The Duramax Tuner is, most probably, the most talked about upgrade for the most popular trucks that have been in the market in recent times. The big coal, burning diesels are usually the performing programmer, or the tuner; and the Duramax equipped trucks from GM are definitely no exception.
One wonderful thing about these programmers is the fact that they give a host of features and customizations that can easily fit your unique needs.
Sometimes, because this programmers gives you a gamut of options to choose from, it can be something of a strain trying to choose what you want, but that is what this article has been put together for, to help you select from the best tuner programmers out there for your Duramax diesel.
For Stock Or Upgraded Applications
You should know that, although these tuners will certainly benefit any stock truck, bolt on modifications that includes a free-flowing exhaust that will incrementally multiply your gains. This is so because the ECU can be tuned to make the most of your free-flowing upgrades. From the DPF system to the sound-reducing devices, the stock exhausts are nearly too restrictive from the manufacturers who make an exhaust upgrade a recommended mod.
Solid Gains with Stock Setups
You do not really have to bother much since the solid grains are available when you use a tuner on your Duramax which is running the stock intake and exhaust systems. If, later on, you choose to upgrade those areas, rest assured your tuner will be okay to provide the perfect fueling and shifting settings for your setup. If you want to know the best tuner for your individual needs, then you can keep reading.
Best Duramax Tuner 2019 Review
Below is a review of some of the best Duramax Tuners in the market.
Edge Diesel Evolution 85400 CTS2 Tuner – Modern but Available
If what you are looking for is something that is worth your every penny (I am sure the majority of people looking to buy “the best tuner” would want this), and you want a fully featured, internet updateable tuner, then you should go for the Edge Diesel Evolution 85400 CTS2.
This model is available in vehicle line specific part numbers, also, it covers all the 2001 to 2015 6.6 liter Duramax truck, from the 2500 to the 5500 chassis, with sundry Powerstrokes and Cummins trucks.
Apart from the typical features that you will find, like the tune settings, gauge displays, speedometer and rev limiter adjustments, and the online update capability, it also allows you to do some refining that most programmers don’t support.
Its Impressive Display
One thing is to consider in the feature in and of itself is its huge, full color, high-resolution display. It spreads across at 5 inches, it is touch enabled, and has color mixers that supports customizable gauges, needles, and backgrounds.
Sometimes, though, it could be hard to see the gauges on other tuner displays, due to the size of their screen or the gauge color choice of the product’s manufacturers.
However, this is not an issue you will face with this diesel tuner, as you can change all the LCD display’s colors according to your personal taste.
Once it gets out of its box, the high contrast colors make it easy to see critical gauges at a glimpse; and this is vital for when you’re keeping a close watch on your temps and other important engine data while you tow.
Its Features and Tunability
In addition to its display, its other features include your ability to tune torque management, fuel pressures, and many other forms of calibrations. You should take note that this programmer does not support tuning shift points or shift firmness for Duramax applications. This can be very useful for when you take your truck to a skilled tuner with a dyno.
This model can be used to build and to save a custom-tailored tune that is unique to your own truck. When it comes to the plug-and-go types, it comes pre-installed with tunes for mileage, towing, daily mix, and other performance-oriented uses.
This model has a notification center that sends alerts, and also making you aware of any imminent issues before they develop into a full-blown problem.
Users of this model have given very positive feedbacks on the very impressive power gains (with the big grins that follow). Although, the economy improvements overall are less than the fuel efficiency gains that is offered by other tuners.
Another downside to this tuner is this model’s trip meter resetting to zero every time the engine is turned off; but what most people do is, they use their built-in dash trip meter, meaning that this shouldn’t spoil much.
With the offer of large power gains, and a good reach of pre-installed maps, this model is a great value for the dollar. Its 5 inches bright and easy-to-read touch display is only the tip of the iceberg of this solid Duramax tuner.
This is a highly recommended tuner that will help to unleash the great potential of the Duramax power plant without your having to break the bank.
Bully Dog 40420 GT Platinum Duramax Programmer – Unique Software Features
Typically, this model is usually sold for a bit less price than the Edge CTS2 model.
The Bully Dog is compatible with all Duramax 6.6 trucks from the years 2001 to 2015, and at present, they are working on making it compatible with the current models. Just like the above model, the Bully Dog has a Safety Defueling feature.
What this means is that the Bully Dog will do well in cutting the fuel in the event of an issue that concern either the exhaust gas temperatures (or EGT), engine coolant temps, over-boost, or the transmission temperatures.
This feature makes sure that your engine and transmission give you years of problem-free use. This makes the usual expensive car repairs avoidable, since all the critical engine data can be quickly and easily monitored only by a simple glance.
Its display, although not touch supported, have a full color display with multiple color schemes to aid with readability, as well as daytime and nighttime modes so that you can focus on driving and not get blinded by the tuner display found on your dash.
This model is also internet updateable just like the other high-end tuner available on the market.
One very unique feature of the Bully Dog GT is the driving coach feature. It enables the model to monitor driving habits and coach the driver, using both audio and visual feedback as to how efficient their driving is.
According to Bully Dog’s manufacturers, drivers will be able to save an average of 37 percent on fuel costs monthly, only if they adjusted their driving habits. Driving coach helps you learn and make adjustments in that manner.
Although, many choose not to buy a performance tuner that is tailored to their unique needs, especially in increasing their fuel mileage, you would have to agree that such skills would pay for the unit in fuel cost savings in a short amount of time.
Many users drive their diesels long haul, whether it is empty or with a load, making it a deal breaker for many. Of course, this model does come with pre-installed features like tow, sport, and economy tunes; but more economical driving habits are beneficial to everyone.
Edge Products 85100 Evolution Duramax Tuner
The first thing that you will notice between the Edge 85400 and the 85100 is the size of their screens. While the 85400 has a screen that is 5 inches in size, the 85100 only has a screen with 2.4 inches, with its navigation buttons featuring on its sides.
Do not be deceived by this difference, though. The 85100 comes with all the features that can be seen in the 85400 model, especially when it comes to its capabilities, with a value for your dollar price tag.
Another very interesting thing about this model is what the manufacturers named its “Maintenance Manager” that enables the user to set up mileage-based points and reminders for upcoming servicing work and maintenance.
This model is compatible with the 2001 to 2015 6.6 Duramax, that includes the LB7, LLY, LBZ, LMM, and LML equipped trucks. There is a dash pod mount that is available for the 85400 Evolution, giving it a classy factory look when it is mounted on your dash.
Many users of this product have reported several MPG improvements using the most preset economy tune and strong power and acceleration gains in the different preset performance modes.
Its downsides. Most trucks that were produced before the year 2002 are not compatible with this model and adjusting your wheel size above 34 inches in the tuner will throw some error lights on some of the truck models.
The manufacturers of this model are known to make great products with excellent customer service in the event (which can be rare) that you will need it.
And this makes the 85100 Evolution a great choice for those who are on a budget and still want a digital gauge cluster with a host of other features like the preset tunes for more power and increased fuel mileage. Great value for your money.
PPE Xcelerator GM Duramax Tuner – Dated Design Hides a Solid Tuner
This product is a solid model that is made in the USA. The Xcelerator GM tuner was made for a better throttle response, shifting features, and to add a big power without having to get expensive fueling and air upgrades.
One interesting thing about this tuner is that, not only will it optimize a stock engine’s performance and fuel efficiency, but it will also perfectly tune engine setups that include a free-flowing exhaust and a cold air intake system.
This model allows you to read and clear DTC’s (Diagnostic Trouble Tones), adjust the speed limiter, adjust gear ratios and speed calibrations for tires that are oversize, and it also has 5 tune settings already pre-installed.
You can upgrade it by connecting it to a PC, that is if you need other tunes or you want to upgrade to the high-performance Hot or Hot + 2 versions.
Considerable power gains are available with a 2001 to 2005.5 LB7 and LLY gaining up to 220 HP and 332 Ft/Tq. As for the 2006 to 2010 LLY, LBZ, and LMM trucks, the driver can increase the power by up to 225 HP and 335 Ft/Tq.
This is literally a handheld style tuner, and for this reason, when you try to mount it onto your dash, it doesn’t mount tidily. But this feature’s functionality and features are still similar to the suction cup dash mounted style programmers.
Another interesting feature of this model that the users should find useful is the ability to monitor injector balance rates, making monitoring or troubleshooting probable problems a whole lot easier.
There has been a customer who claimed that his 2006 Duramax truck went from 13 MPG stock to 21 MPG average with the PPE, a 4-inch straight piped exhaust, a cold air intake setup, and a 3-inch down pipe.
Many other customers also claim to experience solid power increases even when you use the lower HP preloaded tunes and some are not able to experience the high HP tunes as their stock clutches are not able to handle the extra power.
Although, this model does not come with the fancy LCD touch display, with the digital gauges suctioned to your dash, do not allow the outdated two-color LCD design make you turn away.
This model is very capable and useful as a tuning tool, serving a lot of satisfied customers. The only downside to it is its high price. For a tuner in this same price range, you can get any of the putative tuners making the PPE unit a hard sell seeing as it has an older design and basic usability.
- It is capable of substantial power gains.
- It is made in the USA.
- It is designed to give power gains even with stock setups.
Final Thoughts On The Best Duramax Tuner / Programmer
Whatever product you choose to go with, something you should always remember is your own need. All of the above-mentioned tuners have a number of preset tunes that will suit towing duties, an around-town driving or maximum power delivery.
There are some differences in how they display the different readouts, and some models have a few idiosyncrasies as we have discussed in the review of the individual models.
One thing that they all have in common is the fact that they are all solid products made by well-known companies that fully satisfy their customers.
They will all do well to increase the HP and torque of your truck’s Duramax power plant, as they work to improve fuel mileage and general responsiveness. Many users say that they have less issues with their rigs going into regen or limp mode which is a great feature.
The tow rig will run stronger and cooler for longer with not many problems and likely less expensive repairs.
The benefits of a personal diesel programmer model are too great to not give a try, and in the long-term, they pay for themselves because of their reduced maintenance and cost of fuel. Now that we have given you a list of what we believe are the best tuners in the market, which one will you be deciding on?