The tastes and preferences of today’s vehicle shopper are shifting – and more Canadians than ever are interested in making sustainable choices and spending time exploring the great outdoors.
This is pushing shoppers towards utility models, and trucks and crossovers make up the current bulk of new vehicle sales in our country. Thanks to a shopper that’s increasingly unwilling to pay for capability they don’t need, trucks and crossovers are coming in new shapes and sizes, and with new fuel-saving tech on board.
If you’re considering a smaller pickup, you’ve got plenty of proven options, as well as some bold new contenders to consider. Chances are, you’ll want a solid grasp on the fuel economy and fuel costs associated with each as you begin weighing your options.
Below, I’ll set you up to easily compare the fuel economy and annual fuel costs of various new compact and mid-sized pickups to one another, to help you make a more meaningful comparison between models-- and ultimately, a more informed purchase decision.
Fuel Consumption Guide
Start by downloading the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) Annual Fuel Consumption Guide from their website
, Open it on your computer or smartphone, and you can scour the document’s headings and titles, or perform a text search for the specific model you’re considering.
This fuel consumption guide is a valuable, time-saving tool. On it, you’ll find fuel economy, emissions, and annual fuel cost data for just about every vehicle on the road, in a single document that’s easy to search.
How To Read It
Let’s use the 2021 Ridgeline as our first example. This is Honda’s mid-sized pickup which runs a proven powertrain, and is noted for its easy-to-drive, easy to use, and highly-adaptable character. The Honda Ridgeline comes in just one configuration: with V6 power, four doors, and four-wheel drive.
The Fuel Consumption Guide says the Ridgeline will drink 12.8 litres of gasoline for every 100 kilometres it’s driven in a city setting, which is expressed as “12.8 litres per hundred kilometres” or 12.8L/100km.
On the highway, engines are more efficient so a second rating is given for this type of driving. On the highway, the same Ridgeline drinks 9.9L/100km. Assuming an average mix of 55 per cent city and 45 per cent highway driving, NRCan says the Ridgeline’s combined fuel consumption rating is 11.5L/100km.
Annual fuel costs can be calculated using the vehicle’s combined fuel consumption rating.
Assuming 20,000 kilometers per year of driving and regular-grade gasoline priced at $1.25 a litre, NRCan rates the Ridgeline’s annual fuel cost at $2,875.
In summation, Ridgeline owners can expect to use about 11.5L/100km of gasoline as an overall average, which will cost them $2,875 per year at the pumps.
Your results may vary, but these figures are a good basis for an easy comparison between models.
By the way, figures below all express fuel costs using regular-grade fuel, since that’s what every truck on this page drinks.
The Toyota Tacoma – 11.8L/100km
The Tacoma is one of the most popular and proven pickups on the road today, and comes standard with V6 power and four-wheel drive. Drivers can choose between a manual or automatic transmission, the latter being the most fuel-efficient option, especially for highway driving.
With automatic transmission, Tacoma’s combined fuel economy is 11.8L/100km, good for annual fuel costs of $2,950. With manual gearbox, Tacoma drinks about one additional litre of fuel for every 100 kilometres it drives, pushing annual fuel costs to about $3,200.
The Nissan Frontier – 12.3L/100km
The Nissan Frontier is a new-for-2022 midsize pickup that hasn’t yet been assigned an annual fuel cost by NRCan. No problem, we can extrapolate.
With its standard V6 engine and four-wheel drive, the new Frontier turns in a combined fuel economy rating of 12.3L/100km. That’s a tie with models like the Volkswagen Atlas SUV, which list an annual fuel cost of $3,075 based on 2021 model-year testing metrics.
The Ford Ranger – 10.9L/100km
With four-cylinder EcoBoost power and four-wheel drive, the Ford Ranger is another mid-size pickup that’s built for efficient capability. Standard models achieve a combined fuel consumption rating of 10.9L/100km, putting annual fuel costs at $2,725.
Here, the turbocharged engine out-guns competitor V6 engines on torque output, while turning in a smaller fuel bill. As it tends to go with turbocharged engines, drivers get more torque for their fuel dollar.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz 10.6L/100km
Next up, the Hyundai Santa Cruz. This compact pickup is smaller than the mid-size units we covered above, and comes standard with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine like the Ranger.
Another all-new-this-year model, the Santa Cruz doesn’t have an annual fuel cost rating from NRCan just yet, though it’s 10.6L/100km combined fuel consumption rating translates to a $2,700 per year fuel bill, based on current testing metrics.
The Ford Maverick – 7.1-9.6L/100km
A similar extrapolation shows the annual fuel costs of the Maverick– another new-this-year compact pickup from Ford. Interestingly, this one’s available with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and four-wheel drive, or a high-efficiency front-drive configuration with the only hybrid engine on our page.
Hybrid-powered Maverick models are by far the most efficient in city driving, and turn in a combined fuel consumption rating of 7.1L/100km – identical to a Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic, all of which boast a $1,775 annual fuel bill.
With its sporty turbocharged non-hybrid engine, Maverick’s combined fuel economy lands at 9.6L/100km, which translates to a $2,400 annual fuel cost based on 2021 metrics.
Drivers can compare the strengths and weaknesses of models they’re considering to one another, to help ensure they’re spending their fuel dollars accordingly.
For instance, though Ridgeline is roomier and has a higher payload rating, Tacoma offers higher towing capacity and a smaller turning circle. The Ford Maverick Hybrid doesn’t offer four-wheel drive, but it uses about $1,000 per year less fuel than a Ford Ranger. The Nissan Frontier uses about $200 more fuel per year than the Honda Ridgeline, but it’s considerably more off-road capable.
Congratulations– now you’re set up with the tools and skills to make more meaningful comparisons between fuel consumption and fuel costs as you decide how to spend your truck (and fuel) dollars.