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Which Midsize Truck Gets the Best Gas Mileage in the Real World?

Recently, Cars.com held a Midsize Truck Challenge to see which one gets the best gas mileage. They used four different 2019 and 2020 model trucks including the Ford Ranger, which has a 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine. The other three midsize trucks — the GMC Canyon, Jeep Gladiator, and Honda Ridgeline — all have V6 engines standard for the class.

The Ranger seemed to have the best position from Cars.com. It had the highest EPA-estimated combined fuel-economy rating with 22 MPG and 20/24 MPG city/highway. But was this the case in real-world testing?

How the midsize trucks tested

Unlike EPA tests, Cars.com used a mix of driving environments, including city, highway, and rural routes. The testers drove the trucks on a 210-mile trek around greater Chicago. Testing only occurred when temperatures were in the 80s in order to keep extreme temperatures from skewing results. They used the same fuel pump for each truck in order to guarantee consistency throughout testing.

Cars.com compiled mileage scores by averaging the trip computer’s reported fuel economy, the pump’s reported gallons, and the noted mileage from the trip computer mileage. The drivers rotated each of the trucks for different parts of the test to account for differences in driving styles.

Each of the four trucks completed the entire test with the air conditioning on and the windows up. Cruise control wasn’t used, just the default drive mode with no Eco modes employed.

Which midsize truck got the best mileage?

The winner: 2019 Ford Ranger

  • 23.7 MPG
  • 30 of 30 possible points

The winner, with its turbocharged engine and 10-speed automatic transmission, was the Ranger. The average recorded speed was 31 miles per hour, beating its estimated combined MPG rating with ease.

The 2019 Ford Ranger had the best powertrain of the group as well as the best fuel economy. It won Cars.com’s subjective powertrain scores and measured acceleration testing — important to note because Ranger buyers don’t have to choose acceleration over fuel economy.

Cars.com did note that the Ranger was the only competing truck to get maximum performance on premium gasoline. The truck ran the mileage drive route on premium fuel. For the rest of the tests, it ran on regular gas as that’s what the test team anticipated most drivers would use. There wasn’t a significant change in performance between the two fuel types.

How did the other competitors do?

Second place: 2019 Honda Ridgeline

  • 23.3 MPG
  • 29 of 30 possible points

The Honda Ridgeline had a few disadvantages. It only has a six-speed automatic transmission, and it lacks the ability to disable the all-wheel-drive system. With its EPA ratings at 21 MPG combined and 18/25 city/highway (the second-highest), the Ridgeline beat two other competitors.

It was a close second to the Ranger for a lot of the testing period. Ridgeline received 29 points and was only 0.4 MPG behind the winning Ranger.

Third place: 2020 Jeep Gladiator

  • 22.8 MPG
  • 29 of 30 possible points

The heaviest truck in the competition had a mileage result that exceeded expectations. The Jeep Gladiator actually had the biggest gap between its noted 22.8 MPG and its EPA-estimated 19 MPG combined. Its rating was 17/22 MPG for city and highway respectively.

Fourth place: 2019 GMC Canyon

  • 21.7 MPG
  • 27 of 30 possible points

In the last place, the GMC Canyon has a 3.6-liter V6, an EPA-estimated 19 MPG combined, and a 17/24 MPG rating for city and highway. Canyon had the most horsepower in the competition with an output of 308 horses. But it got the worst fuel economy.

Cars.com also mentioned the midsize truck’s transmission struggled between first and second gear throughout the session. Still, it’s worth noting that there was just a two-MPG gap between it and the winning Ford Ranger.