There’s an interesting battle going on to be the most fuel-efficient pickup truck in America. It’s interesting not so much for the fact that the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado 2-wheel drive with the Duramax turbodiesel engine is the winner.
Nope, what makes it intriguing is it turns out Americans do care about fuel efficiency, even with falling fuel prices. We don’t care so much how a vehicle gets fuel savings. We just want it to happen.
That’s according to a survey by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. It discovered in June that “[a] little more than half (52 percent) of respondents said it didn’t matter to them how a vehicle saves fuel and reduces emissions,” according to an article at the news site Phys.org.
In the context of that report, it’s also intriguing that companies are battling it out over fuel-efficient pickups that use diesel internal combustion engines. That’s the least favorite technology for achieving fuel efficiency among those surveyed.
So, what’s the secret to Chevy’s new crowing about its most fuel-efficient pickup, even if it is a diesel? The company says a variable-geometry turbocharger helps optimize power and efficiency across the rev band.
That translates to an EPA-estimated 31 mpg highway/22 city/25 combined. The 4-wheel-drive (4WD) model offers an EPA-estimated 29/20/23. It’s of note that the 4WD fuel penalty is 2 mpg. That seems high when most vehicles are usually penalized only 1 mpg.
One thing worth noting is that this fuel efficiency doesn’t come with a sacrifice of towing capability. When properly outfitted, the Colorado can tow up to 7,700 pounds with 2WD and up to 7,600 pounds with 4WD.
So, what is the competition for the Colorado? That would be the 2016 Ram 1500 with its 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine rated at 29 mpg highway. Seems like the Colorado took bragging rights by a fairly significant 2 mpg with its 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine.
Back in September, Ram was saying fuel economy is the number 1 unmet customer need in half-ton trucks. Well, Chevrolet has stolen the crown, but that’s not for lack of Ram trying and still maintaining its own bragging rights.
The Ram has a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Together, the powertrain system delivers a combination of fuel efficiency and towing capability up to 9,200 pounds. You may be getting lower fuel economy, but you’re pulling 1,300 more pounds. That has to count for something in the half-ton pickup wars.
So, where does the 2016 Ford F-150 fit into all this? Well, probably the best comparison from the all-aluminum pickup is going to be its 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine. It runs on regular gas and has a towing capacity of 7,600 pounds.
But its fuel economy just isn’t up to comparison with its diesel counterparts. It’s rated at 18 mpg city/24 highway/21 combined. Ford appears to have all but ceded the fuel-economy battle to its domestic foes.
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