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Many new pickup truck buyers are shocked to find that midsize models only get a mile or two better MPG than their half-ton counterparts. But the Chevrolet trucks are unique in that General Motors offers its truck engine with the best fuel efficiency (an I6 Duramax turbodiesel) in the Silverado 1500 but not in the Colorado. As a result, the Colorado is not as efficient.

How much more fuel-efficient is the Colorado than the Silverado?

You may be disappointed if you choose the midsize Chevrolet Colorado over the Silverado 1500 solely for fuel efficiency. Equipped with the same 2.7-liter I4, the Colorado does two mpg better on the highway. But it gets the exact same fuel mileage around town.

Grille of a white 2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 AEV Bison pickup truck parked at an indoor car show.
2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 AEV Bison | Henry Cesari via MotorBiscuit

Big trucks are inefficient, right? Wrong. More efficient engines and technologies such as engine start/stop and 10-speed automatic transmissions have done much for half-ton trucks‘ MPG. As tempting as it is to think a midsize will send your MPG sky-high, think again.

Chevrolet trucks are an interesting case study: the Silverado 1500’s base engine is a 2.7-liter turbocharged gasoline-powered I4 with excellent fuel efficiency. This is also the only engine available in the Colorado. So we can get a direct head-to-head. The I4 Silverado gets 18 MPG around town, 21 MPG on the highway, and 19 MPG overall. According to, the average I4 Silverado owner will spend about $1,000/year on fuel.

The midsize Colorado doesn’t do any better around town: it earned the exact same 18 MPG government rating. Up on the highway, the fact that the Colorado is pushing much less air begins to help out its mileage. It gets 23 MPG on the highway for a 20 combined MPG. You can expect to pay $4,000 in fuel/five years–on average.

But both I4 trucks are far from the most efficient pickup configuration Chevrolet offers.

How fuel-efficient is Chevrolet’s 3.0-liter diesel?

Very. General Motors co-engineered this 3.0-liter I6 turbodiesel with Opel–just for efficiency. As a result, the diesel Silverado 1500 claims 27 mpg on the highway. Reviewers have found it can do even better.

A row of Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks on a used car lot in Ohio, the cheapest state to buy used cars in America.
A row of Chevrolet Silverados on an Ohio lot | Ty Wright, Bloomberg via Getty Images

The official fuel efficiency rating for the 4WD Silverado 1500 with a diesel engine is 23 city/27 highway MPG (24 combined). That’s pretty impressive for a full-size, half-ton truck. But when Car and Driver implemented some extreme “hypermiling” techniques for a long drive, it maintained a 40.6 mpg average in this full-size truck. That’s Ford Maverick numbers!

Is there a catch? First of all, you will probably need to special order a diesel Silverado 1500. Few dealerships bother keeping them in stock.

Secondly, diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline. An average driver will spend $4,000 in fuel/five years–that’s the exact same amount as the gasoline-powered Chevrolet Colorado.

Are Chevrolet pickup trucks fuel efficient?

Pushing a 5,000-pound Silverado down the highway is never going to be an efficient venture. That said, GM offers some compelling configurations for the MPG-minded buyer. These include an efficient turbodiesel and the midsize Colorado.

See how several Chevrolet truck powertrains stack up in the table below:

ConfigurationCity MileageHighway MileageCombined Mileage
2WD Silverado 1500 (3.0-liter Diesel)23 MPG29 MPG26 MPG
4WD Silverado 1500 (3.0-liter Diesel)23 MPG27 MPG24 MPG
4WD Colorado (2.7-liter I4)18 MPG23 MPG20 MPG
2WD Silverado 1500 (2.7-liter I4)18 MPG22 MPG20 MPG
4WD Silverado 1500 (2.7-liter I4)18 MPG21 MPG19 MPG
4WD Silverado 1500 (5.3-liter V8)15 MPG20 MPG17 MPG
4WD Silverado 1500 (6.2-liter V8)15 MPG20 MPG17 MPG

Next, find out what pickup truck claimed 40 MPG nearly 40 years before the Ford Maverick, or see how the Silverado’s 3.0-liter Duramax diesel I6 stands up to tough towing in the video below: