5 Older Trucks With Surprisingly Decent Gas Mileage

A lot of people pick up a truck for towing or the extra space the bed can provide when hauling things like furniture. Something you probably don't expect to get from a truck is good gas mileage, but there are quite a few options out there that won't break the bank at the gas pump. There are certainly some gas guzzlers out there, but if you're hitting the used market and want to find something that can get good mileage, there's a lot out there. If you want to stick with new trucks, there are also plenty around that have solid fuel efficiency.

Fuel efficiency has gotten better over the years, and the introduction of hybrid engines gives you plenty of choices that get good mileage without compromising a ton of power. With that said, the trucks that get better gas mileage tend to be on the smaller side, so they do have less towing power than some of the heavy-duty ones that see mpg in the single digits.

2009-2013 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid

Used hybrids are a good bet for great gas mileage, as the hybrid engine gives a big boost in that area. The model year 2009 through 2013 version of the Sierra Hybrid can get up to 21 mpg, which is very serviceable for a truck. Engine performance is still solid as it provides 379 hp which gives it towing power of up to 6,100 pounds, which is in line with some of the top performers on the list. There are stronger trucks out there for the job — a diesel-powered 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 tows more than 13,000 pounds – but this is a solid alternative that gives decent gas mileage. 

MSRP began at $38,710 for the 2010 model, and now you can expect to pay around $10,000 for the same model year. A lot of factors come into play with that pricing like wear and tear on the vehicle as well as mileage, but that's the ballpark range.  At a third of the price, it's a good deal if you find a 1500 Hybrid you like, and you should be able to get plenty of life out of it.

1998-2012 Ford Ranger

Before the fourth generation Ford Rangers came out, the Ranger was a much smaller pickup truck. As a result, it got much better gas mileage than it does today, and the third generation models that ran from 1998 through 2012 are good picks for decent mpg. For example, a 2001 Ranger gets an estimated 24 mpg in the city, and it bumps up to 28 on the highway. There aren't many trucks today that can say that, and that's with hybrid engines becoming more common.

Rangers from this generation are highly affordable if you're able to track one down. A 2005 Ford Ranger comes in under $6,000 for all trims, so if you come across one that's in good shape, you can get some good gas mileage out of it. With the previous gen Rangers being smaller than they are today, don't expect the same type of towing power. These generations are good for light hauling instead of towing a camper.

1998-2005 Nissan Frontier

You can find a Nissan Frontier for about $6,000 — older model years get even cheaper — making it a very affordable truck that also has surprisingly decent gas mileage. A 2000 Frontier is rated a combined 21 mpg, but keep in mind this is another smaller truck, much like the Ford Ranger. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's not going to pull around the large payloads like a larger sized truck would. The tradeoff for that is better gas mileage, but that doesn't mean it's not capable of smaller tasks, as a 1998 model can still tow up to 3,500 pounds.

The following Frontier generation upgraded from a compact truck to a midsize, where the mpg plummeted down to a combined 16 mpg city and highway. If you're searching for the best mpg you can find, you'll want to stick with the generation of Frontiers before that change was made. The next gen did come with some bonuses, however, and the 2005 Frontier could tow up to 6,300 pounds as a tradeoff for its worse gas mileage.

2007-2014 Chevy Silverado Hybrid

The second generation Chevy Silverado Hybrid trucks ran from 2007 to 2014, and they have some good gas mileage thanks to the hybrid engine. Keep in mind the Chevy hybrids still have good mileage, but with this focusing on older trucks, we're looking at the second gen. A 2013 Silverado Hybrid near the end of the generation gets a combined 21 mpg, so it's a solid pick for anyone looking to save some cash at the pump.

With this being a relatively new truck compared to some of the others on the list, it's priced accordingly. Sticking with the 2013 example, that model year can still go for about $15,000. Even at that price, it's much cheaper than its initial MSRP of above $40,000. It's not the greatest for towing with it only being rated for up to 6,100 pounds, but that's plenty enough for a lot of people. Just don't expect to lug around heavy objects like a large camper, and you'll be fine.

2004-2015 Toyota Tacoma

With the third-gen Toyota Tacoma ending in 2023, we're honing in on the second-gen that ran from 2004 to 2015 for the sake of this list. The Tacoma holds its value quite well, so even one from this generation finds itself costing north of $10,000 for a 2012 model year version. You can bring the price down lower the further back you go, but you run the risk of finding more overall wear and tear on the vehicle by doing that.

Looking further, this truck got a combined 21 to 22 mpg (depending on the year) for city and highway without the use of a hybrid engine, putting it on par with some of the other trucks from this list. However, this came at the expense of towing power the hybrids didn't lose, as it can only handle up to 3,500 pounds. On top of that, it has a narrow bed that means it can't haul cargo around as well as some other trucks.