Pickup Trucks with the Best Fuel Efficiency
Americans love pickup trucks, and if you’ve ever owned one, you’ll know why they’ve proven to be so popular over the decades. They are a perfect fit with the adventurous lifestyle that Americans love to live: some space for people up front and a big open space in the back for cargo, outdoors gear, or anything else you might want to haul.
Even if you’ve never owned a pickup truck, you know why they’re great – and you’ve probably borrowed a pickup truck from a friend more than once to move a piece of furniture, haul building supplies, or move house.
With a huge variety of pickup trucks available on the American market, which are the most economical? Below, you’ll find a look at five of the most fuel-efficient models available.
Hyundai Santa Cruz
A sporty four-door pickup that combines the best attributes of a compact SUV with the ruggedness of a pickup truck, the Santa Cruz fuses interior and features of the high-tech Tucson with a short, open pickup bed. A 2.5-liter direct-injection four-cylinder produces 191 hp and, along with the car-like chassis, gives impressive fuel economy as well as smooth, car-like performance. All-wheel drive is available if you need to go off-road.
Since the Santa Cruz is based on an SUV platform instead of being a pure pickup truck, it is car-like to drive, and easier to get in and out of than a work truck. Its interior is beautifully finished and well-equipped, and standard features include a full-digital dashboard, large central touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and voice control. The pickup bed is super versatile as well, with an under-floor storage compartment, power outlet, side bins, and even a drain. The tailgate even has power, hands-free operation.
- Starting MSRP: $27,640
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 21/26
Ford F-150 XL
For decades, the F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in America – and by a wide margin. Available in a huge variety of configurations for work, play, personal use and everything in between, it is the quintessential American vehicle: rugged, versatile, and up for anything. While you can spend into six figures on a tricked-out F-150 with a big engine and a luxury interior, the cheapest model, specified as a pure work truck, is also the best on fuel.
The F-150 XL’s 3.3-liter V6 produces 290 horsepower, more than adequate for most work duties, while giving 26 MPG on the highway. Its short box has more than enough room for most jobs, and it has a practical vinyl interior that is easy to keep clean. Still, you don’t lose out on technology; a standard 8-inch touchscreen keeps you connected to the world around you, while a rear-view camera, stability control, six airbags, and more keep you safe.
- Starting MSRP: $31,250
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 20/26
A mainstay of the Ford lineup in the eighties and nineties, the compact Ranger came back in 2021, and has become one of the most popular pickup trucks in the U.S. Compared to earlier Rangers, it is bigger, and much more capable, with a towing capacity of up to 7,500 pounds, despite being powered by a frugal 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbo engine.
Thanks to a 10-speed automatic transmission and a modern chassis, which is shared with models sold in Europe and Asia, the Ranger is frugal as well as capable. We like its roomy cabin and its rugged interior, designed for tough work use. Optional extras include an excellent 8-inch infotainment system, blind spot monitors, and even an on-board 110-volt power outlet, making the Ranger a great work truck.
- Starting MSRP: $25,980
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 21/26
Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon
If you’re looking for a tough, capable pickup truck but not yet ready for something full-sized, the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon might fit your bill. Close relatives within the General Motors family, they share a rugged platform and a strong 2.5-liter direct-injection engine that produces 200 horsepower and gives a 3,500-pound towing capacity. Upgrading to the 3.6-liter V6 gives you 7,500 pounds towing.
The Colorado and Canyon are safe as well as strong, sharing a reinforced safety cage, standard traction and stability control, and more. Available active safety features include lane departure warning and forward collision alert. Inside, you can go as basic or as luxurious as you want – from bench seats covered in vinyl to full-on leather-lined luxury.
- Starting MSRP: $25,200
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 19/25
Honda’s Ridgeline, based on the same set of components that underpins the Pilot SUV, was one of the first pickup trucks that focused more on personal versus work use. As such, it is a far more refined and passenger-friendly pickup than almost anything on the market, without sacrificing a lot of versatility. The cabin has four doors and five seats as standard, and passengers ride in comfort and style, with low levels of wind and road noise, and plenty of upscale features including high-end upholstery, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, power seats, and more.
Ridgeline’s 280-horsepower V6 lets it tow up to 5,000 pounds, while its scratch-resistant short box has plenty of room for gear and an extra weather-proof trunk built into the bed. All-wheel drive is standard, providing stability and traction in all weather. Standard safety equipment is among the best of any pickup truck, with the Honda Sensing system including collision mitigation braking, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and much more.
- Starting MSRP: $38,800
- EPA Estimated City/Highway MPG: 18/24