Are you looking for the best diesel truck for you? Look no further, this article highlights everything you need to know about finding the right diesel truck at an affordable price!
For many people, there’s almost an instant association between trucks and gasoline. When we think of trucks, we think about powerful engines and designs built for hauling heavy materials up the roughest of terrain. This means there’s a lot of people who instantly throw out the term “gas guzzler” as it pertains to trucks. But when we talk about fuel, it doesn’t always have to immediately pertain to gasoline. There’s also diesel. And while this fuel source is most often associated with commercial trucks of the 18-wheel variety, there’s also plenty of passenger trucks that utilize diesel.
What are the advantages of going with diesel over gasoline?
For one, you get more torque and thus more towing capacity. This is big for trucks, as is the merits of good fuel economy. Despite the negative press diesel received in recent decades for large emission rates, there’s a lot to be said for this fuel source as it can provide more miles to the gallon and thus save drivers money.
This isn’t to say diesel is a flawless fuel source – oil changes and other servicing procedures may be needed more often in diesel trucks, especially if the trucks are used to haul heavy loads often. They’re also a little more sensitive to the cold.
But if you are determined to find the best diesel truck, what should you buy? Today we’ll rate them – the 10 best affordable diesel truck options out there.
Choosing the Best Diesel Truck: How We Select Our Ratings
When we’re talking about the best affordable diesel truck, we’ll be taking into account features just as we do prices. While some people may say that an affordable truck means the cheapest, you have to take into account the cost of servicing diesel trucks.
Given their drawbacks, diesel trucks could require a person to pour a ton of money into them if they’re cheaply made. So the overall lowest costing diesel truck is the one that offers the best value – the one that has the best array of features in relation to the price. Quality and longevity matter most, and these factors coupled with a modest asking price will propel a model higher up on our list.
The appearance of a truck comes into play when determining how appealing it is. The body style, bed style, and interior are all a factor in a truck’s appearance and thus these will play a role in ordering options on our list.
We’ll also discuss how a truck’s powertrain components rank – the engine, transmission, and fuel components are all important to a truck’s functionality. This is important whether the truck runs on gas or diesel.
Fuel economy will also be a factor, as it allows drivers to save money in the long run. This is especially true when we’re talking about towing loads – speaking of which, payload capacity will also play a big role on our list.
Diesel trucks may be different than gas powered trucks in some senses, but the same features drivers enjoy can be in both. This means tech-based features that lend to safety and entertainment can help a vehicle rank higher than others.
Finally, we’ll take into account public perception when it comes to a truck. If buyers who have ridden in a truck like it, and the truck has earned a good reputation because of so many success cases, it is as good a metric to go by as any list of specs.
We’ll rate each model on a scale of 1-5 out of 5 – let’s get started with our countdown of the best diesel truck options on the market.
Best Diesel Truck: Which Models Made Our Top 10?
This model from Chevrolet comes in a nice diesel variant, and is a great buy if you want a durable work truck that holds up to the challenges of a busy schedule.
With a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8 engine capable of 350HP and 650 lb.-ft. of torque, it is a truly powerful machine. It is more powerful than many other trucks in its class, and utilizes a reliable Bosch fuel injection system.
If you like tweaking your trucks, you’ll be happy to know you can tune the fuel injection system and turbocharger to get even more power and torque.
This model, as well as the 2007 3500 version, are at the top of the heap if you want a modern machine that runs on diesel.
If you like compact trucks, this diesel model is the option for you. While it is a newer model and thus may be a little pricier up front, the money you save on maintenance could be worth it.
It’s got high ratings thanks to the V6 engine and eight-speed transmission, as well as the fuel efficiency it has. Offering up to 30 miles per gallon on the highway, it is great for saving drivers money.
Add in the fact it has a sleek appearance including a handsome and comfortable cabin, and you have a well-rounded option.
Another perfect score, this is a diesel truck with a modern spin.
From the early 2000s, this model offers a powerful 5.9-liter straight six Cummins engine with 305HP and 555 lb.-ft. of torque.
There’s also a towing capacity of 6 tons, which is decent for a model that is a decade and a half old. These models are also known for their roomy cabins, a plus if you find more space to be more comfortable.
You also get some impressive safety and comfort features, include high-quality climate controls.
This model was ahead of its time when it was released, so it is still a great buy to this day – especially if you like your diesel trucks with a roomy interior.
This Ram offers a 3.0-liter diesel V6 engine with 240HP and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. Those are some powerful specs, as is the 29 MPG on the highway and a towing capacity of 8,500 pounds.
This model is well-rounded in both the power it offers and the money it can save drivers at the diesel pump.
A great diesel option where this factor is even mentioned in the name, we can see why the Ram 1500 has become a top seller.
Ford is a leader in the pickup field for a good reason – they provide durable vehicles and this model lives up to those standards.
It offers a 350HP engine and 650 lb.-ft. of torque. It is durable enough to handle long hours in heavy-duty applications and is still capable of providing a towing capacity of 8600 pounds.
A well-rounded machine that, despite being a decade old, still gets the job done – and it is easy to find used models, allowing you to save even more money.
Another great model from Ford, this one can provide suitable engine power and payload capacity for nearly any task.
This model isn’t too old, and therefore, the asking price may be a bit higher than some others on this list. That being said, it has some great features that could be worth the cost. It has a 5.0liter Cummins turbo V8 diesel engine and offers 390HP with 401 lb.-ft. of torque.
A roomy cab and attractive body design give this model a great degree of aesthetic appeal and thus makes it a well-rounded entry on our list.
While the year of this model may make it a little less affordable than others on our list, it does offer enough features to make it a great choice nonetheless.
Longtime Chevrolet fans will likely be a fan of this model released back in 2012. It is equipped with great part choices like a Duramax 6.6-liter V8 turbocharge engine and is capable of producing 397HP and 765 lb.-ft. of torque. This makes it a powerful vehicle right down to the transmission – a six-speed Allison.
This 36-gallon fuel tank can carry you nearly 700 miles on one fill-up, letting you enjoy plenty of fuel economy.
This model is a great choice for fans of the Silverado series, and those who pride themselves on finding a fuel-efficient model.
This model came out around the turn of the millennium, and severed as a great pioneer for diesel trucks in general.
Though it may be an older truck, it still offers impressive power with a 7.3-liter Power Stroke engine capable of 235HP and 500 lb.-ft. of torque. This comes complete with tough inner components like a high-pressure oil pump and heavy-duty intercooling unit.
Just because this truck is nearly two decades old doesn’t mean it is irrelevant. And for an older truck, it sure feels modern thanks to modern-for-the-time climate controls and other interior features.
This model is another that was released recently – and it shows it in the components.
It offers a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel engine and is capable of a 11.5-ton towing capacity – that is more than enough power than most people will ever need.
This model may be expensive in terms of its base price – but as far as the amount of work you can get out of it and how well it will hold up, it could save you money in the long run if you plan on keeping it for a decade or more.
This model lands low on our list only because of the price. But in terms of features, it is a solid model that looks great as well.
We finish off our list with a model that has some age on it – but that helps it in the areas of affordability and also classic appeal.
Some updates came out through the years, but the spirit of this truck remains the same. The base model comes with a 5.9-liter straight six diesel engine. And while you are only getting 160HP, you also get 400 lb.-ft. of torque.
It’s a durable model that has aged well, and gives you a great way to save money while getting a true diesel classic.
Best Diesel Truck Buyer’s Guide: Finding Your Perfect Diesel Truck
What To Know
When looking to buy a pickup truck, it is important to buy exactly what you need without overdoing it. It may be tempting to go for a larger truck with extra capacity, however, this will end up costing you, both upfront and over time.
There are so many different varieties of pickup trucks for example: full sized, compact, long bed, short bed, extended, two-door, four-door, manual, automatic – the possibilities and options available really are endless.
If you’re looking to buy a truck for work help as well as for family transport, it may be worth looking into getting an extended cab or crew cab model which has four doors as this would be the most convenient option. These types of truck are easy to come by and usually the most popular option. Drivers who regularly drive off road, or who have to deal with a lot of mud or snow, should opt for a four-wheel drive truck.
Types of Diesel Truck
Compact and Midsized Pickup Trucks
This category consists of smaller models of pickup truck. These trucks usually offer a range of four-cylinder and V6 engines and they are usually built on a separate chassis frame from their full-sized brethren. They are not as small as they used to be but are still known as being compact.
Full-Sized Pickup Trucks
These are much larger than the compact models and are more rugged. They also ride higher off the ground than compact models. Full-sized pickup trucks are usually the most popular option of truck. They are perfect for using for work, but also make a great family car.
These types of truck are designed for transporting much heavier loads. They are very bulky and capable of carrying and towing very large loads, making them perfect for serious workers or for commercial use.
Key Factors to Consider When Buying a Truck
Regular cabs are usually the least expensive but can be hard to come by. Extended cabs are much more useful. An extended cab truck can feature rear seats, however, these can often be quite small and cramped, so are more suitable for seating children. The main advantage of an extended cab is the extra storage space on the interior. Crew-cab trucks, on the other hand, have four doors and good-sized rear seating. This extra interior space does usually mean that it comes with a smaller cargo bed though. The trick is to think about what you want to prioritize and go with that.
This is what sets a truck aside from all other vehicles. An open cargo bed can be very useful for completing chores and tasks such as moving large items, or moving cargo that can only be placed outdoors. Trucks can help you to complete many tasks that you wouldn’t be able to in a different type of car. A full-sized pickup truck will usually have a bed size of around 8 feet, or six feet if it has an extended cab or if it has four doors. Compact trucks usually have a bed size of around 5-6 feet depending on the configuration of the truck. Be sure to select a bed size that is suitable for what you intend to use it for.
Climbing into a high truck can sometimes be a difficult task. If you intend to have passengers often, it may be worth looking to get a truck which has running boards to assist people with getting in and out of the truck. Be sure to take into account how high off the ground the truck is and whether a stepping system or side sill would be more convenient and comfortable for you. When looking to purchase a truck, take a good look inside it and test out each of the seats to make sure they live up to the comfort and convenience standard that you are looking for. Pay attention to factors such as seating positions, legroom, and space for knees. Also, check if the rear seats may be folded away to make room for extra storage if this is what you require.
Pickup trucks are well-designed for towing and the owners manual will highlight the maximum weight that can be carried or towed. If you’re looking to buy a brand new truck, you can ask the manufacturer or dealer to install towing equipment for you, or you can add this yourself if needed. Purchasing directly from the supplier is the best option for this as there can be some complex wiring involved in order to get the lights working, plus, the manufacturer parts will come with a warranty for peace of mind.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to how much a truck can tow. The first and most obvious is the engine capacity. A bigger engine is going to be able to handle a bigger load. Other factors that can affect how much a truck can carry include: the cab and bed size, the rear axle ratio, the towing package, and the wheelbase length. The difference can be quite significant, so it’s important to check before buying if the truck you’re looking at can handle the weight that you intend to pull.
Compact trucks can usually pull around 3000-7000 pounds and the majority of full-sized trucks can handle towing around 5000-10,000 pounds. Heavy-duty trucks can tow up to 31,000 pounds depending on how they are configured. For heavier towing, a diesel engine is always the best option.
The axle ratios can affect the amount of twisting power, or torque, is transmitted to the truck’s rear wheels. The lower the axle ratio, the better the truck will be on fuel economy, however, higher ratios will improve the hauling and towing capabilities. The axle ratio needed on your truck is directly associated with what you intend to use the truck for. Be sure to keep this in mind when making your choice.
Most compact pickups feature a large four-cylinder engine. Many models also offer a V6 option which provides extra power as well as a smoother and quieter ride. Full-sized trucks usually come with a V6 as standard, which tends to provide a good balance between fuel economy and power. Many full-sized trucks do, however, have the option to add a V8 for that extra power. Some of the newer V8 models feature a cylinder deactivation system, which allows the engine to operate on less cylinders when under lighter loads. This obviously saves on fuel so is a great option.
It is a known fact that pickup trucks do use a lot of fuel, whether they are fully loaded or not, so you can’t expect the fuel economy to be as good as smaller or less bulky vehicles.
Rear-Wheel Drive, 4WD, or AWD
The majority of pickup trucks are standard rear-wheel drive as this is well-suited for carrying heavy loads. Four-wheel drive models are recommended if you are planning on moving loads during the winter months, particularly if you live in an area that experiences typical winter weather such as wind, rain, snow, and ice. A traditional 4WD is a part-time system which is controlled by a switch as needed. Full-time 4WD is also an option on some pickups. With this option, the front wheel portion of the drive kicks in only as and when needed.
Newer trucks tend to feature many additional safety options than older models. New technologies such as collision warnings and automatic emergency braking offer that extra bit of reassurance in terms of the safety of the vehicle. Forward collision warning technology provides the driver with an audible or visual alert that there is a potential collision directly in the drivers path. If the truck is equipped with an automatic emergency braking system, the car will begin to brake automatically if it senses a potential collision.
Some other new technologies that are featured on newer models include telematics systems, which are designed to alert emergency services if an airbag is deployed. Lane warning systems are also a great feature which alert a driver if they move to a different lane without signalling. Lane-keeping assistants also help to keep the vehicle centered if it begins to drift over to another lane. Blind spot warning systems are also a great feature as they alert the drive with a light or sound if there is another vehicle in their blind spot. Be sure to check which safety features are available on each model before you make your choice to purchase.
Best Diesel Truck: Conclusion
We hope that this article has helped learn a little bit more about what to look for in the best diesel truck. Our list of the top ten diesel trucks should help you to make the right choice when choosing to purchase a pickup truck that suits your needs. There are so many different options when it comes to finding the right truck for you, so always be sure to know exactly what features you want from your truck before you decide to make a purchase.