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Diesel Or Gasoline? - Trail's End

Powertrain Choices

Ken BrubakerPhotographer, Writer

We’re all in agreement that a locked differential will help a 4x4 perform better off-road than an open differential. We also concur that a tow strap is better than a chain for vehicle recoveries. And we agree that Jessica Alba is hotter than Zooey Deschanel. OK, there may be some debate on that last one.

Another thing that’s up for debate is that a diesel engine is better than a gas engine, and vice versa.

Back in July, we posted a photo of a diesel-powered M715 truck on our social media sites and asked whether you preferred a gas or diesel engine. At the time of this writing, 174 of you have commented on the topic on our Facebook site, and of those who answered the question directly, the vast majority cast their vote for diesel.

It was not unanimous, however. Garcia Vital (all names are printed as they appeared on Facebook) celebrated the ambiance of the gas engine when he typed, “Gasoline old school big-block, mainly for just the nice sound. I love the sound of a gasoline engine. To me, diesels sound annoying and crappy.” Herman Van Staden feels like the edge goes to the gas engine when it comes to long-term reliability. He says, “Gasoline, because no turbodiesel engine can outlast a gasoline engine.”

On the diesel side, Ian Ramler based his choice on torque. “Diesel. Love that low torque. We have three diesels. Good for all occasions!” Brady Whatley mentioned torque, as well as a few other benefits when he said, “Diesel! Reliability, torque, mpg, and simplicity.” Torque was also on the mind of Doctr Max Grey Evans when he wrote, “Diesel. Waaaay more torque. And those second-gen CRDI, damn. Faster and more refined than petrol.” However, the better fuel economy of the diesel engine was on the minds of some. “Diesel. More miles to the gallon,” wrote Sebastian Martin. Hans P Rorrian was quite blunt when he said, “American V-8s are the most inefficient waste of fuel ever. Why do you think military vehicles are diesels? Just let that sink in a while.” Reader John L. Fleck likes the diesel engine’s fuel economy and ability to run on alternative fuels, and he wondered why we were even having this conversation. “Veggie oil, peanut oil, etc. Just like Rudolph Diesel originally designed his motor for. In Europe, their turbodiesels are getting 70-80 mpg in some cars. More Btu per gallon than gas. Nuff said, this debate is now over.” Randel Paulsen also invoked the diesel engine inventor when he stated his views in no uncertain terms. “Diesel, the most efficient internal combustion engine ever, the sweetest smelling, coolest sounding, sun-darkening and earth-shaking mechanical marvel the world has ever known. Thank you Rudolph!” And finally there was Hank Eckert, who noted the beauty of easy diesel power upgrades. “Well, being a Master ASE Certified Technician for the last 15 Years and working on both for the last 31 years, I like them both. If you would have asked me 10-15 years ago I would have said gas all the way! The newer diesels are great. They are simple to work on and easy to get horsepower out of them. With a gas engine you might get lucky and get 10-40 horsepower out of a gas engine without doing any internal work to the engine. The diesel, on the other hand, is easy to get 20-100 horsepower and more without doing any internal engine work.  I think that M715 would be awesome with a 12-valve Cummins in it!” Hank’s point of view netted him four “likes” on Facebook.

So did diesel take the win as far as popular opinion? Yes, but there were also a fair amount of people who clearly felt that engine choice depends on what type of driving is being done. Rick LB Mountford said, “Both have their pros and cons. Depends on what and where I’m doing it.” “Gas off-road. Diesel on-road,” said David Witcher. Aaron Hansen wrote, “Depends on the engine and the purpose. The 4.0 has great low-end for a gas engine but can still rev high.” And one reader, Joshua Cockerill, seems to care less what’s under the hood. “Either or? Whatever gets me where I need to go and allows me to have fun doing so,” he wrote.

So is diesel or gas the winner? Depends on who you ask.