Six years ago, the debate on which one was better to own, gas or diesel, was a moot point. Truck buyers before the turn of the millennium could not have cared less about diesels unless a fifth wheel was involved or farming purposes required a heavy hauler. Overtly loud rigs, horrible emissions, and poor fuel economy hampered previous diesels; however, with new diesel technology better than ever-and just scratching the surface of its potential-truck buyers have a valid choice between engine and drivetrain setups. Problem is, depending on whom you talk to, the choice isn't completely black and white. We're going to try our best to make it that way with this in-depth look inside the basics of gas versus diesel.
First things first: There are several key factors to seriously think about before signing on the dotted line. Gas engine technology is also on the rise with Displacement on Demand, throttle-by-wire, and hybrids being developed and employed in Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, and Dodge trucks alike. Despite all of these advancements, the core of any manufacturer's truck line is the general-purpose, tow-and-haul heavy-duty line that typically doesn't incorporate many of these technologies because of the lack of demands from the EPA for gas mileage statements. With the absence of pressure to create high fuel mileage numbers for consumers, manufacturers can focus on the numbers that do count to these buyers: horsepower, torque, and towing capacity.
Another key factor is examining the current price of fuel from coast to coast. Diesel costs have not seen a plateau, like that seen with gasoline, since the horrible hurricane disasters. Currently, diesel prices are a full $.94 more a gallon than they were only a year ago. One big reason for this rise in diesel price and decline in gasoline price is the seasonal change. Distillate fuels used for heating are very similar in makeup to diesel fuels that are used on the highway and with temperatures dropping, costs are rising. Simple economics? Not really, because even if the supply is close to meeting the demand like the current gasoline trend, diesel, with its industrial uses, may not see a dip in prices. Making matters even worse for those of you in the colder climates, diesel prices are oftentimes a full $1.30 more a gallon than premium gasoline during this time of the year.
One of the most important factors to take into consideration is truck usage. If towing your toys and hobbies is an every weekend affair and your particular trailer is in excess of 9,000 pounds, then a diesel may very well suit your needs; however, if a short stint every once in a while is typical, a gas-powered truck could very well meet your needs.
Looking at the pros and cons of each application leaves only dust to settle because this issue truly is closed. This comparison is based on 3/4-Ton Crew Cab 2WD trucks with the largest available small-block V-8 gas-powered engine (excluding the GM 8.1L) and the same configuration with the available diesel engine with automatic transmissions.