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Diesel-powered vehicles are nothing new: The use of this efficient engine technology dates back to the 1920s when it debuted for use in trucks. The first diesel passenger car, the Mercedes-Benz 260 D, was introduced in 1936. The diesel engine is named after its inventor, Rudolf Diesel. The diesel engine is also referred to as a compression engine because it basically squeezes a mixture of fuel and air until it ignites, instead of using a spark plug to ignite the mixture like a traditional gasoline engine.
Compared to a gasoline-fueled engine, a modern diesel offers three notable advantages: fuel economy, pulling power and longevity. For instance, a typical gasoline-powered V6 in a full-size pickup truck will average about 17 mpg in real-world driving. In comparison, Edmunds' long-term Ram 1500 with a diesel-fueled V6 averaged about 23 mpg.
An abundance of low- and midrange torque makes diesels ideal for extreme hauling and towing duties, hence their popularity in heavy-duty trucks. And their reputation for incredible durability is the stuff of legend. Mercedes-Benz holds the record for diesel cars, with several lasting more than 900,000 miles, and a 2002 Ford F-350 Super Duty diesel pickup amassed an incredible 1,000,000 miles while still going strong.