Considering a Diesel Pickup? Here Are Costs to Ponder

Chevrolet pickup truck diesel engines

Not that long ago, if you wanted a diesel engine in your pickup truck you had to opt for a heavy-duty model, meaning a three-quarter-ton single-rear wheel or one-ton dually. Now, many truckmakers offer a diesel engine option in each of the four classes of pickups: mid-size, half ton, three-quarter ton and one ton.

But how much does it cost to go diesel? The big expenses are the price of the diesel engine, diesel fuel and diesel exhaust fluid. There are other costs to consider, as well, as often the diesel engine requires buyers to purchase other packages and options.

On Sept. 6, the national average price for diesel was $3.18 compared to $2.86 for regular unleaded gasoline, according to AAA. Looking at EPA fuel-economy estimates, a two-wheel-drive diesel Chevrolet Colorado’s combined city/highway fuel economy is 3 mpg better than the gasoline engine: 25 mpg for the diesel 2.8-liter inline four-cylinder versus 22 mpg for the gas 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder. On its site, the EPA estimates the cost to drive 25 miles, and it’s the exact same for both trucks: $3.22. As a result, the annual fuel cost is calculated to be the same: $1,950. Using EPA assumptions, only in high mileage highway applications will diesel owners eventually recoup their costs on their initial investment.

For some, buying a diesel pickup is all about the increased towing capability, while others appreciate the increased fuel economy benefits. For example, a properly equipped Ford Super Duty diesel has a maximum tow rating of 34,500 pounds. And when compared with their V-8 or V-10 counterparts, diesels offer better fuel economy under heavy trailering or max payload.

Whether you’re looking for a large or small pickup from Chevrolet, Nissan or Ford, here’s what you need to know about the additional costs related to ordering a diesel pickup:

Chevrolet Colorado diesel vs gas
  • 2019 Chevrolet Colorado LT: The 2.8-liter inline-four-cylinder diesel requires a crew cab, which is more expensive than an extended cab. It also requires an automatic locking rear differential ($325), the Trailering Package ($250), the LT Convenience Package ($750) and the Safety Package ($690) for a total of $6,980 in options. The engine improves max towing to 7,700 pounds in two-wheel-drive versions and 7,600 pounds in four-wheel-drive versions. It’s also the only way to get an integrated trailer brake controller.
  • 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500: The turbo-diesel 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder will be available in early 2019.
  • 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty: The $9,395 turbo-diesel 6.6-liter V-8 requires crew-cab models and comes with a six-speed Allison transmission.
  • 2018 Ford F-150: The Lariat is the lowest trim in which one can get the turbo-diesel 3.0-liter V-6 at a starting price of $46,510, including destination. That’s $4,000 more than the Lariat with the standard 2.7-liter EcoBoost gas engine. The diesel adds $3,000 to the cost of the King Ranch and Platinum trims. The diesel includes a different transmission, but it’s included in the upgrade price.
2018 Ford F-350 engine
  • 2019 Ford Super Duty:The turbo-diesel 6.7-liter V-8 costs $9,120 on all configurations except the Limited in which it is the standard engine.
  • 2018 GMC Canyon SLE: The 2.8-liter inline-four-cylinder diesel requires a crew cab, automatic locking rear differential ($325), the Trailering Package ($250), the SLE Convenience Package ($575) and Driver Alert Package ($395) for a total of $6,510 in options. Like the Colorado, it’s the only way to get the trailer brake controller from the factory and improves towing to 7,700 pounds with 2WD or 7,600 pounds with 4WD.
  • 2019 GMC Sierra 1500: Just like the Silverado 1500, the turbo-diesel 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder should be available in early 2019.
  • 2019 GMC Sierra HD: The $9,395 turbo-diesel 6.6-liter V-8 requires crew-cab models and comes with a six-speed Allison transmission.
  • 2018 Nissan Titan XD:The diesel 5.0-liter V-8 is available on all trims of the heavier-duty Titan XD. Upgrading to diesel costs between $5,000 and $6,000 depending on trim, with the jump on a regular-cab S trim 2WD set at $5,550; it costs less for the King-Cab Pro-4X at $5,050.
  • 2019 Ram 1500: The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 is not yet available.
  • 2018 Ram 1500: The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 is a $4,495 option on entire lineup.
  • 2018 Ram Heavy Duty:The turbo-diesel 6.7-liter inline-six-cylinder is an $8,800 to $9,300 upgrade. On some trims it includes either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission for the same price.
Diesel engine
2018 Ram 3500 diesel engine
Diesel engine
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Former Editor Mark Williams lives in Southern California with his wife and enjoys camping, hiking, skiing, big trucks and towing, and backcountry 4x4 driving. Email Mark Williams

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