Full-Size Pickup Fuel Economy Comparison, 2011 vs. 2021

Pickup trucks are some of the best-selling new vehicles in today’s marketplace, which is why it seems like they make up half the vehicles you see on the road.

If there’s a V8 under the hood, they’re not especially thrifty for everyday use, but the burly V8s popular among pickup drivers have become more efficient in recent years.

For this comparison, we’ll line up domestic two-wheel drive V8-powered pickups (or those with V8-like performance) from 2011 and 2021 to see how much their efficiency has improved over the last decade.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado vs 2011 Chevrolet Silverado
2021 GMC Sierra vs 2011 GMC Sierra

2021 Chevrolet Silverado – 5.3L V8/8AT – 355 hp/383 lb-ft – 13.9/10.1 L/100 km (city/highway)
2021 GMC Sierra – 5.3L V8/8AT – 355 hp/383 lb-ft – 14.0/10.1 L/100 km (city/highway)
2011 Chevrolet Silverado – 5.3L V8/6AT – 315 hp/335 lb-ft – 15.9/11.2 L/100 km
2011 GMC Sierra – 5.3L V8/6AT – 315 hp/335 lb-ft – 15.9/11.2 L/100 km

The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra started at $26,395 in WT (work truck) trim, in which GM’s popular 5.3L V8 was an option with its 315 hp and six-speed automatic transmission. Silverado WT’s features included A/C, rubber floors, an overhead console, and auto on/off headlights.

By 2021, power from the 5.3L had risen to 355 hp, the transmission had gained two more ratios, and fuel economy was notably better. The 5.3L engine is still an option in WT trim ($32,048 in 2021), where other features include A/C, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, tire pressure monitoring, and a 3.5-inch driver info display.

If you want even better fuel economy, Chevy and GMC offer their trucks with a 2.7L turbocharged four-cylinder engine whose power output nearly matches the 2011 models’ 5.3L and promises significantly better city fuel economy than the 2021’s V8.

2021 Ford F-150 vs 2011 Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150 – 3.5L turbo V6/10AT – 400 hp/510 lb-ft — 13.1/10.0 L/100 km (city/highway)
2011 Ford F-150 – 3.5L turbo V6/6AT – 365 hp/420 lb-ft – 14.5/10.6 L/100 km

Our Ford F-150 comparison starts with the 2011 model, the first to use the company’s then-new Ecoboost turbocharged engines, which aimed to provide V8-like performance with better fuel economy. Ford has since expanded the F-150’s Ecoboost engine range, but the 3.5L is still available, only with more power and the promise of even thriftier economy, thanks in part to a 10-speed transmission in place of the older truck’s 6-speed.

In 2011, Ford offered the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 as an option in the F-150’s $19,999 entry-level XL trim, a pretty basic vehicle with A/C, vinyl floors, and wind-up windows. Ford offered a number of fancier trims that year, like King Ranch and Platinum, that previewed today’s luxury-forward pickup segment.

There’s no hope of getting a $20,000 F-150 these days – the new compact Maverick starts at $26,000 – but you can still order the 2021 F-150 XL ($34,079) with the 3.5L Ecoboost V6. It is now one of two turbo V6s available, the other being a 2.7L with 325 hp and fuel consumption estimates of 12.0/9.3 L/100 km (city/highway).

2021 Ram 1500 Classic vs 2011 Ram 1500

2021 Ram 1500 Classic – 5.7L V8/8AT – 395 hp/410 lb-ft – 15.7/11.0 L/100 km (city/highway)
2011 Ram 1500 – 5.7L V8/5AT – 390 hp/407 lb-ft – 17.1/12.0 L/100 km

In 2011, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) turned Ram into a stand-alone brand, and since then, the company’s full-size pickup model has been known simply as the Ram 1500.

In the last 10 years, the 1500’s Hemi V8 hasn’t gained much power – arguably, it already had all the punch it needed in 2011 – but its fuel economy has improved significantly. And the 2021 Ram 1500 Classic we’re using for our comparison isn’t even the most efficient version of Ram’s big pickup. You can also get the newer Hemi V8 with an eTorque mild hybrid system that improves the engine’s fuel economy to 14.1/10.3 L/100 km (city/highway). We didn’t use it for this comparison as there was no direct equivalent in 2011.

In 2011, the 5.7L was an option in the Ram 1500’s entry-grade ST trim, which started at $26,500 and came with A/C, vinyl seating and flooring, tilt steering, auto on/off headlights and, in four-door Quad Can models, power windows, locks, and mirrors.

Hemi V8 power remains an option in the 2021 Ram 1500, whose starting price has nearly doubled to about $46,000 in Tradesman trim. Functional upgrades include a 5.0-inch touchscreen and a 3.5-inch driver info display.