Good gas mileage and trucks generally don’t go hand in hand, although fuel efficiency is improving as the auto industry becomes more eco-friendly. Both small and large trucks are getting more miles per gallon than they have in the past, and a wider selection of fuel efficient options is also becoming available. In addition to trucks that run on standard gasoline, ethanol mixes and electricity are being added to the fuel economy mix.

Best Large Trucks for Gas Mileage

Best gas mileage honors for a large truck goes to the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado C15, according to the Fuel Economy website set up by the U.S. Department of Energy. The basic model’s eight cylinder engine cranks out 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. The model features an automatic six speed transmission, and a 5.3 liter capacity.

The 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 Pickup gets second place on the Fuel Economy list, with its basic model raking in 14 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway. The combined mileage for the six cylinder 3.7 liter engine is 16 mpg. The truck features an automatic four speed transmission.

Third place for the best mileage in a large truck goes to the 2012 Ford F150 Pickup. The basic model of the Ford F150 gets 13 mpg on city streets and 18 mpg on the highway. The basic F150 comes with an eight cylinder 6.2 liter engine and a six speed automatic transmission.

Small Trucks with Good Gas Mileage

The 2012 Chevrolet Colorado wins the race for best gas mileage from a small truck, according to the government’s Fuel Economy website. The basic model with automatic transmission weighs in with 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. The standard version features a four cylinder 2.9 liter engine.

Next up on the Fuel Economy list is the 2012 GMC Canyon. Like the Colorado, the basic model with automatic transmission earns 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Also like the Colorado, the GMC Canyon sports a four cylinder 2.9 liter engine.

The 2012 Nissan Frontier takes third place for the best large trucks for gas mileage. Its automatic transmission model earns 17 mpg for city driving and 22 for highway cruising, which is only a shade less efficient than the General Motor trucks. Once again, the best mileage comes from a truck with a four cylinder engine, although the Nissan’s engine capacity is 2.5 liters and it features five speeds rather than four.

The Ethanol Advantage

Rather than being limited to standard gasoline, some trucks now come in a flexible fuel vehicle model (FFV), according to the Motor Trend. Flexible fuel vehicle means the truck runs on a combination of gasoline and ethanol in a single tank. Ethanol, sold as E85, is a mix of 15% standard gasoline and 85% ethanol that burns fuel more efficiently than filling up with 100% gas.

Motor Trend points out that many truck owners may already have an FFV model and not even know it. The 2012 Chevrolet Silverado C15, which topped the best gas mileage list for large trucks, is an example of such a vehicle. Motor Trends notes at least 20 trucks or SUVs have FFV models available.

Finding a gas station that sells E85, however, is not typically an easy task. One more note is the mileage. Although running a truck fueled by ethanol produces a more efficient use of fuel, the overall mileage is going to dip using a combination of gas and E85. This is because burning ethanol actually creates less energy than burning gasoline, and therefore your truck would need to be refueled more often.

Running the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado C15 on regular gasoline nets the mileage noted above, with 15 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway. Run the truck on a mix of gasoline and E85 and your mileage decreases to 11 mpg in the city and 16 mpg on the highway.

The Hybrid Option

Hybrid trucks are becoming increasingly common. The big truck market is dominated by two of them, both of which are manufactured by General Motors. The GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid and its nearly identical cousin, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid are the leaders of the pack when it comes to hybrid trucks.

Both the GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid and the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid offer an impressive 20 mpg for your city driving and 23 mpg for your highway jaunts. While impressive on the gas mileage front, some reviewers are not at all impressed with either truck’s slate of limited options or its even more limited towing capacity.

Should I still buy a truck?

People buy trucks for many reasons and while they are certainly not as fuel friendly as smaller cars, big improvements have been made over the recent years. The demand for trucks will never go away but you do owe it to yourself (and the environment) to shop around for a fuel efficient model next time you buy one.