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If you want the most power to tow a heavy load, traditional advice tells you to choose a diesel truck, but which one? You’ll find three truck classes that aren’t commercial-grade with impressive towing capacities. These classes are midsize, full-size, and heavy-duty, giving you three great ways to find the diesel truck you want to drive that can tow the most.

We see three midsize diesel truck options

2022 GMC Canyon AT4 in white powered by a Duramax diesel engine.
GMC Canyon Diesel | GMC

Currently, only three trucks in the midsize class offer you a diesel engine. These trucks are the Jeep Gladiator, Chevrolet Colorado, and GMC Canyon. The diesel powertrains you find in this class are:

  • Jeep Gladiator – 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6 engine plus eight-speed automatic transmission, 260 horsepower, 442 lb-ft of torque
  • GMC Canyon/Chevrolet Colorado – 2.8-liter turbocharged diesel four-cylinder engine plus six-speed automatic transmission, 186 horsepower, 369 lb-ft of torque

The Jeep model offers more power, but the max towing for the Gladiator is 6,500 pounds, while the GM pair can tow up to 7,700 pounds. In fact, the diesel-powered Gladiator doesn’t have the highest tow rating for the Jeep. According to Car and Driver, that distinction belongs to the version with the Pentastar V6 gasoline engine, which can tow up to 7,650 pounds.

Only three full-size trucks have diesel engines

2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 Diesel with 4WD
2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 Diesel | Chevrolet

When we define full-size trucks as half-ton models, only three offer diesel power in this class. These two trucks are the Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and GMC Sierra 1500. Once again, the GM pair use the same powertrain to offer the diesel power desired. Powertrains for these trucks are:

  • Ram 1500 – 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine plus eight-speed automatic transmission, 260 horsepower, 480 lb-ft of torque
  • GMC Sierra 1500/Chevrolet Silverado 1500 – 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel six-cylinder plus ten-speed automatic transmission, 277 horsepower, 460 lb-ft of torque

The Ram 1500 diesel truck can pull up to 12,560 pounds, but the GM Pair delivers a higher tow rating at 13,300 pounds. Although Ford doesn’t have a half-ton diesel engine, it does have the highest tow rating in the class at 14,000 pounds.

Heading to the heavy-duty diesel truck class for the real power champs

Ram 3500 Pulling a Heavy Trailer. This diesel truck has the highest tow rating among trucks you can buy.
Ram 3500 Pulling a Heavy Trailer | Ram

The Detroit Big Three are the heavy-duty trucks offered with diesel powertrains. These trucks are:

  • Ram 2500 and 3500
  • Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD
  • GMC Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD
  • Ford Super Duty F-250 and F-350

The powertrains for these big trucks are:

  • Ram – 6.7-liter Cummins diesel six-cylinder engine plus six-speed automatic transmission, 420 horsepower, 1,075 lb-ft of torque
  • Chevrolet/GMC – 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8 engine plus Allison ten-speed automatic transmission, 445 horsepower, 910 lb-ft of torque
  • Ford – 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 engine plus TorqShift ten-speed automatic transmission, 475 horsepower, 1050 lb-ft of torque

The Ram diesel truck tows up to 37,090, the Ford Super Duty models pull up to 37,000, while the GM pair reach 36,000 pounds of towing. The Ram model has the most torque, which translates into pulling power.

Are diesel trucks better for towing?

Diesel engines produce much more torque than their gasoline counterparts, resulting in higher towing capacities. Typically, these trucks also offer better fuel economy numbers.

Which diesel truck is best for towing?

In the midsize and half-ton, full-size classes, the Duramax engines, which you’ll find in the Chevrolet and GMC trucks, give you the most towing capacity. When you look to the heavy-duty trucks, the Ram Cummins engine tops the list by just under 100 pounds over the Ford Power Stroke diesel engine.

Is buying a diesel truck worth it?

If you’re after the greatest towing capacity and a long-lasting truck, you’ll want one with a diesel engine. You’ll pay more for the vehicle and maintenance, but the truck could last much longer than a gasoline truck. Typically diesel engines don’t need major repairs until after 500,000 miles, but gasoline engines often don’t last more than 200,000 miles.

Next, check out the comparison of the Genesis GV80 and Infiniti QX60, or watch the video below with the Duramax diesel engine showing off its towing power.


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This article was updated on 8/21/2022.