A black 2020 Chevy Silverado 2500 is shown from the front driving on an open road.

Can You Use a Diesel Truck as a Daily Driver?

A diesel truck can make for an ideal daily driver. This is due to two key reasons. First, diesel engines generally provide better fuel economy than conventional gas engines. Second, diesel engines also provide greater performance. These advantages make models like a used Chevy Silverado 2500 with a diesel engine a great buy. While buying a used truck with a diesel engine will set you back a few more dollars when you buy one, a diesel truck is going to give you a better overall value as a daily driver in the long run.

The Chevy Silverado 2500 is now in its fourth generation, having first hit the road back in 1999. That is over 2 decades of heavy-duty trucking, during which the Silverado 2500 took its place as one of the most popular models in its highly competitive segment. This has been due in large part to the available diesel engine that Chevy has offered as an option on the Silverado 2500 since its first model year. Not only does buying this heavy-duty truck with a diesel engine increase its performance, especially with respect to towing. It also increases fuel economy and longevity. In fact, the Chevy Silverado 2500 provides an excellent example of why you should consider making a used diesel truck your daily vehicle of choice.

The Diesel Engine on the Chevy Silverado 2500

The current model of the Chevy Silverado 2500 features an available 6.6-liter Duramax Turbo-Diesel V8 paired with an Allison 10-speed automatic transmission. This engine has a cast-iron block with cast aluminum cylinder heads and uses common-rail direct fuel injection to produce up to 445 horsepower at 2800 rpm and 910 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm. This ability to generate low amounts of torque is a hallmark of diesel engines, while the high horsepower is due in large part to the use of a turbocharger. Common rail fuel injection has been around since Rudolf Diesel first invented his famous engine. It uses a high-pressure fuel rail feeding solenoid valves to deliver droplets of diesel fuel into the chamber instead of individual injectors like in other injection systems.

The power of the Turbo-Diesel V8 on the Silverado 2500 is shown in its providing more trailering capability than the same truck with a conventional gas engine. For example, the 2022 Silverado 2500 with a gas engine has a maximum conventional trailering rating of 14,500 pounds. Choosing the available Turbo-Diesel V8 on this truck improves this figure to 18,500 pounds––an increase of 4,000 pounds. You need to add a fifth-wheel or gooseneck trailer hitch to a 2022 Silverado 2500 with a gas engine to come close to matching these numbers. If you do a lot of towing, then a diesel truck is the right one for you.

The black and tan interior of a 2020 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD shows the steering wheel and infotainment screen.

Diesel Engines Are More Fuel-Efficient Than Gas

There are two reasons why diesel engines on trucks provide better fuel economy than conventional gas engines. First, there is more energy inside each gallon of diesel oil than in the same amount of gasoline. Second, diesel engines don’t burn fuel the same way as conventional gas engines. In a gas engine, air and gasoline are mixed in a cylinder and ignited by a sparkplug as the piston compresses the fuel mixture. In a diesel engine, there are no sparkplugs. Instead, the ignition occurs by the heat generated from extreme compression of the fuel and air. This is sometimes referred to as spontaneous ignition and makes for more efficient use of the fuel in a diesel engine.

The EPA does not provide fuel economy figures for heavy-duty trucks like the Chevy Silverado 2500. However, we can see this difference illustrated by looking at the fuel economy figures for another vehicle in the Chevrolet truck lineup––the 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500. This truck comes with three different conventional gas engines and one available diesel. The most fuel-efficient gas engine on the Silverado 1500 is a 2.7-liter High Output Turbo I-4 combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission. If you buy one with rear-wheel drive, you can expect to get 19 miles per gallon in city driving, 22 miles per gallon on the highway, and 22 miles per gallon combined. These are all solid numbers for a full-size truck, but they pale in comparison to what the available diesel engine delivers.

Chevy also offers the 2022 Silverado 1500 with a 3.0-liter Duramax Turbo-Diesel I-6. This is like a smaller version of the 6.6-liter Duramax Turbo-Diesel V8 on the Silverado 2500. If you choose this engine on a Silverado 1500 with rear-wheel drive, you can get up to 23 miles per gallon in city driving, 31 miles per gallon in highway driving, and 26 miles per gallon combined.

As you can see, these figures easily eclipse the numbers on the Silverado 1500 with a gas engine. This is especially the case with highway driving, where you will get an additional 9 miles per gallon just by choosing to go with a diesel engine. Once a diesel engine gets into gear on a highway, the engine becomes even more efficient than during the stop-and-go nature of city driving. Therefore, if you choose a diesel truck, you are going to save on fuel over a truck with a conventional gas engine.

Diesel Engines Last Longer Than Gas

If you buy a diesel truck and routinely service it, you will find that you will be able to use your truck longer than the same make and model with a gas engine. On average, diesel trucks last longer than trucks with gas engines. This is the case for a number of reasons.

Diesel engines generally contain fewer component parts than are found on gasoline engines. For instance, as stated above, gas engines require spark plugs to actually ignite the fuel mixture in the engine cylinder. As a result, you will need to have the spark plugs replaced periodically. Every part in your truck starts to wear out over time, especially if you fail to perform routine maintenance. Because the gasoline engine has more parts, there are more things that can go wrong over time.

One of the old criticisms of diesel engines was that they tended to be heavier than comparable gas engines. Although this is still technically the case, diesel engines are more powerful than ever before. Most automakers that offer diesel engine trucks now equip them with a turbocharger to boost performance. While it may be heavier, having a diesel engine in your truck will not have any negative impact on overall performance.

A popular used Chevy Silverado 2500, a red 2020 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD, is shown towing a camper trailer.

Make Your Daily Driver a Diesel Truck

Whether you decide to go with a used Chevy Silverado 2500 or another model altogether, you should definitely consider making your daily driver a diesel truck. First, you will get better performance from your diesel truck than from the same model with a gas engine. This is especially the case if you plan to do a great deal of towing. Second, your diesel truck will be more fuel-efficient than one with a gas engine. This will translate into savings every time you stop at the service station to fill up your fuel tank.

Your diesel truck will also last longer than a gasoline-powered pickup truck, requiring fewer repairs and less maintenance. As a result, you will save on the parts and labor in the long run. In addition, you will save yourself from the aggravation of always having to take your older gasoline-powered truck to the mechanic for repairs. That time you are at the shop could be spent on the road enjoying your diesel truck. While a used diesel truck may cost you more money upfront, in the long run, your diesel truck will deliver real savings.