Do Diesel Pickups Make Financial Sense?

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Automotive research firm Vincentric has released its latest study, this time focused on whether a diesel engine for vehicles makes monetary sense.

Of the 419 models available in the U.S. with a diesel engine option, Vincentric found just 76 had a lower cost of ownership than their gasoline counterparts. Vincentric's statistical analysis assumed the vehicle was owned for five years and was driven 15,000 miles annually. It then used eight cost factors — depreciation, taxes and fees, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, opportunity cost and repairs — to measure total cost of ownership.

The study divided 2018 diesel vehicles into four categories: passenger cars (23 diesels), SUVs/crossovers (22), pickup trucks (324) and vans (50). Of these four categories, vans — compact, full-size, passenger and cargo — equipped with diesel engines stood out in the study as strong values. Buying the diesel engine made financial sense in 49 of the 50 models. As you might expect, these evaluations are dependent on the cost of the diesel engines along with maintenance costs over five years. According to Vincentric, diesel van engines cost an extra $1,700 compared to gas options, and they cost an extra $540 annually in maintenance fees over gasoline engines.

Before we get to how pickups performed in this study, here are the top three performers in the non-pickup categories.

Passenger Cars

  • Jaguar XE 20d R-Sport
  • BMW 328i xDrive
  • Jaguar XF 20d R-Sport


  • BMW X5 XDrive35d
  • Land Rover Discover SE
  • Land Rover Range Rover Sport SE


  • Chevrolet Express G3500 cargo short wheelbase
  • GMC Savana 3500 cargo SWB
  • GMC Savana G3500 wagon SWB

As to pickups, not a single truck met the study criteria for being cost effective when equipped with a diesel engine. Today's high fuel costs combined with price premiums for diesel engines and heavy-duty transmission options meant Vincentric did not find a diesel pickup configuration that had a lower total cost of ownership than the gas version. However, we do have Vincentric's list of the top 10 pickups that almost make monetary sense as diesels when compared to their gas counterparts. We should note that there several averages built into a study like this and if diesel fuel prices drop, gasoline prices rise or diesel engine prices come down, the list could be dramatically different.

We also should note that, on average, the cost of diesel fuel across the nation is less than gasoline, so it's the cost of purchasing the diesel engine and the higher maintenance expenses that keep diesel pickups from making monetary sense. If studies like this covered a time-span of 10 or 20 years (meaning 150,000 or 300,000 miles on the odometer), diesel options would far outweigh their gasoline counterparts in terms of savings.

Here are the 10 pickups for which diesel engines come close to matching the costs of gas engines, according to Vincentric.

Pickup: Diesel Cost/Gas Cost

  1. Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn crew cab 4x4 long wheelbase: $66,310/$65,399
  2. Ram 3500 Laramie Mega Cab 4x4: $61,636/$60,465
  3. Ram 3500 SLT Mega Cab 4x4: $60,214/$58,756
  4. Ram 3500 Tradesman crew cab 4x4 SWB: $54,202/$52,741
  5. Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn crew cab 4x4 LWB: $63,858/$62,140
  6. Ram 2500 Laramie crew cab 4x4 SWB: $59,383/$57,638
  7. Nissan Titan XD SV crew cab 4x4: $48,869/$47,060
  8. Ram 2500 SLT crew cab 4x4 LWB: $56,826/$54,858
  9. Ram 2500 Tradesman crew cab 4x4 LWB: $52,921/$50,936
  10. Ford F-350 XLT SuperCab 4x4 LWB single rear wheel: $61,456/$59,447 photos by Mark Williams


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Unthinkable537 can I ask where u found a delete for a 2018 duramax. What tuner are you running. Just wondering since no one has a delete for these trucks yet. Also did anyone notice pretty much all rams on the list that ancient Cummins technology means longevity

0ver 300k miles?

0k. So you want to keep driving the same truck for 30 years?

Thanks but no thanks!

I prefer to do what I want, need and desire.

I'm thinking about putting a diesel in my truck. My mechanic says he would be happy to do it.

You usually don't have to rebuild a diesel after 200k miles so the statement about reusing a diesel for other purposes on a farm is very relevant along with you can also use dyed diesel for farm purposes as long as it is not used for the highway. Dyed diesel is exempt from taxes Many farmers have their own tanks and most of the fuel they use is diesel. Much different than NASCAR and why buy an old junk yard gas engine when you can use a perfectly good diesel from a farm truck that will likely outlast the farmer.

Just shows how much papajim knows about most of today's farmers--almost all farm equipment is diesel and it is much less of a hassle to buy dyed diesel up front with no tax than to fill out the tax forms to get your fuel tax back for the gas used for non-road purposes. Many a farmer I know personally have re purposed a Cummins diesel from their rusted out Dodge or Ram pickup.

People talking about diesels who probably know nothing about diesels other than they have been told how dirty they are! The way a gas engine and diesel makes power is different. Yes gamers can make lots of torque but they have to turn more rpms to do so. We know what happens when a faster turns more rpms!!!! There's a reason semis, heavy equipment and most work vehicles are diesels. My first car was a Chevy luv aka an Isuzu p/u with a diesel, 40 mpg!!!

I have a 1998 dodge ram 3500 4×4 with 220000 miles on it
And it's gall original the only problem I have had is rust on the doors
Its bin my daylily driver for 20 years

@Jeff--Agree papajim is all about arguing even when someone agrees with him. I don't need or want a diesel but I understand why many do. It is more likely to get 500k or even a million miles out of a diesel that is well maintained without a overhaul. A few gas engines have gotten 500k or more miles without a overhaul but that is more likely with a diesel. I don't think most farmers care what NASCAR does.

I have a 1998 dodge ram 3500 4×4 with 220000 miles on it

Its bin my daylily driver for 20 years

Posted by: Gary

And an income to match it.

They must have hired the latest FAKE Jeff S from a day-labor joint. Nobody with a half ounce of brains who read my earlier comments would make the comments that FAKE Jeff is making today.

The REAL Jeff is probably having some fun with the family today, hangin' out, barbeque, picnic, a ball game maybe.

The FAKE Jeff is another story. It gets lonely on the sheep-station down in Australia, I guess

I think that if your moving incredibly heavy loads on a regular basis, then a diesel makes sense. But Diesel engines are designed to run hard for extended periods, ie locomotives, commercial ships and of course tractor trailers. A buddy who is a diesel mechanic once told me that people that use their diesel trucks as daily drivers running point to point on light jaunts usually end up paying more for maintenance.

@Mark Williams
No brainer in Australia. Commercial vehicles and includes Pickups are all Diesels. This started in the late 1950's when the British dropped Petrol,engines for Diesrel. We had Petrol much later but eventually they became all diesel even when a Petrol was 40c a litre( $1.60 a gallon)
Now What was Walkingshaw Racing is converting the Cheverolet Silverado and RAM heavy Duties on a production line doing 6 a day.
These are all Diesels and will be for towing Caravans or just driving around

Umm because I want a diesel and not a gas. Try pulling a heavy load up a steep mountain road. Diesels rule

Trouble logging on

Too many are taking this article as an attack on what they like... Yet again... There is nothing wrong with having a diesel. There was a time when buying the diesel was a choice because the fuel mileage was so good that it overcame the cost of buying the diesel. I say buy the diesel because they are damned good power and have the resale value to go with it. If you keep your diesel powered truck in good shape you get a very good resale out of it. The fuel mileage isn't a big deal for most as far as expense since the diesel option is almost 10 grand more money to buy up front. I think the biggest reason for the price difference is for warranty reasons. Warranty claims for the diesel are extremely higher cost than the gas powered trucks. This is an interesting bit of info, but isn't going to change anyone's mind. Buy what you like and at least you have some info on that side of the topic.

Not realistic assumptions. We put about 200,000 Mike's on the diesel 4x4 pickups in our fleet before we send them to auction and recover 30% of new fleet price cost. So, the economic consideration is much different. And we haul 25000 pound job yraikers up mountain passes.

Does papajim even know who the real Jeff S is? I don't think so.

the FAKE fox

A word of warning from England. About 20 years, we were encouraged to buy diesel by government for better economy, etc etc.
Now diesels are public enemy no 1, chiefly because of particulate emissions and the pollution they can cause.
Discussions over here in limey-land that diesels - lorries and cars etc -- should be banned from city centres. Crazy!
Forget debate over economy, longevity etc of diesel over petrol.
The real issue is how government will screw you whatever you choose, through taxes, regulations, bans and so on.
Think my next purchase, chaps, will be a horseless carriage.

“Straight piped it and changed the cams...” -Unthinkable537

Lol, how many cams do you have in there? There’s only one, son. Thanks for the fake comment! ;)

Interesting article.

I cant recall the last time I saw diesel being cheaper than Gasoline. I KNOW where I live it isn't. Yes we all know it SHOULD be and it isn't because of taxes which makes the bottom line at least around where I live that diesel is the more expensive fuel.

Diesel pumps are "dirtier" than gasoline pumps in that diesel being more "oily" doesn't evaporate away or at least not nearly as quickly as gas. So every little drop adds up instead of just drying up like the gas pumps.

The Navistar 6.0 (it wasn't made by Ford) didn't ruin the reputation of diesel. It was a bad engine its true and took way too long/too much money to fix/straighten out but the reputation of diesel for the mainstream in the US was destroyed by the converted GM diesels of the late 70s/early 80s (Oldsmobile) and more recently by VW.

The simple fact is that unless you really WORK your truck HARD, ALL THE TIME diesel really isn't a financially justifiable option for you. I don't mean you like how it sounds, or want 3 more MPG, or want resale value when you trade in 24 months, trying to keep up with your buddies, or just want one, or once in a while you pull or haul something... I mean you literally cant remember the last time you didn't have at least 7K of trailer behind the truck, or 2+K or cargo in/on the back of the truck, or both, and ideally have it on a business tax asset depreciation plan. With the astronomical initial purchase costs, higher fuel costs (at least everywhere I see), marginal increase in MPG, higher repair costs (which are far more frequent now with the advent of emissions control systems) the casual, cause I want to, cause I can diesel owner is far more rare than they used to be and the ones remaining value their money the least or have the most to burn. I personally had always wanted one (even though I really didn't need it) but at some point reading the writing on the wall and the changes that have come since the late 90s woke me up to the fact there were better things to spend my money on.

agree with your points, but remember that VW is in a pinch over its compliance (or failure to comply) with CAFE, EPA, EU laws, etc. In reality their diesel failed because the software included a way to MAKE the engine comply.

I suppose regulators in Washington, and elsewhere, did not expect VW software to make their engine NOT comply. It's what happens when lawyers design engines instead of engineers. Sad.

In my country diesel can be 22% cheaper than petrol, and here pretty much anything bigger than a Hyundai Santa Fe is most likely a diesel.

Diesel is for sure financially making sense for me. 100K miles on my 2011 F250 6.7. Love it -no issues, change oil and filters once a year, drive about 8K miles a year towing and hauling. Other than that it sits......

I'll buy and drive what ever I want, plain and simple

I'll buy and drive what ever I want, plain and simple

Other than that it sits......
Posted by: Nitro | Aug 13, 2018


Imagine how much money you'd have today if you put the price of your old Ford FSeries diesel into an ETF (exchange traded fund) back in 2011 and just let it grow.

That makes your FSeries look pretty expensive to me, esp. if it only gets used about 8k miles per year. ouch!

"Lots of guessing in the comment above. Over 10,000, 20,000, etc. miles how much does an engine regen affect the overall mpg? I couldn’t find a study attempting to answer that question. Also, where is it found, not a blog or someone’s comment, that the EPA is recently nvestigating small displacement turbo Diesel engines? Couldn’t find that also. Finally, where are all the recent news articles and studies documenting the questionable reliability of Diesel engines? Your comment Is mostly an opinion.
Posted by: Todd | Aug 12, 2018 9:36:10 AM

You need to experience it first hand and then you will be motivated to read. Small displacement gas engines need to run rich to avoid engine knocks. This in turn causes excess fuel to collect on the heads, cylinder walls, and in the oil sump. The excess nonburned fuel also goes out the exhaust and collects on the back of the vehicle. It's all real, tangible, and engine designers anticipate aftermarket filtration.

Sounds like you havn't owned a modern diesel engine either. Expect more regens than you ever hoped for. At least one per tank of fuel and more if you do more stop and go driving.


Please cite a source that says small displacement engines need to run rich.

The Air-fuel ratio of 12:1 is considered as maximum output ratio, where as the air-fuel ratio of 16:1 is considered as maximum fuel economy ratio.

if an engine runs rich it gets dirty fast unless theres a detergent in the fuel to dissolve the resulting carbon.

To the headline, the answer is, "No".

• Diesel fuel is priced at Premium Unleaded or higher prices in many parts of the country, negating the higher fuel mileage.
• The diesel engine is more expensive up front, more expensive to operate and more expensive to repair.
• You have to closely monitor your EPS system tank as the engine will go into "limp mode" if the tank runs dry, conceivably causing serious safety problems, especially if you are towing at the time.

Yes, a diesel can be the best choice IF you tow and haul on a frequent and regular basis. If not, it's not worth the expense.

Note: The "No" comment above is from the real Vulpine.

Which comment was from the Faux Fox?

"Which comment was from the Faux Fox?" ---- Posted by: papajim

Any comment before that "No" in this thread. I haven't looked at other articles on PUTC for over a week.


I figured as much. One of the moreobnoxious commenters over the last five years resurfaces pretty regularly in recent weeks. He has no qualms about posting under other people's IDs, however he takes great offense if others resent his childish behavior.

Why I don't see diesel Ram Promaster?

@Robert Ryan -- Good to know and always good to see your name pop up. Hope all is well, and glad you jumped in here with your experience. Starting to see some other names we haven't seen in while as well.

VW's cheating scandal (regardless of its nature) is a massive blow to the general public's perception of diesel. Mazda was on the verge of releasing a diesel into its cars when VW's scandal tanked interest. The VW diesels were so good because they were cheating. I was HIGHLY impressed with a diesel Passat I put about 80 miles on one day doing a dealer exchange in 2013. The car was spacious rode nice moved well and I was getting almost 40mpg average that day. The simple fact that "correcting" that car to meet standards it was supposed to be meeting would damage MPG and performance to a degree that would almost certainly make it far less appealing to own than many of its gas competitors kills it for most of public.

GM didn't sell a lot of diesel Oldsmobiles and VW diesels weren't setting the North American market on fire... but when joe public thought of diesel in the 80s he thought of Oldsmobiles and if you ask the average person now they will say VW cheaters and neither will associate "diesel" with "good/positive".


What a dumb comment!

You really are a winner, as my American father would call you, a dingaling and a little bit under cooked up top.


I don't dispute your observation about the public perception. I'm proposing that EPA and CAFE add nothing of value to the entire proposition, but continue to endure at huge public expense.

I'd even go as far as to say there's probably a sensible "third way" to achieve the goals that EPA and CAFE seek to obtain, one that would meet my requirements (and theirs). It is just not going to happen the way it's being done now.

At least 90 percent of the cars and trucks that are required to comply with EPA regs will be deployed in places that where the CAFE compliant functionality is not useful.

For the places like Mexico City, Beijing and Los Angeles that actually need a solution EPA/CAFE impositions barely scratch the surface. Hopefully there is a chance to resolve it without killing consumer choice and destroying an important industry.

"Diesels typically deliver 25 to 35 percent better fuel efficiency over gasoline engines....Posted by: Connecticut | Aug 12, 2018

Utterly ridiculous statement. Can you present examples of this improved efficiency? Of course.

Is it routine? No."

I believe the OP meant to say "turbo diesels" and he's absolutely right... IF you do a full exhaust and chip/tune it. A stcock diesel will only do about the same as their gas counterpart. I drive an '03 5.9 Cummins and average 20mpg, after modifying it. And if I'm really light on the throttle, I've averaged as high as 25 on a few hundred mile long road trip. Average fuel economy before that was 16. Try getting 20+ in a 5.7L Hemi. Even the new ones with 8spd trans can't average that. And my good buddy is averaging the same in his '12 6.0L Ford that was getting 13 before modification... 13! Ridiculous difference. Once you delete all the SMOG crap, they run SO much better. SMOG laws were set in place for the sole purpose of making money and only use the "cleaner air" claim as a means for justification.

Utterly ridiculous statement. Can you present examples of this improved efficiency? Of course. Is it routine? No.


We all can think of times we got really impressive FE while on a trip. It's impossible to sustain these outliers because, candidly, as much as we enjoy getting a really great number (like 25mpg) the number is not sustainable.

Recently after doing a tune-up, new wires, plugs and fuel system treatment I actually got lousy mileage during a 200 mile trip.

After reviewing all the factors there was no way I could overcome the effects of a stiff headwind we were facing on the return loop of the voyage.

Apart from that the truck now runs & sounds great. Great power, perfect idle. That's good enough for me.

The value of CAFE and regulations are debatable and its true that global platforms don't have to conform to them.

The damage GM (with lack of quality 40 years ago) and VW did to diesel's image/perception by failing to conform to the regulations limits the appeal of diesel to the masses and platforms outside of trucks thus hurting market share/volume, leading to more limited availability and a higher per unit price translating to higher initial and long term cost of ownership.

It seemed like we might be on the cusp of widespread diesel success outside the truck world... and VW took it back 20 or more years.


Sorry, I should have said small displacement turbo engines.

Do diesel pickups make sense? Depends... Do you use a truck for what it was intended for, or do you use it as a family vehicle? A truck for a truck, then yes. Any other response the answer IMHO No!!!!

@ Clint
Spot on. I always say to anyone who doubts that diesel has stalled. Is to go to Dr Google and put in the name of an automaker then in the zame search line " new diesel " . It is amazing what comes up. Even VW cars is introdufing a new diesel

@Vulpine--Agree. Diesel is not a viable choice for me as well since I do not tow nor do I haul heavy loads. I also don't drive that much and most of my trips are short. It is a very good option for those who do drive a lot, tow, carry heavy loads. True diesel fuel is no longer the cheapest fuel but the longevity of a diesel along with its capacities are good if you need and use them. There is a seat for every butt meaning there is a vehicle for everyone that fits their needs and wants. Not all of us need or want the same type of vehicle. As for papajim you have to agree with everything he says or you are a fake or crazy. I might not agree with your choice of a truck but I respect your choice and respect that your needs and wants are different than mine.

@Clint--GM did a lot of damage to the reputation of diesels during the late 70's early 80's with a diesel engine based on the gasoline version. Cost more to make a diesel to the standards of what a diesel should be. GM cut corners and as a result many got turned off to diesels. The VW diesel gate hasn't helped diesels reputation as well. Mercedes had an excellent diesel during the 70's and 80's but it did cost more but then it lasted.

@Mark Williams
We get a lot of vehicles that you do not see in the US. This includes the full range of Japanese, European and " American Style" HD Trucks.
They all have a function for specific purposes and the local builders do not rely on subsidies. They build as many as they can to keep up with demand
These are European( IVECO), Volvo and Mack
Kenworth builds " American Style" HD Trucks, Mack is the same. IVECO has two models that can be.classified as convential. Kenworth , Mack and IVECO " American Style" are locally designed
As well there are imported Japanese , Light duty and HDT trucks, European HDT trucks( Roger Penske runs a Scania and Western Star franchise, he also sponsors local sedan racing)
You have problem seen my photos of Silverado and RAM remanufacturing by what was HSV Racing.on another forum
Niche product, but just adds to the vast choices people have here. Alone there are FOURTEEN manufacturers of HDT Trucks in the Australian Market

The numbers in this don't add up, I just went on the RAM website and compared prices of the first truck on the list (3500 laramie longhorn 4x4 long bed) and there's more than 8K difference in price. 67,370 / 58,690 Someone got some bad numbers

No, diesels do NOT make financial sense for MOST owners.
While I generally loved my Chevy Duramax-Allison, in the 300,000 miles I put on the truck I went through 3 sets of injectors: the originals, another set that GM paid for, then one I paid $6200 for. The set I paid for lasted 100,000 miles and went out with 299,000 on the odometer which is why I sold it.

Thing one has to realize is many people don't make spending decisions based on which option makes the best financial sense. Which is why most of the US population is broke and will always have to finance their vehicle purchases.

Most HD truck owners would be better of financially by the biggest gas engine available.

We get a lot of vehicles that you do not see in the US. This includes the full range of Japanese, European and " American Style" HD Trucks...They all have a function for specific purposes and the local builders do not rely on subsidies. ...Posted by: Robert Ryan | Aug 13, 2018

@Robert Ryan

forgive me but I probably just misunderstood your point.

That said, Japan, European nations and yes, even the United States very heavily subsidize their auto industries. Look no farther that the huge industry bailouts (Chrysler, GM) and huge loans with special terms & conditions for an example.

What did you mean by " do not rely on subsidies?"

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