Before it popped up at the Detroit auto show, I spent a chunk of time driving a Ford C-Max around snowbanks in Europe. But unlike the powertrains shown or mentioned in Motown, mine was a diesel.
Despite winter weather that'd be downright mild in Detroit, never using cruise control, always having at least half a load on board, extended ventures in the 90-to-120-mph range, and plenty of time in urban traffic, I averaged more than 36 mpg. That's Fiesta-level fuel economy, with more performance and two more seatbelts.
The top-spec 2.0-liter turbodiesel powering it rates 161 horses and 250 pound-feet of torque, enough to clear 125 mph on the top end and to reach 60 mph in about the same time I got in an Escalade Hybrid. The turbo is nearly inaudible, and it self-started in less than 5 seconds at 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Using Ford's European figures, the top engine cited for our market, a 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbo (about 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet) reaches 60 mph just a third of a second earlier and has a slightly higher top speed. The 1.6-liter engine costs about $2000 less than the 2.0-liter diesel, but gives up a third in mid-range torque and close to 40 percent in city fuel economy.
Regular readers know I'm a fan of diesel, but I own more gas-powered wheels than diesels. However, I've also "sold" my share of gas-electric hybrids, a few natural-gas vehicles, and now an electric to those best served by a particular configuration.
I'm pro-choice. Car companies prefer it the other way for simplification, but I would rather have options instead of rides that are designed to be all-inclusive. Most car companies offer at least gas/electric hybrids and diesels, some plug-ins, fuel cells, and straight battery electrics. Worldwide, GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan have hybrids and diesels, but as far as I can tell at this writing, only Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and VW offer them in anything beyond an HD pickup or van.
Ford's missing an opportunity with its world cars by not bringing a diesel to the U.S.; it wouldn't be that hard to do the 2.0-liter TDCi. Let the buyers decide what's important by maximizing brandwidth with choices. I know I'm not the only one who would pay 10-15 percent more to get equal performance and 20-30-percent better fuel economy.