Fuel Sippers: Most Fuel-Efficient 2021 Full-Size Pickups

Ram is ready to debut its 2021 1500 Tradesman HFE EcoDiesel. It is touted as one of the most fuel-efficient full-size pickups built. It compares favorably with both the Chevy Silverado and Ford F-150 if you choose the right combo. So let’s see how the three stack up in comparison.

Both Chevy and Ram pickup fuel-efficiency numbers are neck and neck

A red 2020 Ram 1500 on display at an auto show
A Ram truck on display | Getty

The new Ram HFE EcoDiesel has a combined MPG of 26 which is one MPG shy of the Silverado’s 27 MPG. But the numbers for all three pickups add up to apples and oranges. That’s because while both Chevy and Ram fuel-efficient numbers are neck and neck with each other Ford’s come out better in some categories and slightly worse in others. 

Ford’s most fuel-efficient F-150 is the 2021 PowerBoost Hybrid. That is until the F-150 EV turns up. It has the highest efficiency of any pickup on gas. The EPA has given the F-150 a 25 MPG city, 26 MPG for highway, and a combined EPA of 25 MPG. Since diesel fuel is close to 15% more expensive than gasoline, that factors into those fuel economy numbers. So there are some tradeoffs that make a strict by-the-numbers comparison a bit complicated.

The 2021 Ford F-150 King Ranch Truck appears at the Ford Built for America event
The 2021 Ford F-150 | Getty

Power for the Ford F-150 Hybrid is from a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6

Power for the Ford F-150 Hybrid comes from a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6. It is tied into a 35-kilowatt electric motor and backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission. Combined, the horsepower rating is 430 lbs. and 570 lb-ft of torque. Its maximum towing capability is 12,700 and it can handle a 2,120-pound load. 

A red 2020 Chevy Silverado LTZ parked in a field with trees in the background
The 2021 Chevy Silverado LTZ on display | Chevrolet

RELATED: Ram Has the Most Affordable Full-Size Diesel Truck of 2021

The 2021 Silverado 1500 gets its numbers from a diesel-like the Ram. At 27 MPG in combined driving, it is better than the Ford and Ram but payload numbers are less. The Silverado’s Duramax six-cylinder engine comes with 270 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. It can handle towing capacity of 9,300 pounds with a payload of 1,870 pounds.  

This brings us back to the Ram. Its numbers come from a 3.0-liter V6 with 260 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. But its towing capacity is a hair under the F-150’s at 12,560 pounds. The good news is that with the Ram you can go 1,000 miles on a single tank of diesel. 

Ram only offers the Tradesman HFE as a crew cab four-door

2020 Ram 1500 Tradesman
2021 Ram 1500 Tradesman | Ram

Ram only offers the Tradesman HFE as a crew cab four-door with the 5ft-7in bed. It’s also only available with a black bumper and grille, tonneau cover, wheel-to-wheel side steps, cloth interior, and 20-inch wheels. So you don’t sacrifice looks for the economy in choosing this model. 

The Ram Tradesman HFE comes in starting at $42,240 with a $1,695 destination fee. Ford’s F-150 PowerBoost starts at $42,840 but it can be added to any trim from the XL SuperCrew all of the way up to the Limited SuperCrew. That package will cost $74,420. And finally, the Chevy Silverado with V6 Turbo Diesel will cost $39,600 in LT trim but is also available in RST, LTZ, and High Country trims. 

So you get slightly less towing capacity with the Silverado, but the price is a full three grand cheaper than either the Ram or Ford. That’s why we say it’s apples and oranges when comparing the three trucks. Based on what your particular needs are whichever one you choose you can rest assured you made the right choice.