5 Top Pickups for Leaving the Smallest Economic and Carbon Footprints

The culmination of environmental awareness, economic mindfulness, and the need to haul lots of stuff has resulted in pickup trucks that aim to find the perfect balance of all three factors: a truck that combines fuel economy, is affordable up front and to own, and is still capable enough to live up to its work as a utility vehicle. While many argue that one truck is superior to others for whatever reasons, Automotive Science Group, or ASG, set out to find what the best truck was that fit all the criteria — at least on paper.

“Using a unique combination of vehicle data inputs that include conventional specifications as well as social, environmental and economic performance indicators, ASG’s vehicle assessments empower consumers to make choices based on one’s personal principles and financial requisites,” it said.

Using four different awards, ASG “assessed 245 light-duty trucks to trim level detail, annotating the performance differences between trucks with varying cab size, bed length, drivetrain and engine combinations,” according to a company statement. “While these significant differences in trim packages are on par with those distinguishing Crossover SUVs and Full-Size SUVs, truck buyers are offered little distinction in this regard when performance claims are advertised, as is often the case with the aforementioned eco badges. This is where ASG’s insights differ — and empower.”

The awards were broken down as follows:

  • Best Economic Performance: Lowest cost of ownership, attractive entry pricing, et cetera.
  • Best Environmental Performance: This is for trucks that offer superior fuel economy for their class, not only for their EPA-rated mileage, but the process for refining the fuel and the supply chain behind it (for this reason, diesel trucks didn’t fare as well as you’d think, once the background factors are accounted for — emissions, etc.).
  • Best Social Performance: This award took into account the corporate social initiatives of the automaker itself.
  • Best All-Around Performance: Exactly what it sounds like. This award was given to the trucks that offered the best blend of fuel economy, cost of ownership, and social performance.

ASG looked at full-size light-duty trucks, which it broke into Regular Cab, Extended Cab, and Crew Cab sub-categories. Midsize trucks were broken down into Extended Cab and Crew Cab sub-categories. “Regular Cab trucks performed vastly different than Crew Cab trucks with the same eco-branded engine, largely due to the difference in material weight between these two vehicles, exceeding 700 pounds in many instances. Purchase price also differed greatly between trim levels, further differentiating the eco-performance between different truck configurations,” ASG said. With that out of the way, here are the five top pickups for leaving the smallest economic and carbon footprints.