Best pick-up for mpg

What are the best pick-ups when it comes to miles per gallon? We take a closer look at the best pick-ups for fuel economy and mpg

Sam Naylor
Jun 29, 2021

Pick-ups are fantastic vehicles for all sorts of reasons, but fuel economy is not often one of them. This is because other engineering considerations often get in the way of making trucks really efficient.

When manufacturers build a pick-up, they need to take into account all the ways the vehicle will be used. It’s likely that it will be taken off-road in harsh conditions and without backup, so these cars need to be really reliable.

Some owners will want to tow with their trucks, so they also need to have strong engines that can easily pull heavy trailers. The low engine speed muscle of a diesel engine is normally considered best for this, so most trucks use diesel engines.

Diesel is great for fuel economy in ordinary cars, but pick-ups are designed to be practical, with enough room for weighty loads as well as four or five occupants. This means they’re often heavy, which reduces fuel economy.

There are some models that are more economical than others, but the differences are, in most cases, very small. Your driving style is likely to be more of a factor than the model you choose. However, some pick-ups, such as the Volkswagen Amarok and Mercedes X-Class, use larger V6 engines rather than four-cylinder diesels, so these are often less economical.

Using the search tools on BuyaCar’s vans section, you can easily find models that are capable of over 40mpg, so we’ve done exactly that and picked five of the best pick-ups that are capable of good fuel economy, which we’ll look at in more detail below.

There are all sorts of factors that affect official fuel economy figures, so it’s very difficult to give a completely accurate comparison with second-hand trucks. For example, changes to engines in certain years may have made them slightly more economical, but then the official testing process may have changed, leading to the official economy figure changing.

Take all mpg figures with a grain of salt, then. A good rule of thumb to follow is that the newest pick-ups with smaller four-cylinder diesel engines are likely to be the most economical, and older trucks are likely to be less economical, because they don't benefit from the latest technological improvements.

Note that the economy figures below are the maximum official figure we could find for each truck, which is in most cases the base model - usually single-cab, rear-wheel drive only models that are lighter and more efficient - with a manual gearbox rather than an automatic.

Pick-ups with the best mpg

1. Ford Ranger

Best pick-up mpg 40.9mpg

Used deals from £24,058
Monthly finance from £564*

The Ford Ranger was available with several different diesel engines in the past but it’s the most modern ‘EcoBlue’ four-cylinder diesel that will be best for fuel economy. It should be possible to get over 40mpg in the newest models. You may want to avoid the old 3.2-litre five-cylinder engine which used more fuel, therefore, although it was very powerful and quite fun to use.

The Ranger is better than ever now when it comes to the rest of the driving experience as well. It’s great off-road but really excels on the road, where it’s quieter than before at high speed while also being more comfortable and smoother to drive. The automatic versions are really easy to drive, but go for a manual if you want to maximise fuel economy.

The Ranger is one of the best pick-ups around to drive, with nicely weighted controls and a good seating position. This Ford is settled on the motorway and while it’s a bit rattly over low-speed bumps, it’s more comfortable than most other trucks on more types of road.

The 'SYNC3' touchscreen media system is easy to use and more responsive than most trucks’ systems, so choose a model with this fitted if you can.

The Ranger’s excellent mix of performance, efficiency and interior comfort means it’s a great pick-up overall. It’s spacious inside, very capable off-road and prices are a strong point too, so it’s good value to purchase as well as run.

FORD RANGER BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Isuzu D-Max

Best pick-up mpg 45.6mpg

Used deals from £15,995
Monthly finance from £377*

The Isuzu D-Max uses a 1.9-litre diesel engine that’s one of the most economical pick-up engines around, returning 45.6mpg in the most basic rear-wheel drive models. If you choose a heavier double cab version, which most people will, you can expect around 40mpg to be possible in manual form.

The D-Max is known for being a reliable, rugged and dependable truck that’s great for customers with tough demands, such as farmers. The engine is strong and feels powerful despite being so economical, and since it came with a five-year factory warranty, many used models are still covered by Isuzu.

You’ll mostly be looking at 2017-on models for fuel economy as these came with the 1.9-litre engine. If you choose a 2021 truck then you’ll have the latest version, which has a new look, more safety kit, better comfort and more standard equipment. It’s not the most comfortable or quiet truck around but the economy and dependable image still add plenty of appeal.

The D-Max is a bit unsettled over bumps, especially at low speed, but it settles down more on faster roads. The engine is a bit noisy here, though, and other trucks on this list are better for passengers. Take it off-road and all can be forgiven, however, thanks to selectable four-wheel drive and low-range gears as standard. Safety systems such as hill descent control, autonomous emergency braking and more are fitted to the latest versions and this is one of few trucks to have a five-star Euro NCAP crash rating.

ISUZU D-MAX BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Mitsubishi L200

Best pick-up mpg 42.8mpg

Used deals from £16,500
Monthly finance from £373*

The Mitsubishi L200 has been around for 40 years and that means there are loads for sale second-hand at any one time. Some versions aren’t all that economical but if you can find one with the right configuration, it’s possible to reach 42.8mpg. The newer versions have an efficient but punchy 2.2-litre diesel engine, but older cars have a 2.4-litre unit.

The L200 is smooth enough on the motorway and on bigger A-roads when unladen but it still shuffles and crashes over big potholes like most of the trucks here. It’s a great truck for carrying heavy loads and off-roading, as the steering is precise so you can place the truck on the road with ease.

In newer L200 models there’s a small touchscreen media system. It doesn’t have sat-nav, but you can connect your smartphone via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay for using apps like Google Maps. Plus, high-spec models have superb seats that are really comfortable and are heated.

The L200 is good value, because it’s such a popular truck so there are many for sale. There have been many different versions over the years with different grilles, lights and other design features but it’s good to know that they’re mostly all based on the same mechanical parts - so all are reliable, good off-road and easy to drive. Choose a manual model for the best fuel economy, as the automatic versions aren’t as efficient.

MITSUBISHI L200 BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Nissan Navara

Best pick-up mpg 40.4mpg

Used deals from £18,495
Monthly finance from £415*

The Nissan Navara is one of the best trucks for people who want a dual-purpose vehicle that works as a family car as well as a workhorse for towing or other business tasks. It’s still great for off-roading, yet it’s also better on-road than many other pick-ups and it’s also economical, returning 40.4mpg thanks to a four-cylinder diesel engine.

The Navara is more comfortable over bumps and potholes than other trucks here, and it’s nice and settled on the motorway, too. The 2.3-litre diesel engine is a little noisy, but it’s powerful which means it’s great for both towing and overtaking on the motorway without having to change gears too often - which should help to boost real-world fuel economy.

The cabin is a pleasant place to spend time, especially in higher specification models with comfortable seats and a high-tech media system with sat-nav. Other useful features such as a reversing camera and cruise control are included on Tekna specification, which is a good trim to go for. The Navara is good value, as there are plenty for sale and you should be able to find a suitable model at a good price.

The Navara comes with four-wheel drive but you can select a rear-wheel drive mode to save fuel, just like on most pick-ups. The Navara has more complex suspension and better brakes than other trucks, which is why it’s so good to drive on the road. Go for the manual version if you're after maximum efficiency, though the margin is only a couple of miles per gallon, so it’s not too much to fret over if you’ve found a model that’s otherwise right for your needs.

NISSAN NAVARA BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Toyota Hilux

Best pick-up mpg 40.4mpg

Used deals from £18,999
Monthly finance from £446*

The Toyota Hilux can manage over 40mpg from its 2.4-litre diesel engine, so it grabs a spot on this list of the most economical pick-ups, but this model is about more than just low fuel costs. Running costs in general should be low for the Hilux, which is known for being ultra-reliable and so repair bills should be a rare occurrence.

It’s not just a dependable workmate either, as the latest Hilux is one of the best trucks around for multiple reasons. It’s good to drive, thanks to comfortable seats and smooth suspension that deals with potholes really well. It’s great off-road thanks to selectable four-wheel drive and low-ratio gears and there’s lots of room in the cabin as well.

This means it makes a good family car as well as a work truck, especially in higher spec trims such as the Invincible version. There are 38 of these for sale on BuyaCar and they include equipment such as sat-nav, a reversing camera, climate control, heated leather seats and a leather steering wheel.

The 2.4-litre diesel engine isn’t just economical, it’s quiet too. The latest Hilux models are among the most relaxing trucks to drive on this list, as Toyota added extra soundproofing with the 2019 update. Older versions are still great for most of the same reasons, but a more up-to-date model is better here. 

TOYOTA HILUX BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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