• Jun 17th 2007 at 3:50PM
  • 14
The knowledge base of the AutoblogGreen readership is quite amazing, and I take great pride in the fact that almost all of the comments our readers leave are smart and useful. And, since you're all smarter than I am, I'd like to pick your brains about the best diesel truck or frugal SUV (the way you helped out before).

A friend of mine has gotten fed up with his F-250 and wants to replace it with something more nimble and maneuverable. He prefers a diesel, because he wants to use biodiesel when possible. Other requirements are that this truck be able to tow a boat, which is about 2,000 pounds, now and again and it not be crazy expensive ($20,000 or so would be great). Good mileage and low emissions obvious are pluses.

At this stage in his research, he's kind of leaning toward a 2006 Jeep Liberty Diesel. They're available used for around 20k and he's read that some people are using B100 in them just fine (and Jeep sold them with B5 in the tank). With user mileage reported to be in the 24-32 mpg range (which is more than some sources say), that's not too bad, considering he's likely to use this truck for his daily driver as well. He's ruled out a new Jeep Grand Cherokee as they're too expensive, and he'd like more information from people who have experience with the Commander. He's not locked into the Jeep brand, but it seems like they're offering what he's looking for.

So, what do you think he should get?

UPDATE: added SUV to title and story, instead of just truck.


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  • 14 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Depending on his priorities, he might want to consider buying a used VW Rabbit pickup and having someone drop a TDI in it (sometimes you can find one with a TDI already in it, but they're very rare). It won't tow a huge boat, but it will tow quite a bit.

      This truck, nicely built, will cost you about $10-$15K, but it will perform like no other vehicle in the country. It will get 40-50 MPG, it will haul lots of stuff, it will tow reasonably large loads and it will hold it's resale value like a ROCK.
      • 8 Years Ago
      susan.kraemer -

      Regarding importing a car:

      I wish it was that easy. Basically, you won't be able to get the car registered for use on the road unless it meets US standards.

      There are many aspects to this topic, which has been hashed to death elsewhere. One place to start doing some reading:

      http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/
      • 8 Years Ago
      Would it be pernicious of me to say, when all is said an done, that a person could purchase a used small gas-powered SUV with an I-4 engine making 23 mpg in real-world driving for less? I'm all for people buying B20 or B100 (God knows we need them), but it's the frugality in me speaking.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Not to rain on the rental parade...

      Typical automotive rental contracts specifically prohibit towing. In particular, every SUV rental I've seen doesn't allow towing. Also, take a look at the SUVs in the rental lot next time you're at the airport: They don't have hitches.

      Moving truck rental places are a better bet - but you're more likely to end up with a large box truck. Something I wouldn't want to try backing down a boat ramp.

      Another take on this discussion: 2000 pounds isn't all that much weight in the towing world. There are many cars and minivans that can handle this load (I tow a 2500 pound GVWR popup camper with a minivan, and have been very pleased with the combination).
      • 8 Years Ago
      Not pernicious at all.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just to throw a completely different idea into the discussion... What if your friend buys a small car that gets much higher gas mileage and then just rents a truck for those few occasions when towing the boat is necessary. A 24 hour truck rental is around $60 where I live. I would recommend comparing how often the truck would get used versus the cost of buying, insuring, and maintaining a truck. Renting can be much cheaper depending the frequency of need.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Sebastian,
      What would happen if we tried to import EVs from Europe, like The Smart EV or the Doblo EV SUV?
      Would we get arrested and thrown in Guantanimo? How about if we arranged for 60 minutes to cover the ordeal?
      I want to buy the Smart EV you wrote about last week selling at Infovel in Switzerland for instance. No doubt half the country would.

      You people with expertise in the auto industry, please detail for me what would happen exactly. How are we prevented from doing this?

      http://www.infovel.ch/eng/partner_interna.asp?rivenditore_ID=476
      • 8 Years Ago
      You want a fuel efficient, utilitarian diesel SUV/truck that gets good mileage for near or under $20,000? Sure, you can get one. Just not in this country.
      On the bright side, you can get a Hummer that seats 4 (barely), which costs more than a small house, gets 8 mpg, and can't carry more than a small labrador.
      If Jeep ever gets smart (and I'm not hopeful about that, having seen the Compass, Patriot, and Commander), you'll have a Wrangler Unlimited and small pick-up to choose from.
      • 8 Years Ago
      If you want a truck with a diesel engine and want the best, my advice is to wait until 2009 and take your pick from Toyota, Nissan or Honda.

      The engines will be the best diesels in the world.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Steer away from the Liberty Diesel. We have had nothing but problems with ours. Ours runs hot even when it's not towing. We had to cross the desert with the heater running full blast in 110 degree weather to keep the engine cool. The left taillight unit has been replaced 5 times and is still shorting out.

      Love the car as far as size and whatnot, but it stays in the shop. Search the internet for the overheating problem... apparently Jeep knows about this, but there has been no recall or other action. They simply discontinued it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      A Jeep Liberty is not a truck, it's an SUV. Also, my understanding is that they have discontinued the diesel version of the Liberty, in favor of a Cherokee diesel. If he wants a used one, the 2006 model definitely works with biodiesel (including B100), but several of my customers with them hate them. They LOVED them when they first got them, but lots of problems have changed their opinion. One customer got some bad biodiesel and spent $6000 at the dealership because of the way it affected the computer, causing a chain reaction of replacing parts that were not bad.

      If he wants a truck, only the 3/4 ton and larger are available with a diesel engine, so you're not really going to find anything nimble and maneuverable. Some other options are an old Isuzu pickup (some models available with a diesel), or an old Scout or Bronco from the 70's.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Mark, excellent recommendation, we do the same thing, I go out and rent a minivan for long trips instead of driving one daily. When I need to haul something huge, It's only $19/hour to rent a truck, I can have it there and back within the hour, I save that much alone for 35 mpg vs. 15 mpg in one tank of gas. We use the MINI and the Fit for all of our commuter/runabout duties.
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