A popular Chevy Silverado 2500 for sale, a black 2024 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD High Country, is shown parked on a driveway.

A Closer Look at the Duramax and Cummins Diesel Engines: Which Is Right for You?

Have you ever wanted great torque power for effective towing and heavy-duty hauling with excellent payloads? Well, today, it is not so hard to come across these attributes in the Chevy lineup. Everyone knows that if you are looking for raw power, efficient towing, and excellent acceleration in a vehicle, then you need a truck, but is the truck itself responsible for its power? Of course not. The truck itself is the body, the exterior built around the moving parts that allow you to get to your destination and tackle tough challenges. Underneath that shield of armor is the engine, and that is what truly makes these stunning machines kick. However, have you ever considered the engine type going into your truck? This can be the most significant factor in what makes you choose a particular pickup.

That leads to the question, what kind of engines are out there, and what makes them so amazing? Perhaps a certain Chevy Silverado can help shed some light on this. After all, it’s known for being powerful and ready to take on any task thrown its way. So, today, while you search for that rugged Chevy Silverado 2500 for sale, let’s take a closer look at one of its most powerful engine options, the Duramax Turbo-Diesel, and how it stacks up against another heavy-hitter, Ram’s Cummins Turbo Diesel engine.

A black 2024 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD High Country is shown towing a boat.

The History of These Two Powerful Engines

The Duramax engine was born out of a collaboration between General Motors and Isuzu. Isuzu had originally been working on the prototype and had aimed to launch this new diesel engine in 2003. GM was in need of a new diesel engine, and as one of GM’s manufacturing partners, Isuzu was selected to help create this new engine. Ultimately, the two companies worked together, combining resources, and were able to speed up the production of Isuzu’s diesel engine project so that they could be equipped in Chevrolet and GMC trucks for the 2001 lineup.

The 6.6L Duramax Diesel Engine made its entrance into the heavy-duty truck world in 2001, sporting an impressive 300 hp and 520 lb-ft of torque. It also had an average fuel economy of 15 MPG, which was not bad for a heavy-duty truck back then. This new diesel engine was met with enthusiasm by the truck-buying public, as GM’s heavy-duty diesel truck segment enjoyed increased sales of over 30 percent. The Duramax-equipped Silverado HD was even celebrated by a variety of automotive publications, with magazines like Motor Trend bestowing it with the coveted “2001 Truck of the Year,” while Ward’s Magazine included it in its “Ten Best Engines in the World” list in 2001 and 2002.

The Duramax was undoubtedly off to a great start. The engine has continued to evolve over the years, carefully refining its power and efficiency into the eighth generation we see on the road today. Today’s Silverado 2500, equipped with a 6.6L Duramax engine, can generate a whopping 470 hp and 975 lb-ft of torque. It is equipped on both light and heavy-duty Silverado models and is synonymous with exceptional capability and strength. Whether you need a workhorse for the job site or at home, investing in the Duramax engine is a fantastic choice.

We can trace the origins of the Cummins diesel engine all the way back to the early 1900s. Clessie Cummins saw the potential diesel engines could have on the automotive industry and started his Cummins Engine Co. in 1919. Through trial and error, the Cummins engine continued its refinement, often being used in yachts rather than automobiles. At the time, the car-buying public had not seen the potential in diesel engines like Clessie. He was finally able to convince his investor, Will Irwin, who also owned a chain of supermarkets, to equip his trucks with Cummins’ diesel engines, as they were more durable than their gasoline counterparts. The success of this move caught the attention of other businesses who eagerly wanted to utilize this durable and efficient engine.

This momentum carried over into post-WWII America, where the country saw roadways expanding nationwide. Clessie took advantage of this growth, as more than half of the heavy-duty trucks that were on the road were equipped with the Cummins engine. This powerful engine continued to grow in popularity, which saw Europe embracing this new engine in many of its trucks. Fast forward to 1989, and Ram introduced the Cummins engine into its truck lineup, which has continued to enhance heavy-duty trucks since then. The current Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups are equipped with the 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel engine, while the 3500 model also offers a high-output model.

The black 2024 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD High Country is shown parked near a house.

How Do They Compare to Each Other?

Although the Silverado 2500 and 3500 HD offer one Duramax diesel option, it packs an enormous amount of power that is sure to fit the needs on the job site, as well as at home. Both 2024 models have the option of utilizing the 6.6L Duramax Turbo-Diesel V8, which produces a massive 470 hp and 975 lb-ft of torque. When properly equipped, the 2500 HD can tow as much as 22,510 lbs, while the 3500 HD can tow an astounding 36,000 lbs.

For the current lineup of heavy-duty Ram trucks, the 2500 HD has the option to take advantage of a 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel, which gives you 370 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque. It can also tow up to 19,990 lbs when properly equipped. When compared to the Duramax, the Silverado clearly has some advantages over the Ram 2500 HD, but don’t count the Cummins engine out just yet; the Ram 3500 HD offers another diesel option. It comes in the form of a high-output Cummins engine, giving you 420 hp and 1,075 lb-ft of torque. It also has a slight advantage over the Duramax with an extra thousand pounds of towing capacity. While this engine option is certainly packed with power, remember that this upgrade will cost you.

Which Diesel Engine Is the Best Investment?

Let’s be honest: when searching for the perfect heavy-duty truck, power will always be a driving force in choosing your next pickup, which means investing in a diesel engine is going to be the best choice for you and all the tough challenges that await. Both the Duramax and the Cummins engines have proven themselves to be some of the best diesel options on the market, with a long-celebrated history, which makes it even more difficult to choose. If you’re looking for a simpler option that is cost-effective, the Silverado’s Duramax is an excellent choice. It can handle everything you throw at it, from towing trailers and cargo to transporting heavy machinery to the job site. Sure, the additional Cummins high-output engine available on the Ram 3500 HD is impressive, but if you’re concerned about your budget, this option will certainly cost more. Ultimately, the Duramax’s simplicity is its biggest strength: one engine, plenty of power. Finding the best diesel engine-powered heavy-duty truck shouldn’t be difficult to find, and you’ll find the performance you’re looking for with the Chevy Silverado HD truck lineup and their Duramax Turbo-Diesel engines.