The 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 is arguably Ford’s greatest diesel engine to date. The latest iteration in the Ford Super Duty produces 475 horsepower and a stump-pulling 1,050 pound-feet of torque, in fact.
For those who prefer a truck versus a car, there are many reasons behind that decision. While efforts are underway to reduce the effect gas and diesel have on the environment, right now those differences are minimal.
Since cost will always be a leading factor in a consumer's purchasing decision, let's discuss it first. You should expect to pay a few thousand dollars extra for a diesel vs gas trucks.
Over the lifespan of your truck, you might end up saving money on diesel fuel. One of the benefits of diesel is that you can easily buy it at any fuel stations.
Even so, if you're planning on using your truck for a long time, put a lot of miles on it, or for towing items, you could save money using diesel. The difference between gasoline and diesel shows when it comes to maintenance costs.
For those planning on selling their truck, diesel generally offers better resale value than gas. The higher resale value makes it a smarter choice for anyone considering leasing a truck.
Those who are hauling large, heavy items require additional power to get the job done. How you plan on using your truck will ultimately determine how much power you require.
For those looking to use their truck for frequent, heavy-duty hauling and/or towing will find diesel outperforms gas for these types of tasks. Diesel engines also have great fuel economy and longevity to help them get long hauling jobs done.
The difference between gasoline and diesel when it comes to power is that gas offers more horsepower. But that's only a guideline, not a hard and fast rule, and it's only when comparing gas and diesel trucks with similar engine displacements.
And it's worth noting that the horsepower gap between diesel vs gas has narrowed over the years. While horsepower is definitely a selling point, it won't tell you the whole story about a truck's capabilities or utility.
While style and class are always a users' preference, most of us do want our trucks to make us look good. Some people consider a diesel engine to be messier and less clean than their gas counterparts.
Most manufacturers offer diesel powertrains with their mainstream models. Max Towing Capacity: 12,560 lbs Torque: 480 lb-ft Horsepower: 260 Fuel Economy: 26 mpg combined Generation: The 2020 Ram 1500 has an all-new diesel engine.
What Makes It Unique: Great for towing and use as a “daily driver,” Ford’s best-selling F-150 offers excellent fuel economy and power at an affordable price. Max Towing Capacity: 9,300 lbs Torque: 460 lb-ft Horsepower: 277 Fuel Economy: 27 mpg combined Generation: The 2020 Silverado 1500 has an all-new diesel engine.
What Makes It Unique: Chevrolet’s new Duramax engine is powerful and efficient, giving the 2020 Silverado fuel economy similar to a full-size sedan. Max Towing Capacity: 9,300 lbs Torque: 460 lb-ft Horsepower: 277 Fuel Economy: 26 mpg combined Generation: The 2020 Sierra 1500 has an all-new diesel engine.
What Makes It Unique: GMC’s attractive upscale pickup is powered by the new Duramax engine. Powerful and efficient, GMC’s diesel -powered ½ ton pickup yields fuel economy similar to a full-size sedan.
What Makes It Unique: Chevrolet’s completely redesigned heavy-duty pickup offers more towing and hauling power than ever. Max Towing Capacity: 35,100 lbs Torque: 1000 lb-ft Horsepower: 400 Fuel Economy: NA (EPA doesn’t rate heavy-duty trucks) Generation: 2019-2020 Ram 3500 models have nearly identical styling; you can save by considering older model years.
What Makes It Unique: GMC’s fully redesigned heavy-duty pickup offers more towing and hauling power than ever. Max Towing Capacity: 22,800 lbs Torque: 1,050 lb-ft Horsepower: 475 Fuel Economy: NA (EPA doesn’t rate heavy-duty trucks) Generation: 2017-2020 Ford F-250 models have nearly identical styling; you can save by considering older model years.
Max Towing Capacity: 18,600 lbs Torque: 910 lb-ft Horsepower: 445 Fuel Economy: NA (EPA doesn’t rate heavy-duty trucks) Generation: Redesigned for 2020. Price for GMC Sierra 2500 HD: $71,107 What Makes It Unique: Those looking for an upscale take on Chevrolet’s 2500 HD will likely find the Sierra 2500 to be the perfect work truck.
What Makes It Unique: Chevrolet’s midsize pickup provides excellent fuel economy with its diesel engine, while offering SUV-like driving dynamics and a long list of technology and comfort features. What Makes It Unique: GMC’s midsize pickup provides excellent fuel economy and utility while offering SUV-like driving dynamics and a long list of technology and comfort features.
Max Towing Capacity: 7,650 lbs Torque: 442 lb-ft Horsepower: 260 Fuel Economy: 25 mpg combined Generation: The Jeep Gladiator diesel is brand-new for the 2020 model year. What Makes It Unique: Jeep’s new Gladiator midsize pickup is based on the iconic Wrangler.
A truck’s hauling and towing capacities, as well as fuel economy, are directly related to what is under the hood. Diesel engines offer excellent torque for their size, which translates to great towing power.
Many of the trucks on our list have been available relatively unchanged for a number of years and are available at a substantial savings on the used market. They often deliver higher fuel-efficiency ratings, are able to tow more, and allegedly last longer than gas-powered engines do.
If you haven’t heard of a runaway diesel engine, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Age and wear are often the most common cause but a runaway diesel engine can also be caused by things like sticky pumps that meter too much fuel, oil seal failures, overfilling the truck’s crankcase, damaged internal fuel pipes, faulty fuel linkages, among other things.
Fortunately, Throttle reports that runaway diesel engines aren’t nearly as common as they used to be. Essentially, glow plugs are designed to preheat and warm up your engine’s cylinders so that diesel combustion can happen more easily.
According to, when glow plugs have an issue, it could cause problems with the drive ability of your truck. Your Mechanic reports that engine misfires are one of the first signs that a truck’s glow plugs are facing some serious problems.
Unfortunately, replacing glow plugs can be difficult and labor-intensive, so you’re going to want to keep an eye out for this common diesel truck problem. According to RC Auto Specialists, oxidized oil can also lead to some issues.
Well, RC Auto Specialists explains that once air gets into the oil it can create bubbles that interfere with proper lubrication. And according to Bell Performance, can point to things like faulty injectors, a defective injector pump, a bad air filter, a clogged EAR valve, or even a bad turbocharger.
The Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 are among the most popular vehicles sold in America, and each one now offers a diesel engine. But there's a catch: They cost thousands of dollars more than their gas engine counterparts.
Figuring out whether it's money well spent can be difficult, especially when a gasoline V8 might work just as well for most light-duty truck shoppers' needs. Just know that real-world fuel economy results will vary based on your particular truck's configuration and use.
The 3.0-liter diesel engine adds $4,995 to the price tag, which is considerable, but maximum towing capacity nearly doubles to 12,560 pounds. Fuel economy gets a significant increase too, with an EPA estimate of 26 mpg combined (22 city/32 highway).
The other optional engine in the lineup, Ram's available 5.7-liter V8, can tow a little more than the diesel 12,750 pounds but it gets an EPA estimate of just 19 mpg combined (17 city/23 highway) and requires mid-grade gasoline. Verdict: The gains in fuel economy and towing power for the Ram 1500 diesel are significant.
Chevy's base engine for the Silverado is a 4.3-liter V6 with a maximum towing capacity of 7,900 pounds and an EPA estimate of 17 mpg combined (16 city/21 highway). That's the biggest fuel economy difference of the bunch, and worth the cost of an upgrade if you're willing to take the hit on maximum towing.
However, it returns an EPA combined estimate of 17 mpg (16 city/20 highway) and requires premium fuel. Verdict: If you're looking for a nice compromise between pulling power and fuel economy, the Silverado's diesel engine is an appealing choice.
EDMUND SAYS: All three of America's top-selling full-size light-duty pickup trucks now offer diesel engines as options. They are more expensive up front, but depending on the truck and your needs, it might be worth the money to make the upgrade.