Top 7 Best Diesel Trucks You Can Buy
Diesel trucks work hard and play harder. Use this list to weigh your options
Updated June 13, 2018
If you’re in the market for a used diesel truck and are wondering what the best diesel truck out there is, then you’ve come to the right place.
Diesel trucks are pure workhorses. They’re loud, capable of bellowing huge black clouds, and are usually big, heavy-duty trucks. They offer brute towing power and torque which makes them perfect for towing boats, ATVs and just about anything else you can put on a trailer. When fun time is over and you need to get to work, a diesel truck will literally haul tons of cargo.
Diesel engines also offer a variety of benefits over regular gas power plants:
They get better fuel economy, are often easy to modify with aftermarket parts, and will basically run forever, which makes them a great deal if you are looking for a used truck. It is not uncommon for a diesel truck to roll over the 250,000-mile mark with few or no problems.
Unfortunately, all of these factors make diesel trucks very popular with used truck buyers meaning you may end up paying a premium for a low-mileage diesel pickup.
Check out our list of the best diesel trucks; they range from huge heavy-duty trucks to half-ton pickups, but they all have one thing in common:
There’s a great diesel engine under the hood.
2006 and 2007 Chevy and GMC 2500 and 3500
These trucks have a classic body style and sport the Duramax engine, which puts them at the top of the best diesel truck list. You will often end up paying a premium for one on the used truck market but the performance is well worth it.
The 2500 and 3500 come with a 6.6L LBZ Duramax V-8 with a Bosch common-rail injection system that was not hampered by the emission devices installed in later years. The Allison 6-speed automatic or ZF-6 6-speed manual tranny provides plenty of towing power while the IFS suspension gives it a comfortable and quiet ride. Horsepower can be cranked up to 450 hp with a hot programmer.
The only major downside is that these trucks were not offered with a factory lift pump and heavier trailers tend to push it around a bit. If you can find one in good shape with low miles for under $20,000 you should probably jump on it.
2003- 2004 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty
The Ram HD has always ranked high on best diesel truck lists and is popular with both consumers and critics. The 2003-2004 lineup is considered one of the best. A 5.9-liter six-cylinder Cummins diesel under the hood puts out 460 lb.-ft. of torque, which can easily pull up to 12,000 pounds. The Ram Heavy Duty is excellent for towing and is the perfect diesel to pull your fifth wheel or even haul a tiny home around the country. The common-rail fuel injection system makes this version of the Ram run cleaner and even increases the horsepower.
While the Ram HD is a serious workhorse, it is outfitted with a spacious and well-planned interior that provides a comfortable and quiet ride. Unfortunately, due to its age, it does lack many of the convenience and safety features you would expect from a new truck.
2008-2010 Ford F-250/F-350
Diesel trucks are popular with gear heads because they are pretty easy to tinker with and upgrade their power. The Ford F-250/350s are equipped with one of the easiest diesel engines to tweak, the 350-hp 6.4-liter Power Stroke Turbodiesel. Tuning it up, adding a new intake and new exhaust can quickly turn it into a 600 RWHP monster.
The standard 6.4-liter turbodiesel pushes out 650 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm, which makes it the perfect truck for hauling big loads or towing heavy equipment. The F-250/350 comes standard with Quiet Steel in the firewall, which helps to keep the cabin quiet. This truck is available in a variety of trims so it’s easy to outfit it to your standards of comfort.
2014 Ram 1500
A diesel doesn’t have to be of a certain age or certain size to make it onto our best diesel truck list. The 2014 Ram 1500 is a half-ton pickup with a great engine under the hood. The turbodiesel V6 produced 420 lb.-ft. of torque and can tow roughly 9,200 pounds, which is pretty impressive for a vehicle of this size.
The Ram 1500 comes well-equipped with more modern features, including a USB port, auxiliary input and standard six-speaker stereo system.
2012 Chevy Silverado HD
The Chevy Silverado HD offers plenty of power with a number of optional conveniences that make it a very comfortable ride suitable for long road trips. The Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 cranks out 397 hp and 765 lb.-ft. of torque, and is paired to one of the best diesel truck transmissions out there: the six-speed Allison automatic with manual shift control. This Silverado can go 0-60 in just 7 seconds.
The six-speed Allison automatic with manual shift control. This Silverado can go 0-60 in just 7 seconds.
The interior is outfitted with high-quality materials and numerous trim levels to ensure you can find one that fits your needs. As an example, the LT trim offers keyless entry, satellite radio, full power accessories and alloy wheels.
1991½ to 1993 Dodge
Slotting into the sixth position on our best diesel truck list is the 1991½ to 1993 Dodge. While not considered an antique just yet, these diesel trucks come with a vintage look and a well-tested engine that has shown itself to be virtually indestructible. Dodge introduced diesel engines into their truck lineup in 1989, but the Cummins six cylinder wasn’t at it’s best until it received an intercooler and an overdrive transmission for the 1991½ model year.
A few upgrades can push this diesel over 300HP. The Dodge W250 has started to become a collector’s item, and if you’re looking for a 4×4 version in good shape, you may be in for a surprise when it comes to price. In many cases, they’re still pulling in $15,000 or more, which is pretty surprising for a 15-year-old truck.
1999 ½ – 2000 FORD SUPER DUTY
These trucks fall into a pretty short model year window, but for a year-and-a-half, Ford turned out some truly great diesel trucks. The standard 7.3L Power Stroke engine was considered one of the best diesel truck engines ever made cranking out 235-horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque. It comes with a factory intercooler, forged steel connecting rods and a 17-degree high-pressure oil pump.
These trucks are easy to modify with aftermarket parts that could easily push the horsepower over 500. The Super Duty came standard with air conditioning, power windows and locks, tilt, cruise control, and alloy wheels. A variety of trim levels lets you outfit it to your specifications, making it a great choice for hauling tons of cargo or towing your toys.
2010 Dodge Ram 2500 HD
The 2010 Dodge Ram HD is one of the more luxurious pickups on our list. It is all luxury on the inside but still has the muscle under the hood to handle all of your cargo and towing needs. Heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and hard-drive music storage system make it feel like a luxury car instead of a diesel workhorse. It also comes standard with an exhaust brake, which helps to slow it down when you’re pulling a heavy load.
The Ram HD has a Cummins 6.7-liter Turbo Diesel with a six-speed manual or automatic. It can handle over 5,000 pounds of cargo or pull up to 17,500 pounds.