Diesel v. Gas: Which Type of Engine is Better for Your Needs?

June 12th, 2016 by


When making business purchases, especially large ones, money is always a big factor in decision-making. So when shopping around for a commercial truck or van for your business, there is a big question that needs to be answered before a purchase can be made. Would a gas- or diesel-powered engine be best for your needs? What is the cost and performance difference between both? Diesel engines generally have a more expensive price tag, so is it worth it to go diesel

Before making a decision, consider these three factors and which are most important for your business. 

Initial Cost

If we take the 2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Quad Cab 4X4 into consideration as another example, the cost of gasoline isn’t the only change a business owner will witness. If one were to purchase the Laramie with the standard 3.6-Liter V6 24-Valve VVT engine, the MSRP starts at $39,655. Switching out the standard engine for the 3.0-Liter V6 EcoDiesel option will increase the price by $4,270.

This is where a business owner really needs to think about how their truck(s) will be used. How much are they willing to invest, in the short-term and the long-term? Can an additional $4,000 to upgrade to diesel be justifiable to the business for what the truck will provide?

Fuel Economy

Aside from buying a vehicle, one of the largest expenses associated with a truck is going to be fuel cost, so fuel efficiency is an important factor and diesel and gas engines have better fuel economies depending on where they are driven. When it comes to highway driving, diesel-powered trucks have been known to have a higher highway MPG because they don’t work as hard while on long stretches of road. Diesel-powered vehicles have been the top pick for work trucks due to a diesel engine’s low-end acceleration, and ability to build up a large amount of torque from a low speed.

However, in the city, diesel engines have lower fuel economies, so a gas engine might be better if the vehicle will be traveling in the city.  Additionally, in recent years, fuel economies in gas-powered engines have been steadily improving, so if you have a particular type of vehicle in mind, do some research and compare the exact numbers. 

For instance, the Ram 1500 HFE is a diesel-powered truck and it has a starting MSRP of $37,685. As the industry’s most fuel efficient diesel-powered truck, it has a fuel economy of 21 MPG city and 29 MPG highway. The Ram 1500 Tradesman comes standard with a gas-powered engine and it has a starting price of $26,145 and a fuel economy of 17 MPG city and 25 MPG highway.

For a truck driving 15,000 miles per year if 75% of that driving is done on the highway and with gas and diesel priced at $3.00, the annual fuel savings for the diesel truck will be around $243 per year and 1,213 over five years. However, if the cost of gas were to rise to $3.50 and diesel were to stay at $3.00, the truck would save you $2,831 over 5 years.


Diesel-powered trucks have been heralded for their ability to out-tow gas-powered trucks for years. If the truck is being used mainly for towing, then diesel is the way to go. Diesel engines have been designed to provide low-end torque which certainly comes in handy when towing heavy objects. On this occasion, diesel wins.

But what if towing doesn’t make up a majority of the job? Let’s say most of the cargo can fit in the truck bed and payload is the main figure we’re looking at? Then, the diesel will cost more to buy and isn’t necessarily an extra needed cost. 

These are the main variables we’re looking at today, but a little research shows there are many factors to take into account when purchasing a truck and deciding on the type of fuel to use. Will the truck be used for towing or will it be transporting cargo less than the maximum payload? Where will the truck spend most of its time, on the highway or in the city? How much will the overall cost affect business, and is it worth the additional expense? A business owner, or even the average truck driver needs to take these questions into consideration when investing in a new truck. And, what in the heck will happen to the cost of gas and diesel fuel in the future? Will one go sky high as it has in the past? A difference of a $1 per gallon of fuel is huge in the course of a year.

We want to hear what you think on this little debate. You can tell us on our social media pages, such as Twitter or Facebook.

Photo source: Shutterstock / Carolyn Franks
Posted in News, Ram