Which Truck Uses More Fuel While Towing: Hybrid or Diesel?

Putting a Chevy Silverado 1500 with the Duramax diesel engine against a Ford F-150 PowerBoost hybrid isn’t a Ford vs. Chevy contest. Instead, this contest is about a diesel truck versus a hybrid truck to see which uses the most fuel while towing. It’s long been thought that you needed a diesel pickup if you want to tow the most weight, but is that still the case with new hybrid options?

Check out the stats of our hybrid truck vs. diesel truck battle

Ford F-150 PowerBoost

2021 Ford F-150
2021 Ford F-150 | Ford

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The Ford F-150 PowerBoost uses a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine plus a hybrid electric motor. This power setup returns 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque and offers 25 city/26 hwy mpg in 2WD models, while 4WD versions deliver 24 city/24 hwy mpg. The transmission used is a 10-speed automatic.

The curb weight of the Ford truck is 5,840 pounds. This hybrid truck can tow up to 12,400 pounds and carry 1,546 pounds of payload.

Chevy Silverado 1500 Duramax Diesel

Is the 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 the best pickup truck?
2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 | Chevrolet

The Chevy diesel truck has a strong 3.0-liter turbocharged Duramax diesel V6 engine attached to a 10-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain returns 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. The fuel mileage for this diesel pickup is 23 city/33 hwy mpg for RWD versions and 23 city/29 hwy mpg for the 4WD models.

The Silverado, for this comparison, is 400 pounds lighter than the Ford, and it carries a payload of up to 1,709 pounds. The towing capacity for this Chevy truck is 9,000 pounds.

How big is the camper for this towing contest?

The camper used by the Pickup Truck and SUV Talk team to compare these two trucks is a 24-foot double-axle trailer that has a dry weight of 4,738 pounds. While driven, both trucks are kept in a 2WD function to provide the most accurate and fair results.

Which truck offered the best fuel-mileage results while towing?

Chevy Silverado Towing a Trailer
Chevy Silverado Towing a Trailer | Chevrolet

Did the diesel or hybrid truck have the better fuel mileage results? Let’s take a look:

Ford F-150 PowerBoost

Fuel used: 9.119 gallons

Miles driven: 71.3

Calculated MPG: 7.8 mpg

Chevy Silverado Duramax Diesel

Fuel used: 5 gallons

Miles driven: 65.2

Calculated MPG: 13 mpg

It’s pretty clear that the diesel truck outperformed the hybrid truck while towing, but why did this happen?

What causes a hybrid truck to use so much fuel while towing?

Essentially, when a hybrid truck tows a trailer, the hybrid portion of the powertrain is not engaged during the process. In this case, the Ford PowerBoost does not use the hybrid system in the top two gears. That means the towing work is left to the gasoline engine, which causes more fuel use than a diesel truck.

Should you buy a hybrid truck or a diesel truck?

2023 Ford
2023 Ford F-150 pickup | Ford

If you’re towing a trailer often, you’ll want to have a diesel truck to handle the work. These trucks offer more low-end torque and deliver the towing capabilities desired. On the other hand, if you only tow occasionally (once a month or less), a hybrid truck could be ideal for you. Gasoline is cheaper than diesel, and you’ll enjoy the added benefits of the hybrid system, which increases your fuel mileage.

Next, check out some special edition pickup trucks, or watch the towing contest in the video below:

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