Ask TFL: What is the Best Base V8 Engine in a Half-ton Pickup Truck?

What is the best V8 gas engine in a half-ton pickup truck? Is it the Chevy small block, Ford “coyote” V8, or the Ram HEMI? We recently received this question from Seth Greene.

what’s the best V8 engine for a half-ton: the Ram 5.7L, the Ford 5.0L, or the Chevy 5.3L?

Although Seth did not include the Nissan and Toyota trucks in the question, let’s define all five V8s that currently compete for your hard-earned dollar (in alphabetical order).

This comparison does NOT take into account premium V8 engine options that cost a significant amount more than the base V8 engine. This is why GM’s latest 6.2L V8 and Ram’s V8 eTorque are not discussed here. We need more testing time with these engines to get more data.

Chevy Silverado: 5.3L V8

GM’s more affordable 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 has just been upgraded for the 2019 model with the Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) system. DFM is a new cylinder deactivation technology that allows the engine to dynamically chose how many cylinders fire: all eight, every other cylinder, every third cylinder, and so forth. Under light load (when maximum torque is not required) the engine may choose to fire every fourth cylinder, then very quickly switch to firing on all eight if maximum power is demanded. This is meant to increase the efficiency of the engine.

The power rating does not change. It sill stands at 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The latest 5.3L DFM V8 engine is available only with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

All of the engine specs are the same for the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500.

Ford F-150: 5.0L V8

The Ford’s Ti-VCT “coyote” 5.0-liter V8 is still available in the 2018 model year F-150. It has not changed this year. Ti-VCT stands for Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing. This engine is rated at 395 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Nissan Titan: 5.6L V8

Nissan’s 5.6L Endurance V8 returned with the redesigned 2017 Titan truck. It continues unchanged for the 2018 model year. The rating is 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission.

Ram 1500: 5.7L V8

The 5.7L HEMI V8 continues for the 2019 model year in the new Ram 1500. It’s available in two flavors: the regular V8 with 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque; and the V8 with the eTorque mild hybrid system. The belt-connected electric motor provides up to an additional 130 lb-ft of torque to the 5.7L V8, but it does so for a very short time at the low end. The overall power rating for the V8 eTorque does not change. Both of these engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

What changes is the EPA fuel economy rating. The V8 eTorque crew 4×4 is rated at 17 mpg / 21 mpg / 19 mpg combined, which is two mpg better than the regular V8.

Toyota Tundra: 5.7L V8

Toyota offers two V8 engines for the Tundra: the 4.6L and the 5.7L. This question is specifically referring to the “base” V8 engines in the full-size trucks. However, the power rating on the 4.6L V8 is much lower than all other trucks in this comparison. It’s rated at 310 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque. This V8 is also not available in a crew cab 4×4 configuration, so let’s look at the 5.7L V8 instead.

Toyota’s 5.7L iForce V8 has been around for a while. It’s still rated at 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Here is how the EPA-rated fuel economy stacks up for all five of these trucks, and here are our Towing Highway MPG Loop results.

Please let us know your opinion using the poll and the comments section below.