A diesel Jeep? Sweet!

At long last, a few American auto companies are getting into the diesel game.

I’ve been begging the auto manufacturers for years to offer smaller trucks and SUVs with diesel engines. I love the power and the fuel economy I get out of my big ‘ol Ford F-350, and the smaller vehicles with diesel engines they drive in Europe put up absolutely staggering miles-per-gallon numbers.

Diesel engines are quieter than they’ve ever been, and even before the most recent round of pollution control required on all vehicles, diesels have had less toxic emissions than their gas-driven counterparts. And now, with the latest requirements, they’re nearly 100 percent emission-free.

The Japanese and European car companies have been pumping out diesel vehicles for years, and not just in their big trucks. Overseas, you can get cars as small as the Smart Car with diesel engines. Smart Cars may be ludicrously tiny, but with the diesel, they get close to 70 miles to the gallon.

But now a few American companies are putting diesels in their more common offerings. Ram is now offering a half-ton pickup with a diesel engine, and Chevy offers it in the Cruze. And in between, there’s the Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel.

I got to drive the Cherokee diesel a few weeks ago, and I have to say I was impressed. It was so quiet, I kept forgetting I was driving a diesel. At least until I needed to floor it. When I needed power, I got it instantly, thanks to the turbo diesel under the hood and all the torque it produces.

With the Overland package, it was pretty cushy, too. Those heated seats would be mighty nice after a wet, cold day out hunting turkeys in the spring or geese in the dead of winter.

And best of all, it got just shy of 30 miles to the gallon. Show me another full-size SUV that can turn in those numbers.