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The Big Three Diesel Truck Torque War Timeline

In 2023, Ford released its high output version of the 6.7L Power Stroke V-8—an engine packing 500 hp and 1,200 lb-ft of torque from the factory. Thirty years prior, no one could’ve imagined we’d see Class 8-like torque numbers produced by pickup truck engines. So how did we get to this point? Despite OEM diesel options being offered by both Ford and GM throughout the 1980s, Chrysler—thanks to its contract with Cummins—fired the first shot in the torque war back in the summer of ’88. Since then, the Big Three have been engaged in a never-ending battle for lb-ft supremacy. As the timeline below shows, torque numbers have tripled over the past three decades—and there are no signs of Ford, Ram or GM letting up anytime soon.

5.9L Cummins 6BT (1989-1993): 160 HP And 400 LB-FT

6BT Cummins Diesel Inline Six

  • Segment First #1: The 5.9L Cummins was the first diesel engine in the pickup truck segment to offer direct injection.
  • Segment First #2: The 6BT Cummins was the first diesel engine in its class to come standard with a turbocharger.
  • Segment First #3: Cummins’ 6BT was also the first inline-six configuration offered in the segment, which meant it possessed fewer moving parts and benefitted from a naturally balanced rotating assembly.
  • Best-In-Class Torque: Cummins’ 5.9L employed in Dodge D/W 250 and 350 trucks produced more torque than the larger displacement, naturally aspirated Navistar 7.3L V-8 that Ford was using at the time.

7.3L Power Stroke (1994.5-1996): 210 HP And 425 LB-FT

7.3L Power Stroke Diesel V8 Engine

  • Ford’s first serious answer to the 5.9L Cummins was the Navistar-built 7.3L Power Stroke V-8.
  • Segment First: Thanks to its HEUI injection system, the 7.3L Power Stroke pioneered the idea of full electronic control in the diesel pickup segment.
  • DI and Turbocharged: Direct injection and a turbocharger became standard equipment for Ford for the first time.

5.9L Cummins 6BT (1996): 215 HP And 440 LB-FT

Second-Gen Cummins P-pump 12-Valve

  • Segment First: The ’94-’98 version of the 12-valve 5.9L Cummins would be the first and the only diesel pickup truck engine to be equipped with an inline, mechanical injection pump.
  • The Bosch P7100 (i.e. P-pump) injection pump would prove to be the cornerstone in kicking off diesel performance in pickup trucks.
  • Dodge’s 215 hp and 440 lb-ft diesel option was only available when paired with the available NV4500 five-speed manual transmission (automatics were limited to 180 hp, 420 lb-ft).

7.3L Power Stroke (1997): 225 HP And 450 LB-FT

1997 Ford F-350 7.3L Power Stroke

  • Ford’s answer to Dodge and Cummins’ move in ’96 was to beat out the 5.9L in both horsepower (+10 hp) and torque (+10 lb-ft).
  • A PCM calibration change was all that was needed to provide the bump in horsepower and torque.
  • This variant of the 7.3L Power Stroke would be the most powerful of the first generation, non-intercooled models.

5.9L Cummins ISB 24-Valve (1998.5): 235 HP And 460 LB-FT

ISB 5.9L Cummins 24-Valve

  • This version of the 5.9L Cummins debuted a new block, head, injection pump, injectors, pistons and electronics.
  • The ISB 24-valve cylinder head provided for improved drivability (across the rpm range) over the former 12-valve.
  • As with the P-pumped engines, the highest horsepower and torque rating could only be had with the manual transmission option (autos were limited to 215 hp and 420 lb-ft).

7.3L Power Stroke (1999-2000): 235 HP And 500 LB-FT

Super Duty 7.3L Power Stroke Diesel

  • Segment First: The ’99 model year 7.3L Power Stroke became the first diesel to produce 500 lb-ft of torque, and debuted in Ford’s all-new Super Duty trucks.
  • This updated version of the 7.3L Power Stroke came standard with an air-to-air intercooler, larger fuel injectors and a chassis-mounted, electric lift pump
  • For quicker spool up, the turbocharger was fitted with a tighter exhaust housing. An internal wastegate was added to avoid overspeed.

5.9L Cummins ISB 24-Valve (2001): 245 HP And 505 LB-FT

24-Valve Cummins 2002 Dodge Ram 2500

  • Although the 24-valve ISB engine debuted with a 235 hp and 460 lb-ft peak rating, Dodge added this high output version of the 5.9L Cummins for the ’01 model year.
  • H.O. ISB’s featured higher compression, valve seat inserts for added durability, an enhanced VP44 injection pump and higher flowing injectors.
  • The high output engine option was only available in conjunction with the NV5600 six-speed manual transmission.

6.6L Duramax LB7 (2001): 300 HP And 520 LB-FT

Duramax LB7 General Motors Diesel V8 Engine

  • Development of the original 6.6L Duramax V-8 (also known as the LB7) was a joint venture between General Motors and Isuzu.
  • Segment First #1: First diesel in a pickup truck to offer 300 hp.
  • Segment First #2: First diesel in a pickup truck to offer aluminum cylinder heads.
  • Segment First #3: First diesel engine in a pickup truck to utilize high-pressure common-rail injection.
  • Proven Design: The Duramax V-8 is the only diesel engine in its class to still enjoy its original displacement, along with much of its overall initial design.

7.3L Power Stroke (2001-2003): 275 HP And 525 LB-FT

2002 Ford F-350 Super Duty Power Stroke Diesel

  • Ford’s response to both Dodge’s high output, 505 lb-ft Cummins option and GM’s new, 520 lb-ft Duramax was to lean on the 7.3L Power Stroke one last time.
  • Other than a PCM recalibration, this version used the same turbocharger, high-pressure oil pump and fuel injectors as the ’99.5 and ’00 model year engines.
  • As with Chrysler’s high output diesel option, Ford too would have to limit its H.O. 7.3L to manual transmission takers (the ZF-6 six-speed in this case).

5.9L Cummins Common-Rail (2003): 305 HP And 555 LB-FT

Common Rail Cummins 5.9L ISB 24-Valve Diesel Engine

  • Dodge and Cummins beat out the LB7 Duramax’s 300 hp figure and put 30 lb-ft on the rest of the field when the common-rail 5.9L was introduced in 2003.
  • Its common-rail system was sourced from Bosch and featured a high-pressure fuel pump similar to the Duramax, along with solenoid-activated injectors.
  • The 24-valve cylinder head was revised, and the block was cast with reinforced rails and was accommodated by a stiffener plate.

6.0L Power Stroke (2003): 325 HP And 560 LB-FT

6.0L Power Stroke Diesel V8

  • On the heels of the unveiling of Dodge’s fresh body style and the common-rail Cummins in ’03, Ford released the 6.0L Power Stroke—with 5 more lb-ft of torque than its cross-town rival.
  • Segment First: The 6.0L Power Stroke debuted variable geometry turbo (VGT) technology in the diesel pickup category.
  • The 6.0L was also the first Power Stroke to utilize exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), four-valve cylinder heads and an internal oil cooler.

5.9L Cummins Common-Rail (2005): 325 HP And 610 LB-FT

Third Gen Cummins Common-Rail 5.9L

  • After the initial common-rail 5.9L Cummins was overtaken in torque by the 6.0L Power Stroke in 2003, Dodge struck back in ’04.5 with the Cummins “600,” followed by this 610 lb-ft version in ’05.
  • Alone In The Segment: The 5.9L common-rail Cummins remained free of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) throughout its production run, an emissions system that would prove problematic for the 6.0L Power Stroke and Duramax competition.
  • The ’05-’07 5.9L Cummins sported the more reliable and performance-friendly Holset HE351CW turbocharger (which technically debuted on ’04.5 engines).

6.6L Duramax LLY (2006): 310 HP And 605 LB-FT

LLY Duramax V8 General Motors Diesel

  • The release of this version of the LLY Duramax wasn’t highly publicized (and it didn’t top the Cummins’ 610 lb-ft figure), but GM was paving the way for a much more powerful engine to follow.
  • The LLY platform was also treated to improved injectors in ’04.5 (which were moved outside of the valve covers, making them much easier to service) and the late (‘06) LLY was capable of higher peak injection pressure (26,000-psi).
  • All LLY Duramax engines came standard with a VGT and EGR.

6.6L Duramax LBZ (2006-2007): 360 HP And 650 LB-FT

2006 GMC Sierra 2500 HD LBZ Duramax V8

  • When the LBZ Duramax arrived for ’06 model year GM HD trucks it blew the competition away, boasting 35 more hp than Ford or Dodge and besting the common-rail 5.9L Cummins by 40 lb-ft.
  • The LBZ received lower compression pistons, stronger connecting rods and a beefier block casting than the LLY, all of which were carried over to the LMM.
  • Beginning with the ’06 model year, the Allison 1000 transmission became a six-speed after gaining a second overdrive gear.

6.6L Duramax LMM (2007.5-2010): 365 HP And 660 LB-FT

LMM Duramax Diesel V8 Engine GMC Chevrolet

  • Though the LBZ Duramax used in ’06-’07 GM HD trucks led the field with 360 hp and 650 lb-ft, the LMM added 10 lb-ft (and 5 horsepower) to the mix—an amount that help allow GM to sustain its longest reign atop the torque charts.
  • Cleaner Emissions: The LMM was the first Duramax V-8 to be equipped with a diesel particulate filter (DPF), which reduced particulate matter (PM) pollutants by 90-percent.
  • Million Engine Milestone: GM would build Duramax number 1 million during the LMM’s production run.

6.6L Duramax LML (2011): 397 HP And 765 LB-FT

2012 Chevrolet Silverado LML Duramax

  • To handle a 105 lb-ft gain in torque, GM had a stronger block cast, altered the main bearing profiles, added a higher-flow oil pump, revised the wrist pins and reverted back to lighter weight pistons.
  • The LML was also the one and only Duramax to utilize a Bosch CP4.2 high-pressure fuel pump, with 30,000-psi capability and feeding piezoelectric injectors.
  • Part of the LML’s being able to meet more stringent NOx emissions while also making more horsepower and torque stemmed from GM’s implementation of selective catalytic reduction (SCR).

6.7L Power Stroke (2011-2012): 400 HP And 800 LB-FT

Ford 6.7L Power Stroke V8 Diesel Engine

  • After parting ways with Navistar following the 6.4L Power Stroke (which never led the torque war), the 6.7L Power Stroke V-8 represented Ford’s first in-house diesel for the ¾-ton and larger pickup segment.
  • Segment First #1: Following its debut power rating of 390 hp and 735 lb-ft of torque at its initial launch, Ford quickly boosted the 6.7L to 400 hp and 800 lb-ft (as well as issuing a free factory reflash for early buyers)—both of which were firsts for the segment.
  • Segment First #2: The 6.7L Power Stroke was the first diesel engine in its class to offer a compacted graphite iron (CGI) block.
  • Segment First #3: It was also the first engine to offer reverse-flow cylinder heads (which were cast from aluminum).
  • Segment First #4: Air-to-water intercooling made the engine both more efficient and packageable.

6.7L Cummins (2013-2014): 385 HP And 850 LB-FT

2014 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty 6.7L Cummins AS69RC Transmission

  • Beginning in 2013, Ram’s high output 6.7L Cummins option produced 385 hp at 2,800 rpm and 850 lb-ft of torque at 1,700 rpm.
  • The catch was that the higher output Cummins could only be had in conjunction with the new, Aisin AS69RC six-speed automatic transmission and in a 3500 model truck.
  • Combined with axle, chassis and suspension changes, the 850 lb-ft 6.7L Cummins allowed properly equipped Ram 3500’s to out-tow Ford’s F-450 (GCWR 37,600 lbs vs. GCWR 33,000 lbs) for 2013.
  • 2013 also marked the first time selective catalytic reduction (SCR) was available on 2500 and 3500 model trucks, making them the cleanest running Cummins-powered Rams to date.

6.7L Power Stroke (2015): 440 HP And 860 LB-FT

2016 Ford F-350 Lariat 6.7L Power Stroke

  • Ford’s second generation 6.7L Power Stroke was not only intended to offer improved reliability over ’11-’14 engines, but also to top Ram’s 6.7L Cummins in torque.
  • Ford overtook Ram in the torque war by adding a higher-flowing (and more reliable) variable geometry turbo, along with a revamped Bosch common-rail injection system.
  • This version of the 6.7L Power Stroke, as well as the 6R140 TorqShift transmission it was tethered to, pushed Ford Super Duty sales to new, segment-leading heights.

6.7L Cummins (2016): 385 HP And 900 LB-FT

Ram 2500 6.7L Cummins Fourth Gen Quad Cab

  • Segment First: First diesel engine to 900 lb-ft of torque.
  • This rendition of the 6.7L Cummins also afforded Ram 3500 models a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 39,100 pounds.
  • Again, the high output, 900 lb-ft version was only available with the Aisin AS69RC transmission and in 3500 model form.
  • Note that Ram’s 6.7L Cummins had already topped the 860 lb-ft figure pumped out by Ford’s 6.7L Power Stroke with 865 lb-ft in 2015. Despite that, Ram decided to move forward the next model year and go ahead and lay claim to 900 lb-ft.

6.6L Duramax L5P (2017): 445 HP And 910 LB-FT

2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD L5P Duramax

  • The L5P Duramax’s 445 hp and 910 lb-ft rating would mark the last time GM led the Big Three in horsepower and torque—although its class-leading torque rating was short-lived (Ford upped the torque rating of its 6.7L Power Stroke to 925 lb-ft shortly after GM announced the L5P’s figures).
  • A heat-treated cast-iron block, higher-flowing cylinder heads, stronger pistons and an electrically activated VGT highlight the L5P’s biggest improvements over the previous engine, the LML.
  • 2 Million Engine Milestone: GM built Duramax number 2 million during the L5P’s production run.

6.7L Power Stroke (2017): 440 HP And 925 LB-FT

6.7L Power Stroke V8 Gen 2 Ford Diesel

  • Though Ford couldn’t top GM’s class-leading horsepower from the L5P Duramax, it was able to best it by 15 lb-ft of torque.
  • Job 2 ’17 6.7L Power Stroke engines were treated to stronger rods and minor cylinder head improvements, presumably to better cope with future torque increases.
  • In an effort to limit peak cylinder pressure (i.e. reduce stress on the engine), Ford moved the 6.7L Power Stroke’s peak torque rating to 1,800 rpm (vs. 1,600 rpm previously).

6.7L Cummins (2018): 385 HP And 930 LB-FT

2018 Ram 3500 6.7L Cummins

  • Thanks to the calibration engineers at Cummins, the 6.7L was tweaked to produce 930 lb-ft of torque right before ’18 model Rams hit dealer lots.
  • Ram’s segment-leading torque number coincided with a best-in-class fifth-wheel tow rating of 30,000 pounds on properly equipped 3500 models.
  • This marked the last marginal torque increase Ram and Cummins have offered in recent times. Only large bumps in power took place after this point.

6.7L Power Stroke (2018): 450 HP And 935 LB-FT

Ford F-450 6.7L Power Stroke Diesel

  • Ford continued to play cat-and-mouse with Cummins in the torque war, providing another PCM recalibration for ’18 model Super Duty’s that yielded 5 more lb-ft than Ram.
  • Thanks to the software enhancement, Ford’s 6.7L Power Stroke also topped the L5P Duramax in horsepower, claiming a best-in-class figure.
  • The icing on the cake for Ford in 2018 was its dominance in the maximum towing category, with a properly equipped F-450 capable of lugging 34,000 pounds via gooseneck or fifth-wheel hitch.

6.7L Cummins (2019): 400 HP And 1,000 LB-FT

2019 High Output 6.7L Cummins Diesel I6

  • While it still displaced 6.7 liters, the high output 6.7L Cummins that debuted in 2019 was completely redesigned, with a CGI block, forged-steel connecting rods, lighter pistons and hydraulic lifters.
  • Segment First: The all-new 6.7L Cummins was the first engine in its class to reach the 1,000 lb-ft milestone.
  • The high output 6.7L Cummins also debuted a brand-new Holset VGT capable of producing 33 psi of boost in stock form.

6.7L Power Stroke (2020): 475 HP And 1,050 LB-FT

2020 Ford 6.7L Power Stroke Third Generation Diesel V8

  • Accompanying its best-in-class tow figure of 37,000 pounds on F-450 models, Ford blew past Ram’s 1,000 lb-ft mark with its third-generation 6.7L Power Stroke in 2020.
  • Segment First: Ford introduced low-compression (15.8:1), steel pistons for optimum reliability.
  • Further reinforcements performed on the third-generation 6.7L Power Stroke were: CGI block enhancements, revised cylinder heads, improved connecting rod and main bearings, and a 36,000-psi common-rail injection system.
  • Ford also introduced the 10-speed 10R140 TorqShift automatic in 2020, a transmission well-matched to the new, more powerful 6.7L Power Stroke.

6.7L Cummins (2021-2022): 420 HP And 1,075 LB-FT

2023 Ram High Output 6.7L Cummins

  • After Ford topped Ram in 2020, the Auburn Hills-based truck maker quickly prodded Cummins to push the 6.7L I-6 to 1,075 lb-ft of torque (available at 1,800 rpm). Horsepower was given a boost as well, peaking at 420 hp.
  • A key reliability update made for ’21 model year engines was the reversion back to the tried and true Bosch CP3 high-pressure fuel pump. Ram made the change after many CP4.2 pumps (found on ’19 and ’20 engines) suffered failures.
  • The 420 hp and 1,075 lb-ft high output version of the 6.7L Cummins remained reserved for 3500 model trucks equipped with the Aisin AS69RC transmission.

6.7L Power Stroke (2023): 500 HP And 1,200 LB-FT

6.7L High Output Ford Power Stroke Diesel V8

  • In a move that rocked the world of heavy-duty pickup trucks, Ford announced in the fall of 2022 that a high output version of its third-generation 6.7L Power Stroke would be available for 2023 models. The H.O. Power Stroke would skip past the 1,100’s and go straight for the jugular: 1,200 lb-ft.
  • Segment First #1: 500 horsepower.
  • Segment First #2: 1,200 lb-ft of torque.
  • Even though Ford is the current king of the pickup segment, we fully expect Ram and Cummins to retaliate within the next two years.
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