Truck buyers typically don’t enjoy their base V6 engine. Lamented for having the power of a four-cylinder and the gas mileage of a V8, the V6 truck was viewed as a “beginner truck,” or for those on a budget. Times have changed in the last 10 years, however. The current generation of V6 engines crank out power and torque comparable to V8s, while achieving superior gas mileage. If you’ve ever wondered how the new generation of V6 trucks perform in the real world, take a look at these three trucks and you won’t even want a V8.
Ford raised some eyebrows when they announced their next generation F150 would feature a smaller turbocharged 2.7-liter V6. The full-size F150 is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S., so messing with what works is risky. But the 2.7-liter EcoBoost under the F150’s hood makes a solid case for the V6 work truck. “EcoBoost” is just a marketing term for Ford’s turbocharged and direct injected smaller displacement engines that are designed to compete with larger engines. The benefits of smaller displacement and turbocharging include power levels comparable to a larger engine, with reduced fuel use and lower emissions. The 2015 F150 debuted the 2.7-liter, making an impressive 325 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque. The six-speed auto is a nice match, with quick shifts and reliability. A 10-speed auto became available for the V6 in 2018. Fuel economy is solid for a full-size truck, earning 20 MPG city and 26 MPG highway. It can do real work too, with a towing capacity of 8,500 pounds when properly equipped. It has proven reliability too, as this is the same engine that powers the Ford Fusion and new Lincoln Continental.
The mid-size Chevrolet Colorado is like one of those versatile multi-tools you find in a camping supply store. Sure, you might not use all of the features, but it’s nice knowing it’s all there. A lot of that flexibility comes from what is under the hood. The Colorado’s 3.6-liter V6 debuted in the Cadillac CTS and quickly ended in the engine bay of everything from the Chevrolet Camaro to the GMC Terrain. It’s an adaptable workhorse with reviewers praising the V6 for speedy acceleration and fuel efficiency. At the Colorado’s relaunch in 2015, the 3.6-liter proved a strong seller, probably due to its 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. The 2017 model year saw minor updates to the engine, raising horsepower and torque figures to 308 and 275, respectively. Chevy says it will get 24 MPG highway with four-wheel drive, and 25 MPG highway with rear-wheel drive. Owners say it can do 28 MPG on a road trip. You can lux it up with the L71 trim, which comes with higher quality interior surfaces, projector headlights, and a blacked out grille. The off-road ready ZR2 trim adds heavy duty suspension, alloy wheels, and knobby all-terrain tires. How good is this truck? MotorTrend gave it their Truck of the Year award back-to-back in 2015 and 2016.
In a world where the thinking is “bigger = better,” the Ram proves that a small diesel can get the job done too. You might be wondering why one of the heavy hitters of the full-size truck market is offered with a small V6, but the diesel lets it compete with V8 trucks. For the boat haulers, the 3.0-liter Eco Diesel can pull 9,300 pounds. Diesel engines are lower revving than gasoline engines, so it generates a more 1990s feeling with 240 horsepower. That doesn’t matter in a truck, not when it also has a Hemi V8-like 420 lb-ft of torque, available at just 2,000 RPM. With small displacement and low revs, the fuel mileage is excellent. The EPA rating is 19 city and 27 MPG highway, and tests confirm these numbers are accurate, or even slightly conservative. With a 26-gallon tank, this truck will outlast you on a road trip, as it can get 700 miles on one tank of diesel. The eight-speed auto is also designed for efficiency, and allows highway on-ramp performance that you wouldn’t expect from a small engine in a big truck. City driving is effortless with all that low end torque, and it doesn’t clatter or transfer excessive vibrations to the cabin like classic diesel engines. If you want this efficiency and capability in an SUV, Jeep has you covered with the same engine and transmission available in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. In the lighter and more aerodynamic SUV body, it gets 30 MPG highway.