We know fuel economy is probably not a top priority when purchasing a heavy-duty pickup truck, but that doesn't mean the topic should be ignored entirely. At least that's what we discovered when testing current three-quarter-ton pickups in our 2017 Three-Quarter-Ton Premium Truck Challenge.
For that Challenge, manufacturers sent us their best-optioned diesel-equipped pickups and we put them through a battery of tests, including loaded and unloaded fuel-economy mileage drives.
As you might expect, the smallest diesel engine on the lightest truck did well on the unloaded fuel-economy drive, while the newest, most powerful engines struggled. That meant the 2017 Nissan Titan XD with the 5.0-liter V-8 Cummins engine got the highest empty number (19.3 mpg); however, the heavier (by almost 400 pounds) 2017 Ram 2500 with 6.7-liter inline-six-cylinder Cummins was just a tick behind at 19.2 mpg.
Further, for the loaded fuel-economy drive in which we towed a 10,000-pound trailer over the same route, the Ram was the clear winner over newer, more powerful haulers, achieving a winning 13.1 mpg.
If you average the loaded and unloaded numbers from our fuel-economy test, you'll find that the Ram 2500 with the aging, yet stout, Cummins motor did the best. Newer isn't always better.
Empty/Loaded Average for the Premium Truck Challenge
- 2017 Chevrolet 2500 LTZ Midnight Edition (6.6-liter V-8 Duramax): 15.1 mpg
- 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty King Ranch (6.7-liter V-8 Power Stroke): 15.2 mpg
- 2017 Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve (5.0-liter V-8 Cummins): 15.4 mpg
- 2017 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn (6.7-liter inline-six-cylinder Cummins): 16.2 mpg
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Cars.com photos by Angela Conners