Skip to main content

Diesel engines provide added longevity, efficiency and torque that can pay dividends when it comes to workhorse duties. Electrification is creeping its way into the half-ton truck market, but diesel powertrains remain a mainstay.

The 2024 GMC Sierra off-roading over rocky terrain
2024 GMC Sierra 1500 | GMC

Still, buyers seeking a diesel pickup aren’t exactly spoiled for choice. Ford discontinued its Power Stroke diesel for the F-150. The Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan (in non-heavy-duty form) haven’t offered a diesel engine, at least in the U.S.

As such, the 2023-24 Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Ram 1500 are the only new half-ton pickups available with a diesel engine. One of them — the Sierra — holds the title for both the least and most efficient new half-ton diesel truck.

The Sierra diesel shows specs, and subsequently trim levels, matter in how many miles you can expect out of each gallon.

The 2023 2WD Sierra fitted with GM’s 3.0-liter, six-cylinder turbo diesel is the most efficient of the group. The Duramax engine develops 305 horsepower and 495 lb.-ft. of torque. The setup offers five fewer horsepower but 65 more pound-feet of torque compared to the Silverado’s base, a 2.7-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine.

The Duramax pairs with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The midrange SLE trim with 2WD in Double Cab/standard configuration is the most efficient Sierra with the Duramax engine. The EPA notes this model will achieve 26 combined mpg (23 city, 29 highway), making it the most efficient 2023-24 half-ton diesel pickup.

The 2023 Sierra SLE with the optional Duramax engine starts at $57,735 MSRP. Those looking to save some coin can get a similar setup for less in the Silverado, however. A 2024 Silverado LT with the Duramax with a double cab and standard bed starts at $52,210.

Simultaneously, the Sierra is also the least efficient new diesel full-size pickup.

In A4TX trim, which comes standard with the Duramax engine and 4WD, the Sierra achieves just 19 combined mpg (19 city, 20 highway). This model’s lackluster efficiency compared to its Sierra siblings is no surprise given its specs. The 2024 Sierra AT4X features a two-inch lift and knobby all-terrain tires. It also sports other all-terrain-tackling kit like adaptive dampers, recovery hooks, a two-speed transfer case, skid plates and more.

Those looking outside GM’s ranks can opt for the 2023 Ram 1500. Ram’s 3.0-liter V6 diesel delivers 260 horsepower and 480 lb.-ft. of torque paired to an eight-speed automatic. With 4WD, the EcoDiesel delivers an EPA-estimated 24 combined mpg (21 city/29 highway).