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Best 4-Cylinder Trucks

Small engines, big performance

Mar 30, 2020
It wasn't that long ago that four-cylinder engines were standard among small pickups. These days engine technology has advanced to the point where six-cylinder engines are making the power of a V-8 with the fuel economy of an I-4. Even so, there are a few trucks available new with a four-cylinder engine. These engines are perfect for folks looking for a less expensive truck, as they are often found in the lower trim levels. They are also perfect for those who don't tow or haul a lot and would rather have the slight bump in fuel economy they provide.
There are a couple exceptions to this rule, though. The Ford Ranger comes equipped with a 2.3L EcoBoost engine that pumps out 310 lb-ft of torque and tows 7,500 pounds. GM also offers an I-4 diesel, the 2.8L Duramax engine, which is rated at up to 30 mpg and can tow 7,700 pounds. Then there's the Silverado and Sierra 1500 pickups, which have a 2.7L turbocharged I-4 available in the mid-level trims.
Also interesting is the fact that there are currently no four-cylinder pickups available with a manual transmission, and Toyota and Jeep are the only companies to offer a stick shift in a pickup for 2020.
Photo 2/41   |   001 Best Four Cylinder Trucks 2019 2 7l I 4 Turbo Chevrolet Silverado

Best Midsize Gasoline

Best Horsepower: Ford Ranger (270)
Best Torque: Ford Ranger (310 lb-ft)
Best Towing: Ford Ranger (7,500 pounds)
Best Fuel Economy: Tie - Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon (26 hwy

Best Midsize Diesel

Best Horsepower: Chevy Colorado / GMC Canyon (186)
Best Torque: Chevy Colorado / GMC Canyon (369 lb-ft)
Best Towing: Chevy Colorado / GMC Canyon (7,700 pounds)
Best Fuel Economy: Chevy Colorado / GMC Canyon (30 hwy)

Best Half-Ton Gasoline

Best Horsepower: Chevy Silverado / GMC Sierra (310)
Best Torque: Chevy Silverado / GMC Sierra (348 lb-ft)
Best Towing: Chevy Silverado / GMC Sierra (6,900 pounds)
Best Fuel Economy: Chevy Silverado / GMC Sierra (23 hwy)

2020 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon

The 2020 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are the only two pickups to offer multiple four-cylinder options: one gasoline and one diesel. The 2.5L gasoline engine is available in the GMC Canyon in base, SL, and SLE trims and Colorado base, WT, and LT trims. It can be had in two-wheel drive extended and crew cab models, and four-wheel-drive extended cabs. The only transmission option is a six-speed automatic.
The 2.8L Duramax diesel engine is offered at the opposite end of the spectrum. It is found in Canyon SLE, All Terrain, SLT, and Denali, along with Colorado LT, Z71, and ZR2. With exception of ZR2, the 2.8L Duramax is available crew cab only. The only transmission option is a six-speed automatic.
Photo 3/41   |   004 Best Four Cylinder Trucks Chevrolet Colorado Diesel
Displacement: 2.5L
Bore: 3.46 inches
Stroke: 3.97 inches
Horsepower: 200 @ 6,300 rpm
Torque: 191 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Recommended Fuel: 87
Fuel Economy (City/hwy): 20/26 (4x2) 19/24 (4x4)
Max Towing: 3,500 pounds
Photo 4/41   |   008 Best Four Cylinder Trucks 2020 Gmc Canyon
Displacement: 2.8L
Bore: 3.70 inches
Stroke: 3.94 inches
Horsepower: 186 @ 3,400 rpm
Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
Recommended Fuel: Diesel
Fuel Economy (City/hwy): 20/30 (4x2) 19/28 (4x4)
Max Towing: 7,700 pounds

2020 Chevrolet Silverado & Sierra

When thinking about four-cylinder trucks most people immediately assume it has to be a midsize pickup. For the most part they'd be right; however, Chevrolet and GMC both offer a half-ton truck with a turbocharged 2.7L I-4 engine. The 2.7L is available in the Sierra 1500 in SLE and Elevation trims and the Silverado 1500 in LT and RST trims. Backing the engine is the company's eight-speed automatic transmission.
Photo 15/41   |   015 Best Four Cylinder Trucks 2020 Chevrolet Silverado Lt
Photo 16/41   |   019 Best Four Cylinder Trucks 2020 Gmc Sierra Elevation
Displacement: 2.7L (turbocharged)
Bore: 3.63 inches
Stroke: 4.01 inches
Horsepower: 310 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 348 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm
Recommended Fuel: 87
Fuel Economy (City/Hwy): 20/23 (4x2) 19/22 (4x4)
Max Towing: 6,900 pounds

2020 Ford Ranger

When Ford brought the Ranger back for 2019 the company surprised everyone by offering just a single powertrain. Under the hood lives a 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder backed by the company's 10-speed automatic transmission. It's understandable, though, since Ford's 2.3L EcoBoost makes more power and torque than any of the other midsize gas four-cylinder options and is on par with the classes V-6 offerings.
Photo 27/41   |   028 Best Four Cylinder Trucks 2020 Ford Ranger
Displacement: 2.3L (turbocharged)
Bore: 3.45 inches
Stroke: 3.70 inches
Horsepower: 270 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 310 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Recommended Fuel: 87
Fuel Economy (City/Hwy/Comb): 21/26/23 (4x2) 20/24/22 (4x4)
Max Towing: 7,500 pounds

2020 Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma comes from a legendary heritage of four-cylinder engines, dating all the way back to the 22RE. The current-generation Tacoma comes fitted with the largest-displacement four-cylinder in a midsize, a 2.7L. Despite its size, this engine makes the least amount of power or torque of the 2020 class. Those opting for the four-cylinder will find it backed by a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2.7L can be had in two-wheel-drive Access and Double Cab models, as well as four-wheel-drive Access cabs. It's not available for four-wheel-drive Double Cabs.
Photo 33/41   |   031 Best Four Cylinder Trucks Toyota Tacoma
Displacement: 2.7L
Bore: 3.74 inches
Stroke: 3.74 inches
Horsepower: 159 @ 5,200 rpm
Torque: 180 lb-ft @ 3,800 rpm
Recommended Fuel: 87
Fuel Economy (City/Hwy/Comb): 20/23/21(4x2) 19/22/20 (4x4)
Max Towing: 3,500 pounds

Honorable Mention: 2019 Nissan Frontier

For the 2020 model year Nissan has done away with the 2.5L four-cylinder engine and 4.0L V-6 in favor of a single 3.8L V-6. In 2019, the final year of the 2.5L I-4, Nissan offered the engine only in King Cab Frontier models, and only in trucks that were rear-wheel drive. That meant no Crew Cab or four-wheel-drive Frontiers were equipped with the smaller engine. Interestingly, the 2.5L could be optioned with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. The 2019 Frontier also carried the distinction of being the least expensive pickup in America, with a 2.5L King Cab 4x2 manual available for less than $19,000.
Photo 39/41   |   039 Best Four Cylinder Trucks Nissan Frontier
Displacement: 2.5L
Bore: 3.50 inches
Stroke: 3.93 inches
Horsepower: 152 @ 5,200 rpm
Torque: 171 @ 4,400 rpm
Recommended Fuel: 87
Fuel Economy (City/Hwy/Comb): 19/23/21
Max Towing: 3,800 pounds

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