in a nice, Goldilocks size, not too big nor too small, 3 seat rows available. They look great, have excellent build quality throughout and are made to be steady, comfortable, even at autobahn speeds. In my opinion the best value is with the SE or SEL AWD trim lines. 2019 VW’s offer “America’s Best Transferable Warranty” at 6 years or 72,000 “bumper to bumper”. Take note, the 2020 VW’s offer 4YR/50,000 mile warranties. There are also some great lease options, compare on the VW site and among dealer sites.
2. VW Atlas- This is Volkswagen’s large SUV. As with all new VW’s, these are not available with Diesel power. They are again built with good appearance, solid ride and good quality and quite comfortable. They start at a few thousand more dollars than the smaller Tiguan.
If one was interested in a TDi SUV I’d point them to a 2012 to 2016 Touareg TDI or the Porsche or Audi version, which share the same platform and V6, 3 liter diesel engine.
3. The Mazda CX-5 SKYACTIV-D (Diesel)- Mazda has some noteworthy and award winning SUVs, with the CX-5 and the larger CX-9. My favorite though may be the CX-5, because of its available diesel power option, which offers 30 mpg’s highway. With diesel mileage estimates you should expect more, as diesels typically deliver more than promised. However, if you don’t drive much highway or freeway driving and spend your time with short drives to town, you’ll be better off with a gasoline or even an electric version, due out soon.
The diesel equipped model comes fully loaded in the Signature trim and comes with 2 years or 30,000 miles of prepaid maintenance. The Mazda’s, both the CX-5 and CX-9 may run on the smaller side for their class, but they do it very well, with plenty of polish and fresh design.
Mazda is one of the few that doesn’t have a luxury make after they scrapped the Amati attempt, years ago. With that in mind, you know they aren’t holding back on details when they compete for your business.
4. 2019 Chevrolet Equinox w/ 1.6 Turbo Diesel engine- While not built with the amazing quality or polish of the other SUVs on my list, this is nevertheless an SUV worth checking out, better sooner than later, as diesel power is no longer offered for these 2020 models. Chevrolet offers a diesel and AWD availability, with some notable available safety and luxury features for less than others in their class.
5. Toyota Highlander (Non-Hybrid)- The Highlander is one of my favorite SUVs that Toyota makes, as it is more refined and handles better than most of Toyota’s truck based SUV options and is, again a nicely sized rig. The Highlander is smooth, reliable and practical. Toyota offers the best name in quality of any Japanese make and they make a well thought out rig without the road noise and issues of other Japanese brands, such as those purposely left off this list, Honda and Subaru.
Hyundai Santa Fe- was offering a diesel powered SUV as well, but cancelled it due to “stable fuel prices and lack of consumer demand”.
These vehicles mentioned, with various options can range from mid twenties to the mid-fourty thousand dollar range, depending on options and incentives.
My personal favorites are the Mazda CX-5 and Tiguan, I’ve been able to find both makes at very good prices.