Skip to main content

You’re likely thinking of purchasing a diesel truck for its stereotypical reliability or incredible torque output. But above-average gas mileage is also an advantage, and the most-efficient diesel pickups deliver excellent figures. However, three diesel-powered trucks fail to help you save money at the pump.

Which models can’t meet the gas mileage standard set by other diesel trucks? And do these pickups offer enough other advantages to become worthy of your consideration? Let’s dive into the data to glean crucial performance and efficiency statistics.

2021 Ford F-150 turbo-diesel models need frequent fill-ups

A red 2021 Ford F-150 Turbo-Diesel pickup truck parked on pavement with trees in the background
The 2021 Ford F-150 Lariat on display | Ford

America’s most popular truck features an abundance of engine options. However, you shouldn’t choose the 2021 F-150’s available 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6 if you’re looking for savings on gas. The EPA estimates this engine gets 23 MPG city/highway combined and has an annual average fuel cost of $2,000. It bases this amount on drivers who accrue 15,000 miles – 55% of which are on the highway and 45% in the city.

However, Ford fanatics have plenty of other fuel-efficient options. The F-150’s available 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine achieves an EPA-estimated 22 MPG combined. The government organization equates this figure to an annual average fuel cost of $1,850. 

You may question why you’d pay less for gas with this model than the diesel-powered F-150, despite its worse fuel economy. According to AAA, 87-octane fuel costs significantly less than diesel.

Ford also debuted the F-150 Hybrid for the 2021 model year. This hybrid truck might be everything F-150 turbo-diesel owners wish they had. It gets 25 MPG with rear-wheel drive and has an annual fuel cost of only $1,650, according to the EPA.

Ford’s turbo-diesel truck isn’t as gas-hungry as it appears

You shouldn’t immediately disregard diesel-powered 2021 Ford F-150s, as these models have redeeming qualities. For example, its 12,100-pound max towing rating is one of the highest in the full-size pickup segment.

Additionally, this powerplant utilizes six cylinders, and Ford only offers this powerplant with a four-wheel-drive. Meanwhile, other manufacturers only have diesel trucks with four-cylinder engines, and many come standard with RWD. These factors make the 2021 Ford F-150 turbo-diesel less efficient than its rivals, but it delivers more rugged capability in return. 

GM’s diesel-powered midsize pickups don’t provide large returns

A grey and black 2021 Chevy Colorado ZR2 turbo-diesel pickup truck driving off-road, kicking up sand
The 2021 Chevy Colorado ZR2 showing off its capability | Chevrolet

General Motors is all over the map with its diesel pickup truck offerings. The Chevy Silverado 1500 has the most-efficient diesel engine among all 2021 models, with an EPA-estimated 27 MPG combined. However, the 2021 Chevy Colorado and the 2021 GMC Canyon midsize pickups post lower numbers, despite being smaller.

These corporate siblings feature a 2.8-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and RWD. The EPA estimates that these models achieve 23 MPG combined and have an annual average fuel cost of $2,000. Adding a 4WD system lowers the trucks’ gas consumption by one MPG, raising your yearly expenses by $100.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Chevy Colorado ZR2 is the worst offender in the diesel truck segment. You wouldn’t exactly expect this off-road-capable pickup to be fuel-efficient. However, it provides astounding poor results. The Colorado ZR2 is the only diesel pickup to deliver an EPA-estimated rating worse than 20 MPG combined, as it only manages 19 MPG. This equates to an expensive annual average gas budget of $2,400.

Should Ford and GM worry about its subpar diesel gas mileage figures?

Whether you plan on using your diesel truck as a daily driver or a workhorse, you’ll likely want the best bang for your buck. So, if you’re attempting to avoid frequent trips to the gas station, you should consider avoiding the 2021 Ford F-150, Chevy Colorado, and GMC Canyon.

However, those models aren’t the only models that’ll run-up your gas budget. Other diesel-powered pickup trucks have trims or configurations with annual fill-up costs of more than $2,000. However, all these models feature at least one setup that delivers better efficiency.

Ford and General Motors could take a page out of other manufacturers’ playbooks. Either providing more configuration options or enhancing the diesel engine’s efficiency could go a long way to attracting a wider range of customers in the future.


Is the 2021 Ford F-150’s Platinum Trim Worth the Upgrade Over the King Ranch?