Winch To Hitch: Get The Lead Out

August 2017 Column, Feature Trevor Mason

The diesel lifestyle may not be for everyone, but shouldn’t it be? After all, we heard the Siren song calling to us years ago and never looked back, so why isn’t everyone else on board? I’m sure each of us at some point has had to defend this hobby, and sometimes that can get downright tiresome.

Unfortunately for us, the once-sizeable gap between the two schools of thought has gotten a lot narrower lately. What was once a no-brainer is now far less obvious to the casual observer. With the constant forward march of technology, some diesel and gas technologies have started to converge. After all, the truck makers would be foolish to ignore any advantage one side of their business has over another. The Ram EcoDiesel is a good example of this, as is the rumored-but-pretty-much-confirmed-at-this-point Ford F150 Diesel.

Here’s a short list of the reasons we prefer diesels over gassers. While this list is intended to give you ammunition for your next knock-down, drag-out fight, who knows? Maybe you’ll actually convert someone to the cause while you’re at it.

More Power/Torque

Of course this is number one with a bullet. Even when two trucks have similar horsepower numbers, the diesel is going to have more torque every single time, because that’s just how diesels are built. If you’re doing any amount of towing at all, a diesel is the way to go. Even the manufacturers agree; more than 60 percent of HD trucks are sold with diesel engines.

Better Fuel Mileage

Coming in strong at number two is increased fuel mileage. Even if better power/torque is the more common advantage, the fuel economy of diesels is a perennial favorite for an opening salvo in any gas/diesel argument. There are a lot of reasons, but let’s stick with the most basic. It’s all about science: diesel fuel itself is 15 percent more energy-dense than gasoline, which means that a comparable amount of gas simply has less energy in it to use. Other factors, like common-rail fuel injection and variable vane turbocharging, contribute to diesel’s efficiency as a fuel.

Better Value

Diesels simply hold their resale value longer. A large part of that is because diesel engines don’t work as hard to produce the same amount of power as a gas engine, so overall there’s less wear and tear on the engine. It honestly just comes down to durability. The parts in a diesel engine are built to take more punishment than a gasser, and diesel fuel itself has better lubricating properties. So that 2nd-gen Dodge you’ve been driving all these years with more than 200,000 miles on it could still fetch you a pretty penny, if you were inclined to sell it.

Creature Comforts

This is one of the areas where diesels have traditionally lagged behind, so it’s nice to see that the tide is turning. I’m using the phrase “creature comforts” to refer to everything that pertains to how comfortable you are when you’re in the driver’s seat. Now, to be sure, the trim packages in modern pickups are going to be pretty much identical whether you’re pumping gas or diesel, but there’s one specific aspect of driving a diesel that can be pretty annoying if you’re not a big gear head: engine noise. There’s even a term that the auto industry uses to gauge this sort of thing. “NVH” stands for noise, vibration, and harshness, and it’s pretty self-explanatory. Diesels have made huge strides lately, to the point that it’s almost hard to tell what kind of truck you’re in from the driver’s seat. Time was, you had to turn off the engine in a drive-thru or else the cashier couldn’t hear you. Not any more!

So next time you have to convince your S.O. or your buddy that diesels are the way to go, you’ll be ready. Just don’t tell them that your truck is more important to you than they are. They’ll never understand.

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