New half-ton diesels for 2020

Mr. Truck

Finally 30 years later, the Big Three all have half-ton diesels. The 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 Duramax Diesel 3.0L inline 6 is the new kid on the block, which completes Detroit. And Ram 1500 3.0L EcoDiesel is back with its third generation after the Environmental Protection Agency problem.

The two diesels they sent me for review were similar. Both 3.0 L diesels, the Ram is a V-6, but the New Silverado is an inline 6 cylinder. The Ram is leading in torque at 480 with 260 horsepower. Silverado is leading in horsepower at 277 and torque is 460. Ram is still the 8-speed automatic and Silverado is the new 10-speed transmission shared with Ford F150. The two trucks even have the same EPA MPG in 4×4 configuration at 29 MPG. Silverado Edges out Ram by 1 mpg in a 4×2.

We towed a 7,600 pound Iron Bull dump trailer to Estes Park, Colo. The Silverado is the only half-ton diesel with an exhaust brake. Even though the Ram had an 8-speed and no exhaust brake, both trucks performed similarly up and down the mountain over curvy roads on Highway 36 to Estes. It appears the exhaust brake and 10-speed in tow-haul mode in the Silverado doesn’t reach high enough RPMs to down shift and build back pressure to be as effective as what we see in the heavy duty pickup trucks.

Ford had the same problem with its V-6 3.0l diesel in the F150. Then in the limited model with the high output 3.5L EcoBoost gas engine and the Expedition Platinum model with the same engine, both with 10-speeds. Ford changed the calibration so they shifted in tow-haul mode at higher RPMs and it made control coming down the mountain with a trailer dramatically better without wearing out the brakes. Since the Silverado 3.0L Duramax shares the same 10-speed transmission as the Ford F150, that same calibration may improve the 3.0L Duramax.

The Silverado Duramax 1500 with the 7,600 pound trailer, accelerated a little better than the Ram EcoDiesel. The Ram had better control in tow-haul mode coming down the mountain. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel has a max towing capacity of 12,560 pounds, compared to 9,300 pounds with the Silverado. The Ram was a Tradesman as a base work truck with a Quadcab 4×2 which helped the truck by being lighter giving it a 2,055 pound payload. The Silverado 1500 Duramax was a RST loaded model 4×2 double cab, being heavier lowering the payload to 1,800 pounds.

I do appreciate the new door sticker on the Silverado. Now on all the Chevy trucks, in the drivers door frame is a label that tells you that trucks payload, max tongue which converts to max trailer weight, weight distributing, and combined weight of the truck and trailer. Ram has a website where you can put in your trucks VIN number and you can get those max weights. Ford wants you to spend a couple hours on the internet to find out the same info.

The 3.0L EcoDiesel option on Ram is $4,995 in the Tradesman. The higher you go up in models, the cheaper the diesel option is. Nice thing with Ram, is the 3.0L diesel is available on all models and configurations. Silverado 3.0L Duramax on the midline RST model option is $3,890. But Silverado only is available on LT models and above. Ford F150 3.0L diesel started that way, only available on high end models. And XLT model was only available in a diesel to fleets. Then they discovered the error of their ways and let us all buy the diesel XLT. Over the road semi-trucks and farm tractors use inline 6 cylinder diesels. Cummins in Ram Heavy Duty do well with the inline diesel. I was surprised to see Chevy go with an inline 6 diesel in a half-ton. Time will tell how this aluminum diesel holds up. ❖