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  • 2018 Diesel Truck and Van Buyer’s Guide

2018 Diesel Truck and Van Buyer’s Guide

More Capability and More Luxury

Austin Lott
Oct 30, 2017
Photographers: Courtesy of Manufacturers
We expected to see some big numbers from fullsize diesel pickups in 2018, and we were certainly not disappointed by any of the Big Three’s offerings. We are surprised, however, to see how many truckmakers doubled down on the luxury content in their most capable pickups.
If you’re in the market for a truck that can tow nearly anything imaginable while providing the appointments of a high-comfort sedan, then 2018 is your year. Or, if a rig that’s suitable for a bit of fun off-road is what you want—or just something utilitarian that can be used to get muddy and haul your auto parts, house-project supplies, or most any other payload—we detail those in this report, too.
Whatever you do, get out and drive something, because a diesel’s torque is far more fun to feel than read about.

Ford

Super Duty F-250/F-350/F-450
After a year of significant changes, Ford isn’t content to rest on its laurels and introduces the ’18 Super Duty Limited line. Think Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum, except more. The mechanical bits are what you’ve come to expect from Super Duty, but inside it gets special: two-tone Camelback leather seats; a leather-wrapped steering wheel, armrests, and instrument panel; Miko suede headliner; dark ash wood trim; and unique badging. Outside, a satin-and-chrome grille, quad-beam headlights, and a satin-finish tailgate logo hint at the luxurious interior. Starting prices for the new trim (including destination and four-wheel drive) are $80,835 for F-250, $82,010 for F-350, and $87,100 for a new F-450. Prices top out at $94,455 for customers who want every conceivable option.
Photo 2/34   |   Nearly $100,000 worth of pickup might make some folks gasp, but for a serious rancher, that price might be the cheapest part of the operation.
Photo 3/34   |   Buyers Guide 18fordsuperduty Limited Front Driver Side Motion
Photo 4/34   |   Leather everywhere.
Super Duty sports a 6.7L Power Stroke V-8 engine that produces 440 hp and 925 lb-ft of torque, paired exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission. The important haul numbers made possible by that mountain of torque are as follows: 7,630 pounds of payload, 32,500 pounds of towing capacity with a gooseneck trailer, 27,500 pounds with a fifth-wheel, or 21,000 pounds with a conventional trailer.
Photo 5/34   |   The ’18 Ford F-450 Super Duty holds a corner on the gooseneck market. If you have the trailer and a commercial driver’s license, this rig pulls 32,500 pounds of whatever you throw on it.
Pricing for the ’18 Super Duty, aside from the new trim, isn’t expected to change significantly from last year. With the optional Power Stroke diesel, an F-250 starts at $42,325, an F-350 at $43,495, and an F-450 at $55,140.
Transit
Ford’s entry into the commercial-van segment continues to build a reputation for being a strong seller and receives a handful of small additions for 2018. Optional interior equipment includes Bluetooth support for the audio package, D-pillar assist handles, a heavy-duty cargo floor, and a manual parking brake. Exterior options now include extended-length running boards, short-arm power-folding rearview mirrors, and a forged-alloy dual-rear-wheel package. Standard equipment now includes a rearview camera for medium- and high-roof vans, a rear cargo-door exit handle, rear LED lamp switch, high-strength laminated glass (cargo models with sliding door), locking glovebox, rear cargo-door lock cylinder, and both passenger and cargo variants get exposed front lug nuts.
Photo 6/34   |   Buyers Guide 18 Ford Transit Passenger Wagon Front Driver Side Motion
The changes make working with the ’18 Transit even easier and will be most noticeable for those who spend large amounts of time in them. The Transit can be equipped with several engines, but the 3.5L Power Stroke I-5 diesel is easily the best choice, with 185 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque on tap at just 1,500 rpm. The van boasts up to 487.3 cubic feet of cargo space and can haul 4,300 pounds of payload or tow 7,500 pounds of conventional trailer. Passenger Wagon variants are available in configurations with seating between 8 and 15 passengers. Pricing for the ’18 Transit starts at $37,675 when optioned with the diesel.
Photo 7/34   |   Buyers Guide 18 Ford Transit Cargo Van Interior

General Motors

Chevrolet Colorado /GMC Canyon
The midsize duo from General Motors, Chevrolet’s Colorado and the GMC Canyon, continue on for 2018 with a few new options, colors, and a new trim level for the Chevy. The new Colorado ZR2 is the factory off-road trim we hoped for, with some serious upgrades to suspension and running gear, including a 3.5-inch-wider track, 2-inch lift, front and rear electronic locking differentials, a unique grille and hood, and Multimatic DSSV dampers. The shocks help make the ZR2 feel at home doing high-speed whoops, crawling along rocky trails, or commuting. Whether you like desert running or exploring trails, the 2.8L Duramax LWN I-4 should be your engine of choice: 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, 5,000 pounds of towing capacity, and 1,100 pounds of payload capacity. Standard pickups without the off-road bits can pull 7,700 pounds in rear-wheel-drive models and 7,600 with four-wheel drive, with a maximum payload of 1,605 pounds (rear-wheel drive, crew cab, shortbox). The remainder of the changes are tame by comparison, which include addition of the Active Tow feature that keeps the truck aligned with the trailer when backing, optional heated outside mirrors, leather seating on GMC’s All Terrain model, a washer-fluid-level sensor, and two new exterior colors: Satin Steel Gray Metallic and Kinetic Blue. The ’18 ZR2 starts at $40,995. But, if you’re looking for lower cost, Colorado models start at $36,495 and Canyon models at $37,500.
Photo 8/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Chevrolet Colorado Zr2 Front Driver Side Motion
Photo 9/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Chevrolet Colorado Zr2 Rear Driver Side Motion
Photo 10/34   |   The ’18 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is the real deal when it comes to factory-built, off-road special editions, and we’re super excited that it can be paired with the 2.8L Duramax LWN diesel engine.
Photo 11/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Gmc Canyon Front Passenger Side Static
Photo 12/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Gmc Canyon Rear Drive Side Static
Photo 13/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Gmc Canyon Front Passenger Side Motion
Chevrolet Silverado /GMC Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD
In 2017, General Motors treated us to a new heavy-duty truck and a capable new engine, the Duramax L5P. The 6.6L turbodiesel V-8 makes 445 hp at 2,800 rpm and 910 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm! Of course, you’ll be wondering what kind of work you can do: maximum payload is 5,518 pounds, conventional towing is 20,000 pounds, and fifth-wheel/gooseneck is 23,300 pounds for a 3500HD with dual rear wheels. The 2500HD sports some capable numbers, too, with a maximum payload of 3,204 pounds, a maximum conventional towing capacity of 14,500 pounds, and a fifth-wheel/gooseneck rating of 18,100 pounds. Changes for the Silverado and Sierra models include new grille designs for several (Denali, High Country, and Z71), a fill alert for the tire pressure monitoring system, standard rearview camera for models with a cargo box, a standard MyLink 7-inch radio on base models, and three new colors for crew-cab models: Deep Mahogany Metallic, Red Quartz Tintcoat, and White Frost Tricoat. Pricing for the ’18 Silverado 2500HD starts at $44,260 and $44,130 for the 3500HD. GMC prices are close, with 2500HD models starting at $44,840 and 3500HDs at $44,450.
Photo 14/34   |   Chevrolet’s ’18 Silverado 3500HD stays below the 26,001-pound GVWR cutoff that draws the line between not needing a commercial driver’s license to pull a heavy trailer, and getting a fine if you don’t have the proper credentials.
Photo 15/34   |   Buyers Guide 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 3500hd Front Passenger Side Motion Towing
Photo 16/34   |   Buyers Guide 2017 Gmc Sierra Denali 3500hd Towing
Photo 17/34   |   Buyers Guide 2017 Gmc Sierra Denali 2500 Interior
Photo 18/34   |   Buyers Guide 2017 Gmc Sierra 2500hd Allterrain X Front Passenger Side Static
Photo 19/34   |   The big question about GM’s 6.6L Duramax L5P engine is: How much power is being held back? Only time, and the aftermarket, will tell!
Chevrolet Express /GMC Savana
The Chevrolet Express and its GMC Savana twin are somewhat iconic in the van segment, with staying power that is due in part to their familiarity with business operators and upfitters alike. The ’18 Express/Savana line isn’t expected to change much, but the duo got a significant change last year when the 6.6L Duramax V-8 was replaced with the 2.8L Duramax LWN I-4 engine of Colorado and Canyon pickups. The small turbodiesel makes 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, giving the van a maximum payload of 3,269 pounds and a 7,000-pound conventional trailer-towing capacity. Pricing for the ’18 Chevrolet Express starts at $36,160.
Photo 20/34   |   Buyers Guide 2014 Chevrolet Express Passenger Side Static
Photo 21/34   |   Buyers Guide 2016 Gmc Savana Rear Driver Side Static

Mercedes-Benz/Freightliner

Sprinter
The van that energized the stagnant segment appears to be in for a quiet year in the way of changes, but not for news. A new Sprinter is on the horizon and is slated to be announced in the first six months of 2018. On the docket for the next generation are more technology, more variants, and the same dependability that helped make Sprinter a central piece of the commercial-van segment. The current Sprinter is available in a wide range of styles and configurations, with three lengths, three roof heights, and several payload options. Maximum towing capacity is 7,500 pounds, and top payload is 5,496 pounds, which is available on the Sprinter 3500 with a GVWR of 11,030 pounds. If you prefer to save a few thousand dollars at the expense of a little capability, the 3500 with 4,456 pounds of payload capacity and the same towing ability rings in with a 9,990-pound GVWR. Buyers have a single choice for 2018: the 3.0L turbodiesel V-6 engine that makes 188 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque at 1,400 rpm.
Photo 22/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Mercedes Sprinter Sketch
Photo 23/34   |   After Germany, the U.S. is Mercedes-Benz’s biggest van market, thanks in no small part to the success of the Sprinter.
Photo 24/34   |   Buyers Guide Mercedes Sprinter Rear Driver Side Motion
Pricing isn’t expected to change much from 2017, which started at $33,490.

Nissan

Titan XD
Nissan has finished rolling out all three planned body styles for the Titan XD line, rounding things out with a King Cab that offers seating for six, wide-opening rear doors that promise easy ingress/egress, and a rear-seat-delete option ideal for commercial customers. With three body styles and a powerful 5.0L Cummins turbodiesel V-8 engine, the Titan XD now covers a wide swath of the ’tweener truck market, for those who want the capability and performance of a diesel but don’t want to step up to a ¾- or 1-ton truck. The Standard Cab model boasts headline towing capacity of 12,640 pounds, which splits the difference between its 3.0L V-6–powered EcoDiesel competitor and the various heavy-duty trucks.
Photo 25/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Nissan Titanxd Interior
Photo 26/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Nissan Titanxd Front Passenger Side Static
With rollout of the Titan XD complete, Nissan introduces a new package for the 2018 model year: the Midnight Edition. The special-edition trim is available on nine different Nissan models, and on Titan XD, a majority of the chrome exterior components now wear a dark alternative. Inside, there’s charcoal trim and unique floor mats. The Midnight Edition is only available on diesel-powered crew cab SV and SL Titan XDs with four-wheel drive. The cost for this option will represent a 50 percent savings over purchasing each option individually.
Photo 27/34   |   Buyers Guide 2017 Nissan Titan King Cab Passenger Side Static
Photo 28/34   |   Anyone who remembers getting into the back of a pickup in the late 90s should be celebrating.
Pricing for the ’18 Nissan Titan XD is not confirmed, but it is not expected to differ much from 2017, with regular cab models starting at $37,140.

Ram Trucks

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
The ’18 Ram 1500 gets a number of small changes, but it keeps all of the things we like, including the 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 engine. Additions include the luxurious Limited Tungsten Edition, an appearance upgrade for the Sport model, more tablet-like functionality for the 8.4-inch radio, a remote switch for LED bed lights, standard backup camera on all models, and a Fleet Telematics Module. The 3.0L turbodiesel V-6 was slapped with a lawsuit that threatened FCA’s ability to sell it, but that litigation has since been resolved, allowing the automaker to continue selling the popular engine.
Photo 29/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Southfork Front Driver Static
Photo 30/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Southfork Interior
Photo 31/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel Front Driver Towing Motion
Photo 32/34   |   New for the ’18 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is a range-topping luxury trim that’s as sumptuous as the truck is capable.
Pricing is not confirmed for the ’18 Ram 1500 with the EcoDiesel V-6. However, buyers could get into a longbed Tradesman starting at $32,110 in 2017.
Photo 33/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Ram 1500 Limited Tungsten Front Driver Static
Photo 34/34   |   Buyers Guide 2018 Ram 1500 Limited Tungsten Rear Driver Static
Ram 2500/3500
The ’18 Ram Heavy Duty trucks get several improvements, including one in the spirit of “class-leading” with a move to one-up Ford: Ram 3500 models can be equipped with a 6.7L Cummins I-6 that produces an impressive 385 hp and 930 lb-ft of torque at 1,700 rpm. All that power makes quite a bit of towing possible: 31,210 pounds with a gooseneck trailer, 30,000 with a fifth-wheel, and 20,000 with a conventional trailer. The rest of the changes include four new special-edition models and many helpful changes. The Laramie Longhorn Southfork Edition pairs an upscale interior treatment with unique exterior badging. The unique Heavy Duty Lone Star Silver Edition is only available in Texas, offering more luxury and a long list of personalization options. Also introduced is the Limited Tungsten Edition, which sports a “more luxury” theme and a handful of usability upgrades for the 8.4-inch infotainment system. Rounding out the special editions is the Harvest Edition, which has standard features that cater to the agriculture-minded buyers of Ram trucks, including on-/off-road tires, tubular side steps, mudflaps, rubber floor mats, a foldout corner step, and a cargo-view camera. The neatest feature is the addition of two new colors: Case IH Red and New Holland Blue, which perfectly match the farm equipment with which they share names. Backup cameras are now standard on all models, a Fleet Telematics Module is now available, and an in-bed switch has been added to activate the LED bed lights. Pricing for ’18 Ram heavy-duty pickups starts at $43,140 for a 2500 and $44,240 for a 3500.
ProMaster
Ram ProMaster remains essentially unchanged for 2018, which we don’t mind, as you shouldn’t try to fix something that’s working quite well. Additions to standard equipment include Uconnect 5.0 (while making navigation optional), integrated voice commands with Bluetooth and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, and a backup camera or backup camera kit for chassis-cab/cutaway models. Right and left sliding doors now feature a window grate, with fixed glass as an option. The only front-wheel-drive fullsize van in the segment is still powered by a 3.0L EcoDiesel I-4 engine that makes 174 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Maximum payload is 4,116 pounds with the high-roof long-wheelbase ProMaster 3500, which also boasts 5,100 pounds of trailer towing capacity. Prices for the ’18 Ram ProMaster are not announced, but they started at $37,070 for a van with the diesel in 2017.

Who’s Buying These Nearly–$100,000 Pickups?

When base pickup truck prices start at around $40,000 (not exactly cheap) and soar to an astronomical $94,455, we have to ask ourselves: Who are the people spending six figures on a pickup? The answer is not people who tow or haul all day every day. Those folks would just get a tractor. But we believe those people whose business requires them to tow serious loads on a semi-regular basis are folks who are apt to make the big purchase. Think the rancher who has to transport his most profitable bulls, or a farmer or oil-field worker who might have to pull or move heavy equipment. These are the same people we imagine wouldn’t be caught dead in a luxury sedan but don’t mind a leather-wrapped interior and heated everything. With nearly every automaker represented in this guide rolling out even more luxurious models each year, the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down, either.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Ford
Engine: 6.7L Power Stroke
Displacement: 6.7L (406 ci)
Configuration: V-8
Power: 440 hp at 2,800 rpm
Torque: 925 lb-ft at 1,800 rpm
Turbocharging: Single variable-geometry turbocharger
Bore x stroke: 3.90 x 4.25 inches
Compression Ratio: 16.2:1
Valvetrain: OHV, 32 valves
Head Material: Aluminum alloy
Block Material: Compacted-graphite iron
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Engine: 3.2L Power Stroke
Displacement: 3.2L (195 ci)
Configuration: I-5
Power: 185 hp at 3,000 rpm
Torque: 350 lb-ft at 1,500 to 2,750 rpm
Turbocharging: Single variable-geometry turbocharger
Bore x stroke: 3.54 x 3.96 inches
Compression ratio: 15.7:1
Valvetrain: DOHC, 20 valves
Head Material: Aluminum alloy
Block Material: Cast iron
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
General Motors
Engine: Duramax L5P
Displacement: 6.6L (403 ci)
Configuration: V-8
Power: 445 hp at 2,800 rpm
Torque: 910 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm
Turbocharging: Singe variable-geometry turbocharger
Bore x stroke: 4.05 x 3.89 inches
Compression ratio: 16.0:1
Valvetrain: OHV, 32 valves
Head Material: Cast aluminum
Block Material: Cast iron
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Engine: Duramax LWN
Displacement: 2.8L (170 ci)
Configuration: I-4
Power: 181 hp at 3,400 rpm
Torque: 369 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm
Turbocharging: Single variable-geometry turbocharger
Bore x stroke: 3.70 x 3.94 inches
Compression ratio: 16.5:1
Valvetrain: DOHC, 16 valves
Head material: Aluminum alloy
Block material: Cast iron
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Mercedes-Benz
Engine: Mercedes-Benz OM642
Displacement: 3.0L (182 ci)
Configuration: V-6
Power: 188 hp at 3,800 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft at 1,400 to 2,400
Turbocharging: Single variable-geometry turbocharger
Bore x stroke: 3.27 x 3.62 inches
Compression Ratio: 18.0:1
Valvetrain: DOHC, 24 valves
Head Material: Aluminum alloy
Block Material: Aluminum alloy with compacted-graphite-iron sleeves
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Nissan
Engine: Cummins 5.0L
Displacement: 5.0L (305 ci)
Configuration: V-8
Power: 310 hp at 3,200 rpm
Torque: 555 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm
Turbocharging: Two sequential turbochargers
Bore x stroke: 3.70 x 3.54 inches
Compression Ratio: 16.3:1
Valvetrain: DOHC, 32 valves
Head material: Aluminum alloy
Block material: Compacted-graphite iron
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Ram Trucks
Engine: Cummins B-Series
Displacement: 6.7L (408 ci)
Configuration: I-6
Power: 385 hp at 2,800 rpm (AS69RC six-speed automatic transmission, 3500 only)
Torque: 930 lb-ft at 1,700 rpm (AS69RC six-speed automatic transmission, 3500 only)
Power: 370 hp at 2,800 rpm (68RFE six-speed automatic transmission)
Torque: 800 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm (68RFE six-speed automatic transmission)
Power: 350 hp at 2,800 rpm (G56 six-speed manual transmission)
Torque: 660 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm (G56 six-speed manual transmission)
Turbocharging: Single variable-geometry turbocharger
Bore x stroke: 4.21 x 4.88 inches
Compression ratio: 16.2:1
Valvetrain: OHV, 24 valves
Head Material: Cast iron
Block Material: Cast iron
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
Engine: Ram EcoDiesel V-6
Displacement: 3.0L (182 ci)
Configuration: V-6
Power: 240 hp at 3,600 rpm
Torque: 420 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm
Turbocharging: Single variable-geometry turbocharger
Bore x stroke: 3.27 x 3.60 inches
Compression ratio: 16.5:1
Valvetrain: DOHC, 24 valves
Head Material: Aluminum alloy
Block Material: Compacted-graphite iron
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Engine: Ram EcoDiesel
Displacement: 3.0L (183 ci)
Configuration: I-4
Power: 174 hp at 3,600 rpm
Torque: 295 lb-ft at 1,400 rpm
Turbocharging: Single variable-geometry turbocharger
Bore x stroke: 3.78 x 4.09 inches
Compression ratio: 17.5:1
Valvetrain: DOHC, 16 valves
Head Material: Aluminum alloy
Block Material: Cast Iron
Transmission: Six-speed automated-manual

Sources

Mercedes-Benz
Montvale, NJ 07645
800-367-6372
www.mbusa.com
Chevrolet
Detroit, MI 48323
www.chevrolet.com
Ram Trucks
Aubum Hills, MI 48321
800-726-4636
www.ramtrucks.com
Ford
N/A, MI
www.ford.com
GMC
888-988-7267
http://www.gmc.com

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