It's no secret that today's crop of full-size heavy duty pickup trucks cost a pretty penny to purchase and operate. To wit, the 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 Heavy Duty Mega Cab that we recently reviewed carried a sticker price of over $56,000. A large chunk of that asking price can be accounted for by the 6.7-liter Cummins diesel engine, which is also the single option most responsible for the truck's massively impressive capabilities.

Of course, it's also going to cost quite a few Benjamins every month to keep that truck running on a steady diet of low-sulfur diesel fuel, and the Feds are considering some legislation that could potentially have a big impact on both fuel consumption and the aforementioned bottom line... both positively and negatively, depending on your point of view. While we all want better fuel efficiency, we doubt many would be willing to front a staggering $15,000 surcharge on top of their already pricey work truck for the mileage benefits.

According to a new study by The National Academies, there are lots of ways to increase the fuel economy of a full-size HD pickup, some of which cost just a few hundred dollars. Others, such as adding a hybrid powertrain or switching from a gasoline-fed engine to a diesel, cost several thousand dollars apiece.

At present, truck manufacturers aren't required to meet any specific fuel mileage requirements. But that's soon to change, as the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation are drafting up a series of regulations for these types of trucks. Exactly what those regulations will entail – and, of course, how much additional cost they will add to truck MSRP's – isn't yet known. Stay tuned, and check out for more data from the study.


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