Tara Baukus Mello – The Best Gas-Saving Trucks
Continue Reading Below
The summer driving season is upon us and that means more driving. While the average price at the pump nationwide is expected to average $3.60 per gallon through September, according to the Energy Information Administration's June projections, the cost of filling up on a long trip still can take its toll on your pocketbook.
It also means that fuel economy likely will be on the minds of car shoppers, looking for a larger vehicle such as a crossover, sport utility vehicle or pickup.
Bankrate looked at the full range of body styles and chose models that are reasonably priced and have good gas mileage to highlight the top vehicles in the truck segment. From crossovers and sport utility vehicles to pickups, there's something to suit everyone, no matter what your needs.
Minivan: 2012 Mazda5
- Starting price: $19,625
- Gas mileage: 21 city/28 highway mpg
The 2012 Mazda 5 has been redesigned for 2012 with a new look, new engine and additional new features.
Continue Reading Below
The Mazda 5 is now powered by a 157-horsepower, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, and is paired with the six-speed manual transmission or the five-speed sport shift automatic transmission.
Seating six in three rows, standard features include power windows, mirrors and locks; rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic climate control with second-row fan controls, remote keyless entry, a second-row foldout table, under-seat storage, stability control and traction control. Safety features include advanced front air bags with sensors that can adjust deployment based on seat-belt use, passenger weight and driver's seat position; front side-impact air bags, side-impact curtain air bags, stability control and traction control.
Options include leather seating with heated front seats, premium audio system, rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a power moon roof.
Minivan: 2012 Honda Odyssey
- Starting price: $28,375
- Gas mileage: 19 city/28 highway mpg
Last redesigned for the 2011 model year, the 2012 Honda Odyssey has been named to numerous lists as a top choice for a family car.
The Odyssey gets class-leading fuel economy with its 248-horsepower, 3.5-liter, V-6 engine that gets 19 city and 28 highway mpg when paired with the six-speed automatic transmission and 18 city and 27 highway mpg when mated to the five-speed automatic transmission.
The Odyssey seats eight with second-row captain's chairs and a walk-in feature for easy access to the third row. The third row features a 60-40 split that stows into the floor for additional cargo space. Also available is a center seat in the second row that slides front to back or transforms into a large armrest with cup holders and storage tray.
Standard features include six air bags, dual-zone air conditioning (with tri-zone available); power mirrors, locks and windows (with auto up and down on front); cruise control and a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel as well as stability and traction control.
Options include power sliding rear doors, leather seating, several upgraded audio systems, parking guidance sensors, rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a navigation system.
CUV/SUV: 2012 Chevrolet Equinox
- Starting price: $23,530
- Gas mileage: 22 city/32 highway mpg
For those who prefer a higher ride-height than a car or some light-duty towing capability, a crossover package presents the right combination of elements.
The 2012 Chevrolet Equinox offers top-notch fuel economy in this segment, thanks to its direct-injection engine technology. Two engines are offered, with both mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder Ecotec engine gets 22 city and 32 highway mpg -- the best highway mpg in the segment -- on front-wheel-drive models. It gets 20 city and 29 highway mpg on all-wheel-drive models. With a 264-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6, it gets 17 city and 24 highway mpg on front-wheel-drive models and 16 city and 23 highway mpg on all-wheel-drive models.
The Ecotec engine features a button that allows you to switch to a fuel-saving mode to optimize fuel efficiency. Both engines can be operated on regular unleaded gasoline, E85 ethanol or a combination of the two.
Standard features include cruise control, adjustable steering wheel, six air bags, power windows and locks, audio system with satellite radio and MP3 capability, remote keyless entry as well as stability and traction control.
Options include sunroof, leather seats, seat heaters, rearview camera, parking sensors and a navigation system.
CUV/SUV: 2013 Ford Flex
- Starting price: $30,885
- Gas mileage: 18 city/25 highway mpg
When it comes to a large crossover SUV, it's hard to beat a Ford Flex with its great fuel economy and seating capacity for seven adults comfortably. It is currently in showrooms as a 2013 model.
The Flex is available in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive and is powered by a choice of two engines that are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 287-horsepower, 3.5-liter, V-6 engine is new for 2013 and has a 25-horsepower increase over the previous engine as well as a 1 mpg improvement in fuel economy.
It gets 18 city and 25 highway mpg on front-wheel-drive models and 17 city and 23 highway mpg on all-wheel-drive models. The 365-horsepower, 3.5-liter, EcoBoost V-6 is available only with all-wheel-drive and gets 16 city and 23 highway mpg. EcoBoost is the term Ford uses for its engine that's direct-injected and turbocharged.
For 2013, the Ford Flex has a redesigned front end and a new interior with a more modern look. New features include rain-sensing wipers, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power folding mirrors, push-button start with remote start capability, adaptive cruise control with collision warning, a blind-spot warning system, and six air bags plus second-row inflatable seat belts that feature small air bags to reduce head, neck and chest injuries.
Pickup: 2012 Ford F-150
- Starting price: $23,500
- Gas mileage: 17 city/23 highway mpg
While full-size pickups certainly don't offer the fuel economy of small cars, driving a pickup doesn't have to be particularly painful at the pump.
There are four engines available:
- A 302-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 that gets 17 city/23 hwy mpg (four-wheel-drive version: 16 city/21 highway mpg).
- A 365-horsepower, 3.5-liter, EcoBoost V-6 that gets 16 city and 22 highway mpg (four-wheel-drive version: 15 city and 21 highway mpg).
- A 360-horsepower, 5-liter V-8 that gets 15 city and 21 highway mpg (four-wheel-drive version: 14 city and 19 highway mpg).
- A 411-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 that gets 13 city and 18 highway mpg (four-wheel-drive version: 12 city/16 highway mpg).
F-150 offers variety. It comes in 10 versions, each with a choice of a two-wheel or four-wheel drivetrain. There are three cab sizes and three cargo-bed sizes to suit a variety of needs.
When you need a full-size pickup with towing capability, the 2012 Ford F-150 is a good choice. The F-150 can tow up to 11,300 pounds when properly equipped.
There's substantial storage inside the cab. Options include a navigation system with continuously updated traffic information, a rear-view camera, a tailgate step and a stowable tailgate bed extender.
Pickup: 2012 Toyota Tacoma
- Starting price: $17,125
- Gas mileage: 21 city/25 highway mpg
For those who need a pickup truck and strong towing capability in a smaller package, the 2012 Toyota Tacoma does the job handily.
Redesigned for 2012, the Tacoma features new front-end styling as well as a new steering wheel, revised gauges and new center instrument panel.
The Toyota Tacoma comes in three cab sizes that seat three, four or five people, and two cargo bed lengths. The Tacoma can tow up to 6,500 pounds when properly equipped.
There are two different engines available:
- A 159-horsepower, 2.7-liter, four-cylinder paired with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The manual transmission version gets 21 city and 25 highway mpg (with four-wheel drive, it gets 18 city and 20 highway mpg). The four-speed automatic gets 19 city and 24 highway mpg (with four-wheel drive, it gets 18 city and 21 highway mpg).
- A 236-horsepower, 4-liter V-6 mated to a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. The manual transmission version gets 16 city and 21 highway mpg (with four-wheel drive, it gets 15 city and 19 highway mpg). The five-speed automatic gets 17 city and 21 highway mpg (with four-wheel drive, it gets 16 city and 21 highway mpg)