GM's 2021 Diesel Lineup.

GM's 2021 Diesel Lineup.
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GM's 2021 Diesel Lineup.

The core advantage of diesel engines is that they're compression ignition engines and rely on the mechanical squeeze to light each cylinder's air and fuel. It's a more efficient way to convert fuel into mechanical work. Alas, compression ignition is louder than spark-ignited gas engines. And diesel soot is wickedly difficult to economically control. Just ask Volkswagen, which in 2014 was caught cheating up their TDI range of engines to get past emissions regulations. Jobs were lost. Some people went to prison.

The VW scandal almost overnight killed the diesel-car market. But then those vehicles known as "trucks" are a different story.

Below is GM's complete Diesel lineup for the 2021 model year.

Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV

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Many of the vehicles on this list charge a fat stack to add their optional diesel powertrain. Not the Escalade. The price for a gas-powered 420-hp Escalade is the same as the 277-hp 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6. And they both come with 10-speed automatics. It's the biggest option on the list, and in terms of luxury diesels, rivaled only by the more expensive Land Rover Range Rover on this list.

  • Base price: $77,490 (RWD Escalade) $80,490 (RWD Escalade ESV)
  • Engine: 277-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel inline-6 engine, 10-speed automatic transmission
  • EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 23/21/27 mpg (RWD)
  • Max Towing: 8000 lb (RWD Escalade) 7900 lb (RWD Escalade ESV)

Chevrolet Colorado

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The Colorado and its twin, the GMC Canyon—are available with a Duramax 181-horsepower, 2.8-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine that thumps out 369 lb-ft of torque at only 2000 rpm. The truck has to be a four-door crew cab in at least the LT trim level. The diesel can tow up to 7700 pounds and is EPA-rated at 30 mpg on the highway. Add the diesel to the off-road optimized ZR2 model, and the result is among the most capable oil-burning off-roaders around, but the starting price jumps to $46,295.

  • Base price: $37,810
  • Engine: 181-hp turbocharged 2.8-liter diesel inline-4 engine, six-speed automatic transmission
  • EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 23/20/30 mpg (2WD)
  • Max Towing: 7700 lb

Chevrolet Express

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General Motors doesn't list the Express full-size van as a consumer vehicle. It's a commercial workhorse that (along with its GMC-badged Savana twin) will add the Colorado pickup's 2.8-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine to its buffet of engine options. The Duramax four-cylinder, with 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque will be offered on both half-ton and three-quarter-ton versions of the Express. The Express Cargo also features the most affordable starting price of any vehicle on this list. Go vans!

  • Base price: $37,865 (Cargo) $41,690 (Passenger)
  • Engine: 181-hp turbocharged 2.8-liter diesel inline-4 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission
  • EPA Fuel Economy: Full-size vans such as the Express are exempt from federal fuel-economy standards.
  • Max Towing: 7000 lb

Chevrolet Silverado 1500

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The half-ton diesel wave comes to Silverado with the addition of a 277-horsepower 3.0-liter inline-six turbo-diesel option on most LT-or-higher trim levels, even for two-wheel drive models. Delivering up to 460 lb-ft of torque at only 1500 rpm and backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission, this slick and smooth Duramax engine change the Silverado's character. The two-wheel-drive diesel Silverado 1500 is the most fuel efficient vehicle on this list.

  • Base price: $48,500
  • Engine: 277-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel inline-6 engine, 10-speed automatic transmission
  • EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 27/23/33 mpg (2WD)
  • Max Towing: 9300 lb

Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD/3500HD

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The Silverado HD (and the GMC Sierra version) is once again available with 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V-8 with 445 horsepower and a whopping 910 lb-ft of torque. And it's now backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission. That should be enough to haul the truth out of the Warren Commission. Don't be deceived by that $48,585 price; that's for a regular cab two-wheel drive work truck. The three-quarter- and one-ton pickups get pricey as the cab adds doors and the interior trim gets luxurious.

  • Base price: $48,585
  • Engine: 445-hp turbocharged 6.6-liter diesel V-8 engine, 10-speed automatic transmission
  • EPA Fuel Economy: Heavy-duty pickup trucks such as the Silverado 2500HD/3500HD are exempt from federal fuel-economy standards.
  • Max Towing: 18,500 lb (2500HD) and 20,000 lb (3500HD)

Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe

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The new Tahoe and Suburban are available with the same 3.0-liter turbo-diesel inline-six offered in their pickup cousin, the Silverado 1500. Incidentally, this will not be the first diesel-powered Suburban. Between 1978 and 1981, the Suburban (and the Tahoe's predecessor, the Blazer) were available with the legendarily awful Oldsmobile 5.7-liter V-8. From 1982 to 1991, the SUVs the Detroit Diesel 6.2-liter V-8 was offered. This 277-hp diesel powertrain is available on base Tahoe and Suburban models through every trim up to the Z71 off-road Chevys.

  • Base price: $51,290 (Tahoe) $52,695 (Suburban)
  • Engine: 277-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel inline-six, 10-speed automatic transmission
  • EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 24/21/28 mpg (2WD Tahoe) 23/21/27 mpg (RWD Suburban)
  • Max Towing: 8200 lb (RWD Tahoe) 8000 lb (RWD Suburban)

GMC Canyon

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Dig the Chevrolet Colorado's mechanicals but wish it looked boxier? The Canyon is the same truck dressed up in GMC duds and, like the Colorado, has General Motors's Duramax 181-horsepower, 2.8-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder. The diesel is offered on the SLE, SLT, All-Terrain, and Denali models but not on the base SL trim. The diesel-powered Canyon earns the same EPA-rated 30 mpg highway as the Colorado, though four-wheel-drive models are only estimated to return 28 mpg highway.

  • Base price: $39,325
  • Engine: 181-hp turbocharged 2.8-liter diesel inline-4 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission
  • EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 23/20/30 mpg
  • Max Towing: 7700 lb

GMC Savana

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The Savana is a touch cheaper than its nearly identical twin, the Chevrolet Express, and it is available with the same 181-horsepower, 2.8-liter Duramax turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine. Like the Express, the Savana is also offered in a passenger-hauling version, which is perfect for church van and shuttle-bus duty.

  • Base price: $37,865 (Cargo) $41,690 (Passenger)
  • Engine: 181-hp turbocharged 2.8-liter diesel inline-4 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission
  • EPA Fuel Economy: Full-size vans such as the Express are exempt from federal fuel-economy standards.
  • Max Towing: 7000 lb

GMC Sierra 1500

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What goes for the Chevrolet Silverado usually goes for the Sierra. So, it's no surprise that GM's new Duramax 3.0-liter, turbo-diesel inline-six is offered on the Sierra just as it is on the Silverado. And it's backed by the same 10-speed automatic transmission. We could have just written exactly what we wrote about the Silverado here, but we just care too damned much to do that.

  • Base price: $45,385
  • Engine: 277-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel inline-6 engine, 10-speed automatic transmission
  • EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 26/23/30 mpg (2WD)
  • Max Towing: 9200 lb (RWD Crew Cab Short Box)

GMC Sierra 2500HD/3500HD

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General Motors has redesigned its Heavy Duty trucks for 2020, so both the Chevrolet Silverado HD and its brother, the GMC Sierra HD, have evolved. The mack-daddy Sierra HD three-quarter-ton 2500 and one-ton 3500 can be equipped with 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V-8 that boasts 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft of torque. Yes, it's the same engine that's under the hood of the Chevrolet Silverado HD. And it's backed by the same Allison 10-speed automatic transmission as in that truck.

  • Base price: $49,910
  • Engine: 445-hp turbocharged 6.6-liter diesel V-8 engine, 10-speed automatic transmission
  • EPA Fuel Economy: Heavy-duty pickup trucks such as the Sierra 2500HD/3500HD are exempt from federal fuel-economy standards.
  • Max Towing: 18,500 lb (2500HD Crew Cab) 20,000 (3500HD Crew Cab)

GMC Yukon and Yukon XL

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As brothers to the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, all-new Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs get an optional 277-hp 3.0-liter turbo diesel inline-six. The engine has 460 lb-ft of torque, and is paired to Chevy's 10-speed automatic. Oil-burners are available on almost every GMC Yukon trim, including all two- and four-wheel drive models. The only exception, like in the Tahoe and Suburban's case, is the AT4 off-road version.

  • Base price: $52,990 (Yukon) $55,690 (Yukon XL)
  • Engine: 277-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine, 10-speed automatic transmission
  • EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 23/21/27 (RWD)
  • Max Towing: TBA