Which Light-Duty Full-Size Diesel Pickup Truck Is Best?

Which truck is the winner of the light-duty diesel wars? Well, it depends on what you want. Diesel engines in trucks are known to deliver better economy and torque characteristics in spite of the issues with environmental concerns.

You will go farther with diesel power than burning gasoline, so there is that. Let’s compare choices, features, and pricing for the Chevy Silverado, Ford F-150, and Ram 1500 to see what American trucks offer with a diesel powertrain and which company we can crown as the diesel king.

2020 Silverado 1500 Diesel

Chevrolet Silverado HD
2020 Chevy 1500 Pickup | Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images 

The 2020 Silverado 1500 is Chevrolet’s half-ton diesel offering with a turbocharged 3.0-liter Duramax straight-six packing 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. It also is air-to-liquid intercooled. This is hooked to a 10-speed automatic transmission combining to make for a noticeably smooth ride and fantastic fuel economy mostly attributed to the inline-six engine configuration.

Interestingly, all three of these diesel half-tons have six-cylinder engines at 3.0-liters, but both Ford’s and Ram’s are V6. More on that in a bit.

With highway mileage of 33 mpg, the industry’s best, and torque ratings comparable to the competition the Silverado diesel half-ton will see a sizable following. 

2020 Ford F-150 Diesel Pickup

2020 Ford F-150 | Ford
2020 Ford F-150 | Ford

Ford’s F-150 is the king of sales, having outsold Chevy and Ram forever. The F-150s Power Stroke V6 gives 30 mpg highway driving and a combined 25 mpg. With four-wheel drive it drops to 22 mpg. Four models of the F-150 have the diesel option, while Ram offers its diesel in every half-ton model, even the Classic 1500 and Rebel can be ordered with one.

2020 Ram and Ram Classic Ecodiesel

2020 ram 1500 ecodiesel engine
2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel engine | FCA

Ram made headlines recently for its EcoDiesel mileage with 32 mpg highway and combined 26 mpg. The headlines continued with 480 lb-ft of torque leading its two rivals. That’s 40 more than the Power Stroke and 20 more than the Duramax.

The EcoDiesel even creates 70 lb-ft more torque than Ram’s 5.7-liter Hemi V8. The fact it is class-leading in torque and is a few thousand dollars cheaper should expand converts in this brand-loyal base.

Ram actually produces two completely distinct pickups having carried over production of its previous model when the all-new pickups were introduced this year. Called Classic, it is also available with the ecodiesel option. 

We like the new Ram pickup but you don’t have to let the price keep you from getting into a new Ram truck which has proved to be good for Ram. Originally intended to only be a year long option, Ram now says it will continue to produce the Classic into the immediate future. 

How Much More For Diesel Power?

2020 Chevrolet Silverado Diesel
2020 Chevrolet Silverado Diesel | Chevrolet

The way both Ford and Chevy calculate the diesel option is based on a price above certain optional engines or packages so here we go; the Power Stroke diesel engine option will set you back $2,495 over the 5.3-liter V8 engine option. Looking at it a different way the Power Stroke is a $4,000 option on XLT and Lariat and $3,000 more when added to the King Ranch or Platinum packages. 

Chevy’s Duramax will also cost $2,495 more than the 5.3-liter V8 for LTZ or High Country packages. The Ram EcoDiesel 1500 comes in at $38,585 making it cheaper to get into than either Ford or Chevy half-ton diesel trucks. 

While crowning a winner isn’t clear-cut, hopefully, this will guide you into the diesel half-ton you really want, with the options you’ll enjoy for years.