Choosing the right fuel type for your fleet can be especially tricky when looking at lighter-duty truck options.
Deciding on a truck involves more than just its features and options. It’s also what’s under the hood: should you go for gasoline or diesel? When making your decision, there are a few factors to consider.
Among half-tons, only Ram 1500 offers a diesel, a 3.0-litre V6. Nissan has a 5.0- litre V8 diesel in its Titan XD, a larger model the company says “bridges the gap” between a half-ton and heavy-duty.
Naturally, diesels are available in all heavy-duty trucks from General Motors, Ford, and Ram. Toyota does not offer a heavy-duty model.
Fuel economy… and economy
There’s no question that diesels get better mileage. According to Natural Resources Canada’s guides, a Ram 1500 4×4 with 5.7-litre engine is rated at a combined 14.1 L/100 km, while the same truck with a diesel gets 10.6 L/100 km. Natural Resources estimates it’s $3,074 to fuel up the 5.7- litre for a year, but only $2,374 to fill the diesel.
However, it can be several thousands to move up to the diesel option, and you’ll need to determine if each truck racks up enough kilometres to even out the price difference. Diesel fuel prices also fluctuate, as fleet managers know all too well. It can drop below the price of gasoline in summer, but in winter, when home heating oil puts pressure on refinery supplies, it can often jump to more than the price of
Diesel fuel prices also fluctuate, as fleet managers know all too well. It can drop below the price of gasoline in summer, but in winter, when home heating oil puts pressure on refinery supplies, it can often jump to more than the price of premium.
The fuel economy gap between the two types of engines is tightening up, as automakers add new technologies to improve the fuel efficiency of their gasoline engines. However, as with all fuel figures, “your mileage may vary” in real-world conditions.
The turbocharged 3.5-litre EcoBoost engine in Ford’s F-150 rates at a very compelling 12.1 L/100 km combined. But as with all small-displacement turbocharged engines, it can get thirsty when it has worked hard, especially when towing or hauling.
Look at transmissions when you’re shopping as well. Auto manufacturers are adding extra gears, which helps to improve fuel economy and driveability. Eight-speed automatics are becoming common, and Ford is bringing out a ten-speed unit.
The extra weight of a diesel engine can have an impact on maximum capacity. While diesels take the capacity crowns in beefedup heavy-duty trucks, there is a difference between the two in a lighter truck.
The Ram Crew Cab 4×4 with gasoline engine has a maximum payload of 1,490 lbs. and towing capacity of 10,080 lbs., but with the diesel engine it drops to 1,250 lbs. payload and 8,340 lbs. maximum towing capacity.
All engines need maintenance, but diesels need a little more. You’ll have to add diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), which can retail for around $10 a litre. Oil changes will also be pricier.
Trucks with diesel particulate filters use a ceramic honeycomb filter to trap soot particles, and when they grab enough of it, they need to be cleaned. The Ram and Titan XD use a process called regeneration, which uses exhaust heat to burn off the soot. In order to get everything hot enough, the system goes into fast idle to ignite more fuel. This can temporarily increase fuel consumption to as much as 30 L/100 km or more. If regeneration isn’t able to get enough soot out of it, the filter will have to be manually cleaned.