15-20 years ago, cars with diesel engine were not in favor. They were produced due to higher efficiency, but at the same time, work was underway to eliminate a number of existing shortcomings.
Then such engines were equipped with less than 10% of all cars coming off the assembly line.
Today, as follows from the results of a study by the JD Power rating agency (a division of AsiaPacific), this figure has grown to 25% and continues to show a positive trend in the form of 1-2% annual growth.
What is the reason for such success and what are they, the best modern diesel engines, we intend to tell you in the framework of this review article.
Advantages and disadvantages of diesel engines
Technology does not stand still, and this is especially evident in the automotive industry. Modern passenger cars annually acquire dozens of new electronic components designed to improve the safety, reliability, reliability and comfort of vehicles.
All components and assemblies are being improved, including engines. This applies to diesel engines exactly to the same extent as electric engine or gasoline engines.
At the moment they are characterized by the following advantages:
- compared to gasoline opponents with the same volume, they consume an average of 30% less fuel;
- diesel engine are almost twice as durable, although this figure is likely to be somewhat overestimated;
- diesel fuel is much cheaper than gasoline, and this becomes a decisive factor for many;
- the reliability of diesel engines is much higher, including due to the lack of a complex ignition system;
- diesel engines are more environmentally friendly, emitting much less carbon dioxide.
Alas, it was not possible to get rid of all the shortcomings. The most important of them are:
- fear of low-quality fuel, which will quickly kill the nozzles;
- high cost of maintenance (on average 20% more expensive than gasoline engines);
- warming up the engine takes much longer;
- in a car with a manual transmission, you will have to switch more often.
And although among the advantages of such engines is their high reliability, it must be understood that turbocharged engine are much inferior to aspirated engine by this criterion, since it is the turbine that is the weak link.
The 10 Best Diesel Engine For Passenger Cars In 2023
And now let’s move on to the top 10 best diesel engines, among which there are the most economical, and the most powerful, and are considered the most reliable and trouble-free.
1. BMW M57 Engine
The first generation of the Bavarian engine appeared in 1998, these were engines with a volume of 2.5-3.0 liters.
And although the M57 has been constantly improved, the biggest changes in its design occurred in 2005 – for the first time the brand decided to use piezo injectors, significantly redesigned the cylinder head and began to cast blocks and aluminum.
Many consider it one of the most reliable diesel engines in the world, for which mileage of 500 thousand kilometers is not the limit, although in severe conditions problems can begin after 300 thousand.
The biggest problem that can happen to an M57 is the intake flaps coming off. If they fly into the engine, they will inevitably fall into the space between the valves and pistons, and this is an overhaul that will cost you a pretty penny.
So it is necessary to monitor their condition, especially when the collector rattles when the engine is idling. On top versions, a frequent nuisance is the stretching of the timing chain.
2. Volkswagen 1.6 TDI Engine
The Germans certainly know a lot about engines. Therefore, it is not surprising that the second place in the ranking of the best diesel engines designed for passenger cars is occupied by the engine from Volkswagen.
It is not the most powerful in our review, with a volume of 1.6 liters, all modifications fit into the power range of 90-121 horsepower, but this engine is not intended for SUVs at all.
Here, a scheme is implemented using the Common Rail system (direct injection of diesel fuel) and a turbocharger with variable geometry.
The use of a turbine of an improved design, combined with an increase in pressure in the cylinders, made it possible to reduce fuel consumption in urban mode to 4.5 l / 100 km, the consumption rate declared by the manufacturer on the highway is 3.5 liters.
Many car owners claim that in real conditions the consumption was even lower – at the level of 3 l / 100 km. This allows us to rank the Volkswagen 1.6 TDI among the most economical diesel engine of our time.
He is quite capable of “departing” 350 thousand kilometers, provided that high-quality fuel is used . Otherwise, the piezoelectric nozzles will quickly fail.
If the nozzles are clogged, the engine will start to triple, work jerkily and with extraneous sounds, and this will be a clear signal that you are using fuel of inadequate quality.
3. Volvo D5
The Scandinavian engine closes the top 3 best diesel engine for passenger cars. And it has nothing to do with the PSA/Ford diesels found in many Volvo models.
The life of engines is usually longer than that of a particular car model, but the 15 years during which the Volvo D5 (2000-2015) was produced speaks volumes.
The range of these engines had a volume in the range of 2.0-2.4 liters and power from 135 to 230 horsepower. Each cylinder of a five-cylinder diesel engine has four valves, the timing belt is replaced every 120,000 km.
The engine is considered reliable and will not cause problems, but if this is a modification released in 2007-2010, you should carefully examine the drive belt with a tension roller – the manufacturer changed them under warranty.
It may well turn out that you have a defective copy, which sometimes drags under the timing case, which can cause such trouble as the “meeting on the Elbe” of valves with pistons.
4. Hyundai/Kia D4FB
The boom in relation to Korean cars , observed in our country, is largely provoked by the transition to the production of our own engine.
For a long time, the Hyundai concern installed analogues of Mitsubishi engines on its models, but in the end decided to start developing its own, and it succeeded.
Especially popular is the unpretentious and economical D4FB diesel engine, created in collaboration with specialists from Kia. This is a modern four-cylinder 16-valve turbocharged engine of the F series with a volume of 1.6 liters.
In the description of the engine there is a CRDi prefix, from which you can understand the presence of Common Rail technology.
Among the features of the engine, we note the use of a CVW gas distribution system and a powerful VGT turbocharger with variable geometry.
Finally, the modern Swirl Control Valve system (the use of swirl flaps) is implemented here.
The engine is economical, reliable, tolerates low temperatures well, plus everything works very quietly, which deserved the fourth place in our rating.
5. Peugeot DW10
The old-timer of our top 10 was released by PSA back in 1998. Until 2003, these were eight-valve engines, but then it was decided to switch to more advanced sixteen-valve technology.
Nevertheless, it is the eight-valve models that are considered the most trouble-free and reliable. The most common failure is associated with the fuel system from Siemens, which happens very rarely, as a result of an unqualified replacement of a faulty fuel filter.
However, the 16-valve modifications proved that they are practically not inferior to the old versions in terms of reliability. Comments are only in relation to the timing chain, the same Siemens fuel system.
And the common problem of all diesel engines is the fear of poor quality diesel fuel. There are no other common problems with the Peugeot DW10, so this diesel engine is popular in several countries.
6. Fiat 1.9 JTD
Being among the best diesel engines of the Italian engine should not surprise you. The automaker has long been engaged in the independent development of heavy-fuel engines using direct injection technology.
Few people know, but it was Fiat who first introduced Common Rail into the production 1986 Croma.
True, the engine turned out to be unsuccessful – the designers could not cope with vibrations and increased noise levels.
A new attempt had to wait over ten years, but the Fiat 1.9 JTD turned out to be a revolutionary engine, free from the shortcomings of its predecessor.
The first model, which appeared in 1997, was a four-cylinder eight-valve, with a constant geometry turbocharger. This engine gave out 105 horsepower “on the mountain”.
Then there were biturbo versions with 16 valves. Since 2002, the Italians have been producing a modernized engine, characterized by a progressive injection system, and they began to install it on some Opel and Saab models.
7. BMW N55
This is the most powerful diesel engine in our rating. It evolved gradually, at first it had one turbine, then it was decided to switch to a bi-turbo version.
And then the Bavarian automaker completely surprised the world by releasing a three-liter engine equipped with three turbines, and each had a variable geometry. At present, 381 “horses” is an absolute record among diesel engines installed in mass models.
These engines are equipped with sedans of the 5th and 6th series, as well as X5 / X6 crossovers belonging to the full-size SUV segment.
Thanks to this engine, the BMW 7 premium sedan, weighing about 2000 kg, is able to accelerate to the “first car” in about 5-6 seconds, depending on the configuration.
And surprisingly, such a monster is not very gluttonous, “eating” about 6 liters of diesel fuel per 100 km in mixed mode. Gasoline engines of the same power or volume spend more than twice as much – up to 20 liters of fuel.
8. Hyundai/Kia U2
Another representative of the Korean auto industry is designed for installation in small cars (according to the European classification – C-class).
With a volume of 1.6 liters, an in-line four-cylinder 128-horsepower engine is equipped with a second-generation Common Rail system, an electronic EGR system for exhaust gas recirculation, and a variable geometry turbocharger.
But the main advantage of the Hyundai / Kia U2 is that it is the quietest diesel engine – only low-powered gasoline opponents work quieter, and even then not all of them.
This was achieved thanks to a thorough study of the main noise generators and the elimination of the causes of its appearance (the geometry of the upper part of the engine, the structure of the timing chain and the oil pan were modified).
9. Toyota 1ND-TV
This Japanese diesel was first tested in 2001 on the Yaris. The engine turned out to be so successful that it was produced until 2017, making improvements to the design dictated by the time.
If we talk about the features due to which 1ND-TV got into the rating of the best diesel engines for passenger cars, then this is the use of an aluminum BC with an open type cooling jacket.
The engine has only one camshaft, and its 8 valves do not have hydraulic lifters. The turbocharger is equipped with a bypass valve, there are modifications with variable geometry.
The Common Rail system is used Bosch, which has proven its reliability. It was also decided to move away from the design with a dual-mass flywheel, which made it possible to simplify the engine and reduce the cost of its maintenance.
Until 2008, electromagnetic nozzles were used, which were replaced by piezoelectric counterparts. This small engine is considered very reliable and is characterized by high smoothness.
10. PSA 1.9D
The latest diesel engine of the alliance is the two-liter HDI, but for a long time its predecessor was the 1.9 D / TD engine, also a four-cylinder.
The naturally aspirated engine is 69 horsepower, the TD version is capable of generating 90 horsepower.
Specialists from PSA decided to use indirect fuel injection in this engine, using a Bosch rotary pump for this purpose.
It was decided to abandon the variable geometry of the turbocharger, which simplified the design and reduced the cost of engine maintenance.
The PSA 1.9 D / TD engine was equipped with models such as Peugeot 306/405, Citroen Xantia and some others.
This is one of the few diesels that is not particularly sensitive to low-quality fuel, so it is not surprising that a mileage of 600,000 kilometers is not the limit.
So, we looked at which diesel engines can be considered the best and why. We only note that if you want to buy a car with a specific engine, then this will not be an easy task – some models are no longer produced, but they can be found on used cars.
And those that are still being installed today may not be available on the several countries market – it is believed that we are reluctant to buy cars with diesel engines.