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Pickup efficiency claims: From the front lines

by Bill Cawthon on

Even though fuel prices continue to fall, the battle for mileage bragging rights in the light truck arena rages on. The reason is simple: no matter how cheap fuel becomes, vehicles that use less of it can mean big savings for commercial and fleet operators. That makes those EPA ratings important to truck makers.

The current king of the hill is the Ram 1500 with the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel, eight-speed transmission, and work on aerodynamics  and parasitic loss reduction.

Currently, all eyes are on the F-150 pickup that went into production on Monday. Allpar had a chance to drive a couple of Ford prototypes at last month’s Texas Truck Rodeo, including one equipped with the new 2.7-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6.

Considering that EPA testing is often done using pre-production prototypes, it’s difficult to accept that Ford doesn’t have a pretty good estimate of the mileage. However, other than to say it will be the best ever for an F-Series truck, Ford remains tight-lipped about their aluminum pickup.

Ford has a real challenge: while their baby EcoBoost V6 might post mileage figures close to or equal to the Ram EcoDiesel, it can’t deliver the torque, which means it can’t do the same work. The larger EcoBoost V6 has equivalent torque, but it’s a real stretch to imagine it equaling the Ram’s fuel economy.

In addition, their little V6 is an $800 option, just $400 less than upgrading a Tradesman V6 to the HEMI. Their more powerful Ecoboost V6 costs an extra $2,295, more than half the upgrade price for the EcoDiesel.


Upgrading a base Ford F-150 XL short bed to a V8 jacks the MSRP to $28,210, including $1195 destination charge. A comparable Ram 1500 Tradesman with the HEMI goes for $26,405, including a $1,195 destination charge. That seems a lot to pay for a body that will likely raise your insurance rates and limit your choices of repair shops. Why not save $1,805, keep your insurance rates down, increase your freedom of choice, and get more horsepower and torque to boot?

While the charts in the earlier Allpar article included both full-size and mid-size pickups, this time it’s all about the big boys. The chart below reflects the latest EPA current-model-year ratings, except where noted. Since the figures for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are identical, only the Chevy is included.

Rank* Make & Model Engine/Transmission HP Torque City Hwy Comb.
1 Ram 1500** 3.0L Diesel/8-speed 280 420 20 28 23
2 (tie) Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4.3L V6/6-Speed 285 305 18 24 20
2 (tie) Ram 1500 2WD 3.6L V6/8-Speed 305 269 17 25 20
4 (tie) Chevrolet Silverado 1500 5.3L V8/6-Speed 355 383 16 23 19
4 (tie) Ford F150 (2014) 3.7L V6/6-Speed 302 278 17 23 19
6 Ford F150 (2014)** 3.5L V6/6-speed 365 420 16 22 18
7 (tie) Chevrolet Silverado 1500 6.2L V8/6-Speed 420 460 15 21 17
7 (tie) Ford F150 (2014) 5.0L/6-Speed 360 380 15 21 17
7 (tie) Ram 1500 2WD 5.7L V8/8-speed 395 410 15 22 17
10 (tie) Ram 1500 2WD 5.7L V8/6-Speed 395 410 14 20 16
10 (tie) Toyota Tundra 4.6L V8/6-Speed 310 327 15 19 16
12 (tie) Ford F150 (2014) 6.2L V8/6-Speed 411 434 13 18 15
12 (tie) Nissan Titan (2014) 5.6L V8/5-Speed 317 385 13 18 15
12 (tie) Toyota Tundra 5.7L V8/6-Speed 381 401 13 18 15
NR Ford F150 (2015)** 2.7L V6/6-Speed 325 375 ? ? ?
NR Ford F150 (2015)** 3.5L V6/6-Speed 365 420 ? ? ?
NR Ford F150 (2015) 3.5L V6/6-Speed 282 253 ? ? ?
NR Ford F150 (2015) 5.0L V8/6-Speed 385 387 ? ? ?
 *Ranked by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] Combined Mileage, as reported by the EPA. 
**Indicates a turbocharged engine
 Bold indicates highest figure in each column. Ties are listed alphabetically.

Note: At current fuel prices, the Ram 1500 with the Pentastar V6 has a slightly lower fuel cost per mile than the EcoDiesel, because regular gasoline prices have fallen more than diesel prices. It’s also worth remembering that the federal government and 20 states tax diesel at a higher rate than regular gasoline. The worst state for diesel taxes is Indiana, which slaps about 11 cents more per gallon on diesel – on top of the six-cent federal add-on. The best state is Nevada, which taxes diesel at nearly five cents less per gallon than gasoline. [Editor’s note: Gasoline prices are expected to rise somewhat when low-sulfur rules go into effect.]

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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