Diesel vehicles have better fuel efficiency and more torque than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Although diesel-powered passenger cars have become a rarity in the American auto market, diesel pickups have prevailed as a popular choice for truck buyers who want a more efficient yet more powerful hauler. What are the benefits of diesel trucks, and which diesel trucks are the best ones on the market? We have the answers.

Diesel Vs. Gasoline

The main difference between a diesel engine and a gasoline-powered engine is that in a gas engine , fuel and air are mixed inside a combustion chamber, and ignited by a spark plug. Modern diesel powertrains compress the air first, which causes heat, and when the fuel is added, combustion happens without a spark plug. 

Diesel engines are typically heavier and more powerful than gasoline engines, which gives them a higher towing capacity, an ever-important metric for discerning truck buyers. Diesel engines have less horsepower than their gasoline counterparts, but they have more lb-ft of torque to contribute to their towing prowess and off-road capability. Along with semi and pickup trucks, diesel engines can also be found in SUVs and crossovers, often combined with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

Diesel vehicles are usually more fuel-efficient than their gasoline counterparts, though more efficient modern gas engines are catching up to diesels, especially in hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. A well-maintained diesel engine will usually outlast a comparable gasoline engine. Diesel-powered vehicles are typically more expensive than their gasoline equivalent, and diesel fuel, once much cheaper per gallon than gas, is often comparable in price. 

Best Diesel Trucks

Of the new vehicles listed by the EPA’s Fueleconomy .gov website, roughly half are pickups, so there are a number of new and used diesel-powered trucks to choose from.
Best Diesel Pickups
Rank Vehicle iSeeCars Quality Score Combined MPG Max Horsepower Max Torque Towing Capacity
1 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 8.3 27 277 460 9,500
2 Ford F-150 8.3 23 250 440 12,100
3 GMC Sierra 1500 8.2 26 277 460 9,500
4 GMC Canyon 8.0 23 186 369 7,700
5 Chevrolet Colorado 8.0 23 186 369 7,700
6 Ram Pickup 1500 7.9 26 260 480 12,560
7 Nissan Titan XD 6.5 18 400 413 11000
1. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.3

  • Reliability Score: 8.5
  • Retained Value Score: 7.7
  • Safety Score: 8.6
Average New Car Price: $43,500

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $46,963

Fronting our list is the full-size Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with the optional Duramax diesel engine, and a score of 8.3. The diesel-powered Silverado earns 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. The turbomax diesel engine is available in the truck’s LT, RST, LTZ, High Country trim levels. Silverados with the diesel engine return the best fuel economy at 23/33 mpg city/highway. The turbodiesel has a towing capacity of 9,500 pounds.  

2. Ford F-150

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.3

  • Reliability Score: 8.5
  • Retained Value Score: 7.7
  • Safety Score: 8.7
Average New Car Price: $53,260

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $49,247

The Ford F-150 ranks second. The Ford F150 has an optional Powerstroke 3.0-liter turbo six-cylinder with a 10-speed automatic transmission. However, the Powerstroke diesel engine was discontinued after the 2021 model year, so the diesel option is only available on used models. Diesel models can tow up to 12,100 points. 

3. GMC Sierra 1500

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.2

  • Reliability Score: 8.4
  • Retained Value Score: 7.8
  • Safety Score: 8.5
Average New Car Price: $44,850

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $55,865

The GMC Sierra 1500, which is nearly identical to the Silverado, with a score of 8.2, comes in at third place with the same drivetrain specs as the Chevy Silverado. The newer models have a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder, with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The 2022 redesign of both the GMC Sierra and the Chevrolet Silverado featured many upgrades, including increased towing capacity that improved by nearly 4,000 pounds for diesel models.

4. GMC Canyon

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.0

  • Reliability Score: 7.8
  • Retained Value Score: 8.2
  • Safety Score: 8.0
Average New Car Price: $35,900

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $37,713

The GMC Canyon midsize pickup ranks fourth. The Canyon comes with an optional Duramax diesel engine, which costs up to $3,700 extra on most trims. The diesel engine is the most efficient, earning 20/30 mpg, which decreases to 19/28 mpg with four-wheel drive. Canyon turbodiesel models can tow up to 7,700 pounds, which is more than double that of its base engine. The diesel engine is only available with a crew cab configuration.

5. Chevrolet Colorado

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.0

  • Reliability Score: 7.8
  • Retained Value Score: 8.1
  • Safety Score: 8.0
Average New Car Price: $34,700

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $35,591

The Chevrolet Colorado, which is nearly identical to the GMC Canyon, ranks fifth. Colorado models with the turbodiesel engine are the most fuel-efficient, earning 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Models with the turbodiesel engine can tow up to 7,700 pounds, which is the highest across all configurations

6. Ram Pickup 1500

iSeeCars Quality Score: 7.9

  • Reliability Score: 8.1
  • Retained Value Score: 7.2
  • Safety Score: 8.4
Average New Car Price: $53,890

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $49,338

The Ram 1500 pickup ranks sixth. The diesel-powered Ram is the most fuel-efficient in the lineup, earning 22/32 mpg city/highway. Ram 1500s with an EcoDiesel V6 also have a longer powertrain warranty of 100,000-miles, versus 60,000 miles with the gasoline engine. The towing capacity for a diesel-powered Ram is a hefty 12,560 pounds, which is just shy of its maximum capacity when paired with a quad cab, V8, and RWD. The maximum payload in models with the diesel engine is 2,090 pounds.

7. Nissan Titan XD

iSeeCars Quality Score: 6.5

  • Reliability Score: 6.3
  • Retained Value Score: 6.7
  • Safety Score: Not Available

Average New Car Price: $58,646

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $52,193

The Nissan Titan XD rounds out the list. Unfortunately, diesel-equipped models were discontinued after the 2019 model year. Nissan Titan models equipped with a 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel V8 could tow up to 12,830 pounds.

Bottom Line:

If you want a diesel-powered workhorse, these are the best diesel pickup trucks you can buy. Diesel-powered pickup trucks achieve the best fuel economy compared to gasoline engines and can tow and haul considerably more than their base engines. However, diesel trucks often don’t have the highest towing capacity, but many would consider this to be a fair trade given the merits of this engine type. You can also expect to pay more for a diesel engine. For more information about pickup trucks, check out our Best Midsize Trucks and Best Full-Size Trucks guides.

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