If you’re looking for a pickup that can tow more than 7,500 pounds with a trailer — and top 30 mpg without one — you’ve come to the right place. Some of the best fuel-efficient trucks can do exactly that.
Now, there is one minor hitch: You need a diesel engine for the very highest combination of EPA grades and tow ratings. The good news is that today’s Truck-makers have also followed a variety of other strategies for building greener pickups. So you have plenty of gas-powered alternatives if the diesel lifestyle isn’t for you. This includes trucks from different size classes with different-sized engines in both turbocharged and naturally aspirated configurations. Of course, all of these versatile pickups have their share of modern-day amenities, too. Here are the best fuel-efficient trucks.
2020 Chevrolet Silverado
The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado takes home the gold medal for fuel economy ratings in the pickup segment. With its available diesel engine, the Silverado shows off EPA scores of 23 mpg city/33 mpg highway/27 mpg combined. There are mid-size sedans that can’t match those numbers. Nor can any of the mid-size pickups, which means the full-size Silverado is the most fuel-efficient Truck regardless of dimensions.
The Silverado’s engine — a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 — also makes 277 horsepower and a robust 460 pound-feet of torque. It’s enough to tow up to 7,600 pounds in double cab and crew cab models with rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive boosts the truck’s trailer rating to 9,300 pounds, albeit with lower EPA ratings of 23 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined.
2020 Ram 1500
Ram runs a close second to Chevy in our rankings of the best fuel-efficient trucks. The diesel-powered 2020 RAM 1500 trails the comparable Silverado by a single digit in all phases of EPA testing. To be exact, the Ram checks in with fuel-economy scores of 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway/26 mpg combined.
It also makes up for any fuel-economy shortcomings with much more towing capability than its Chevrolet Silverado rival. The RAM 1500 can tow up to 12,560 pounds — 65% more than the Silverado — with similar equipment like rear-wheel drive and a 3.0-liter diesel engine. That’s a turbocharged V6 with 260 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. The same powerplant also ensures a maximum trailer rating of 9,950 pounds with the four-wheel drive Ram.
2020 GMC Sierra
Moving past the diesels, we have an unsurprising tie between two of the best fuel-efficient trucks with V8 gasoline engines. The 2020 GMC Sierra — and its corporate cousin, the Silverado — serve up EPA grades of 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway/20 mpg combined with their 5.3-liter V8s.
Since the Silverado was already covered, we’ll focus on the Sierra’s slight lead against similarly equipped Ram and Ford models. Their EPA ratings peak at 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway/19 mpg combined. GMC gets its extra mpg from a new cylinder-deactivation technology known as Dynamic Fuel Management. Meanwhile, when the Sierra’s 5.3-liter V8 has all cylinders firing, it can cook up 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. The result is a towing maximum of 11,300 pounds for Sierra double cab and crew cab trucks with rear-wheel drive.
2020 Ford F-150
Beyond the turbodiesels, turbocharged gas engines can also be found in today’s most fuel-efficient trucks. Consider the 2020 Ford F-150 and its available 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. Although that engine is about half the size of the Silverado’s popular V8, you get more torque from Ford.
The secret sauce comes from twin turbochargers that can spool up for 325 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. As a result, an F-150 equipped with one of the 2.7-liter engines and rear-wheel drive, offers 8,200 pounds of pulling power. But the same pickup earns EPA grades of 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway/22 mpg combined when it’s unhitched. The bottom line is that the full-size F-150 can be more efficient and more powerful than many mid-size models.
2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
The best fuel-efficient trucks for off-road enthusiasts include the 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. Despite its trail-friendly design, plus standard four-wheel drive, the TRD Pro has EPA ratings of 18 mpg city/22 mpg highway/20 mpg combined with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Those ratings are just a bit better than for a similarly equipped Jeep Gladiator, and it’s significantly ahead of a comparable Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 off-road model. Indeed, the Tacoma TRD Pro tops its direct Chevy rival by 12.5% in the city, 22% on the highway, and 12% in combined travel. The Tacoma also touts an extra 1,400 pounds of towing power. Its 3.5-liter V6 is good for 278 horsepower, 265 pound-feet of torque, and a towing maximum of 6,400 pounds.
2020 Jeep Gladiator
As an alternative to the Toyota Tacoma, we can recommend the 2020 Jeep Gladiator as one of the country’s best fuel-efficient trucks. Just remember that we’re talking about pickups with standard four-wheel drive here. In that context, the Gladiator’s 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway/19 mpg combined is relatively impressive. These scores trail the ones for the Tacoma TRD Pro by only 1 mpg in city and combined driving.
Moreover, the Gladiator can out-tow its rival by a substantial margin. The former features a 285-horsepower V6 and eight-speed automatic for a maximum towing limit of 7,650 pounds; the latter is limited to a 6,400-pound trailer rating.
2020 Honda Ridgeline
We know some people might argue about putting the 2020 Honda Ridgeline on a list of the best fuel-efficient trucks. After all, the Ridgeline doesn’t have traditional truck cues like body-on-frame construction and standard rear-wheel drive. It’s built more like a car-style crossover, complete with a standard front-wheel drive powertrain.
Yet that works to Honda’s advantage when you get behind the wheel. There you can enjoy the Ridgeline’s smooth ride along with EPA marks of 19 mpg city/26/mpg highway/22 mpg combined. The front-wheel drive Ridgeline can tow up to 3,500 pounds as well with its standard 280-horsepower V6. This allows you to pull things like popup campers, snowmobiles, and small sailboats. Choose the optional all-wheel drive, and the Ridgeline has a tow rating of 5,000 pounds.
2020 Nissan Frontier
The most fuel-efficient trucks from Nissan include the brand’s mid-size entry, the 2020 Nissan Frontier. What we like about the Frontier is that you can order an upsized 4.0-liter V6 and still see the same rating for combined fuel economy as with the truck’s standard four-cylinder engine. The tale of the tape with the V6 shows 261 horsepower, 281 pound-feet of torque, a tow rating of 6,720 pounds, and EPA ratings of 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway/19 mpg combined.
With the 2.5-liter entry unit and automatic transmission, the Frontier faces triple-digit decreases in both horsepower and torque. However, there aren’t corresponding gains in fuel efficiency. Instead, you’ll settle for 152 horsepower, 171 pound-feet of torque, and EPA ratings of 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway/19 mpg combined.
2020 Chevrolet Colorado
Diesel enthusiasts also may be interested in the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado. The mid-size Colorado offers a four-cylinder turbodiesel engine with 2.8 liters of displacement. You can then leverage 186 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque when that unit is placed beneath the truck’s hood.
The Colorado’s diesel is so strong that it enables a trailering maximum of 7,600 pounds. That’s more than some full-size trucks can pull. The diesel-powered Colorado earns a spot among the best fuel-efficient trucks because it adds improved EPA ratings into the mix. When riding with standard rear-wheel drive, the truck’s fuel economy grades are 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway/23 mpg combined.
2020 Ford Ranger
The 2020 Ford Ranger fills out our roster of the best fuel-efficient trucks. And if it can’t quite tow as much as the Colorado, the Ranger certainly supplies benefits of its own. The starting point is an EPA report card showing grades of 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway/23 mpg combined — the same combined rating as the Colorado when both trucks are in their rear-wheel drive setups.
The difference is that you don’t have to worry about diesel fuel with the Ford. The Ranger’s 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant drinks regular gasoline to spit out 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Also, the Colorado’s towing lead isn’t all that wide. The Ranger’s trailer rating of 7,500 pounds is barely more than 1% lower.