Powerstroke and Cummins are two of the top names in the American diesel truck market. The Powerstroke is the diesel engine for Ford trucks, and the Cummins engine is found in new Ram trucks and older Dodge trucks as well as in the Nissan Titan. Why should a prospective truck buyer choose one over the other? In simple terms–it depends on what they need their truck to do. A closer look at these two engines might reveal the better choice for a particular buyer.
The CTD is the oldest diesel engine of the two. It began in 1919, and Chrysler started putting the engine in its Dodge trucks around 1988. The first CTD available in Dodge Ram trucks was the 5.9-liter six-cylinder. The CTD actually revolutionized the diesel market at the time by utilizing a turbocharger. The other two big brands, Ford and General Motors, were using diesel engines in their trucks, but they didn’t have turbochargers. The CTD offered 400 pound-feet of torque and direct injection as well. The 5.9 CTD was one of the most popular diesel engines of all time, and it wasn’t replaced until 2007 with the 6.7-liter. Increased emissions standards in the United States prompted the change.
From 1983-1987, Ford had a 6.9-liter IDI diesel engine made by International Harvester followed by a 7.3L IDI engine. Then, in early 1994, Ford introduced the 7.3-liter Powerstroke engine. Like the CTD, the first Powerstroke became an industry leader and was on the market for a long time before changing emissions standards precipitated a change. The replacement PSD was a 6.0-liter, and it offered more power than the previous engine, but it also ran into a number of problems. Head gasket failure and chronically clogged EGR valves were common problems with the 6.0-liter Powerstroke.
One of the main reasons people buy trucks with diesel engines is to tow things. Diesel trucks produce a lot more torque than trucks with gas engines. This enables them to tow heavy equipment like boats, campers, trailers and more. The amount of torque produced by CTD and PSD engines depends on the model and sometimes the truck. Check out the following examples of torque production on different trucks and engines:
Going by engines alone, the first generation 7.3-liter PSD made 425 pound-feet of torque. The second PSD engine in the 6.0-liter improved on this with 570 pound-feet of torque. The 6.4-liter PSD that followed made 650 pound-feet of torque. The current 6.7-liter PSD makes 1,050 pound-feet of torque.
For the CTD, the first 5.9-liter made 400 pound-feet of torque as previously mentioned. The following 6.7-liter improved on this with 650 pound-feet. The current version of this engine makes 1,000 pound-feet of torque on a 3500 truck only, otherwise, it’s 850 pound-feet.
Verdict: The PSD and CTD are pretty neck-in-neck when it comes to torque production. It largely depends on what model of Dodge or Ford truck the engine is in. Currently, the PSD has a slight edge.
As mentioned above, most people buy diesel trucks for their superior torque output. However, horsepower is also important for towing and hauling. It enables the truck to get up to speed faster. In general, the PSD engines have offered more horsepower over the years than CTD engines. The 6.7-liter CTD makes about 400 horsepower, while the 6.7-liter PSD makes 450 horsepower.
Verdict: PSD engines generally have more horsepower than CTD, and the current engines are no exception.
Towing capacity is based on more than just the engine. It also depends on the structural design of the truck. Different models and different trims within a particular model might tow more or less, depending on their equipment. Some trims come with towing packages that increase the towing capacity of a particular truck. In general, the maximum towing capacity in any truck will be found on a 2WD trim. A 4WD truck will always have less towing capacity vs. the exact same model and trim in 2WD.
Verdict: It’s a tie. Currently, it’s possible to get either a CTD or PSD truck that tows over 26,000 pounds. That number is the most the average truck owner can tow in the United States without a CDL. It also covers the majority of popular towing items, such as campers and boats.
Most diesel pickups are used as work vehicles, so fuel economy isn’t usually the biggest consideration when it comes to what buyers choose. However, diesel engines offer more power than gas engines and generally superior fuel economy. The EPA doesn’t rate heavy-duty diesel pickups for fuel economy, but the smaller CTD and PSD engines are found in light-duty trucks like the aforementioned Ford F-150 for the PSD and the Nissan Titan for the CTD.
The most recent model of the F-150 3.0 PSD gets an EPA estimate of 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined.
The most recent model of the Titan XD 5.5 CTD gets an EPA estimate of 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.
Verdict: The smaller PSD in the F-150 yields better fuel economy than the smaller CTD in the Titan.
Most diesel enthusiasts seem to agree that the Cummins Turbo Diesel is the better engine in terms of reliability, but the Ford pickups tend to last longer and be more reliable than the Ram pickups. The top problems on these two engines are as follows:
The exhaust manifold issue with shrinking and cracking is most often found on trucks with the CTD that do a lot of towing.
The Powerstroke Diesel turbocharger issue happens mainly to tuned engines as the additional horsepower and torque cause the ball bearings of the turbo to degrade.
For light-duty trucks with a PSD or CTD, the best warranty you can find is 100,000 miles or five years on the powertrain. Ford, Ram and Nissan all have this warranty on their diesel pickups. Medium-duty Ford diesel pickups come with a 250,000-mile warranty.
Verdict: It’s a tie as all light-duty PSD or CTD trucks come with the same length of warranty.
The CTD is arguably the most popular diesel engine, and it has the most name recognition. This is likely due to how long it’s been around. Buyers looking for their first diesel pickup might lean towards the CTD for this reason alone. In terms of the trucks themselves, the Ram is also a popular truck. However, Ford trucks in both diesel and gas forms have long been among the best-selling vehicles in America for many years. This is especially true of the F-150.
Verdict: Another tie. The CTD name is arguably more popular, but Ford pickups are more popular than the Rams.
The CTD and PSD engines in modern trucks are very similar when it comes to performance and capability. Both put out similar horsepower and torque numbers, and both can tow as much as any non-CDL driver would ever need. Picking one over the other is likely to come down to pure preference or loyalty to one of the two brand names, or the pickups made by Ford and Ram.
Whether you decide to buy a Ram Cummins diesel or a Ford Powerstroke diesel truck, you can count on ProSource Diesel to supply all the aftermarket diesel truck parts you need to get the most out of your vehicle.