When it comes to diesel trucks, there’s a world of difference between the best and the worst. It’s not just about horsepower and torque—though those are key—it’s also about reliability, longevity, and how these beasts handle the hard work we throw at them. In this roundup, we’re ranking diesel pickups from the not-so-great to the absolute best. Take a look and see if you agree.

1982-1993 Chevy & GMC C/K

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After the 5.7L disaster, GM called in Detroit to craft its next diesel. Enter the 6.2L, a behemoth that struggled to muster 130 hp. For a unit its size, that’s laughably low, barely outpacing a modern compact car. Plus, it had a nasty habit of leaking oil from the rear main seal, a fix that’s as fun as it sounds—transmission removal required. Not exactly a highlight in GM’s diesel lineage.

1994-2001 Chevy & GMC

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The 6.5L diesel from Detroit is the butt of many jokes among diesel fans and a nightmare for mechanics. Stuck with indirect injection, it was a laggard in power, managing a meager 180 hp. But it’s not just the lack of grunt that makes it infamous. Mechanical woes abound, with the pump-mounted driver often giving up the ghost first. Not exactly a shining example of diesel excellence.

1978-1981 Chevy & GMC C/K

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The 5.7L diesel was GM’s unfortunate attempt to diesel-ify a gas engine. The result? A disaster. Faulty head bolts and an absurd compression ratio meant cylinder heads could, quite literally, lift off. Sure, a vintage diesel might have a cool factor, but this one’s more trouble than it’s worth. A clear case of “cool” not always being synonymous with “good.”

2014 Dodge Ram 1500

Image Credit: RL GNZLZ from ChileCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel promised luxury and power but delivered headaches. The 3.0L engine is prone to oil cooler failures and leaking exhaust couplers, making for a smelly, fume-filled experience. Towing? Better think twice unless you’re keen on roadside breakdowns. A mixed bag of decent specs marred by reliability issues.

2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke

Image Credit: ©Ford

Ford’s F-150 Power Stroke brought diesel to the light-duty segment but wasn’t without its faults. Hard shifts, grinding noises, and a soft brake pedal have marred its reputation. Despite a respectable towing capacity and torque, these issues can’t be ignored. It’s a case of good on paper, problematic in practice.

2008-2010 Ford F250 & F350

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The 6.4L Powerstroke is a bit of a mixed bag. Impressive on the surface but plagued by poor fuel economy and a finicky emissions system. And if you thought repairs would be simple, think again—the cab needs to come off for most. A potentially powerful beast, but one that’s tamed by its own complexities.

2003-2007 Ford Super Duty

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The 6.0L Powerstroke is a chapter Ford would rather forget. A disaster in reliability, it’s infamous for head gasket failures and a fuel system that could spontaneously combust (figuratively speaking). Repairs often require a cab-off procedure, making for some eye-watering bills. A poster child for “what not to buy” in the diesel world.

2016 Chevrolet Colorado

Image Credit: ©Chevrolet

The 2016 Colorado Duramax offers versatility in a smaller package but doesn’t impress with its performance. Issues like engine misfires and transmission failures overshadow its towing capabilities. Plus, the added weight from the Duramax engine doesn’t do it any favors. A compact option that falls short of expectations.

1983-1987 Ford F250 & F350

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The 6.9L IDI from Ford is a testament to simplicity and durability, despite its age. Known for being nearly indestructible, it does suffer from cold start issues and isn’t the most powerful option out there. But for those valuing reliability over raw power, it’s a solid choice. A classic, bulletproof option for the diesel purist.

1988-1994 Ford F250 & F350

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The 7.3L IDI is another example of Ford’s commitment to reliable, if not overly powerful, diesel engines. Like its predecessor, it’s not without its quirks but offers a solid foundation for those looking to enter the diesel world. A blend of vintage charm and dependability that’s hard to beat.

1991½-1993 Dodge W250

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The early ’90s Dodge W250 with its 5.9L engine combines classic looks with a nearly indestructible heart. Though finding one in good condition might be a challenge, they’re a sought-after piece of diesel history. A bit of a collector’s item, these trucks prove that age is just a number when it comes to quality diesel performance.

2003-2004 Dodge Ram HD

Image Credit: Dana60CumminsCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 2003-2004 Dodge Ram HD stands out in the Cummins lineup, offering a perfect mix of power and reliability. Its 5.9L engine is a towing champ, all while providing a surprisingly comfortable ride. Lacking modern features but not capability, it’s a workhorse that’s stood the test of time. A prime example of Dodge’s diesel prowess.

2012 Chevy Silverado HD

Image Credit: ©Chevrolet

The Silverado HD combines comfort with power, thanks to its Duramax 6.6L engine. It’s a truck that doesn’t just work hard but also makes sure you’re comfortable while doing it. With a variety of trim levels, it caters to a wide range of needs and preferences. A solid choice for those who value both strength and style.

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD

Image Credit: ©GMC

The 2017 Sierra Denali 2500HD is where luxury meets brawn. With its powerful L5P Duramax engine, it’s ready to tackle heavy loads, all while keeping you in the lap of luxury. It’s a testament to GMC’s ability to blend performance with high-end features, making it a top contender for anyone seeking the best in diesel trucks.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD/3500HD

Image Credit: ©Chevrolet

Chevy’s complete overhaul of the Silverado HD for 2020 has paid off. With its powerful Duramax engine and robust chassis, it’s built to handle the heaviest of loads without breaking a sweat. A blend of power, comfort, and capability that sets a new standard for what a heavy-duty truck can be.

2019 Ram 2500

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The 2019 Ram 2500HD redefines the heavy-duty truck segment with its blend of power and luxury. Whether you choose the standard V8 or the Cummins turbo-diesel, you’re guaranteed a truck that’s as comfortable towing heavy loads as it is cruising down the highway. A standout choice for those who demand the best in both performance and comfort.

2018 Ford F-350

Image Credit: ©Ford

The 2018 F-350 is a testament to Ford’s commitment to excellence in the heavy-duty truck market. With its powerful diesel engine and smooth-shifting transmission, it’s a reliable workhorse that’s also a joy to drive. Whether you’re hauling heavy loads or just need a dependable daily driver, the F-350 delivers.

2006-2007 Chevrolet & GMC

Image Credit: order_242 from Chile, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The LBZ Duramax represents a sweet spot in Chevy and GMC’s diesel lineup. With less emissions tech to worry about and solid power, it’s a favorite among diesel enthusiasts. Easy to repair and capable of impressive performance with a few tweaks, it’s a modern classic that’s hard to beat.

1989-1998 Dodge 2500 & 3500

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The 12 Valve Cummins is a legend in the diesel world. Simple, robust, and capable of serious power with the right mods, it’s a favorite for those looking to get the most out of their truck. A testament to Cummins’ engineering prowess, it’s a truck that’s as reliable as it is capable.

1994-2003 Ford F250 & F350

Image Credit: Josh Clark/RideRambler

Okay, okay, let me preface by saying I own one of these bad boys, so I’m a bit biased. But, I can also say that it has been the best vehicle we have ever owned. The 7.3L Powerstroke is, for many, the gold standard of diesel engines. Reliable, powerful, and with a cult following, it’s a truck that can easily surpass 500,000 miles with basic maintenance. Affordable parts and a strong aftermarket support make it a top pick for anyone serious about diesel trucks.

The Complete List Ranked Worst to Best

Image Credit: ©Ford

Need a recap? Here’s a list of diesel trucks with #1 being the best and #20 being the worst:

  1. (BEST) 1994-2003 Ford F250 & F350
  2. 1989-1998 Dodge 2500 & 3500
  3. 2006-2007 Chevrolet & GMC
  4. 2018 Ford F-350
  5. 2019 Ram 2500HD
  6. 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD/3500HD
  7. 2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD
  8. 2012 Chevy Silverado HD
  9. 2003-2004 Dodge Ram HD
  10. 1991½-1993 Dodge W250
  11. 1988-1994 Ford F250 & F350
  12. 1983-1987 Ford F250 & F350
  13. 2016 Chevrolet Colorado
  14. 2003-2007 Ford Super Duty
  15. 2008-2010 Ford F250 & F350
  16. 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke
  17. 2014 Dodge Ram 1500
  18. 1978-1981 Chevy & GMC C/K
  19. 1994-2001 Chevy & GMC
  20. (WORST) 1982-1993 Chevy & GMC C/K

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Author: Abbie Clark

Title: Co-Founder

Expertise: Automotive Industry, Electric Vehicles, DIY Car Repairs


Abbie Clark is a writer, blog, and founder of RideRambler, Hey She Thrives, and The Bearded Bunch.

From clever car cleaning tricks to the freshest car features and reviews, Abbie loves sharing her knowledge on everything automotive. Outside of her time writing for her websites, you’ll find her fishing with her husband, deciphering her toddler’s babbling, or baking up something sweet.

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