Gas Versus Diesel: Do the Math First

Fuel pumps 1 II

By David Boldt

The new 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, due in showrooms the first quarter of 2014, is set to rewrite the rulebook in the full-size, light-duty segment. It has already won the Motor Trend Truck of the Year award, and even USA Today liked it. However, many buyers in this segment are cautious about new technology. Even the Ford EcoBoost, probably the most successful example of a new engine option (even strategy), took almost two years in the market to be fully accepted. But as much as we want to believe that a light-duty diesel would be great to have again in a half-ton, we have to ask whether it makes financial sense.

Regrettably, a simple yes or no doesn't address the many variables presented by the way pickup truck owners operate their trucks in so many diverse environments. To run the numbers here, we'll stick to what Ram puts under the hood of its 1500 Outdoorsman Crew Cab 4x2, starting with the standard gas Pentastar V-6 engine option.

Given that the high-tech 3.6-liter V-6 replaced an over-the-hill 3.7-liter V-6, there's little surprise its introduction created so much consumer excitement. Boasting twin overhead cams mounted on an all-aluminum block, the 220-cubic-inch six-cylinder delivers 305 horsepower and 269 pounds-feet of torque. Burning regular unleaded gas makes it the most democratic of Chrysler powertrains, and with an EPA-estimated city/highway mileage of 18/25 mpg (in two-wheel-drive HFE configuration), you can take your democracy to the street. As the base engine on our Outdoorsman, it is built into the truck's $39,720 base price (including destination), and requires no additional upcharge.

EcoDiesel II

Buy the same Ram package with the optional Hemi V-8 and you'll add $1,150 while reducing economy from 18 mpg city to 15 mpg. Likewise, the addition of the Hemi takes the highway estimate from 25 mpg in the V-6 to 22 in the V-8 (when equipped with the optional eight-speed automatic). Driving 15,000 miles per year at 15 miles per gallon costs $3,500 annually (based on gas costing $3.50 a gallon). The new V-6 would consume 170 fewer gallons, for an estimated savings of $600 a year or $1.64 per day.

With Ram's new EcoDiesel, anticipate a $4,000 bump over the base V-6, or roughly $2,800 more for those considering the Hemi. (Your Outdoorsman diesel is now stickering at nearly $44,000.) We should note the official EPA figures were just released for the 4x2 Ram EcoDiesel at 20/28/23 mpg city/highway/combined, so let's go with these numbers. Those who own a half-ton pickup truck know these are strong numbers.

Driving those same 15,000 miles in town, with a city rating of 20, consumes 750 gallons of fuel. And that compares with the 830 gallons used by the gas V-6 and 1,000 gallons consumed by the Hemi. If diesel fuel were priced the same as regular unleaded gas (for sake of argument here, let's say $3.50 a gallon), your cost to go 15,000 city miles would be $2,625. That's $875 per year less than the Hemi (at $3,500), but only $275 less per year than the 3.6-liter V-6 (at $2,900). And you've already invested $4,000 for the diesel ownership privilege, suggesting more than 14 years of ownership costs before fuel savings start paying you back on a per-mile basis (and that assumes fuel prices stay exactly where they are right now). However, you'll get some return on your investment with a higher vehicle resale should you decide to sell your pickup in the second-hand market.


Fuel cost chart 2b II

Unfortunately diesel fuel is typically more expensive than regular unleaded. If we incorporate a modest 10 percent bump between the two (in some areas of the U.S. it's much higher than that), your annual outlay for those 750 gallons is $2,900, which shows no out-of-pocket savings relative to the gas V-6. And if we apply the numbers to the most optimistic highway figures while doubling the annual mileage to 30,000, you'll burn 1,200 gallons of regular unleaded in the V-6 (at 25 mpg like the V-6 eight-speed highway mpg), for an expenditure of $4,200. Driving the diesel at 28 mpg requires almost 1,070 gallons of fuel annually at the suggested $3.85 a gallon or $4,120. That represents essentially no savings per year over the gasoline V-6.




As you can see, any annual difference in the cost to fuel your truck is chump change relative to a $40,000 investment. The Ram diesel is cheapest over 30,000 highway miles, but the savings are less than only $15 per week when compared to the Ram Hemi or Ford EcoBoost. But beyond real-world costs in the diesel versus gas debate, there are several intangible issues to consider:

Torque: Although there are 65 fewer horses provided by the EcoDiesel relative to the 3.6-liter V-6, its 420 pounds-feet of torque (under 2,000 rpm) simply overwhelms the gas power plant's 269 pounds-feet of torque at 4,175 rpm. This isn't necessarily stump-pulling power but it is significant. And the ease with which the truck moves under load or a full trailer represents a solid benefit every time you, a family member or employee is behind the wheel.

Perceived simplicity: Despite turbocharging, Fiat's MultiJet II direct injection and as much electrical wonderment as an Apollo space capsule, diesels are still perceived as simple technology relative to their gasoline counterparts. Since they're built to take compression ratios some 60 percent higher than the gas slugs, consumers figure the pickups can take whatever the highway can throw at them: "If I can get 200,000 miles from my gas lump, I'll get 400,000 from a diesel." Today that perceived superiority — especially at the light-duty end of the market — may be harder to document, but it sticks in our collective imagination.

Availability: If you do most of your shopping at big-box retailers, finding diesel may take an app on your smartphone. And if you do most of your shopping at retailers committed to saving the Earth, diesel may be the only acceptable fuel for your tank even though you may have to search for it.

Safety: If your work or hobbies require carrying auxiliary fuel tanks, know that diesel's lower level of combustibility (relative to gasoline) makes it much safer to carry auxiliary tanks.

Alternatives to efficiency are certainly available from the other players in the segment. Ford — as noted earlier — is proud of its EcoBoost V-6. Via turbocharging, it generates torque and horsepower fully commensurate with a healthy V-8, and if you keep your foot off the floorboard, the EcoBoost will provide class-competitive fuel efficiency.

At Chevrolet, the Silverado makes a good argument for its EcoTec3 5.3-liter V-8. Significantly re-engineered, this pushrod block isn't as sexy as diesel or EcoBoost, but there's a lot to be said for the relative simplicity — and established reliability — of the small-block with direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. Annual fuel costs will still be in the Ram EcoDiesel ballpark (given both the Chevy's efficiency and the lower cost of regular unleaded), and the GM V-8 is only a $1,095 bump over Chevrolet's 4.3-liter V-6 (not a $4,000 bump). So when making your decision, factor in as many variables as possible.

Pentastar 1 II


Editor's note: This post was updated Feb. 12 to correct data in a chart.


Great article Mark! Keep them coming!

Another PUTC swing and a miss. You can't do cost analysis without including resale value.

Another variable: cold weather. If parking in sub 10 degrees Fahrenheit for days at a time w/o access to 120VAC is part of your standard duty cycle, the diesel choice brings the gel issue into play.

And the last swing makes it a strike out. Those with diesel pickups tend to haul and tow which is where diesel fuel economy really shines.


A couple of notes:

1. you refer to Chrysler's V6 "...the high-tech 3.6-liter V-6." A DOHC alloy V6 has been the standard in Asia and Japan dating back 10 years. GM's 3.6 alloy twin cam engine arrived almost 10 years ago. Mitzubishi had direct injected engines in some of their models back before Y2K. Why is the Mopar called High Tech? Just Curious

2. In evaluating the total cost of ownership, we always need to know a pair of key variables--what did I pay to buy it and how much did I get when I sold it. Without that data trying to calculate cost of ownership boils down to a discussion of fuel economy, not true cost.

key in the discussion of diesel vs gas is the higher cost of building high compression-ratio engines. Just as racing engines, (piston driven) aircraft engines and commercial diesel engines all have higher CR than base gasoline engines, the new generations of diesels for passenger cars and half ton trucks cost more to build. Someone who doesn't drive a lot of annual miles or someone who trades cars/trucks every couple of years will very likely not wring out the full value of their added investment in diesel.

Apart from the above, excellent report. Thank you.

I think there's winter blends of diesel that gel below -20F.

Ken, their is no way to determine what the resale will be on this truck. We don't know if it will be a hit or miss in the market nor do we know how it will hold up so no they can't take into consideration resale. Also resale means nothing to the majority of truck people that drive there trucks until they die.

So with all these numbers right here in front of us, I would have to say, the only way you can come out ahead with the Ram 1/2t diesel is if you were to tow around 6,000 lbs. regularly and need the extra mpg with towing you will get with a diesel Ram, over the Hemi, but just the Hemi, and only while towing 6K as more would be too much, now if you compare that to the 3.6 Pentastar engine, and the same weight, it might be closer in mileage, but I would say it will have to be on level ground to come close to the mpg while towing with it, or the diesel. With my Chevy, I get around 12-14 mpg towing my Airstream, in N.E. and in the mountains ? yes I will only get around 10mpg doing the speed limit, and not one mph over, and just staying in the left lane going up the hills as long as I do not have to pass anyone, and that means sure I will not get the same mpg as the Ram diesel, but I only paid 28K for the Chevy, new! at this point I only wish I had bought the other one on the lot with the 6.2 at the time! but there was not as much money on the hood so to speak, and I wanted to save 5K! But dam it would be nice to have over 400hp! maybe next time!

There is an error in the second chart. No way the Hemi has lower fuel costs at 30,000 miles.

Availability is an issue. Good job pointing that out. When I had my 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD with the VM diesel...I found that diesel stations were hard to come by. On one notable day my wife and I were returning from a trip to Florida on I-65 north and I was getting low on fuel. I passed exit after exit after exit in the rain and wind before finally finding a station that sold diesel fuel. I was running on fumes by then and was in fear of being stranded on the road.

After that I started getting into the habit of looking for diesel fuel when I hit 1/4 tank.

I still think the EcoDiesel option is the best choice for somebody who works with their truck or for somebody who drives a lot of miles.

In addition to my Ram, I do own an almost 30 year old Ford diesel. I don't tell people that here much though because of all the brand wars that goes on. Anyways the old truck can almost get 20mpg on the highway. By 80's standards that's pretty good, considering the mpg that gassers get from that era. By modern standards, most 1/2 ton full sizes get > 20mpg on the highway, so it's not that significant. My point is this though, back in the day, the diesel option was much more reasonably priced and the difference in mpg was enough to make the diesel worth it, both for towing and even for normal driving conditions. Now, the premium for diesel options make it much harder to justify. That being said though, if I had the money, I wouldn't necessarily have a problem paying for a diesel option. Anyone who is serious about trucks is going to have a soft spot for diesel. That probably isn't the case with the average consumer though. Diesels have benefits and I think that unless one understands those benefits, they wouldn't be likely to purchase one.

As previously mentioned, all the calculated figures in those charts are based on unloaded trucks. Having those same three trucks tow a 5,000 pound travel trailer that same distance would really show up their differences and that's what needs to be exposed.

How many guys are going to pay 45K for a 1500 Diesel when there is a 47K 2500 Cummins truck sitting next to it.

Especially if you towing.

Your chart is working only if you drive empty, which this Ecodiesel, HEMI and Ecoboost is not meant to do only.
As soon as you start pulling 5000lb even occasionally you will see much greater difference and everybody with a half brain can calculate , that all the time you own and pull small trailer or boat with Ecodiesel will save you thousand of dollars in one year.
I wanna see you make a fuel consumption test of pulling 5000lb trailer for 5000 miles with Ecodiesel, Ecoboost and few V8.
Only then we can talk any numbers. You'll be very surprise how quickly you recommend to make Ecodiesel purchase.

I would buy a Cummins any day over the Ecodiesel. Not all buyers need or even want a HD truck. I bet there are plenty of people out there who given the choice between a 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton would choose the 1/2 ton. The Ecodiesel is just a new option for those buyers.

What about the UREA FLUID. ALL new diesels must have urea.
BUT Diesels always get the stated mileage or do better and can easily do better if one drives conservative which is easy to do in a diesel since you get all the torque at low rpm. Gas Engine vehicles hardly every get their Stated mileage and usually get worse mileage. Car & driver just did a report on their long term ram 1500 with the v-6 and averaged 17mpg. which is about right since you have to mat the go pedal to get that thing moving or pass, go up hill etc. So in my opinion the diesel engine will always get at least 10-15% better mileage than stated and the gas 10-15% less than on sticker. Plus with a diesel one can easily tune them for more performance or better mileage. lots of head room to make changes. Not so on a gas engine unless you spend $5K to supercharge and that will just use even more fuel. I will seriously consider a diesel when they come out in a 1/2 ton or the mid sizers like the frontier or colorado. Plus whoever pays sticker on these things is nuts. One can usually get up to 25% off these insane sticker prices which is about $10K.

Interesting comparison.

Around here, diesel is $0.75 to $1.00 more per gallon higher than gasoline, so the comparison would tilt the results in favor of gasoline ... but some locations are obviously cheaper on the diesel front due to taxes and such. One certainly has to do the math.

How is this news? Allpar had this type of analysis up days ago - not that it is particularly difficult to do on your own. Where is the V6 shootout you teased MORE than a week ago?

You left out the most important consideration - duty cycle. How someone drives is rather crucial as to whether or not diesel is a sound choice for a fuel source.

@papajim: I'll grant you #1 but at the same time what we don't know is how the Pentastar engine differs from its predecessor. It is redesigned and we can bet that it draws from other companies' designs to improve on them. After all, the Pentastar does have better gas mileage than any of the DOHC V-6s that precede it. Why?

#2 is a different question. Quite honestly most people don't even consider trade-in value of their new vehicle when they buy it; for all you know they'll keep that vehicle until there's no more Blue Book rating for it. Mark's calculations above assume first-year cost of ownership as though you'd paid cash for that truck.
And really, the advantages of the diesel any more don't show unless the engine is under load. When diesel and gas prices were reversed (not all that long ago diesel was $0.50 below the price of gas) the advantage was all diesel. What with diesel prices now as much as $0.50 ABOVE the price of regular, it's a whole 'nother story. Still, if the diesel is used for towing on even a 50% basis, it's advantage would show up on better fuel mileage than either of its direct competitors.

These gas v-6s in a truck are a joke unless its the turbo charged eco boost. the v-8s get the same or better mileage and will last a lot longer since they are working much less to move the mass around. My 5.7 in my 4x4 tundra gets 16mpg and i drive 75-85 on fwys. I have more than enough power than i need. It is faster than most cars. I looked at the v-6 and it gets maybe 1mpg more if its lucky but can hardly get out of its own way empty, think about how slow with a load in bed or in tow. Mind you the quality of gas effects mileage a lot. Here in phx we have so many additives methanol bs it really brings down the mileage. I met a guy from texas whose chevy gets 20 fwy mpg in texas but only 16 out here in az, its because of our crap gas. I run half pump and half av gas in my off road machines and its like adding a turbo they run so good with some better gas in em. and the shelf live of that good gas is much better longer and burns clean, no black soot at the end of the tail pipe, just a little grey. Our wonderful govt just keeps bending us over in more aspects of our lives everyday taking over one industry after the other and all it does it costs us MORE MONEY all the time and they ruin products and whole industries.

@cmon: You just pointed out the fallacy of your own comments; by insisting that a V6 would get worse gas mileage than even the V8, you're showing that you work at the high end of the EPA's tests and not the average. A conservative driver wouldn't be hooning it as much as you apparently do your own truck. With the simple statement, "It is faster than most cars," you're saying you horse that thing around like a sports car which is fine for you, but not the way everybody else drives. A V6 truck would realize far better gas mileage over the long run driven conservatively than your massive V8 driven fast and a diesel would do better if even a quarter of that distance is towing.

ANother 3rd consideration cost with a diesel is the fuel. It costs more and the Govt has removed most of the lubricity of the fuel. in the old days diesel was like an oil almost. now its just as light as gas with some dye in it. the older diesels dont like this new fuel so guys have to add a quart of 2 stroke oil to a tank of diesel to keep their diesels in good shape and not have to prematurely replace the pump and injectors. I dont know if these new diesels will need more oil in the fuel or not, i would add it to be safe if i plan on keeping the truck a long time, cheap insurance.

What cracks me up about this site is the main guy doesnt even own a truck. I wonder if he ever has. so how can someone that has never owned trucks or does now can accurately report on them. I have owned trucks my whole life and almost all my friends do too. So we know what really goes on with them in Real Life not some journalist that drove one for 15 minutes one day a year.

So our wonderful govt has made it a wash to own a diesel on trying to save $$$. they dont want us to get good mileage because then they get less money since there is so a big tax and fuel. the govt never knows how to save any money they are just a monster that never has enough until it destroys itself and i think we are just around the corner with that. i wonder what our real debt is not the bs they feed us. anybody notice the cost of everything is going UP ?? duh when you print money and the value of the currency result is inflation. Russia and china already taking their trade off the dollar std, wait when opec takes oil off the dollar std, we'll have more inflation with our phony getting worth less dollars. so either be debt free or drowning in debt and let the bail out bums have my stuff.

@ road whale Oh contrar. i drive pretty conservative most of the time but its nice to know my truck has plenty of get up and go when i need it. double the capability of a v6. and to have all that for the same mpg or maybe 1 or 2 less mpg is a no brainer in my world. plus better resale and when i do pull a load it can more than handle it and not stress out the powerplant, another no brainer part of the decesion spend the $$ proposition. if our fuel was higher quality that sure would help a v6 and maybe make a case for it.


Your reply about the Pentastar not being different threw me. The 3.7 litre Ram engine was a SOHC 12 valve motor with lousy performance under load. The new Pentastar I have not driven yet, partly because I have no interest in having a 5000 pound truck with a passenger car V6 powerplant.

Presently in my neck of the woods, Ram continues to advertise a 1500 Express double cab Hemi for 199 per month lease. 3k down. 39 mos.

How do you beat that?

Something else to consider: the diesel is not ALWAYS $4000 more than the Hemi. Look at the Outdoorsman again:

On the 4x2 quad cab hemi (that Mark used), it is a $4000 option, correct. HOWEVER....
On the 4x4 Cred Cab 6'4" bed model, its a $2850 option over the Hemi.

So that is what we are looking to make up. Let's do the math on that.

A 4x4 Ram 1500 with the 8 speed is rated at 21 mpg, the diesel is rated at 27mpg.

On the highway then, over 30,000 miles the Hemi uses 1429 gallons (rounded up from 1428.5714etc). Over the same 30,000 miles, the Ram uses 1111 gallons (rounded down from 1111.1111repeating).

Let's do Mark's "two fuel price" comparison. Gas and Diesel both at $3.50, and then I'll do what they both cost here in Missouri. At $3.50, the Hemi costs $5001.50, and the diesel costs $3888.50. So a $1113 savings a year. That will help at the pump some. Considering the City Mileage of the diesel is 5mpg better, I'd say that is a pretty good average too.

But, in the real world gas costs less than diesel (and I'm still sore over that: I remember 2002, when Diesel was $.60-$.90 a gallon cheaper than gas). So in the Quiktrip I can see out the window from my office, gas is 3.13 a gallon right now and diesel is $3.69.

Over 30,000 miles then, the Hemi costs $4471.43, and the diesel costs $4099.59. That means that you save $371.84 a year.

At that kind of savings, you will achieve parity at 15.37 years. Some will want me to add in DEF but DEF is a minimal expense: you need a couple gallons of it every 10k miles and it costs $30 for those two gallons at a farm and tractor store. $30 over 10k miles is .003 dollars a mile, or a third of a cent. Using an ever so slightly lighter foot more than makes up for that.

Also, one thing we are doing (possibly) a bit wrong is just going off of EPA numbers. I've known few people to hit that 21mpg number in the Hemi Ram. However, the Jeep Grand Cherokee also uses the 3.0L VM Motori and 8 speed transmission, and in 4x4 while only being rated 1mpg better than the Ram, most JGC owners report seeing 30mpg highway, hand calculated. And some of the reports we have seen on this very site say that on a 400 mile trip, that isn't an impossible number to get while also driving like a normal human being.

Let's do a quick experiment, just food for thought. Let's say your Ram Hemi really got more like 20mpg, and you were able to get 29 with the Ram Diesel (again, just based on what people are seeing in the real world as "more possible" than the EPA test circuit). The Hemi would use 1500 gallons in 30,000 miles, the Diesel would use 1034. 1500x$3.13 a gallon is $4695, 1034x$3.69 a gallon is $3815.46. That is a $879.54 savings.

So that would pay off the difference in only 6.48 years (like above, I assume 15,000 miles a year).

So then it depends. Will you keep this truck for more than 5 years? If not, then on a purely operating cost basis, it won't pay you back (on a not purely operating cost basis, we don't know what the resale value is yet). If you plan to keep it ten years, you are better off with the diesel.

V-6 work harder than V-8's and usually the V-8 gets better gas mileage in the long run. I have a V-8 and get 16 around town and 21 on the interstate. 2009 f -150 supercrew 5.4L. I had the 4.6 and enjoy the 5.4 much better.

Car and Driver has a long term Ram V6, the are averaging 17MPG, that is about 2MPG better then a Hemi model. People who drive a lot of miles may have a big savings, Just depends on what you need and what you want if its worth it to downsize to a V6.

I think where the Ram Ecodiesel will shine is with the fleet buyers. Companies that have delivery trucks or trucks for work usage where a foreman drives 20,000 a year.
The average guy won't really see a lot of benefit over an Ecoboost or the 5.3. Gas is cheaper most of the time, only getting close to diesel in the summer.
The Ram 1500 doesn't have enough of a tow rating to make it a towing machine like HD trucks. Most people by 3/4-1 ton diesel trucks because the tow a lot. Ram 1500 buyers are getting a truck for everyday use. Work, groceries, weekend errands, etc. Factor in that it's not easy to find diesel at every corner and that could make owning one tougher.

@Dale disagree about diesel and fleets UNLESS the fleet managers already have a lot of diesel in the fleet.

Most fleet purchasing agents are ultra price sensitive and diesel simply costs more to buy up front.

and right on cue PUTC has an article trying to justify Ford's obsession with turbocharging anemic gas engines to put pretty numbers on paper and pretty much nothing else. The Ecoboost's thirst for fuel is very well documented. There just isnt a real way around it, you brag about V8 HP with an FI V6 and you will get V8 or worse economy when on the boost, there is no free lunch. This has shown out in nearly any test environment. So Ford gets class competitive economy on paper woohooo. The only glimmer of truth in this article is that the simpler and proven 5.3 Ecotec V8 offered by GM is an awesome all around choice.
The comparison to the Pentastar V6 is laughable, other than those who buy lifestyle trucks those two engines will never be on build sheets for similar end users. You guys are all gaga for the 400 lbsft of torque in the ecoboost but suddenly the best praise you can utter is that the 420 ftlbs of the Ecodiesel "isn't necessarily stump-pulling power but it is significant"... seriously? Thats near the torque output of the old 12v 5.9l Cummins and 7.3l Powerstrokes of old. PUTC is rapidly becoming nothing more than a sellout shill for FoMoCo. All you guys could talk about last year was "who will give us the first half ton diesel in the US?" only to have lackluster and backhanded support of it when the brand you dont support ended up being first. What a joke.

I didn't realize diesel was scarce in some parts of the country. Here in the Midwest (southern IL, eastern Mo) diesel is available at 90% of the stations around here.
This has been a brutal winter temperature wise and my diesel pick-up truck has never failed to start. I do put Power Service in the tank when the temps hang in the single digits so I'm sure that has helped.
One you have owned a diesel you tend to stay with them. They definitely grow on you with their capability and fuel mileage.
The math works for me and I'll continue to own one.

I may have missed it in the article, but how much is the additive you need to get for the diesel every 10K?

I'd love to find diesel priced at only 10% more than gas. I'd love to find it priced only 20% higher! It is consistently 30% higher than gas, year round. Run those numbers at 30% and it negates even a lot of great towing mpgs.

Here in Saskatchewan, I would have bought a diesel half ton in 2009 but none were offered by the big 3. I farm and get to use dyed diesel for farm trucks. Only downsides are that winter is terrible cold up here and if you ever forget to plug in your truck you are never going to start it. Another is the price of diesel/volume has traditionally been cheaper than gasoline, however the last couple of years in the winter (and the odd summer) diesel prices were 10 to 15 cents higher than gasoline. New gas engines (GM,Ford) are becoming as fuel efficient as diesel (until you have to tow a trailer). Hard choice if you need a truck that is your daily driver.

Right now diesel is $.75/gallon more than unleaded regular at the same pumps here in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In this neck of the woods it's pretty unusual to pull into a gas station and not find a green pump handle.

I think this analysis will need to be redone in 2015 when the big three finally comply with the SAE J2807 towing standards. The Fiat 3.6 gas V-6 doesn't have enough power to pull a greasy snake out of bed, so that choice goes out the window for anybody with a big boat or horse trailer. I doubt the Ecodiesel will pull the same load as the Ecoboost.

It's true the Ecoboost gets lousy mileage under heavy load, but for somebody who only needs that power for several weekends a year, that's not a bad tradeoff. When we get some real-world Ecodiesel numbers loaded and unloaded, we can factor in tow limits and make a more informed choice between the GM, Ford, and Fiat approaches to fuel economy.

I don't see engine life as a factor in the decision unless you drive over 50,000 miles a year, because even the worst gas engines should last over 200,000 miles. For a lot of us, a pickup is a second vehicle and not a daily driver, and doesn't get anywhere near the typical 15,000 miles/year of a car.


Future resale value is available at anyone's finger tip. Leasing companies successfully do it daily. There are also publications like Kelly Blue Book.

As far as keeping an old vehicle goes that was ok when vehicle designs were simple and easy to work on. Now each vehicle system has multiple computers with unique software versions. Repair bills get very expensive today. Today they say the best bet is to keep a vehicle no more than 6 or 8 years.

@Ken, Joe is right about determining resale of a particular truck--you just don't know until you sell it.

When you're talking about a fleet, Blue Book is the gold standard. They know the averages!

Towing the diesel gets 25-30% better fuel economy. Do much towing and the diesel is the winner. My eco only gets 8-9 mpg pulling my 6000 lb travel trailer. I bet the diesel will get 12-14mpg. That's a big difference.
If Ford doesn't come out with one I will either go with the Chevy, Toyota or Nissan.

As papajim pointed out, fleets aren't likely to chose diesel. They want the cheapest out the door. Private contactors are more likely to chose diesel as they can right off more cost and if they have heavy machinery can run everything on diesel. That is a plus in remote areas.

The diesel gels point for most of the USA is an item that no one will ever need to worry about. Diesel gels around -35C (-31F). That is with regualr diesel but parts of the USA and most of Canada that sees really cold weather go to "winter" diesel which is sililar to heating oil. My dad was a logger/trucker and he only ever encountered it a few times in his lifetime.

End use will more accurately reflect cost savings. If one applies generic mpg benefits there isn't a real benefit. If on factors individual use, local costs, residual value etc. one can build a case for a diesel or gas.

I fins it interesting that people use ROI with diesels since the topic NEVER comes up when looking at gassers. Most people I see with personal use HD's do not need a 400 hp/800lb.ft monster to tow that 9-10 K trailer. They buy based on feel, sound and preference. I suspect that diese l1/2 tons will start to fall into that category.

Here is a study done by the University of Michigan. Well worth the read if one wants to look at ROI.

Perhaps Mark Williams can contact the authors and post a story on their opinions.

@papajim: Read my comment about the Pentastar again--I was agreeing with you that the new V6 is roughly the same as the now-older DOHC V6s you were saying have been out for 10 years or more. I then followed up that being later on the market than those earlier DOHC models it may have adopted many of the features and modified them for even better performance and economy.
I repeat, I wasn't arguing with you, I was agreeing with you and adding to it.

As for the car vs truck power plant, I might note that it's far from the first time and quite honestly it depends on how the truck is going to be used that the buyer chooses the engine desired. As a very basic example, my own 1990 F-150 uses the Mustang 5.0 EFI with a different injector module and quite honestly sounds like a Mustang when I do give it the 'boot'. Sure, it's a long-bed but the leaf springs under the tail show it was always intended as a light-duty truck--at which point the Mustang power plant performs quite well (well, other than needing a major tune-up and I expect a new timing chain). As such, it's quite obvious that nearly half of all F-150 buyers intend to use their trucks for light-duty only as evidenced by the fact that they're using a light-duty engine at only 300hp or so as compared to the bigger, stronger V8s.

@cmon: You don't noon, eh? " My 5.7 in my 4x4 tundra gets 16mpg and i drive 75-85 on fwys." That's certainly not conservative when the maximum speed limit is 75mph in most states and only ONE allows 80mph on the freeways. I could get better gas mileage than you on the freeway by just slowing down to 65 using the exact same truck and probably do even better with a V6 version. I'm betting I could do better than you in city driving too, though maybe not by as much. My own 25-year-old truck with a 5.0V8 gets just over 19.5mpg on the freeway--notably better than your obviously much newer truck that only gets 16mpg.

You can't say you drive conservatively and claim such poor numbers.

With a bigger motor you can cruise faster and it doesn't affect mileage as much as it would on a smaller motor. I get 18MPG with my Titan cruising 75MPH on a 500 mile trip, if I slow to 62 I still get the same mileage because the same trip takes an extra two hours. That's two hours the truck could be turned off and not running 2K rpm.

Sheesh, already trying to spin it to discourage people from buying a ram diesel. Something Ford doesn't have at the moment.

As I said to cmon, Joe, I can do better by just slowing down a little bit and again, do even better with a 6 with the same body style. Aerodynamics do play a part at higher speeds and I'll grant that a V8 can loaf along somewhat better with its higher torque--but you're almost at the bottom of the torque curve with either engine running about 1500 rpm so most trucks run closer to 2K rpm at freeway speeds.

Meanwhile, a highly aerodynamic vehicle will see the difference far more clearly as I achieved over 32mpg in a 3.8L V6 Camaro ('96 rated at 28 highway) while the bigger V8 was only rated at 24 highway. I'm sure I could have pushed that V8 to 28 or so, but I doubt I could have achieved 32 or better with it even running at 1400 rpm.

Too many people blow off aerodynamics for vehicles, claiming that power overrides any aerodynamic differences. I have to strongly disagree due to simple real-life experience, much less any wind-tunnel testing that may have been performed. A wind tunnel can emphasize they aerodynamic drag of any body style, but it can't really help calculate the real-world gas mileage based on engine/transmission/final-drive specs.

Hold your RPMs down and you can get better gas mileage in any vehicle, but the coefficient of drag will have you traveling at much different throttle settings to travel the same speed. With the current jump upwards of V6 power to the equivalent of older V8 power, there's a significant improvement in economy to match as you're running fewer cylinders.

Why is it that every article on a diesel vehicle includes pulling out a calculator? It's getting really old. I never see V8 versus V6; do the math. Or 2WD versus 4WD; do the math. What's the payback on those alloy wheels or leather heated seats?

The fact is that if we all pulled out calculators when purchasing a new truck, 60% of pickup truck buyers would be driving a Corolla and renting a truck for the 4 times/year that they need one. The remaining 40% would be driving trucks that look like the DOT spec'd them out.

Lol. Mileage is mileage. What you are describing is simply not right.

The big blocks look pretty good in the long haul comparison. (can't believe I would call those v8's big block. :<))

I think they would best the other gasoline engines for towing.

It may be close in comparison to the diesel for long haul towing.

The ford is not a towing engine unless you are content with towing at high rpm in a low gear range. And that will destroy longevity/mileage.

My 400m has so much low end torque I can make hard accelerations in 3rd gear on a hard right hand city street turn.

If I try that with a engine with torque in the higher RPM range, they will stumble on their face. Most require 2000 rpm for slow acceleration. And at least 4000 rpm to perform out of a turn as I do with my truck.

Miles in low gear. Equals a greater mount of wear on the engine. And both the diesel and the Ford have a great many high dollar parts. Most notably the turbo chargers.

If you can't make good torque at 1200 rpm you are not a towing engine. (at least 3/4 of the engines max torque)

My conclusion is that diesels and all other turbo charged engines are not meant for in town driving.

I also conclude that todays diesels are not really intended for the weekend warrior. Because the weekend warrior will not put enough miles on the vehicle to justify it's cost They in fact would most probably only use it for weekend camping 5 times a year and a 2 week vacation.

To make the diesel affordable you would have to commit to the diesel in your pre retirement years, say mid 50's. And you would have to commit to maintaining and keeping this vehicle for twenty to twenty five years.

I also would not recommend anything below a 3/4 ton truck for recreational use. I would not personally consider anything less than a 1 1/2 ton truck if I were to upgrade. You can keep the registration costs down by registering it as a recreational vehicle. And the normal recreational user would not stress any of the trucks parts. Guaranteeing a much longer life cycle.

I also love the idea of a truck camper on a utility bed.

You have to remember that it takes X amount of energy to get over a hill. You can get that either by increased HP and torque. Or through gearing. Diesel does have some energy advantage. But the extra weight hurts it in the stop and go city driving.

For city driving all you need is enough seats and a small 4 banger.

My experience is that 10,000 lbs is going to get you 8 to 10 mpg towing in the mountains on a interstate. 2 lane mountain roads at 45 mph in the national parks are going to weight heavily in the advantage of any low rpm, high torque engine. Whether it is gasoline or diesel.
Two lane roads in the California's mountains. You are talking 3 to 4 MPG with the 454. But still no more than 6 mpg with a Cummins. Figuring the price of fuel it is hard to justify either one of them for the weekend warrior. You just have to like camping and fishing and hunting to justify them.

Problem is that the last low rpm, high torque, gasoline engine hasn't been built since the early 80's. That was my ford 400m gas engine. More low end torque at a lower rpm and much better mileage than the 460. Combined with a manual transmission and it is the mountain tow king.

@Vulpine, road whale:

so how do you beat the 1500 Express double cab Hemi for 199 per month lease. 3k down. 39 mos?

a new truck for 3 years for about 10k plus operating expenses and insurance...

Toyota with a Cummins in 2016 :

I do think there are two issue at foot here.

1. Real life or the average driving techniques when operating a vehicle. The right foot. Most don't come close to the EPA figures. Diesel is far more forgiving with a heavier right foot. This will push out the difference significantly.

2. If we are so worried about the costs of the vehicles, why is it that the average pickup has gone up market every year. That is the cost of ownership.

3. The EPA estimates are measured differently for diesel vs gas. From the stories I've read many people in the US actually exceed the EPA's FE figures for diesel.

@Big Al

re Point number 2

Disagree. If a vehicle has high demand in the used market, the difference in the cost of ownership, apart from operating costs and insurance, is the difference between what you paid and what you sold it for.

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