Update: ‘Ram 1500 Range Extender (Upcoming)’ and ‘Toyota Tacoma Hybrid (Upcoming)’ updated.
The pickup truck is the most popular passenger vehicle segment in the United States. Americans, for years, have been resonating with the practicality of the pickup—the high-riding position, the ability to wander off the beaten path, and most importantly, the payload and towing capacity. According to data gathered by Car and Driver, the top three vehicles (by sales volume) sold in the U.S. in 2021 were trucks.
Given the popularity, one would assume that trucks are available with multiple powertrain choices. They are, but hybrid options are only a handful. Currently, there are only four hybrid pickup truck options available for purchase in the United States. In this article, we’ll dive deep into those options and what new choices customers will have in the future.
Why so few hybrid pickup truck options in America?
There are only four hybrid pickup truck options in the U.S. because manufacturers didn’t find a business case in hybrid trucks in the past. Here are the main reasons:
Firstly, hybrid powertrains cost more than ICE-only powertrains. In the case of the 2023 Ford F-150, the Powerboost hybrid variant commands a premium of USD 4,495 in the XL SuperCrew configuration. Even though the entire cost difference isn’t attributed to the hybrid engine, ICE models generally start at a much lower price, making them attractive to customers.
While hybrids deliver extra mpg, the fuel savings cost may not offset the additional purchase price, at least for the first few years, which can also be off-putting for buyers. Moreover, a hybrid will contain a battery, which may need replacement during ownership. If the battery warranty period is over, it might cost customers a hefty price to get it replaced—a problem second or third owners may face.
All-Electric trucks on their way
Another reason for limited hybrid truck options is the transition towards pure EVs. There are already more electric pickup trucks in the pipeline than hybrid trucks on sale. With increased climate consciousness, sky-rocketing fuel costs, and more awareness about the benefits of EVs, carmakers are betting big on pure-electric trucks. This segment will be flooded with around 15 options by mid-decade, which may affect the growth of the hybrid truck market.
Hybrid trucks may not have been popular so far, but carmakers and consumers seem to embrace different electrification forms in the journey toward carbon neutrality.
Ford F-150 Hybrid
The Ford F-150 hybrid pickup truck was released early in 2021 in the U.S. Visually identical to the regular F-150, the difference is under the hood, where the truck comes with the 3.5-liter Powerboost full hybrid V6 engine. The engine is mated to a 46.5 hp electric motor which draws energy from a 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. The peak output of this hybrid system is 430 hp and 570 lb-ft.
The combined fuel efficiency (EPA-est.) of this engine is 25 mpg (2WD)/23 MPG (4WD), which is far better than the fuel efficiency of all other powertrains available on the F-150. Moreover, Ford’s Pro Power Onboard exportable energy is standard on the F-150 Hybrid. A 2.4 kW system with up to four 120 V/20 A sockets is standard, while customers can choose a more powerful 7.2 kW system with six outlets. Additionally, the customers can tow up to 12,700 lbs. and haul up to 2,000 lbs. of cargo while benefiting from the efficient, strong hybrid powertrain.
Key features of the 2023 F-150 Hybrid include remote tailgate release, power-adjustable front seats, trailer brake controller, wireless charging, Bang & Olufsen sound with eight speakers, a subwoofer, and Ford’s latest Sync 4 software integrated into the 12-inch central touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, among other features.
The 2023 F-150 is among the models offering the highest customer satisfaction in some regions of the U.S., as per a Consumer Reports Annual Owner Satisfaction survey. Consumer Reports members’ high satisfaction scores put this model among the best options in the Northeast and Midwest regions of America. The availability of the fuel-sipping hybrid system undoubtedly has to do with this.
Ford has introduced several changes to the F-150 for MY2023, although not all of them apply to the hybrid variant. The company offers four new colors, namely Area 51 Blue, Avalanche, Azure Gray Metallic Tri-Coat, and Hot Pepper Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat. It has discontinued the Smoked Quartz Metallic Tinted Clearcoat and Space White Metallic paint options. Customers can give their F-150 a special look in new Rattler and Heritage editions, both available as optional packages. Ford has deleted the XL 100A, Tremor 400A, Lariat 500A, and Raptor 800A equipment groups with the latest model year update.
The base F-150 Hybrid XL SuperCrew costs USD 45,135 (excl. USD 1,895 destination charges).
Ford Maverick Hybrid
The Ford Maverick is the most affordable hybrid pickup truck in the United States. It’s excellent value for money and was among the most popular models in 2022.
The hybrid powertrain comprises a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle gas engine that works in tandem with a liquid-cooled 1.1 kWh lithium-ion battery under the rear seats and a 128 hp (98 kW) electric motor. The combined power is 191 hp, while the torque output from the engine is 155 lb-ft. Ford hasn’t released the combined torque output, but the electric motor produces 173 lb-ft, so expect the combined output to be well over 200 lb-ft.
The Maverick Hybrid is in a league of its own when it comes to fuel efficiency. Its powertrain returns a combined figure of 37 mpg. However, towing capacity isn’t comparable to its elder sibling, the Ford F-150 Hybrid. The Maverick is a light-duty hybrid pickup truck given its 2,000-pound towing and 1,500 lbs payload capacity. However, the optional 2-liter non-hybrid EcoBoost engine with the Tow Package doubles the capacity to 4,000 lbs.
Additionally, the Maverick’s popularity also stems from its practicality. It gets a 54-inch Flexbed that allows compartmentalizing storage in various ways. Moreover, it also gets power sockets in the bed and the cabin for external appliances. Other standard features include LED headlamps, an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, FordPass Connect with Wi-Fi connectivity, and wireless charging.
The Maverick has also received some revisions for the 2023 model year. Ford has introduced a more advanced 4WD system, but it offers that only in the gas model, on specifying a new off-road-focused Tremor package. There are two new colors – Atlas Blue Metallic and Avalanche Gray. However, the latter isn’t available on the hybrid variant. Also new are 17-inch Tarnished Dark and 18-inch Ebony wheels. Only the latter are available on the hybrid variant, though, as part of a new optional Black Appearance Package.
The Lariat Luxury Package has gained a new voice-activated touchscreen navigation system with pinch-to-zoom capability, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link. Lastly, Ford has introduced a new Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist Package that includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane Centering, Evasive Steering Assist, and rear parking sensors.
The Ford Maverick hybrid pickup truck price starts at USD 22,195 (excl. USD 1,495 destination charges) for the base XL variant. XLT starts at USD 24,455 (excl. USD 1,495 destination charges), while Lariat is priced at USD 27,955 (excl. USD 1,495 destination charges).
Ram 1500 eTorque
In 2019, Ram introduced the eTorque mild hybrid technology for the Ram 1500 truck. While this is not a strong hybrid where the truck can be propelled exclusively by electric power, Ram says the mild-hybrid technology helps boost efficiency. Interestingly, the eTorque system is offered on both the V6 and V8 engine options.
The eTorque combines a belt-driven motor generator with a 48-volt battery to enable three essential fuel-saving functions: engine start/stop, torque assist, and brake energy regeneration. The system can add 90 lb.-ft. on the 305 hp 3.6L V6 engine and 130 lb.-ft. to the 395 hp 5.7-liter HEMI V8. However, don’t expect any significant fuel savings from the latter—V8-powered vehicles aren’t bought, keeping fuel costs in mind.
Moreover, the truck can be had with RWD and 4WD drivetrains. The V8 has a towing and payload capacity of roughly 8,000 lbs and 1,600 lbs. The V6 has a towing and payload capacity of around 5000 lbs and 1,500 lbs. The capacities vary marginally for 4×2 and 4×4 variants. The figures mentioned here are round-offs.
Consumer Guide Automotive says that the Ram 1500 is the best buy in its class, thanks to an unmatched ride and handling as well as a stylish interior, good fuel economy ratings, and a high level of refinement. However, it does point out one negative, the high-end configurations of this model are pricey.
With the MY2023 update, the Ram 1500 is available in a new Limited Elite Edition that includes features like a deployable bed step, a jeweled rotary shifter, a unique instrument cluster theme, a bright pedal kit, a suede headliner, and more. The RED Edition has returned for 2023, and it features a red R-A-M grille and door badging and a (RED) badge on the center console lid. Also new for 2023 is a 12-inch fully digital instrument cluster. These are just a few of the many equipment changes Ram has introduced for the new model year to make the 1500 a more attractive model in its segment.
In the United States, the Ram 1500 Tradesman Quad Cab 6’4″ box with the 3.6L V6 eTorque engine is priced at USD 37,410 (excl. USD 1,895 destination charges), while the Ram 1500 Tradesman Quad Cab 6’4″ box with the 5.7L V8 eTorque engine is priced at USD 40,405 (excl. USD 1,895 destination charges).
Toyota Tundra Hybrid
The Toyota Tundra is the third strong hybrid pickup truck on our list. The truck comes in seven variants: SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, 1794 Edition, TRD Pro, and Capstone. Only the top four variants get the iForce Max 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 hybrid powertrain. The base variants get a non-hybrid engine.
The Tundra hybrid’s powertrain packs some serious punch. The peak output is 437 hp and 583 lb-ft. The electric motor produces 48 hp and 184 lb-ft on its own and draws power from a 288-volt NMC battery with a 1.87 kWh capacity. The power gets sent to all wheels through a 10-speed automatic gearbox.
The truck is extremely capable off-road. All variants of the Toyota Tundra get a 2-speed transfer case with high and low range, an automated limited-slip differential (LSD), and an e-locking rear differential. The maximum towing capacity is 11,175 lbs, and the payload capacity is 1600 lbs. Combined fuel efficiency is 22 mpg, according to Toyota. The hybrid powertrain makes the truck heavy. While the 2023 Tundra i-Force V6 weighs 5,245 lbs., the 2023 Tundra i-Force Max V6 Hybrid tips the scale at 5,710 lbs.
The 2023 Toyota Tundra Hybrid starts at USD 54,915 (excl. USD 1,795 delivery, processing, and handling fee).
Ford Ranger Plug-in Hybrid (Upcoming)
Citing Ford Pro Europe General Manager Hans Schep, Automotive News Europe reported on June 1, 2021, that the all-new Ford Ranger will get a plug-in hybrid variant before 2025. According to a report Wheels published on September 2, 2022, in Australia, 2024 will be that year. And going by recent spy media, road-testing of the future plug-in hybrid pickup truck is underway in Europe.
The Ford Ranger plug-in hybrid could club a 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged gas engine with an electric motor for a system power of 270 kW (362 hp) and a total torque of 502 lb.-ft. A 10-speed automatic transmission could send drive to the wheels. Ford will likely bring the Ranger PHEV to the U.S. after launching it in Europe and Australia.
Ford Maverick Plug-in Hybrid (Upcoming)
A Ford Maverick plug-in hybrid could join the current hybrid model in a couple of years. In June 2022, Motor1 posted spy shots of an unusual Maverick prototype on American streets that seemed to have modifications for a plug-in hybrid system. It had a junction box reading “PHE-V” and “2.1L” attached to its rear door, which hinted that Ford is developing a 2.1-liter plug-in hybrid powertrain for the lifestyle truck.
The junction box had “1,790” as the vehicle’s “Base Weight.” That could mean that the prototype was 3,946 lbs. instead of 3,674 lbs. (1,666 kg) like the hybrid model. The significantly higher weight is another sign that we were looking at a PHEV, as they usually have a heavier battery pack and hardware than HEVs.
Hyundai Santa Cruz Hybrid (Upcoming)
According to an Autocar report dated February 2021, electrification is in the pipeline for the Santa Cruz, Hyundai’s chief creative officer Luc Donckerwolke told the British publication. The Santa Cruz is Hyundai’s light-duty pick-up truck with a relatively affordable starting price (USD 25,450).
The 2023 Ford Maverick Hybrid, an affordable hybrid pickup truck, has garnered great interest among buyers, and it’s already sold out. Hyundai may look at launching a rival to the Ford model by electrifying the Santa Cruz.
It’s not like the Korean carmaker is new to hybrid powertrains. In the United States, the brand offers strong hybrid versions of the Tucson, Santa Fe, Sonata, and Elantra. The Tucson Hybrid gets a 1.6-liter engine mated to an e-motor and a 1.49 kWh battery. The system adds 59 hp and 195 lb.-ft. to the overall output.
The Tucson also gets a PHEV version with a 13.8 kWh battery and 33 miles of electric range. While Hyundai has not given a timeline for the Santa Cruz Hybrid, it may consider using its existing resources for the pickup and re-engineering the model to make it more emissions-friendly.
Jeep Gladiator 4xe (Upcoming)
Jim Morrison, Senior Vice President and Head, Jeep (North America), has indicated that there is a plan to launch a Jeep Gladiator 4xe plug-in hybrid electric model. He talked about future products in a conversation with Motor Authority outside the New York International Auto Show in April 2022. Below is what he said:
Well, we have said it (electrification) will come with all our vehicles. Yep, By 2025.Jim Morrison, Senior Vice President and Head, Jeep (North America) in April 2022
The Jeep Gladiator 4xe could carry the same powertrain as the Wrangler 4xe and Grand Cherokee 4xe. The current Jeep PHEVs club a 2.0L gas engine with two electric motors that get their juice from a 17.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This combination produces 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission and a 4WD system direct the engine’s power to the wheels. A pure electric drive mode is available, in which the vehicle can travel for an EPA-est. distance of 22 miles.
Ram 1500 Range Extender (Upcoming)
The Ram 1500 Electric, formally confirmed for launch in 2024, will be available in a range extender variant as an option. Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares confirmed at CES 2023 that the company will offer that alternative powertrain in its first electric pickup truck, Car and Driver said in a report on January 5, 2023.
The addition of a gas engine to the Ram 1500 Electric to recharge its battery pack will convert it into a series plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. The range extender variant’s target customers would be those who are not yet ready to switch to EVs due to limited charging infrastructure, range anxiety, or both.
A series hybrid or a range-extender is a technology where the internal combustion engine is used to power a generator that juices up the battery. The engine performs this function at the most efficient rpm. The battery then supplies power to the traction motor, which is powering the wheels.
This means the engine is used only to charge the battery and not to turn the wheels—that function is performed by the electric motor only. Hence, the range-extenders are a halfway house—like strong hybrids and PHEVs—between gas-powered engines and pure electric powertrains.
Stellantis have hinted previously that the Ram range-extender will not come with compromises when it comes to towing and payload. Moreover, the range-extender will presumably be more efficient than Ram’s eTorque-powered mild hybrid trucks.
Toyota Tacoma Hybrid (Upcoming)
Reports say the next-gen 2024 Toyota Tacoma will come with a hybrid powertrain option. Toyota has hybridized the Tundra already, and electrifying the Tacoma could be the logical next step, as the company has promised adding electrified variants of Toyota and Lexus models globally by 2025.
Toyota could offer the Tacoma Hybrid with the Hybrid Max powertrain or the i-Force Max powertrain. The former combines a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine with two individual motors, one on each axle. A 6-speed automatic transmission sends drive to the wheels. The Hybrid Max powertrain’s combined power could be up to 350 hp. The i-Force Max powertrain could merge a 3.5-liter engine with a single motor. It may produce around 400 hp and work with a more advanced, 10-speed automatic transmission instead.
The Toyota Tacoma Hybrid should start reaching U.S. dealers sometime later this year.
Featured Image Source: Ford