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  1. #1

    Default Student's fuel efficiency question! Which truck for me?

    I am currently a student and drive a 2001 Silverado 1500, 4x4 with a 5.3l.
    The fuel efficiency is, OK. it's a truck and I knew what I was getting into when I bought it approximately 2 years ago.
    But I was thinking recently, would it be more economical for me to downsize to a Colorado with an I-5?
    I've heard rumours that they are worse on gas than the 5.3..
    Could someone help me out with my dilemma? What do you think I should do? Keep the full size V8? or Downsize?
    "don't drive a truck" Isn't an option for me, I live in Canada and we have snow for about 6-7 months out of the year.. 4x4!!
    Any help would be great,

  2. #2


    The difference in the fuel economy between the full size trucks and the small ones is usually marginal at best. I get better mileage in my full size truck than just about every one of my ranger and small truck/SUV driving friends.

    my wife's Prius, on the other hand... LOL! So if you want fuel economy, you know what you are going to have to do.
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  3. #3

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    Piermont,NY, back in Northern NJ now, But may be in IL soon....


    As said many times It's a TRUCK.... Your NOT going to get more then the 16-20 range... Get a car with AWD or atleast front wheel to get better..
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  4. #4


    I hear allot from friends that have the colorado with the I5, they should have just gone with a 1500 4x2. I would suggest a bigger truck actually, but a bigger more expensive truck would be hard on a students budget.

    The reason being is that a 2500 Duramax (diesel) gives 18-24 mpg stock., but again brand new it is pretty much a 10-15k upgrade over a similar 1500.

  5. #5


    Like full size trucks, compact trucks still have the aerodynamics of bricks with wheels ... and get gas mileage that matches those aerodynamics. If you require the functionality of a truck then stick with the full-size truck as it's more capable than the compact at a great number of things ... and its mileage is very, very similar. If, however, hypermiling is your new thing ... buy a used Prius.

  6. #6


    Wish there were an easy answer, but 90% of mileage differences are in "how" the vehicle is driven. Can you give us an estimate of your current mileage in the 1500?

    Also, if you switch, what's the cost to do so? For example, it would take a lot of tanks of 1-2MPG differences to make up a $2,000 price difference.

    Personally, if you're looking for 8-15% economy gains, I highly recommend you put a custom tune on your 1500 Silverado. You might also consider if you're over 100K miles. If so, changing your fuel injectors out will likely up you 1MPG, too (injectors wear out even though they're funcational... they will perform less efficiently). New spark plugs, air filter, etc. (a full tune up) can't hurt either!

    The 3.7L I-5 gets anwhere from 12-13MPG to 16-18MPG depending on the DRIVER. Again, it goes back to how it's driven...

    Here's the US Government's website for fuel economy. If you'd like to compare mileage expectations under equivalent conditions, the EPA estimates are a great place to start.

    The EPA estimates are not "real life" estimates, but can give you a good basis for comparing two vehicle's. For example,
    Your 2001 Silverado 4x4 with the 5.3 is rated at 13MPG/City 16MPG/Hwy with a combined rating of 14MPG.
    The 2007 Colorado is rated at 15MPG/City 21MPG/Hwy with a combined rating of 17MPG.

    This tells me that you have a better shot of having better mileage with the Colorado, depending on how you drive. As a point to note, there's not a huge difference between 13MPG and 15MPG city driving. If you're getting the truck and 90% of your mileage is in the city (or in inclement weather, with stop/starts and massive friction against the tires), depending on how you drive, you could theoretically see less than 1MPG difference.

    Worth it to a student? That's a call you'll have to make. Me? I'd stick with the 2001, and put a tune on it. For $250 it's worth the test, at the very least. If not, well, you can always market it as having a "custom tune" when you sell it!

    Last edited by Skippy; 08-28-2012 at 09:19 AM.
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  7. #7


    "don't drive a truck" Isn't an option for me, I live in Canada and we have snow for about 6-7 months out of the year.. 4x4!!
    In addition to the above, this, too, is a question of how you drive it. I spent a couple of winters in Quebec driving FWD Chevy Cavaliers, and did just fine. If you are driving the Canadian wilderness where you won't see a snow plow and need to be more self-sufficient, then 4wd might really be a necessity. If you are driving the streets of Toronto where they have snow removal equipment and others are likely to "blaze trail" for you, a small FWD car (with good tires) might be workable.
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  8. #8


    How much of a fuel savings would you need to pay for that new truck?
    In the end since you are a student probably on a limited budget it'd be best to hold onto the truck you have at least until you get out of school and your financial situation improves.

  9. #9


    If you're a student, you're probably not out in the tundra. If you live on/near campus, walk or take the bus when you can.

  10. #10


    Here is an argument my wife has lost in the past with me... It's something people don't think about when shopping for better gas mileage vehicles...

    Wife: "Your truck only gets 15 to 20 MPG, versus my Prius that gets 50. You should look for something more fuel efficient."
    Me: "Your Prius costs $550.00 per month just to have it in the driveway... That's BEFORE buying any gas."
    Wife: (Blank stare)
    Me: "My truck is paid for. I spend about 275.00 per month on gas (on a REALLY BUSY month)... which is HALF of the cost of your car payment alone! I would have to drive almost 4,000 miles a month, just to spend what you make in a car payment alone!
    Wife: "Ummm..."
    Me: It costs me .09 cents per mile to operate my truck. If you were to drive your car the same 4000 miles per month, factoring the car payment in, then it comes out to .20 cents per mile to drive YOUR Prius... ASSUMING that you are actually getting 50 MPG, which 42 MPG is more real-world on this car.

    So then... The 120,000 miles you have driven your Prius over the last 5 years at $0.20 per mile is an impressive $24,000.00. The same 120,000 miles driven in my truck at $0.09 per mile would be $10,000.00. Less than HALF of what you paid in your Prius! But in all fairness, I DO have to add in the price I paid for the truck which was $3200.00 which brings my total operating cost to 13,200.00... So just over half at that point.

    To which she replies "My Prius will be paid off soon. That's where the real savings will begin."
    Me: "Yeah, but we know it is going to need a battery pack replacement very soon that will cost $6,500.00. You will have to drive that car over 350,000 miles with no major failure in order to make up the "savings"...

    People don't realize this!

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