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Should I buy a diesel or gas vehicle?

It all comes down to whether you're planning on hauling heavy loads long distances.

Gas cars and trucks have come a long way in recent years, and they’re now the most popular choice. But long-haul truckers may still be better off with diesel vehicles.

Do diesel or gas vehicles cost more to buy?

Diesel vehicles generally cost more up front. For example, the 2019 Chevy Colorado LT truck has a starting MSRP of $35,395 for a gas engine or $41,140 for a diesel engine, which is about a 16% difference. As you get into bigger and more expensive cars and trucks, that difference can become even more noticeable.

Do diesel or gas cars get better mileage?

Diesel cars have a reputation for getting better mileage, particularly when hauling heavy loads for long distances. That’s one of the reasons why diesel trucks are still popular.

But the difference isn’t as noticeable as it once was, and new technology means that gasoline cars are often actually cheaper to run. For example, a four-wheel-drive gas-powered Ford F150 S10 generally costs less to run than its diesel counterpart, even if 90% of your driving is highway driving, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

What about performance?

Gas cars are generally more powerful than diesel. However, power isn’t everything. Diesel vehicles can deliver a large amount of torque at low revs, so if you’re traveling between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm, you’ll power ahead. This makes diesel better for cruising, whereas gas cars are better for speed.

Which costs more to maintain?

Diesel vehicles come with notoriously higher costs for servicing and upkeep. These vehicles need diesel-specific oils, filters and coolants that can come with a higher price tag.

And if you don’t properly maintain a diesel vehicle, you can run into a lot of problems — especially with the engine.

Test drive a car near you

Get connected with dealerships in your area that offer upfront pricing.

Who should buy a gas car?

If you’re a casual driver, you’re likely better off with a gas-powered vehicle. Most sedans aren’t even available as diesel. And if you drive an SUV or a truck but don’t regularly haul heavy loads, you’ll pay less for a gas car.

Who should buy a diesel car?

Diesel is best suited to truck drivers who haul heavy loads for long distances. But advances in engines are slowly making diesel vehicles less competitive, so it’s worth comparing the mileage and towing capabilities of both the gas and diesel version of the truck you’re interested in before buying.

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Bottom line

Gas vehicles are significantly more popular, and they’re the best option for most casual drivers. But if you regularly tow heavy loads, it’s worth considering diesel options.

Whichever you choose, compare car loans first to find the best deal available for you.

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