The distinguishing features of Cummins turbo diesel engines are their high torque levels and high fuel economy compared to similar engine designs. This makes Cummins turbo diesel engines particularly suitable for hauling cargo and towing applications, and many work trucks and commercial vehicles use these engines to take advantage of these features. Cummins engines are also known for their durability and longevity because many owners drive vehicles with these engines for well over 100,000 miles.
Cummins turbo diesel engines are capable of very high peak power outputs. For example, the 2016 version of the 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel pickup engine is capable of 385 horsepower and up to 900 foot-pounds of torque. However, power output is limited by the transmission paired with the engine because only heavy-duty automatic transmissions can withstand the maximum output of the engine. Despite its high power output, modifications to the catalytic converter systems of modern Cummins engines make them up to 10 percent more fuel-efficient than older models.
As of 2016, newer Cummins turbo diesel engines are more environmentally friendly than older diesel engines. For example, many 2016 model Cummins turbo diesel engines are capable of handling B20-grade biofuels, while older Cummins engines can only use B5 biofuels. This allows newer Cummins engines to run on fuels ranging from B20 mixtures to pure low-sulfur diesel, which gives owners more flexibility when fueling their vehicles.