The Chevy Colorado Somehow Has the Best and Worst Gas Mileage Of All 2021 Small Pickups

Trucks are becoming more fuel-efficient than ever. Yet, somehow the 2021 Chevy Colorado leads its class in gas mileage while also bringing up the rear.

If the Colorado is on your radar, you’ll need to do your homework to figure out which models are fuel-efficient. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered. We’ll identify the fuel-sipping Colorado trim levels that savvy shoppers should target and which gas-guzzling models you should avoid.

The 2021 Chevy Colorado shines with this engine

Whether you’re traveling to a job site or picking up the kids from soccer practice, you want to get the best fuel economy possible. Thankfully, the 2021 Chevy Colorado can help you get the most out of your truck.

Chevrolet’s 181-hp 2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine is available on select Colorado configurations. However, only one particular setup makes the most of this fuel-efficient powerplant. You’ll have to select the LT trim level with a crew cab and rear-wheel drive to gain access to this optional engine.

This 2021 Chevy Colorado configuration isn’t cheap. It has a starting MSRP of $37,810. But its EPA-estimated 23 MPG city/highway combined will help offset the cost in the long run.

Oddly enough, the larger Chevy Silverado has a different turbo-diesel engine that’s more fuel-efficient than the Colorado.

The off-road specialist is a frequent gas station patron

A silver 2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 driving on a dirt road
The 2021 Chevy Colorado ZR2 in action | Photo via Chevrolet

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Saving money on fuel might not be the first thing on your mind when gearing up for a weekend adventure. However, you’ll undoubtedly feel the hit on your wallet over time.

Chevrolet nearly perfected a fuel-conscious truck. However, its top-of-the-line off-roading model plays Mr. Hyde to the Colorado LT Turbo-Diesel’s Dr. Jekyll.

The 2021 Chevy Colorado ZR2 4WD comes standard with a 308-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine. While potent and capable of taking on rugged tasks, it consumes gas much quicker than you’d like it to.

According to the EPA, the Colorado ZR2 4WD gets the worst fuel economy among small trucks. It manages just 16 MPG in the city and 18 MPG on the highway, averaging out at 17 MPG combined. 

The 2021 Colorado’s ZR2, along with the Z71 trim level, also offers the turbo-diesel engine as an option. However, Chevrolet requires you to pair this powerplant with a four-wheel-drive system, making the truck less efficient.

How do other small trucks fare?

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Those looking for a fuel-efficient pickup aren’t limited to the 2021 Chevy Colorado. Other models within its class return similar gas mileage.

The 2021 Ford Ranger also gets an EPA-estimated 23 MPG combined with its 270-hp 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. However, it does so in a different fashion. 

The Ranger manages an EPA-estimated 21 MPG in the city, which is one extra MPG than its Chevrolet counterpart manages. Meanwhile, the Colorado crushes Ford’s small truck in highway efficiency (30 MPG to 26 MPG.)

Notably, some drivers may save more money by choosing the Ranger over the 2021 Chevy Colorado. According to AAA’s average fuel prices, diesel costs more than regular gas. For example, 87-octane fuel costs an average of $2.396, while diesel costs $2.634 (at the time of this writing.) However, those who frequently drive on the highway may prefer the Colorado’s efficiency in that arena.

Additionally, the 2021 GMC Caynon shares its underpinnings with the Chevy Colorado. So, these twins achieve the same fuel-economy ratings when configured the same way.

At the other end of the list, you’ll find the 2021 Toyota Tacoma. While it doesn’t reach the same low as the Colorado ZR2 4WD, the Tacoma can cost you quite a bit at the pump. 

Models equipped with the available 3.6-liter V6 and manual transmission only get an EPA-estimated 18 MPG combined. Thankfully, shoppers who pair the Tacoma’s V6 engine with an automatic transmission will achieve much better results – getting 20 MPG combined.