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Best Diesel Trucks: 6 Options to Know
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While there are fewer diesel sedans today (say goodbye to the diesel BMW, for example) following a scandal over emissions from Volkswagen models, diesel truck offerings remain relatively plentiful. Popular for their torque and towing abilities, the latest crop of 2019 diesel trucks will leave you with tons of options, whether you’re hoping to find a low-cost diesel truck or one with powerful towing abilities.
Our picks had to be highly rated by Kelley Blue Book (KBB) experts as well as consumers on Edmunds. While we’d love to include safety scores, larger trucks like these generally aren’t rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Best heavy-duty diesel trucks
2019 Ford F-250 SuperDuty Diesel
- MSRP $42,270
- 4.4 out of 5 by KBB experts; 5.0 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (1 review)
This truck features a lighter-weight body thanks to its aluminum body, though it still manages to generate a tremendous amount of power and torque. This is good for an everyday diesel, as it has a fantastic tow rating and tons of cabin space for a full family. The SuperDuty offers a dizzying number of options, from the F-250 up to the F-450 Limited, but for purposes of this story we focus on the base F-250. This monster can tow 7,000 pounds over 120 miles. Ford also offers a turbodiesel engine on its popular F-150, which we’ll talk about below.
- MSRP $47,795
- 4.1 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.0 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (1 review)
It’s got a whopping max available torque of 910 pounds, and can tow about 13,000 pounds, which is incredibly powerful for a diesel truck. This is a comfortable ride, complete with USB ports, a 100-volt power outlet, wireless charging and foam seats. Be wary of the relatively small mirrors, which compromise visibility; along with the brakes, which aren’t as powerful as the engine. The Silverado HD also comes as the even-larger 3500, which is capable of towing up to 23,100 pounds. The redesigned Silverado 1500 isn’t a heavy-duty truck — it’s a full-size — but comes with a new diesel engine as well, though it wasn’t available as of this writing.
Best full-size diesel trucks
2019 Ford F-150 Lariat
- MSRP $41,700
- 4.4 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.0 out 5 by consumers on Edmunds (1 review)
This continues to be one of the most popular trucks in America. It’s customizable, offering various trim levels and add-ons, though you have to upgrade to the Lariat before the turbo diesel engine is an option. The upside is that the Lariat comes with extras like leather upholstery, keyless ignition and a trailer hitch. It’s a comfortable ride with plenty of storage (though not as much versatility as the Ram). Splurge for the optional FX4 Off Road package, and the Ford F-150 will be able to do it all with ease (though it’s still lacking in cabin size, compared with the Ram). Ford-150 competitor’s, the new Ram 1500 is available, but not in diesel, as of this writing. Its heavy-duty siblings, the new Ram 2500 and 3500, will be available in spring 2019.
2019 Nissan Titan XD Diesel
- MSRP $38,270
- 3.9 out of 5 by KBB experts; consumer reviews unavailable on Edmunds
The Nissan Titan XD has massive towing power at a relatively affordable price. But the diesel engine costs about $6,000 more than the 5.6-liter gasoline V8, which is a significant upsell. For a truck this size, it’s a luxurious ride, with heated leather seats, standard Apple CarPlay and a seven-inch touch screen. It can pull a 9,500-pound trailer, as it has 555-lb-ft of torque.
Best midsize diesel trucks
- MSRP $36,580
- Expert review unavailable on KBB; 4.5 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (2 reviews)
It’s got a high towing capacity that beats others in its class, a plus if you plan on hauling gear (otherwise, you may want to opt out of diesel). The turbodiesel engine is only available on the four-wheel drive Colorado, which adds to the base price. This also feels the most like a car, as it has a keyless entry, an infotainment screen and other options to make your ride more comfortable. The Colorado is also available as 2.8L four-cylinder engine and a V6.
2019 GMC Canyon Denali Diesel
- MSRP $44,130
- 4.2 out of 5 by KBB experts; consumer reviews unavailable on Edmunds
This is one of the only luxury diesel pickup trucks on the market, and it stands out from the others with its standard features that make it feel and look like a luxury car: forward collision alert, leather-seats, heated front seats and more. Choose between a long or a short box, along with other trims. The Canyon Denali, the top of the Canyon line, is comparable with the Chevy Colorado, but it’s more stylish and comfortable (and you’re paying for these luxuries). This isn’t the truck to purchase if you require huge towing capacities or need a massive interior (it only carries two people) but it’s a comfortable, luxurious ride. GMC also offers the Sierra line of trucks, including the Sierra HD with diesel engine, which have higher starting MSRPs than the Canyon line.
Is a diesel truck right for you?
Diesel trucks have long been preferred by drivers who want a heavy-duty truck without sacrificing gas mileage or those whose simply want improved power and performance. Learn more about the pros and cons of diesel trucks here:
Pros of diesel trucks
- They last longer. The typical diesel truck will last longer than a gasoline model because the diesel engines have a higher compression ratio in the combustion chamber. While a gas-powered truck runs for about 200,000 miles, a diesel truck can run for at least 500,000 miles. They also operate at lower RPMs than gasoline trucks, so the parts (valve train, cylinder walls, piston rings and bearings) don’t rub together as much as the parts in the gasoline models.
- Resale value is high. Since diesel trucks last a relatively long time, they have a high resale value (though they’re also expensive to purchase firsthand).
- They don’t need much maintenance. If you maintain the truck regularly, you shouldn’t need to do many extra repairs to your diesel truck.
Cons of diesel trucks
- They are expensive to purchase. Since the transmission is stronger, the engine block is heavier and the turbocharger is included, a diesel truck is significantly more expensive than its fuel counterpart. It takes about 150,000 miles before you’ll start making your money back via the mileage benefit.
- They are expensive to repair. Every repair on a diesel truck, from the oil change to replacement parts is more expensive simply because the diesel components are more expensive (they’re more powerful than the fuel parts).
- Diesel emission scandal. An ongoing scandal affecting diesel vehicles was discovered after Volkswagen admitted that it rigged diesel vehicles to cheat emissions tests. About 11 million vehicles could be affected worldwide, primarily older European sedans. However, some older diesel trucks, including the Ram, have also come under scrutiny in the wider investigation. Investigators are still looking into this issue, and many people involved have been fined and charged.
- Fuel is more expensive. In most places, the diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline, as diesel tends to be taxed higher than regular fuel.
Ways to finance the best diesel truck
Financing a truck is similar to financing a car: you’ll need to find a lender, using the vehicle as collateral. Most traditional banks will offer truck financing, or you can apply to alternative lending companies, which will have a simpler approval process.
The higher your credit score is, the better chance that you’ll be able to qualify for the loan. You’ll also have to decide on the type of loan you need: is the diesel truck for personal purposes or for commercial (business) purposes? If it’s for business use, you can take out a business auto loan.
Before you decide on a lender, be sure to compare interest rates, down payments and the terms of the auto loan, which can differ greatly from lender to lender. With LendingTree, you can receive up to five auto loan offers instantly rather than filling out five different applications.
Our picks received at least 3 out of 5 stars from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) experts and/or consumers on Edmunds. For consumer reviews, we’re also noting how many reviews have been posted at time of publication; scores are up to date at time of publishing. MSRP and rate information mentioned in this article are accurate as of the date of publishing.