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The Best Diesel Truck Of 2012: A Comparison Of The 2012 Diesel Models

Every year a new set of vehicles role out of their respective factories, and every year car and truck junkies compare them to see who has improved, what new innovations are included, and just who has the best model. Diesel trucks are no different. In diners, hardware stores, and around dinner tables across the nation there are opinions about which truck maker, Ford, Chevy or Dodge, has the best trucks and who has the best new diesel truck. For the most part, these people buy the same make over and over, but every now and then they may just change their mind.

Most of these truck buyers and owners want to know how strong the new truck models are. They want to know what kind of a load they can put in it and will it pull their loaded trailer without chugging or burning all of the fuel they can afford. They also want to see the new additions to each truck. They want to see if the new additions make the truck more comfortable, more user friendly, and more capable of getting any job done.

For those of you who read my 2011 Diesel Truck Comparison, this one is definitely similar. Be assured that with every bit of news released about the coming 2012 models and the changes and upgrades that this page will be updated to reflect the new model year.

Towing Comparison: Who Can Pull More?


Many of today's truck buyers want to know how much a truck can pull. Many diesel owners either use their truck for work and have to haul trailers full of equipment or material and even those who don't use it for work have large boats or campers to pull. So who can pull the world? I'm sure that everyone has seen the videos of one truck carrying another, all while pulling a third truck up a mountain of rock. Manufacturers definitely tend go overboard in advertising claims, but these trucks can definitely move mountains. With that said, often it is less about how much your springs and bed can hold and more about what you can pull. Trailering or tow capacity is one of the most important factors for many work truck owners and with that in mind, here are the best at pulling.

Chevy comes in as the best trailering capacity at 17,800 lbs. With the added engine strength and a newly bulked up frame and suspension, Chevy has upped the ante. The 2010 2500HD had a maximum towing capacity of 13,000 lbs, 4,800 lbs less than the 2011 upgrade. No longer can the other two diesel truck makers ignore Chevy as serious diesel truck competition.

The Ford came in second in 2011 at 16,500 lbs, up 200 lbs from 2010. With the upgrade to the 6.7L diesel and some modifications to the computer, Ford has further raised the bar. Ford is now claiming that the top end for towing for the F250 is now 17,500 lbs, just 300 lbs off of the Chevy number.

The Dodge, although they are third, has beefed up their towing capacity from 13,400 lbs of towing power in 2011 to 15,450 lbs in 2012. Dodge may be third with this number in its Ram 2500, but they are much closer this year with a number that is likely to keep most of their faithful Ram drivers buying Dodge in the near term.

What's Under The Hood?

For a large portion of diesel truck buyers, engine strength is as far as they go. They want to know how many horsepower the engine can muster and how much torque the truck can apply to the driving surface. This is one area where there are always changes. Every few years the truck makers make large changes in their Diesel Engine design and each year they may make tweaks to cooling, efficiency, etc. that can make differences in overall horsepower and torque.

Well, the diesel engine packages have not changed much for 2012 from 2011. In 2011, both Ford and Chevy brought out many changes, from a new power plant for Ford to changes in cooling and other areas to Chevy's Duramax. Although their may be some tweaks to transmission gear ratios or shift settings to bring more low end torque, these trucks remain largely the same.

Beginning with last years 2011 F-250, Ford currently has the most powerful truck. The 2012 Ford diesel engine, still a Powerstroke Diesel, has 400 horsepower and 800 lb-ft torque. The huge 2012 powerplant, the same as 2011, is the 6.7 L, twin turbo V8 diesel engine. Most of the Ford drivers are glad to say that the 6.4L is gone due to the many problems this powerplant experienced.

No longer is Ford the far and away leader of HD trucks, however. With an upgraded engine, Chevrolet has established itself as a true competitor. After revamping their HD line for 2011, and subsequently getting multiple awards, the 2012 Chevy 2500 HD currently boasts a 6.6L Turbo Diesel V8. The 2012 engine can put out 397 horsepower and 765 lb-ft of torque. Most people would say that this power-plant is equal to the Ford's; really, what's 3 horses between friends?

Coming in last, not a viewpoint they are accustomed too, is the Dodge Ram 2500. The Dodge engine is the 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel I6, an engine that Dodge has used for a while. The output from this engine is well shy of the other two trucks with 350 Hp but after some modifications, it now has 800 lb-ft of torque. Even the Dodge Hemi V8 can match the Cummins, but comes up short with a torque value of only 400 lb-ft of torque. Although Dodge has definitely fallen from the top, many of their dedicated buyers say that you cannot beat Cummins reliability.

2012 Diesel Truck Stats

  Ford F 250 Super Duty Chevy 2500 HD Dodge Ram 2500

Maximum Horsepower

 400 hp

 397 hp

350 hp





Maximum Torque

 800 lb/ft

 765 lb/ft

800 lb/ft





Maximum Towing Capacity

17,500 lbs

17,800 lbs

15,450 lbs





Maximum Payload

4,290 lbs

4,192 lbs

3,120 lbs





Hauling Comparison: What A Load...

As said before, many things have changed in truck design from years ago. In the '80s you could walk up to any pickup and reach into the bed and grab whatever you needed. Not so today. Although most of us like some things about the older models of these trucks, current models have improved on many areas. They can carry more. They look much bulkier, which appeals to many truck buyers. They have also added innovations that make the truck bed more usable and easier to access.

The heaviest load in 2012 can be placed squarely in the bed of the F250 Super Duty. The highest payload capacity for Ford is in their single cab F250 at 4,290 lbs. That is 2 tons. Ridiculous. The frame under the Ford F 250 is definitely an equal match for the power of the 6.7L diesel engine.

The Chevy payload comes in at just under the Ford mark with 4,192 lbs. Sure, the Ford can handle one more bag of concrete mix, but most people would find the payload capacity plenty.

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Dodge falls just behind the other two with a payload capacity of 3,120 lbs. However, with Dodge's new side boxes and Ford's tailgate step, not only will the payloads get greater in the future, but they will also become more accessible.

This And That... Other Aspects Of The 2012 Diesel Trucks

So with these 2012 diesel models being so close together, how should one choose which truck best suites their individual needs? For some people, the decision goes beyond simple specs and is decided when looking at their new additions, creature comforts and intangible factors like which handling feel a driver prefers. So to help you decide, here goes.

The Ford: Although it has lost its lead in power and now is second in towing and payload, it remains king in space. The roominess inside the F250 is second to none, even older F-250's. The 2012 F-250 has all that Ford has to offer, including the Sync System, new step assists in the tailgate, and a new clean, open look to the interior. For a large person, especially guys over 6' 2" or so, the Ford definitely offers the best cab.

The F-250 also is considered by many to still have the best ride while under load, which is somewhat debatable now with the changes to the Chevy frame. However, the handling definitely still has the Ford feel to it which will keep the Ford-lovers happy.

The Dodge: Although it has fallen behind in the Hp, Towing and Payload areas, Dodge has made great strides in comfort-ability. This Dodge no longer has as stiff a feel as the old Dodges due to a re-worked interior and softer suspension. Don't get me wrong, it still feels much more stiff than the Ford and Chevy, but it is catching up. With additions of side boxes built into the bed and the new larger cab available, some work has definitely been done. Now in the 2012 the extra side boxes are supposedly going to be standard.

The Chevrolet: Yes the truck is stronger and pulls better than it has before, but did they give up on comfort? No! Actually the truck is more comfortable. With additions in the past 2 years to room in the front seat and head room, and the added weight and frame and suspension upgrades, the truck feels bigger and stronger without becoming stiff and bouncy. With the better comfort and the higher MPG from the other trucks, Chevy has a great HD.

And The Best 2012 Diesel Truck Is?

Similar to every other truck owner, I have a make that I prefer. However, the 2012 field of diesel trucks have something for everyone. Each of these trucks are great buys and can do almost any job they are called on to do. I think most peoples decision will come down to what they prefer as far as "feel" of driving each. By that I mean that some people just prefer the handling in the Chevy, the space and size of the Ford, or the ruggedness of the Dodge.

One doesn't have to look hard to find a reason to by the F-250. For years now the Ford models have had tons of room and their lavish interiors are excellent. That room along with the now proven 6.7L Power Stroke and the towing capacity and it is a great package. Ford definitely has a great product and will continue to hold a large part of the diesel market.

The Dodge diesel can definitely claim to have made some strides in the area of comfort and innovation. The recently reworked cab of the Dodge is not plush, but is much better than a few years ago, and the new side-rail boxes built into the truck bed will probably change how the industry deals with truck bed additions in the future.

However, without much change from the 2011 models, the Chevy still keeps my attention. The 2012 2500 HD Chevy is just as amazing as last year's. With the new frame and suspension, the truck feels bigger and heavier. The new Duramax 6.6L is thrillingly fast and strong. And the Allison transmission just seals the deal.

Have you tried these trucks out? If so, what are your sentiments? Don't hold back! Every truck driver has an opinion of each of these trucks. However, please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you have any questions about these trucks that I have not answered above, please let me know!


Andrej Sorokin on March 28, 2017:

I like more Chevy they are more brute.

Ford F250 -

Chevy 2500HD -

But well, for some reason Ford was more sold truck in 2016, was it choice of the people or it was marketing from Ford's side to sell so much?

Redman on February 04, 2016:

Have to admit I like all three of the heavy duty diesel trucks but the Ford front ends are cheap looking and down right ugly! Chevy and Dodge are much better looking trucks! Back in the 80's you could not give a Dodge truck away but they turned the full size truck world upside down in 94 with the new big rig look and now they are very competitive in power, quality, comfort, looks and reliability. The old 70's Power Wagons with the lockers were some stout, tuff trucks! Could not over load them and in 4 lo with bulldog tranny, had pulling power second to none! The cummins engine has a cast iron block and heads and fewer parts than the other two v8 diesel competitors. Fewer parts means fewer problems! The Cummins twelve valves are the most reliable diesel engines ever made in my opinion. Its amazing the inline 6 cummins is putting out 900 ft lbs of torque now and Ford has to match their F450s to Dodges 3500 series trucks to compete with them! Reminds me of the 70's when Ford and Chevy had the best looking trucks and most guys prefered them as they were very good trucks but when it came down to power and pulling and hauling capabilities the ole no resale value 4x4 Dodges were hard to beat around the farm!

Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on April 17, 2013:

Thanks for the comment! A couple of the newer diesels are much quieter than 5 years or so ago, but most people who buy them like to put aftermarket parts on them to make them louder.

Bill Russo from Cape Cod on April 17, 2013:

My grandfather's truck was a horse.

My father's was a Model A.

My Son-in-law who is a top mechanic, will only drive a DODGE gas job.

As for Diesel vehicles; I do not LIKE them. They all seem to be too loud and have a bad smell. Sorry but I really have not seen one that isn't.

Jud on October 06, 2012:

I have been a field service tech for Peterbilt, Caterpillar and others for 25 years. I have had numerous gas and diesel service trucks of each of the big 3. By far, the Fords body and interior stand the test of time. The dodge always falls apart. Cummins is an amazing engine but it does not make up for junk surrounding it. The GMC engine and truck are good, reliable and well, just good. If you spend a lot of time driving like I do with my work, then the GMC seats are the worst. comfy for a 30 min. drive across town but day in and day out, the Ford seat never fails me. All of these things change yearly of course but when I add up the years and said OK, if I pick one truck forever based on all this, Ford is what I will take.

stuart on September 16, 2012:

Currently looking. Have a 99 Chevy 2500 gas. Want/need 3/4 ton diesel. This article helps for sure. Have driven Chevy and Ram and wasn't going to get in a Ford. I don't care what the brand is, only the combination of offering. Cannot find a Chevy or Ford with the following combo: diesel, 4x4, crew, trailer package, bed liner under $50k. In fact not even close to $50k. Ram is $47K.

Chris on June 08, 2012:

I just test drove both the Chevy and the Ford. I would say the Ford is more stiff without a load but the power felt a lot more than just 3hp difference. The Chevy interior could really go for an update! Fords is much more pleasing. The electric brake control seems more convenient on the Ford. I am leaning towards the Ford just not sure of which gear ratio to go with. Ford has about 5 different ratios and electric locking rear diffs!

Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on May 26, 2012:

Thanks for all the comments everyone! All of these trucks have some great aspects, but I truly believe that most of the personal decision comes down to people being used to certain feels, like steering, suspension, how the seat fits, etc. In the end, its funny how important those things are when we talk so much about horsepower, etc.

Ruff_neck27 on May 26, 2012:

Recently purchased 12 Denali duramax. It performes great, and the interior is ver nice. I also test drove a long horn. It was a very nice truck, but the denali is better in every aspect in my eyes.

Rob P on April 26, 2012:

jdavis: I am with you all the way my friend. Had a few cars in my time but the Chevy was always my favourite...unfortunately I had to sell it, never had a vehicle like it.


Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on January 24, 2012:

Thecarroll, that is mostly up to opinion. While most of these trucks will have heavier suspension, they tend to feel a little stiff with no load. The Chevy has had a softer suspension out of the three in the past, but Dodge has just changed its 2012 suspension package and is supposed to have a much smoother ride. Each of these have a great package for leather and interior. The Ford King Ranch Edition and the Dodge Big Horn packages are definitely plush although I prefer the leather seats of the Chevy.

Thecarroll on January 21, 2012:

What is the best diesel short bed truck for ride without a load & good-looking interior with leather.

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