Fuel Economy 5: Consumer Reports’ Most Fuel-Efficient Trucks

Rugged durability and towing capacity might be what some people think are the most important things to truck buyers. However, a pickup can’t cover any miles or pull any weight if it runs out of fuel. That’s why fuel economy matters even—or, arguably, even more to pickup owners. And if you’re in the market for a new truck, Consumer Reports recently updated its list of the most fuel-efficient new models. Here, we present the top 5 options.

The 2021 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel is the most fuel-efficient new truck Consumer Reports tested

A gray 2021 Chevrolet Colorado LT Diesel drives over a city bridge
2021 Chevrolet Colorado LT Diesel | Chevrolet

Diesel engines have gotten a bad rap in recent years. However, if you’re looking for a fuel-efficient truck, diesel-equipped models are an excellent choice. Case in point, the model that topped Consumer Reports’ list, the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel.

The diesel powertrain is available on the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado LT, ZR2, and the 4WD-equipped Z71. This powertrain consists of a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine rated at 181 hp and 369 lb-ft linked to a six-speed automatic. And while the diesel-equipped Colorado isn’t as fast as the gasoline-equipped models, it is more efficient, Car and Driver reports. Plus, it can tow up to 7700 pounds.

In RWD form, the EPA rates the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel at 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway, with a 23-mpg combined rating. And with 4WD, that drops to 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. However, while Consumer Reports couldn’t quite meet the city rating, it did beat the highway one.

In CR’s hands the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel saw 15 mpg city and 34 mpg highway with an overall rating of 24 mpg. And with that, it’s officially the most fuel-efficient new truck Consumer Reports has tested.

Another Chevrolet diesel truck is on Consumer Reports’ ‘most fuel-efficient’ list: the 2021 Silverado 1500 Diesel

The rear 3/4 view of a silver 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT 4x4 in a pine forest
2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT 4×4 rear 3/4 | Chevrolet

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While the Colorado Diesel is the most fuel-efficient truck Consumer Reports has tested, it’s not the only economical diesel Chevrolet. #2 on the list is the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Diesel.

Being a larger truck, the Silverado Diesel has a larger engine than the Colorado Diesel. It’s a 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six rated at 277 hp and 460 lb-ft linked to a 10-speed automatic. And while the 2021 model has worse on-paper fuel economy than the 2020 model, it’s still fairly impressive for a big truck.

The RWD 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Diesel is rated at 23 mpg city/27 mpg combined/33 mpg highway by the EPA. Adding 4WD drops those ratings down to 22 mpg/24 mpg/26 mpg, respectively. And as with the smaller Chevrolet truck, Consumer Reports failed to match the city estimates but overshot the highway rating. In its testing, CR saw 16 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 23 mpg overall. And Car and Driver reports that, with a bit of careful hypermiling, it’s possible to see over 40 mpg.

There’s one more diesel on the list: the 2021 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

2021 Ram 1500 Limited EcoDiesel parked
2021 Ram 1500 Limited EcoDiesel | Stellantis

Continuing the diesel train is the #3 most fuel-efficient pickup truck on Consumer Reports’ list, the 2021 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. And while it couldn’t quite match the two Chevys, it’s a diesel truck worth considering.

The 2021 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel also has a six-cylinder engine like the Silverado. However, rather than an inline-six, it’s a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, rated at 260 hp and 480 lb-ft. It’s linked to an eight-speed automatic, and is available on all Ram 1500s, RWD or 4WD, except the TRX, Autotrader reports.

RELATED: Why the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX Is Better Than the Ford F-150 Raptor

While the HFE model is the most fuel-efficient, Consumer Reports tested a Ram 1500 Big Horn EcoDiesel. With RWD this truck is rated at 22 mpg city/26 mpg combined/32 mpg highway; 4WD drops those ratings down to 21 mpg, 24 mpg, and 29 mpg, respectively. Consumer Reports only managed to get 16 mpg city and 23 mpg overall but saw 31 mpg on the highway.

The two most fuel-efficient gasoline trucks on the Consumer Reports list, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline and Ford Ranger, are almost tied

Although diesel trucks are the most fuel-efficient options, Consumer Reports’ Top 5 includes two gasoline-powered models. And while their city and highway fuel economy differ, their overall ratings are tied.

A blue 2021 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCab FX4 drives down a mountainside gravel road
2021 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCab FX4 | Ford

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Taking the #4 spot on Consumer Reports’ list of most fuel-efficient new trucks is the 2021 Ford Ranger. It’s available with RWD and 4WD, with the off-road-focused Tremor being 4WD-only. Regardless of trim, though, the Ranger only has one engine/transmission combo. It’s a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 270 hp and 310 lb-ft linked to a 10-speed automatic.

With the Tremor’s off-road features creating a slight fuel economy hit, the standard Ranger is the more efficient choice. With RWD the EPA rates it at 21 mpg city/23 mpg combined/26 mpg highway; 4WD lowers the ratings down to 20 mpg, 22 mpg, and 24 mpg, respectively. And in Consumer Reports’ hands, the Ranger saw 13 mpg city/20 mpg overall/27 mpg highway.

#5 on the list is the 2021 Honda Ridgeline, which is also Consumer Reports’ most satisfying pickup and a recommended truck. As before, it’s only available with one engine, a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 280 hp and 262 lb-ft. The nine-speed automatic, introduced in 2020, also carries forward. But for 2021, the Ridgeline is AWD-only; no more FWD options, Roadshow reports.

The EPA rates the 2021 Honda Ridgeline at 18 mpg city/21 mpg combined/24 mpg highway. In its testing, though, Consumer Reports saw 13 mpg city/20 mpg overall/29 mpg highway. And that highway figure isn’t a fluke; Car and Driver recorded 28 mpg in its Ridgeline highway test.

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