Winch To Hitch: Eating Crow

April 2018 Column, Feature Trevor Mason

It appears that the time has come for this editor to eat some crow. After a few different columns over the last year or so bemoaning the fate of the mid-size diesel pickup, I was proven wrong not once but twice in the space of a month. After all my hand wringing about who could possibly want to drive a half-ton diesel, it turns out that there are a lot of people who do! Who knew?

Both Chevrolet and Ford made announcements in January that they were introducing diesel engines for their 1500 and F150 lines, respectively. Each of them will be a 3.0L engine, though the Power Stroke will feature a somewhat standard V6 configuration, while the Duramax will be configured as the less-common inline 6. That last bit really set hearts aflutter for a lot of Chevrolet fans out there. Ford has stated that their engine will boast 250hp, 440 lb/ft of torque, and an estimated 30mpg highway rating (get more details in our Shop Talk section). At the time of publication, Chevrolet hasn’t released any hard numbers for theirs, but based on the performance of the 2.8L Duramax in the Colorado, this 3.0 should line up pretty closely with Ford.

Hindsight is 20/20, as they say, and I was perhaps too harsh in my earlier assessments of the current diesel landscape. Indeed, in looking at the comment sections of various news sites that posted the news, there were plenty of people stoked on these new engine options. Here are just a few: 

“These 3.0 engines have more power and just as much torque as the legendary 12-valve Cummins, even more power than the first generation ISB 24-valve Cummins. Now that the technology has evolved for the emissions, they’re more reliable than ever. The modern Bosch common rail system is just as reliable as the old school P7100. And the 10 injection events combined with up to 45,000 psi injection pressure on some of these engines allows for a cleaner burn and more refined tuning than a gasoline engine will ever be capable of. GM is making the bet on diesel because it has the possibility of meeting stronger emission standards that gasoline might not live up to.” 

One reader seemed to directly address my thought about what people would want these smaller trucks for. Referring to the F150: 

“This truck seems to deliver high levels of capability for the small fraction of scenarios in which it’s used to tow and haul, while providing better economy in day-to-day use than we’ve seen yet.” 

Someone threw out the idea that people should just rent a truck for the few times they need the power/cargo capacity. The response: 

“It’s not cost effective to rent a truck 3 or 4 weekends a month just so I can get a few more MPG on my 15 mile daily commute. You might see a lot of empty pickups every day, but I use my truck almost every weekend to haul things that no car I’m aware of can handle. It makes more sense in the grand scheme of things for me to have one vehicle that covers all my needs.”

And finally: 

I love the idea of a diesel half-ton. I’d like to keep the road manners and lower cost (compared to a superduty, not a minivan!) but have more low-end power and fuel economy than a gas V8.

If anyone felt slighted by my dismissal, you can now feel validation. It’s obvious these trucks aren’t going anywhere. And if nothing else, it just means that there are more chances for people to discover a love of diesels and come into the fold. Let’s do the ma solid and welcome them with open arms.

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