Electric vehicles may be the future, but the fact is, not everyone is willing to embrace it right this moment. From range anxiety and long charging times to higher upfront costs and longevity concerns, there are plenty of valid reasons for people to be hesitant of making the leap. As such, there’s still great demand for automobiles running on good old combustion engines.
If you’re in the market for a new truck and find electric options out of the question for the aforementioned reasons, maybe hybrid trucks will be more suited to your liking. Trucks have evolved into a popular platform for hybrid powertrains in recent years, with their excessive weights and clunky aerodynamics making them an ideal candidate to benefit from an electric boost. With their combination of a gas engine and electric motor, you get to enjoy the same benefits as traditional powertrains while posting better fuel economy with a little assist from its electric components. And when it comes to these vehicles, any upgrade in fuel economy is going to be a much welcome reprieve.
The best hybrid trucks typically use the gas engine as the primary source of power, with the electric motor providing a boost as needed. Some hybrid trucks treat the motor as purely complementary, so it’s only put to use as support for the more powerful engine, although many do use bigger electric motors that can run on their own when needed, which makes them especially useful when you’d rather drive the last few miles purely on electric power.
It’s not wrong to think of hybrid trucks as a potential gateway to EVs. It’s the easiest way to bring people into the fold, after all. With one, you lose none of the advantages of gas-powered automobiles, all while getting yourself acquainted with the operation and maintenance of electric powertrains. For many, it might offer the best way to transition to the all-electric highways of our future.
These are the best hybrid trucks in the market today.
Ford Maverick Hybrid
Since we’re out here trying to convince you to buy a hybrid truck, might as well go all in and try to sell you on a compact hybrid truck instead. And it’s not a hard sell, either, since Ford’s entry to the small truck segment combines genuine truck looks and payload capacity with an attractive price that makes it the most affordable hybrid vehicle in America today. It pairs a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine with an electric motor to produce 191 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque. That may not sound much, but with a light weight of just 3,762 pounds, it should be enough to feed satisfying power to the truck, although it does limit its tow rating and payload capacity, which are listed at 2,000 pounds and 1,500 pounds, respectively. Most impressive, though, is its fuel economy, which is listed at 37 mpg for combined city and highway driving, which is quite an achievement for a vehicle you can use to haul cargo around the city.
Slated to hit showrooms early next year, the hybrid version of the Tacoma combines a 2.4L turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that produce 326 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque, which just sounds overkill for such a compact truck. That represents a 75 percent torque increase compared to its 3.5L V6-powered predecessor, which is quite the significant upgrade. Even better, it delivers that torque at just 1,700 rpm, allowing you to tow heavy loads at low speeds. Because it’s still scheduled to come out next year, there aren’t much details about performance numbers yet, but given what Toyota has done with the i-Force version of the more premium Tundra, we’re definitely looking forward to exciting things with the Tacoma.
This hybrid truck is available with either a 3.6L V6 or a 5.7L HEMI V8, both aided by a 48-volt electric system. It’s a mild hybrid, so the electric assist is intended to be undetectable to drivers, which means there’s no option to run purely using the electric motor. Still, it’s a real hybrid that should get better overall mpg than its pure combustion counterpart, although with a truck this powerful, we doubt fuel economy is really your main concern when purchasing. It boasts a best-in-class towing capacity of 12,750 pounds and an available payload 2,300 pounds, although the numbers will vary based on which of two engines you get. We’re big fans of the performance enhancements in this truck, both in terms of the hybrid technology and the active aerodynamics, which include an air suspension system that lowers the truck and extends the air dam downward when approaching higher speeds.
The off-roading favorite gets the plug-in hybrid treatment with this model, which can drive a decent 21 miles purely on all-electric power and 370 miles when the motor pairs up with the 2L turbocharged engine. This combo produces a total of 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, so this vehicle should drive through overlanding trails pretty nicely, while the 49 mpge fuel economy should make the hybrid switch worthwhile. Granted, this model doesn’t offer the smoothest driving experience when transitioning between electric and hybrid, but if you’re a Jeep fan who wants in on that newfangled PHEV action, this offers the simplest way to take the plunge.
With 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque, this V6-equipped hybrid is as powerful as any truck you’ll use to haul and tow cargo. With the electric motor’s instant power delivery, it’s also able to deliver peak torque at just 2,400 RPM, making it an incredibly capable hauler, especially with its 12,000 pounds of towing capacity. Suffice to say, this is one powerful truck. Sure, fuel economy is not as good as other hybrids you’ll probably see, but it still improves on the previous generation, with the truck posting 22 mpg combined city and highway rating. It also allows electric-only driving, albeit at crawling speeds, which is still nice, since you get to save the gas for later when you actually need it.
If the Ford Lightning is a little too much electric than you can handle for now, you can get the same F-Series pedigree with the hybrid F-150 PowerBoost. While many were skeptical when the automaker announced a switch from V8 to the turbocharged V6, any apprehensions were quickly allayed when the outfit’s hybrid system, which, in its current iteration, delivers 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque. It doesn’t offer an electric-only mode, so you can’t put the gas engine in the backburner and rely solely on the motor for any stretch of road, although it does give you the ability to use the truck as a mobile generator that can deliver any of three available power outputs, namely 2.0, 2.4, and 7.2kW, making this an absolute workhorse for job sites and camp sites alike. On the fuel efficiency front, it posts 24 mpg combined with the 4WD version, which is pretty good for a vehicle packing this amount of power.