Whether you love them or hate them, when it comes to moving heavy loads, you just can’t beat a diesel powered pickup. Available primarily in 3/4 and 1-ton pickup trucks, today’s medium-duty diesel engines produce horsepower that is comparable to gasoline engines of a similar size and they make a shocking amount of torque. They are also easily modified to produce an insane amount of power; depending upon your specific needs. Advancements in turbocharger and diesel fuel technology make these diesel pickups much cleaner and practical than earlier models.
Let’s take a look at five (or six) of the most reliable, powerful, and easily upgraded diesel pickups on the used pickup truck market. You can check out trucks like these, as well as millions of other listings for new and used cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs, on BestRide.com.
- 2006 to 2007 Chevy and GMC 2500 and 3500
General Motors has been producing diesel powered vehicles for more than two-decades. The cream of the crop when it comes to power, reliability, and ease of modification are the ‘06 to ’07 3/4 and 1-ton trucks that are equipped with the Duramax diesel that bears the LBZ engine code. With simple bolt-on modifications and a high-performance reprogrammer you can easily squeeze out 500hp (at the wheels).
- 1996 to 1998 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500
These trucks make the list on sheer durability, alone. It is not unusual to find one of these trucks with the factory engine and more than 500,000-miles on the odometer. This 12-valve 5.9-liter Cummins diesel engine has a P7100 injection pump that makes it nearly bullet proof (if regularly maintained). These trucks are also easily upgraded to produce 400hp at the wheels with the possibility of up to 2,000hp, depending upon your desire and how much cash you want to spend.
- 1999½ to 2000 Ford Super Duty
Late 1999 and 2000 model Ford Super Duty trucks with the 7.3-liter Power Stroke diesel engine are known for their ability to accommodate high-performance modification. The engine’s forged steel connecting rods, 17-degree high-pressure oil pump, and factory intercooler make it extremely strong and tough when it comes to aftermarket horsepower. This rugged drivetrain can easily accommodate more than 500hp at the wheels.
- 2008 to 2010 Ford F-250, F-350, and F-450
Ease of high-performance modification is a major selling point for this cargo hauling monster. It is equipped with a 6.4-liter Power Stroke turbo diesel that can be bumped up to 600hp at the wheels with only a high-performance tuner, intake, and exhaust modifications. They feature compound turbochargers that virtually eliminate turbo lag and they are way more reliable than their 6.0-liter equipped predecessors.
- 2003 to 2004(½) Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500
If you are a long-haul cargo carrier, this truck (equipped with the cast iron NV5600 six-speed manual transmission) will put a huge smile on your face. They make the perfect tow rig and they can be easily modified to pull a house down. In 2003 common rail fuel injection systems were added to the 5.9-liter Cummins engines (used in Dodge pickups since 1989), making them much cleaner and powerful.
Honorable Mention: 1991½ to 1993 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500
Dodge began producing diesel pickups in 1989, but ’91.5 to ’93 models were factory upgraded with an overdrive transmission and an intercooler. For less than a grand, more than 300hp can be achieved at the wheels and they run forever.