I’ve wanted a truck for years, but could never justify the purchase… see, we either lived in town and didn’t really need a truck or once we moved to the farm, the fuel economy of any truck that would be practical for our family, was just not practical for our new long commute to anywhere else we’d need to go. Then Ford announced its F-150 light-duty diesel trucks and I stood up and took notice. And I started dreaming.
In the past 2-3 years every major truck brand has joined the race to produce a fuel-efficient, light-duty diesel truck. I think this speaks to the consumer market for a truck that not only has the fuel economy of most sedans but is also able to haul and tow on a regular basis. See, not all of us need a heavy-duty truck. But a truck that can tow when it needs to? That’s a huge plus for a lot of people, myself included.
So, I’ve been biding my time, and I feel like my turn to own one of these beauties is coming real soon. Let’s take a look at these competing trucks and see what I like, or dislike about them.
2020 Light Duty Diesel Trucks
For this comparison, I’m going to be talking about base models (or the lowest model with the diesel engine available) because it’s easy to determine the starting price and compare features. Once you start adding special packages, you’re comparing different varieties of apples and things become more complicated. I’ll also be seriously considering a base model for my purchase, so I’ve really checked these out to see what I like best about each one.
I’m also including some great video conversations and reviews from my friend, Tim, of Pickup Truck + SUV Talk because we tend to have similar tastes in trucks and Tim is way better at video than I am.
All of these starting prices include the full 4-door cabs, with whichever bed is the shortest. I used the manufacturers’ online build/price tools and the only things I “added” to the models chosen were the diesel engines. The photos may be of more luxurious models, but the info is for base model trucks.
2020 Ram 1500 Eco-Diesel – Tradesman
Hands down, my #1 choice. To me, this is the most comfortable, most spacious of all the light-duty diesel trucks on this list. It also happens to be the most affordable and has the best torque of the three. I’ve driven this truck and completely I completely fell in love with it. I like both the interior and the exterior and I think my only upgrades from the base model that I would need would be 4-wheel drive, bed liner, and a mid-range infotainment system. I don’t need the full 12″ but I’d like to have something decent. If I happen to come across a good deal, I may just upgrade to the Rebel, cause that interior is hawt.
This new 3.0L V-6 Eco-Diesel engine is available on every single 2020 Ram 1500 truck, and some of the 2019 models as well. This means you can get anything from a Tradesman, to a Rebel or a Longhorn with this amazing fuel economy and power.
2020 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel – XLT
The first in the race, and a really great choice. I do love the F-150, but when considering the XLT model, the interior just is not as rugged feeling as the others and I worry about how it would hold up to my very active family. It’s also the most expensive of the three options. That said, it’s not out of the running for us! We’ve driven this truck (tho not the base model) and we were really impressed with not only the fuel economy but also the comfort, power, and practicality of this truck. Ford makes work trucks and it’s easy to see that everything you’d need in a truck has been thought of and included.
One downside? The diesel engine is not an option on Ford’s base model truck. You have to start with the XLT model. Yes, it’s a little nicer than the XT, but it also costs a bit more.
2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 Diesel – LT
While the Silverado 1500 Diesel boasts the best fuel economy, I’m really not a fan of the exterior design of this truck. The Duramax engine is a bit of a temptation tho. We all know their reputation for good engines and having that name on the package lends it some credibility in this race. It also boasts the most horsepower in the segment, so if you like the exterior, this may be the truck for you!
And while Tim’s video is about the GMC Sierra Diesel, we all know it’s pretty much the same thing as the Silverado…
Chevy too has opted not to offer their light-duty diesel engine on their base model truck. You’ll have to step up to the LT model for this option.
Are There Any Other Full-Size Light Duty Diesel Trucks I’ve Missed?
I don’t think so unless we’re talking about the GMC Sierra vs the Chevy Silverado but hey, I’m open to suggestions!
I was really sad to see Nissan discontinue the Cummins diesel engine offering on their XD truck. Even tho it wasn’t technically a light-duty truck, and certainly wasn’t fuel-efficient, the Nissan XD wasn’t exactly heavy-duty either… it was a great middle-of-the-road truck that I think helped to fill a gap for some consumers.