The heavier the vehicle, the more fuel is needed to propel it forward. Because of this, pickup trucks generally underperform against small cars and compact SUVs in the fuel efficiency category. If you’re shopping for a truck, you’re probably willing to compromise on mileage for the ability to haul cargo and tow heavy loads.
That said, trucks are using less fuel than ever before as manufacturers work to meet consumer demand and stricter emission regulations. Buying one of the most fuel efficient trucks with good mileage is better for the environment and will save you money at the gas station.
How is fuel efficiency calculated?
The distance travelled determines fuel efficiency for each unit of fuel used. For example, if a vehicle can travel 20 miles on one gallon of fuel, it has a fuel efficiency of 20 miles per gallon (MPG). The higher the MGP number, the better. Highway driving usually commands better fuel efficiency because there is less starting, stopping and idling than city driving.
Before a truck hits the road, manufacturers do control testing to measure its fuel consumption under different conditions and make sure it meets emission standards. Natural Resource Canada (NRC) collects this information and publishes the results in its Fuel Consumption Guide so drivers can see how their vehicle stacks up.
Generally speaking, diesel engines have better fuel economy than gasoline and compact or mid-size trucks perform better than heavier full-sized models.
Most fuel efficient trucks:
We’ve put together a list of the most fuel-efficient new and used trucks in Canada based on NRC’s data. The vehicles below are ranked from highest to lowest combined MPG — the average of highway and city mileage. You can also easily glimpse the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for each truck, so you know how much you should expect to spend.
Here’s our list:
- Ford 2019 F-150 (diesel, 3.0 L, 6-cylinder)
- Chevrolet 2016 Colorado (diesel, 2.8 L, 4-cylinder)
- GMC 2016 Canyon (diesel, 2.8 L, 4-cylinder)
- Ford 2010 Ranger (gas, 2.3 L, 4-cylinder)
- Ram 2017 1500 (diesel, 3.0 L, 6-cylinder)
- Toyota 2015 Tacoma (gas, 2.7 L, 4-cylinder)
- Honda 2018 Ridgeline (gas, 3.5 L, 6-cyl)
- Nissan 2018 Frontier (gas, 2.5 L, 4-cylinder)
- Chevrolet 2011 Silverado Hybrid (mild hybrid, 5.3 L, 8-cylinder)
- 2018 Sierra (mild hybrid, 5.3 L, 8-cylinder)
Ford 2019 F-150 (diesel, 3.0 L, 6-cylinder)
MSRP: $28,299 – $37,063
MPG: 25 combined
Ford’s F-series trucks are some of the most popular on the market because they have features that appeal to every kind of driver — including the eco-conscious ones.
The full-sized 2019 F-150 has a Power Stroke diesel 3.0-litre, 6-cylinder engine option that gets an impressive 25 MPG combined (30 MPG highway, 22 MPG city). The only downside is that those numbers only apply to the 4×2 wheel drive model, which leaves something to be desired for off-roaders. Still, the diesel offers an impressive 13,200 lb towing capacity.
You can configure the cab however you’d like, and the dashboard offers a world of fun and helpful tech right at your fingertips. Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system connects to both Apple and Android phones, and you can connect your favourite apps to the truck’s touchscreen. Dynamic parking and hitch assist technology make the 2019 F-150 a winner in the manoeuvrability category.
Chevrolet 2016 Colorado (diesel, 2.8 L, 4-cylinder)
MPG: 25 combined
The 2016 Chevy Colorado is a midsize pickup with a revamped 2.8-litre Duramax 4-cylinder diesel engine option that expands the truck’s towing capacity to 7,700 lbs and boosts its fuel efficiency. This truck is a good all-around vehicle that is as comfortable hauling your camper to the lake as it is manoeuvring around downtown.
The compact truck has a snappy optional off-road package, and the five-seat cab has room for the whole family. It has easy-to-use dashboard controls and comes with a touch-screen display and integrated Apple CarPlay system. Heated front seats are a great bonus.
The MSRP for the baseline 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder Colorado is priced at just under $21,000, but opting for the diesel will bump the price up to the $30,000 range. However, you can still get 22 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway with the base model.
GMC 2016 Canyon (diesel, 2.8 L, 4-cylinder)
MPG: 25 combined
The 2016 Canyon was GMC’s triumphant return to the midsize market. It’s quick, powerful and has excellent manoeuvrability compared to other contenders in the small truck category.
This model has three engine options, including a 2.8-litre, 4-cylinder diesel that increases the Canyon’s towing capacity (7,700 lbs) and ups its fuel economy to 22 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway. The entry-level 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder engine provides 200 horsepower and is capable of towing 3,500 lbs. It’s also nearly $10,000 cheaper than the diesel and can get 19 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway.
City dwellers will appreciate the crew cab’s compact size (which makes parking less of a headache), a comfortable design and clean tech options. The fully-loaded model comes with an overhead console, OnStar interface with WiFi, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, steering wheel controls and four USB ports.
Ford 2010 Ranger (gas, 2.3 L, 4-cylinder)
MSRP: $11,469 – $16,995
MPG: 24 combined
Sometimes you have to go back in time for good fuel economy. The 2010 Ford Ranger’s combined 24 MPG (22 city, 27 highway) is on par with the newest trucks out there. It was discontinued in 2011 — much to the chagrin of Ranger fans — but the popular model is set to make a comeback this year with a modern redesign.
Used Rangers aren’t hard to find, and you can usually get a fair price for the basic pickup. It comes as a two-seat regular or extended cab, and a 6-foot bed is standard for both styles. The V6 engine option can tow up to 6,000 lbs and the stability control system keeps it well-grounded.
Being nearly a decade old, the Ranger doesn’t come with the kind of console tech drivers are used to these days. The base model has a CD player, satellite radio and an aux jack.
Ram 2017 1500 (diesel, 3.0 L, 6-cylinder)
MSRP: $26,495 – $38,990
MPG: 23 combined
The 2017 Ram 1500 is an upgrade of a well-loved classic. On the surface, this light-duty truck doesn’t look much different than earlier models, but the high-fuel efficiency diesel engine gives you more bang for your buck at the pump — the 3.0-litre, 6-cylinder EcoDiesel gets 27 MPG on the highway and 20 MPG in the city (23 combined).
Comfort has always been a top priority for Ram, and this model is no different. Its suspension system makes it one of the smoothest driving trucks out there and the cab is roomy and well-designed. There were ten different 1500 models released for 2017, so it’s not hard to find a version with the cabin configuration, off-road capabilities and fuel economy to meet your needs.
The 1500 includes keyless entry, and push-button start, smartphone syncing, Bluetooth, voice controls and you can turn the entire vehicle into a wifi hotspot.
Toyota 2015 Tacoma (gas, 2.7 L, 4-cylinder)
MSRP: $23,992 – $31,450
MPG: 22 combined
The Toyota Tacoma is a compact truck that has stood the test of time thanks to its dependability. If you’re in the market for a used truck, you’ll find slightly better fuel economy in the 4-cylinder 2015 than in new versions of the Tacoma (22 versus 21 MPG combined). The truck’s reputation for reliability means it has excellent resale value.
What the Tacoma’s smaller engine lacks in towing capacity (6,400 lbs maximum), its four-wheel drive package makes up for in performance — the off-road handling and suspension are hard to beat in the mid-size market. The truck’s small size also adds to its manoeuvrability in the city.
The 2015 Tacoma comes in either an extended or crew cab and the composite-lined bed comes with a utility rail system and optional built-in storage and power outlet. It comes with a touchscreen, mobile app integration and an optional rearview camera.
Honda 2019 Ridgeline (gas, 3.5 L, 6-cylinder)
MSRP: $40,990 – $43,220
MPG: 21 combined
The 2019 Honda Ridgeline is a well-rounded mid-size truck with a sleeker design than most in its category. The 3.5-litre, 6-cylinder engine gets 18 MPG in the city and 25 on the highway, and its SUV-style chassis and suspension system gives the Ridgeline hard-to-beat stability.
Unless you work in construction or out on a farm, you probably don’t need a truck with the biggest hauling or towing capacity — that’s where the Ridgeline comes in. It can’t pull anything over 5,000 lbs, and its lower body makes for limited off-road use, but it’s great for hauling cargo and has some nice features like a two-way tailgate and a locking trunk in the bed.
The Ridgeline only comes as a four-door crew cab, and the baseline model includes a tow hitch, push-button starter and a 4.2-inch dashboard screen. Smartphone connectivity and safety features are available as add-ons.
Nissan 2018 Frontier (gas, 2.5 L, 4-cylinder)
MSRP: $18,990 – $33,030
MPG: 21 combined
The Frontier is Nissan’s only mid-size truck offering. While it’s standard transmission option can get a decent 19 MPG in the city and 23 on the highway, its dated cabin means it’s not the most comfortable ride out there. If you’re looking for a straightforward compact pickup truck with the basic utilities and not much more, the 2018 Frontier is a good place to start.
The base extended cab model is one of the more affordable new trucks on our list and includes a rearview camera, a 5-inch display, steering wheel audio controls, aux jack and Siri Eyes Free voice command as standard. The truck’s size and good sightlines make it a great vehicle for city driving and easy to park anywhere.
The spray-in bed liner and handy tie downs are nice features for loading cargo, but the 4-cylinder engine has a towing capacity that maxes out at just 3,500 lbs.
Chevrolet 2018 Silverado 1500 (mild hybrid, 5.3 L, 8-cylinder)
MSRP: $28,285 – $40,230
MPG: 20 combined
Chevrolet’s Silverado is a full-sized truck that hangs its hat on its versatility. Whether you’re looking for a pared-down work truck or a luxurious passenger vehicle, the 2018 Silverado 1500’s wide range of submodels offers something for everyone.
General Motors’ eAssist technology is an add-on that makes this truck’s 8-cylinder engine as fuel efficient as a V6. While not a full hybrid, the powertrain system has a lithium-ion battery pack that automatically takes over from the gas engine when the truck is idling. This can be a good mileage booster if you do a lot of city driving and often find yourself in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Another nice touch is the Silverado’s regenerative braking system that captures the energy lost from putting your foot on the brake and uses it to help power the truck’s electronic systems. Standard tech includes a 7-inch touchscreen display and connectivity for Apple and Android devices.
GMC 2018 Sierra (mild hybrid, 5.3 L, 8-cylinder)
MSRP: $28,705 – $39,610
MPG: 19 combined
While the 2018 GMC Sierra comes in last on our list that doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice when it comes to fuel efficiency. The baseline four-wheel drive manages 16 miles to the gallon in the city and 23 on the highway, but you can also add GM’s eAssist to the Sierra for added savings at the pump.
Under the hood, the Sierra is almost identical to the Silverado when it comes to functionality and towing capabilities (maxing out at 9,300 lbs), so choosing between the two is a matter of taste. The Sierra’s four trim styles are a bit more luxurious — a good example is the top of the line Denali submodel, which features a Bose audio system, heated steering wheel and high-end driver safety assistance tech.
The standard truck comes with an easy to use 8-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, wifi and Apple or Android connectivity.