Times change quickly in the modern automotive world. Even a few years ago, if you were driving a hybrid, it was a conspicuous eco-sacrifice. Your car probably looked weird and had aggressive blue branding. The driving dynamics were lumbering and unpleasant. You did it for the gas mileage. Today, hybrids have markedly improved. Even enthusiast vehicles offer them. And the hybrid may be the preferred option for performance, whether or not you want the increased efficiency. That's even true with pickup trucks.
Ford and Toyota launched new generations of their full-size trucks with hybrid options this decade. Expect to see their competitors follow suit. And the Ford Maverick, with its base hybrid engine, has reawakened the dormant small truck segment.
Why You Should Buy a Hybrid Pickup
- Efficiency: Hybrid trucks can be markedly more fuel-efficient than their combustion counterparts. Fuel economy can improve into the mid-20s — on par with much smaller crossovers.
- Towing: Hybrid trucks offer ample low-end torque and can tow on par with their combustion counterparts. Ford ditched the diesel option for the F-150 because the PowerBoost hybrid made it unnecessary. Electric trucks struggle to match combustion trucks and have their range limited when towing.
- Affordability: Electric trucks are just coming to market. But the non-fleet versions are going to be pricey. EV startup Rivian just increased its prices. And it will be a while before Chevy can offer a Silverado EV for below $100,000. Hybrid trucks tend to be more expensive than combustion ones, but the cost is far more reasonable.
- Availability: Electric trucks have proven far more popular than expected, which has resulted in backlogs. Ford has had to ramp up production plans for the F-150 Lightning multiple times over and shut down reservations. Hybrid trucks are far easier to find.
The Best Hybrid Trucks We've Driven
Ford broke convention back in 2015, moving the F-150 from V8 to predominately turbocharged V6 power. For 2021, they advanced the pickup truck market again with the first hybrid engine, the 3.5-liter V6 PowerBoost.
The hybrid is the most potent non-Raptor engine in the F-150 lineup, delivering 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque. It's also the most efficient F-150, offering 24 mpg combined in the 4x4 configuration. And I found it so seamless in everyday driving that it should be any F-150 buyer's preferred option.
How You Get a Hybrid Ford F-150: The cheapest F-150 hybrid comes as a $3,300 optional motor on the Lariat trim. The Powerboost V6 can also be optioned on the King Ranch, Platinum and Limited trims.
Powertrain: Twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter Powerboost V6 hybrid; 10-speed automatic; 4x4 available
Power: 430 hp
Torque: 570 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: Up to 25 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
Towing: 12,270 lbs
Payload Capacity: 2,120
Starting MSRP: $50,880
Toyota finally updated the Tundra to an all-new third-generation for 2022. It rides on a new platform. And it ditched the reliable but inefficient 5.7-liter V8 for two far more efficient turbocharged V6 motors. The premium option is the hybrid. And it's a revolutionary upgrade for the Tundra.
When you hear Toyota and hybrid, you may be thinking Prius. Don't. Toyota tuned the Tundra's hybrid for performance with mammoth low-end torque. How confident is Toyota in the engine? It's the only option on the two best trims.
How You Get a Hybrid Toyota Tundra: The iForce Max hybrid engine is the more powerful of the two Toyota Tundra engines. Buyers can add it starting at the Limited trim as a $3,400 option. It is the only engine option available on the new super-lux Capstone trim and off-road capable TRD Pro trim. Ordering starts in Spring 2022.
Powertrain: Twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6; 10-speed automatic; 4x4 available
Power: 437 hp
Torque: 583 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 20 mpg city, 24 mpg highway
Towing Capacity: 11,450 lbs
Payload Capacity: 1,830 lbs
Starting MSRP: $52,300
Ford revived the small truck segment with the Maverick. It's crossover-based but delivers truck-like looks and payload capacity. And it's the most affordable hybrid vehicle in America today, with the steelie-sporting base model starting at least nominally under $20,000.
The Maverick hybrid earns 42 mpg in city driving. And the EPA rating may undersell its real-life performance. We matched that 42 mpg driving quickly on Tennessee backroads and heard tales of media members earning close to 60 mpg trying to conserve fuel. We even reached 37 mpg while carting a whole pallet of mulch.
How You Get a Hybrid Ford Maverick: The Ford Maverick's base engine is a hybrid. It is available on all trim levels, though it cannot be paired with all-wheel drive. Note that Ford stopped taking pre-orders on 2022 Mavericks. Ordering for the 2023 model should start in 2023.
Powertrain: 2.5-liter inline-four hybrid; CVT; FWD
Power: 191 hp
Torque: 155 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 42 mpg city, 33 mpg highway
Towing: 2,000 lbs
Payload Capacity: 1,564 pounds
Starting MSRP: $19,995
What we know so far about the most-eagerly-awaited midsize truck.