America’s trucks, SUVs, vans, and wagons are the workhorses of the vehicle class. They get events populated, bring crews to work sites, and allow for goods to be hauled. The downside is they take large amounts of fuel to do their jobs. Since gas prices don’t go down and the world’s atmosphere hardly needs any more emissions, drivers are looking for a solution that allows them to handle their business without getting stung at the gas pump on a weekly basis.
To help with the effort, Fueleconomy.gov compiles stats on all the vehicles on U.S. roads in order to let drivers know which are offering the best gas mileage in each class. Even though cars get far better mileage than larger vehicles, every dollar and bit of carbon counts. Here are the eight trucks with the best-in-class mpg for 2014.
Note: The EPA classifies all SUVs, pickups, vans, wagons, and multi-purpose vehicles as trucks.
8. GMC Savana 1500 (14 mpg) : Best Passenger Van (tie)
The GMC Savana is one of the vehicles that can be seen hauling kids to soccer games as well as groups to social outings. Savanas are also excellent vans for hauling cargo and making work projects go smoothly. At $30,970, there may be more affordable vans on the market, but none are topping this GMC model in terms of fuel economy. It tied with two other vans for best-in-class (though poor) 14 mpg overall and 17 mpg highway. At $6.55 per 25 miles, the Savana may not sound like a bargain to operate, but it’s as good as it gets.
7. Chevy Express 1500 (14 mpg): Best Passenger Van (tie)
Tied with the GMC Savana for best mpg in the passenger van class is the Chevy Express at 14 mpg with 17 mpg on the highway. At $25,750, Express 1500 vans undercut corporate sibling Savana on price by nearly $5,000 and deliver the same fuel economy. They also cost $6.55 in fueling costs for every 25 miles on the road.
Ford’s E-150 Wagon FFV ($28,600) also tied these two models for best-in-class overall fuel economy but trailed both the Savana and Express 1500 (17 mpg hwy) in highway economy at 16 mpg. According to Fueleconomy.gov, these three vans cost $7,750 more to fuel than the average car on the road over the course of five years. Their usefulness comes at a steep price on all fronts.
6. Toyota Tacoma (23 mpg): Best Small Pickup
It won’t surprise many people to learn that a Toyota is topping lists in fuel economy. In the small pickup category, there is no better performer than the Tacoma, which is capable of 25 highway mpg and 23 mpg overall. At $3.99 in fuel costs for every 25 miles, operating a Toyota Tacoma is almost reasonable. In fact, this economy allows Tacoma drivers to spend no more ($0) than the average American driver would on fuel costs fror a new car over a span of five years. The 2.7-liter two-wheel drive model ($18,125) is the model that landed the high marks.
5. Ram 1500 2WD (23 mpg): Best Standard Pickup
Delivering on work sites is the duty of pickup trucks in America. No vehicles sell more than the Ford F-150, Silverado, and Ram on an annual basis in the United States. Until Ford comes out with its aluminum F-150, getting good gas mileage in one of these workhorses is a challenge. The Ram 1500 2WD 3.0-liter turbo diesel model gets the best-in-class 23 mpg (28 mpg highway). At $4.29 to operate every 25 miles, drivers will still spend $1,000 more than the average U.S. driver would on new cars to fuel the Ram 1500 diesel model, but there is no better option in terms of economy.
4. Mazda 5 (24 mpg): Best Minivan
While crossovers such as the Highlander try to supplant the minivan as the American family vehicles of choice, there are still plenty of households that depend on their old standby to take the kids to school, soccer practice, or the grandparents’ house. It may not be surprising that Mazda is leading the pack in fuel economy in the minivan class with the Mazda5 ($20,140). Rated by the EPA at 24 mpg (28 highway), the Mazda5 costs $3.82 to fuel every 25 miles. Over the course of five years, drivers could save $500 driving this minivan compared to the average new automobile on the road.
3. Ford Transit Connect Wagon (25 mpg): Best Special Purpose Vehicle
Ford’s all-purpose Transit Connect can be seen operating as a taxi, airport shuttle, or company transporter around the country. Both the front-wheel drive wagon ($24,525) and Transit Connect two-wheel-drive van get an overall 25 mpg to top the class in multi-use vehicles. At $3.67 to operate every 25 miles, the Transit Connect shows real savings compared to the average new vehicle for sale these days. Averaging about half highway and half city driving, it’s possible to save $1,000 in fuel costs over five years driving a Transit Connect.
2. Toyota Highlander Hybrid (28 mpg): Best Standard SUV
Toyota checks in again with its popular Highlander, which has more exposure than ever thanks to the Muppets commercials that have assaulted U.S. audiences since the Super Bowl. In the hybrid Highlander ($29,215), drivers have access to the best fuel economy in the standard sport-utility vehicle category. Highlander hybrids deliver 28 overall mpg (28 highway) in the four-wheel-drive (4WD) or 4WD LE Plus ($32,740) models. That equates to $3.28 to operate every 25 miles, which provides savings of $2,250 over five years when stacked up against the average new vehicle.
1. Toyota RAV4 EV (76 MPGe): Best Small SUV
Obviously, no vehicle can beat an all-electric truck in terms of fuel economy. Toyota easily wins the day with its RAV4 EV ($49,800) that has zero tailpipe emissions and an EPA-estimated range of 103 miles. That mark is significant because it’s one of the few electric automobiles able to set aside so-called “range anxiety.” Average trips for Americans add up to fewer than 25 miles, so 103 miles at at 76 MPGe (the equivalent devised to measure the economy of electric vehicles) is more than most people need.
At $1.32 to operate every 25 miles, drivers looking for an all-electric SUV can save $8,000 in fuel costs over a period of five years. Throw in the federal electric vehicle rebate ($7,500) and the price tag of $49,800 gets trimmed down to size — below $35K, in fact.