Why I Love Diesel-Powered Trucks – The Driver’s Seat Editorial
If you've been reading this magazine for the past few months, you might know a bit about my history before Truck Trend. In a past life, I worked for our sister publication, Diesel Power as a feature editor. We dove very deep into the world of diesel performance, exploring ultra-high-horsepower builds, drag racing, and sled pulling. It really is a fun scene, filled with great camaraderie and friendly rivalries. However, during my time covering 1,000hp 3/4-ton trucks, an interesting thing was happening in the background: light-duty diesels began infiltrating dealer lots in vast numbers.
We have entered a time now where the new, and used, truck and SUV buyer is faced with a question when looking to purchase a vehicle that, until now, hasn't been much of an issue: gas or diesel? While the American and Japanese auto manufactures have been slow on the diesel uptake, nearly all European brands offer small-displacement diesel-powered cars and SUVs. Ram and Jeep are leading the charge for the U.S. brands with the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel models, and Nissan is soon to join the fight with a Cummins-powered Titan. On the fullsize utility van front, Ram offers a 3.0L EcoDiesel in the ProMaster, Ford has a 3.2L PowerStroke diesel engine in the Transit, and Mercedes offers up the Sprinter with both a four and six-cylinder mills. This is just the beginning; we're poised to see these offerings potentially double in the coming years.
Later in this issue, we take a look at the merits of both gasoline and diesel fuel and even go as far as to compare SUV, 1/2-ton, and 3/4-ton offerings available with both types of engine. Hopefully, we'll shed some light on the subject, helping you to make the most informed buying decision possible, doing so with as little bias as we can. With that said, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I love diesel.
Diesel as a fuel is great. When compared side-by-side with gasoline, it's less volatile, which makes storing and transporting it safer; diesel has a less repulsive smell, to me at least; it's a more energy-dense fuel, providing the ability for improved fuel economy and power over gasoline; and at times (and depending on what state you live in—sorry, California), is less expensive than regular unleaded. Even beyond that, there's just something primal about a good compression-ignition engine that makes you feel manlier—sorry, ladies.
The '80s can be considered the beginning of the modern diesel era in the U.S. Sure, they were clattery, smoky, and didn't make much power, but advancements such as direct-injection and turbocharging would lay the ground work for the much more powerful and refined engines that we find in vehicles now. Today's diesels are so incredibly smooth and quiet that the only time you'll know it's not a gas engine is at the pump. It's truly impressive how far technology has come in effectively just 30 years.
For me, diesels of the '80s are still cool. In fact, I own one of the more rare models, an 1985 Ford Ranger equipped with the factory 2.3L four-cylinder turbodiesel engine. After driving around in all the new oil-burners on the market, it's a bit refreshing for this truck-nut to jump in the old Ranger and take a shaky, smoky trip around the block. Makes me feel whole inside.
I love diesel. It doesn't matter if it's an old diesel truck or brand-new SUV. If you ever have the opportunity to test drive one, give it a shot; I promise you won't be disappointed.