New car shopping? Consider a diesel

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flower-in-gas-tank-fill-opeinging-iconLet the backlash against the hybrid begin. 2013 turns out to be the year of the diesel. Makers of hybrids and plug-ins have scooped up billions from the federal government in loans and energy grants, but are these cars the right ones for regular folks, the guys-next-door Americans?

That’s yet to be seen, but the old-fashioned, gas-sipping, long-ranging diesel is poised for a comeback.

It’s not hard to see what people like — love — about diesel passenger cars. Volkswagon’s been in the mainstream diesel market for years and sells about 75 percent of all diesel cars and SUVs. VW is now being joined by manufacturers like Mazda, Jeep and Chevrolet. Porsche, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz will all be entering or expanding their diesel lines.

If diesel brings to mind big rigs rumbling down the highway spewing smoke, your mind is back in the ‘70s. Today’s diesel engines are quiet and clean-running delivering 15 to 30 percent better fuel efficiency. You probably can’t even pick out a diesel on the road because they don’t sound or drive like diesels-of-yore. New model diesels can burn less fuel and produce less global-warming gases than hybrids and electric cars.

If you’re in the market for a new car, diesel’s worth checking out. How about a light truck? The 2014 Ram will be the only light-duty pickup to offer a diesel. The 3-liter V6 will be available later this fall.