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Half-Ton Heavies: Chevy & GMC 3.0 Duramax Diesel vs 6.2 Gas V8

For a long time, the engine options for a half ton pickup truck or SUV were pretty simple. You might have an inline or V6 engine as a base choice, followed by a couple of naturally aspirated V8s in different displacements.

Today it’s a different story. Not only do you still find naturally aspirated six and eight cylinder engines, there are a variety of turbocharged engines as well—including Turbodiesels, which used to be strictly for heavy duty trucks.

GM Duramax 3.0 Engine Bay

And when it comes to General Motors current high-end half-ton trucks and SUVs, buyers have a choice between a 6.2 liter V8 and a 3.0 Duramax I6 turbo diesel.

GM 6.2 Liter V8

Whether you are looking at a new Silverado 1500, a Tahoe, a Suburban or one of their GMC counterparts—the choice between the 6.2 and the Duramax is one many buyers face. Let’s take a look at the two.

Chevy Silverado 1500 Towing

Torque or Horsepower?

Both the 6.2 liter V8 and the 3.0 Duramax serve as upgrades over the more common 5.3 liter V8, and the 6.2 is actually the slightly more expensive option, costing about $1,500 more than the Duramax.

2021 Chevy Tahoe White

As you'd expect, the choice between the two engines largely comes down to torque, horsepower and fuel economy. The 3.0 Duramax comes in at 277 horsepower and 460 pound feet of torque.

Chevy Silverado Blue Rear View

The 6.2 V8 meanwhile makes a lot more horsepower - 420 to be exact, but with the same 460 pound feet of torque. And both engines come mated to GM's ten-speed automatic transmission.

Real World Performance

So how do these two powerplants compare in the real world? The 6.2 easily beats the Duramax in acceleration thanks to its big horsepower advantage.

But when it comes to towing, GM increased the towing capacity of the 3.0 Duramax for 2022 and it now has the same 13,300 lb maximum towing capacity as the 6.2 V8. 

Chevy 6.2 Liter V8

Where the Duramax gets a significant edge is in fuel economy. Depending on specific trim, the 3.0 Duramax can do around 7 miles per gallon better on average than the 6.2.

GM 3.0 Duramax Engine


Keep in mind you'll also want to factor in the difference in price between gasoline and diesel in your area when determining which is more economical to run.


Even with its great towing performance and fuel economy, the half-ton Duramax still finds itself in a strange spot. Chances are, if buyers favor a Diesel engine or have serious towing in mind, they’ll probably be looking at a three-quarter-ton HD rig.

Chevy Silverado 2500 on Nitto Terra Grappler G2

And it’s not like the 6.2 V8 is a slouch when it comes to towing. As we just saw, there's no real difference between the towing capacity of the two engines. The V8 also runs on regular gasoline of course, and is a much simpler design overall.

Chevy Tahoe 2021 Rear View

Ultimately, unless a half ton buyer is looking specifically for a the 3.0’s combination of low end torque and improved fuel economy, we’d probably recommend going with the more traditional 6.2 V8 in this case.

Chevy Duramax 1500 Hood

With that said, we are happy the GM (and other brands) offer half-ton turbodiesel options that perform so well. It's great that GM lets buyers choose between horsepower and fuel economy.

GMC Sierra on Nitto Recon Grappler tires

And in the end, more choice is always a good thing, especially in the hyper competitive half-ton pickup truck and SUV segment where buyers have more options than ever.

Looking for more insight on the Silverado 1500 Diesel? Here are some driving impressions from the 2021 model.

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