VAG 1.9 8v TDI PD

24 Diesels That Are Known To Last a Lifetime

There’s a lot of controversy around diesel engines. They’ve been around for more than a century, and through the decades, these compression-ignited engines have come a long way. Through their evolution, diesel engines have earned a good reputation in the automotive industry for high efficiency and high torque and a bad rep for being smokey and phlegmatic.

But as the world starts a new chapter focusing on climate change and environmental conservation, the diesel engine is slowly falling out of favor with consumers thanks to conservationist groups.

We can’t ignore the amount of research conducted to help reduce diesel engine emissions. They’ve been immensely successful, but unfortunately, not to the required levels, and the Dieselgate scandal serves as a harsh reminder.

Still, we can’t ignore the impact diesel engines have had on transportation in the commercial sector. Some of the best power plants in the automotive industry (commercial, performance, and personal cars) are diesel. With that in mind – these are some of the most reliable diesel engines ever produced.

Mercedes-Benz OM617 (3-Liters)

Mercedes-Benz OM617
Image Credit: Sirnik/WikiCommons.

Not many people know of the 3-liter Mercedes-Benz OM617 engine, but motor experts will swear on their lives that it’s indestructible. Introduced in the European market in 1974, it was the first of its kind (5-cylinder) used in a passenger car, producing a meager 80 horsepower. Don’t get me wrong, at the time – it was Mercedes-Benz’s most powerful engine.

Over the years, the OM617 has earned a name in the industry as one of the most reliable engines ever produced by the German luxury car manufacturer. It often clocks past 600,000 miles ( 1,000,000 kilometers) on the odometer without any major repair.

Cummins (5.9 Liters)

Cummins 5.9 Liters
Image Credit: trucktrend/Pinterest.

When it comes to the best of the best of American-bred diesel engines, the 5.9-liter Cummins is an easy pick for legend status. Also known as the 6BT, this diesel engine will easily clock 200,000 miles without a rebuild.

It’s gone through several revisions, and over the years, this decade-old, hardcore powerplant has earned a reputation among car lovers globally for its power and longevity. It is also tune-friendly, and as a result, there are a host of aftermarket parts available to amp up its performance.

Ford Powerstroke (7.3 Liters)

Ford Powerstroke 7.3 liter
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Like the 5.9-liter Cummins, the 7.3 Powerstroke has legendary status in the American diesel engine hall of fame. Ford Motors developed this hardcore powerplant between 1994 and 2003, and over the years, it’s undergone several improvement tweaks.

Its first iteration produced a meager 210 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque. Still, its power disadvantages are its key ingredients boosting its longevity. More than a quarter of a century later, you’ll find the 7.3 Powerstroke still running strong on the highways, fields, and construction sites. This robust diesel engine is known to run up to 200,000 miles without any major repairs. 

Volkswagen 1.9 TDI (1.9 Liters)

Volkswagen 1.9 TDI
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It goes without saying that diesel engines are popular in bulky automobiles like trucks and not passenger cars because they need high torque to run at slow speeds. Well, among passenger cars, the Volkswagen 1.9 TDI is among the most reliable diesel engines from the Bavarian automaker.

Forget about the Dieselgate scandal; this engine earns its reliability status thanks to its simple build structure that featured a Bosch rotary pump, floating flywheel, and a variable geometry turbine improving its performance and reliability. Still, owners are warned to watch out for issues with the timing belt, EGR valves, injectors, flowmeters, and vacuum horses.

Toyota 1HD-FTE (4.2 Liters)

Toyota 1HD-FTE 4.2 Liter
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TAI 392/YouTube.

Toyotas are synonymous with reliability and durability, and when it comes to diesel powerplants, the 4.2-liter inline-six turbo-diesel Toyota 1HD-FTE takes the cake. Here’s the truth: this turbo-diesel Toyota engine is one of the most sought-after engines among overlanders.

It’s also easy to maintain. Owners only need to adhere to its scheduled maintenance service and a timing belt change at the 90,000-mile mark to enjoy its full durability potential. Popular with the 80 Series and 100 Series Land Cruiser, this engine is best known for its torque, impressive power, and high efficiency.

Volvo D5 (2.4 Liters)

Volvo D5 2.4 Liters
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Very few people can deny Volvo’s credibility in terms of safety and reliability. The Swedish car automaker has earned a reputation in the auto industry for developing human-friendly vehicles. The D5 is a turbo-diesel powerplant developed by the Swedish automaker for its passenger cars produced between 2002 and 2017.

When it comes to diesel engines, the Volvo D5 is known for its reliability and fuel efficiency, thanks to Volvo Cars’ direct injection technology. The D5 was used in several Volvo models, which have gained much acclaim for durability and reliability among owners.

Mercedes-Benz OM606 (3-Liters)

Mercedes-Benz OM606
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The Mercedes-Benz OM606 is a 3-liter inline-six diesel engine developed by the German automaker between 1993 and 2001. This 3-liter direct-injection diesel engine was only capable of 174 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. Still, performance enthusiasts have been able to amp up its figures past 500 horsepower thanks to forced induction (turbocharging).

The modest Mercedes-Benz OM606 is regarded among car enthusiasts as one of the most robust inline-six engines on the planet—you only need to watch out for the glow plugs. It featured in Mercedes-Benz’s E, G, and S-Class line of cars.

Chevrolet Duramax (6.6 Liters)

Chevrolet Duramax 6.6 liter
Image Credit: Ben Hardy/YouTube.

If the 6.6-liter Chevrolet Duramax could vouch for itself, it’d say it’s been around for 20 years of Chevrolet and GMC trucks and is still going strong. The Chevrolet Duramax is a 6.6-liter V8 and is regarded as one of GM’s best engines by auto experts. It was developed in partnership with Isuzu and is capable of making up to 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque.

Needless to say, the 6.6-liter Chevrolet Duramax has featured in some of the most capable trucks in the last decade. Owners commend this V8 powerplant for its reliability, stating that it’s a rarity in repair shops and only needs you to stay up to date with regular maintenance service.

Audi TDI (2.0 Liters)

Audi TDI 2.0 Liters
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The 2-liter Audi TDI is an inline-4 diesel engine hailed by auto experts for its high reliability, performance, and efficiency. Thanks to its top-tier quality and durability, this engine has been in production for more than two decades.

The 2-liter Audi TDI has featured in several Audi models, including the A3, A4, Q5, and even the Volkswagen Passat. This inline-4 diesel engine is capable of a maximum output of 190 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. On the downside, the 2-liter Audi TDI is oil-thirsty, and as a result, owners need to keep up with scheduled maintenance service.

Jaguar Land Rover AJD-V6 (3.0 Liters)

Jaguar Land Rover AJD-V6 3.0 liter
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Crystal Clear Mechanics/YouTube.

European luxury cars don’t get a good rep for having reliable engines, but the Jaguar Land Rover AJD-V6 diesel engine that came in the Jaguar XF, XJ, and Range Rover is an outlier. It combines power, fuel efficiency, and reliability. Don’t get me wrong; this V6 diesel engine will never come up in a conversation amongst petrolheads. Still, it’s capable of 275 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque.

The Jaguar Land Rover AJD-V6 is regarded as one of the most reliable Jaguar Land Rover engines. PS: Owners are warned to be watchful of the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) since it fills up fairly quickly.

VW 3.0 V6 TDI (3-Liters)

VW 3.0 V6 TDI 3 Liters
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The VW 3.0 V6 TDI is a 3-liter V6 turbo-diesel engine developed by Audi (part of the Volkswagen Group) and first introduced into the market in the Audi D3 A8. It’s loved for its phenomenal performance and fuel efficiency (more efficient than the older 2.5 TDI).

This technically sophisticated 3-liter V6 turbo-diesel engine with a common rail direct-injection system has a maximum output of 245 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. It’s featured in several VW Group cars, including the Audi B4 A4, B8 A4, Q7, VW Touareg, and the Porsche Cayenne.

Isuzu 4HK1-TC (5.2 Liters)

Isuzu 4HK1-TC 5.2 liters
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CRG Heavy Truck Parts Maryland/YouTube.

If you are looking for a workhorse that will last a lifetime, consider vehicles with the Isuzu 4HK1-TC diesel engine. The 4HK1-TC is a 5.2-liter inline-4 diesel engine produced between 2005 and 2020, with a maximum output of 215 hp and 452 lb-ft of torque.

It’s exclusively been used on commercial vehicles (N-Series), and according to owner reviews, it’ll drive 375,000 miles seamlessly without major repairs. Its reliability and rugged practicality make it one of the best diesel engines in production.

Audi V12 TDI (6-Liters)

Audi V12 TDI
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You don’t expect a combination of thrilling performance and a diesel engine in one car—at least not in the 00s. However, in 2008, the Audi V12 TDI engine (Audi Q7) came along, and history was rewritten. It was rated the most powerful high-torque diesel engine in a passenger vehicle.

The 6-liter Audi V12 TDI was capable of 493 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque with 17 mpg within the city and 31 mpg on the highway. That’s not all. The seven-seater Q7 could bolt from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, which was astounding considering the SUV weighed 2.7 tonnes.

Jeep V6 EcoDiesel (3-Liters)

Jeep V6 EcoDiesel 3 liter
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It goes without saying that the Jeep V6 EcoDiesel is a remarkable powerplant. This 3-liter V6 diesel engine is undeniably one of the best from the manufacturer, featuring in later Jeep models (third generation), including the Ram 1500, Jeep Gladiator, and Wrangler (all part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles).

The V6 EcoDiesel is capable of making 260 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque (on the Jeep Wrangler) with a towing capability of 9,600 pounds. That’s not all. The Jeep V6 EcoDiesel has an EPA of 30 mpg on the highway.

Ram Cummins 6.7-liter I-6 Turbodiesel

Ram Cummins 6.7-liter I-6 Turbodiesel
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The 6.7-liter Ram Cummins inline-6 turbodiesel is a highly capable and rugged engine with powerhouse high torque figures. It’s considered one of the best truck engines in America and the world for hauling, with power output figures of 310 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque.

According to the automaker, the Ram Cummins 6.7-liter I-6 Turbodiesel offers unmatched efficiency and power. Truck enthusiasts love it for its simplicity and brute force.

Alfa Romeo 2.4-liter JTDm

Alfa Romeo 2.4-liter JTDm
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Italian engineering is famous for character and performance – think Lamborghini. Well, the Alfa Romeo 2.4-liter JTDm might not offer brutal power on the track. Still, it’s among the most reliable diesel engines on the planet, making it a favorite among consumers looking for economy and reliability.

The Alfa Romeo JTDm was in production between 1994 and 2011. This modest 2.4-liter diesel engine produces 210 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds. To compensate for its meager power delivery, the Alfa Romeo 2.4-liter JTDm offers an EPA of 44 mpg.

Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (5.5 Liters)

Peugeot 908 HDi FAP 5.5 liters
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Most people believe diesels are better placed in the fields and industries than at the race track. They are historically wrong! If anything, a diesel has featured at the Le Mans, and it was the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP powered by a twin-turbo 5.5-liter Hdi V12 diesel engine with a maximum output of 730 hp and 890 lb-ft of torque.

Put those power figures into consideration, and you’ll realize that it had more grunt than the Audi R8. Thanks to all that power, the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP was capable of speeds of 215 mph.

Honda 2.2 CTDi (2.2-Liters)

Honda 2.2 CTDi
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Japanese automakers are not big on diesel engines, and in the past, they would buy these powerplants for production. Well, in 2003, Honda changed course and developed a line of engines called the N-Series—the Honda 2.2 CTDi was one of them.

It was a 2.2-liter diesel engine good for 140 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. It was featured in the Honda Accord, Civic, and CR-V passenger cars. Vehicles with the Honda 2.2 CTDi have high durability and are known to clock up to 370,000 miles without major repairs.

Toyota 1.4 D-4D (1.4-Liters)

Toyota 1.4 D-4D
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Mustang Motors/YouTube.

Like its sister company, Honda, Toyota had a poor start with passenger diesel engines. Previously troubled with the 2-liter and 2.2-liter AD diesel engines, Toyota finally struck gold with the 1.4 D-4D. It’s regarded as one of the smallest and best diesel engines by automakers in recent times.

The Toyota 1.4 D-4D is featured in compact passenger car models, including the Auris, Corolla, iQ, and Yaris. This turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-4 diesel engine was capable of a maximum output of 89 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque.

Hyundai / Kia 1.6 CRDi (1.6-Liters)

Hyundai / Kia 1.6 CRDi
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You’ll not expect performance from a 1.6-liter engine, diesel, or petrol, but you’ll get way more efficiency to compensate. The turbocharged 1.6 CRDi diesel engine on the Kia and Hyundai offer refined performance and competitive efficiency.

This turbo-diesel 1.6-liter engine features a Common Rail injection (Bosch Injectors), double mass flywheel, DPF filter, and a variable geometry turbocharger. The 1.6 CRDi is featured on the Hyundai i20, i30, and the Kia Accent, Cerato, and Soul. It has a durability rating of up to 500,000 miles.

BMW B57D30S0 (3-Liters)

BMW B57D30S0 engine
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The BMW B57D30S0 was a phenomenal release when it came out in 2015. Here’s why: It’s a quad-turbo 3-liter straight-6 diesel engine capable of 375 hp and 546 lb-ft of torque (on the BMW M550D). The powerplant can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds on the M550D.

While that might seem like a thirsty powerplant, the BMW B57D30S0 offers a competitive 43 mpg on day-to-day driving. Simply put, it’s the combination of brute power, European luxury, and economy.

VW V10 TDI (5-liters)

VW V10 TDI Engine
Image Credit: Mitchell McPherson/flickr.

Before Volkswagen was put on the spot for cheating (Dieselgate scandal), the VW V10 TDI was a powerhouse engine featured on both the VW Toureg and the Phaeton passenger cars. Needless to say, Volkswagen’s V10 TDI was an automotive industry flex showcasing the automaker’s dominance in developing diesel engines.

This 5-liter V10 engine was good for 346 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque, sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds on the R50 VW Touareg. That’s not all. The VW V10 TDI on the Toureg offered 25 mpg on the highway.


BMW M57 Engine
Image Credit: The Car Spy/WikiCommons.

BMW has a cultic following thanks to its old engines. We are talking about the M20, M42, and M54, among others. The BMW M57, developed between 1998 and 2013, is an inline-6 diesel engine with a maximum output of 282 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque.

This engine was featured in some iconic cars, including the E39 and E60, which rivaled several gas-powered options. You’ll just have to attend one of your local Cars and Coffee events to spot one of these models—proof of its longevity. Cars with the BMW M57 will clock 150,000 miles without any major repairs.

VAG 1.9 8v TDI PD (1.9-Liters)

VAG 1.9 8v TDI PD
Image Credit: Darkside Developments/flickr.

Diesel engines have historically not been a favorite for performance car enthusiasts because of complications in tunning for power. Well, the modest turbo-diesel VAG 1.9 PD developed between 1998 and 2008 spawned the engine tuner’s interest when it first hit the market thanks to its adaptable layout.

The VAG 1.9 PD is featured in several European vehicles, including Audi, Skoda, and VW. A notable unit popular among petrolheads in the UK, the Skoda vRS had a maximum output of 130 hp (tunable to 185 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque) and was capable of bolting from 0-60 in 9 seconds. It also had an impressive 50 mpg on average daily driving.





Humphrey Bwayo

Author: Humphrey Bwayo

Title: Writer


Humphrey Bwayo is an automotive journalist whose love for cars has extended into collecting, driving, and writing about automobiles. His first interaction with cars was with a BMW E36 M3 toy car he got for his 5th birthday, and, as the saying goes the rest was history. 

Growing up as a 90’s kid, he experienced firsthand the height of the great East African Safari Rally. He watched local legend Ian Duncan scoop titles in his Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD and Group A Subaru Legacy RS.

He was fortunate to attend journalism school and later work for a local news broadcaster before diverting into digital print. He’s enjoyed an illustrious career writing and editing for websites like National Monitor, The Clever, Columbia Observer, Gadget Review, Hotcars, TheDrive, and Autoevolution. 

He’s now found a home as a contributor at Tesla Tale, an extraordinary team of automotive journalists, experts, and car enthusiasts curving out new ways unseen on the interwebs of telling car stories — stay tuned!

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