Truck fuel economy is an important consideration for many buyers. While trucks will never attain the same gas mileage as smaller, less powerful cars, fuel efficient trucks are available from many manufacturers. Some are hybrid trucks, while others employ engine cylinder deactivation. Still others are able to run on E85 fuel, which is a mixture of ethanol and gasoline. Whatever the fuel economy strategy, truck MPG ratings benefit from these advanced technologies.
Many websites exist to help consumers evaluate truck fuel economy. One of them, www.fueleconomy.gov, is co-sponsored by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Every year, this website lists the best and worst gas mileage performers. Auto manufacturers take great pride in being ranked among the best. In fact, most manufacturers promote EPA-estimated mileage on their websites and in their marketing materials.
The Most Fuel Efficient Trucks
The following are three of the most fuel efficient trucks for model year 2010.
- Ford Ranger.The Ranger has consistently been at or near the top of the truck fuel efficiency list for many years. The 2-door, rear wheel drive (RWD), 4-cylinder version with the 5-speed manual transmission is the fuel miser of the Ranger line-up. 2010 models with the package achieve EPA-estimated mileage of 22 miles per gallon (MPG) in the city and 27 MPG on the highway, which is tops for all trucks. Keep in mind that the Ranger with the best gas mileage is also the Ranger with the least amount of features and functionality. Stepping up to the V-6 engine, automatic transmission and extended cab body style will all reduce the truck's fuel efficiency. It will, however, increase the truck's long-term desirability and usability
- Toyota Tacoma.Known for reliability and build quality (2010's mass vehicle recall notwithstanding), the Toyota Tacoma is a popular truck with buyers shopping for a mid-size pick-up. According to the EPA, it is also one of the best trucks to purchase for gas mileage. Similar to the Ranger, the best fuel economy comes from the entry-level Tacoma featuring 2 doors, RWD and a 4-cylinder engine. Differentiating it from the Ranger, however, is the automatic transmission. In this guise, the Tacoma attains EPA-estimated mileage of 19 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway. As mentioned above, the Tacoma with the best mileage lacks a lot of expected creature comforts. Buyers who step up to larger engines, more cab and passenger space or upgraded drivetrains should expect a lower return on the gas mileage
- Chevrolet Silverado 15 Hybrid / GMC Sierra 15 Hybrid. The only full-size trucks to crack the list, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra siblings are also the first mass-produced hybrid trucks. With an EPA-estimated 21 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway, these trucks offer buyers an array of standard luxuries in addition to the added power and functionality a full-size truck provides. The primary pitfall of these trucks, however, is their price. Many buyers may find that the increased fuel efficiency of these hybrid trucks simply doesn't outweigh the increased cost
Buyers can research all available trucks, as well as their EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings, by using the CarsDirect website.
Why Is Truck Gas Mileage Always Worse Than Cars?
When it comes to truck fuel economy, they typically are much less fuel efficient than cars. There are many reasons why.
- Weight.The first has to do with weight. Not only do trucks weigh a lot with nothing in them, but when the trunk is full of working materials, that weighs down the vehicle even more. The heavier a vehicle is, the more gas is needed to move it. An engine that has to move something lighter will produce better mileage, and cars are usually lighter than trucks
- Aerodynamics.Trucks are also very large in their designs so that they can fit a lot of cargo. Because of this, the truck sacrifices aerodynamics for its design. Aerodynamics help vehicles move through the air better, which is one of the reasons why hybrids get the best mileage. They sacrifice styling for aerodynamics. Since a truck is larger, it fights higher wind resistances while driving, also known as drag
- Engine size. Typically, larger trucks have powerful V6 or V8 engines when cars typically have 4-cylinder engines. The heavier and more powerful the engine, the more gas it uses
7 Ways to Maximize Truck Fuel Economy
Trucks offer great utility but tend to consume more fuel. Here are some great tips to improve truck fuel economy.
- Adjust your driving style.Whether you drive a V6 or a V8, a good place to start to improve fuel economy is driving style. Jack rabbit starts use more fuel than easing the vehicle from a stop. If you like to drive on the highway, consider lowering your speed by 5-MPH. The faster you drive, the more fuel the engine needs to maintain that speed
- Turn off your air.While hot weather can make air conditioning mandatory, consider turning it off in more temperate weather. Running the AC system takes a significant amount of engine power. This translates into more fuel used as compared to when the AC is off. Try opening the air vents and letting forced air cool the vehicle
- Reduce drag.Another, often overlooked, accessory that affects fuel economy is the roof top luggage carrier. Having a large object mounted to the roof creates a lot of drag. Even if the carrier is aerodynamically shaped, it takes more fuel to push the vehicle through the air with it attached. Save the carrier for when it's needed
- Replace your spark plugs.One of the biggest impacts to fuel economy can be accomplished through proper vehicle maintenance. Spark plugs need to be free of carbon deposits to work efficiently. Carbon deposits impede the strength of the spark. As a result, the fuel does not burn completely. Instead some will be shot out the exhaust as waste. While the plugs are out, be sure the spark plug gaps are set to your vehicle's specification
- Protect your fuel/air mixture.The air filter should be checked regularly to make sure it's free from debris and dirt. A gasoline engine runs on a mixture of fuel and air. If your filter is clogged, the correct amount of air will not reach the combustion chamber and the fuel will not burn completely. Another important maintenance item is the vehicles oxygen sensor. This device is located in your exhaust system and feeds information to the car's computer controller. If it is broken or malfunctioning, it might tell the controller to add more fuel to the engine than is really needed. A bad oxygen sensor will set the check engine light on the instrument panel and should be checked out by a qualified mechanic
- Check your tires. Tires inflated to the proper pressure can also have a positive impact on fuel economy. As the pressure decreases in the tire, the sides flatten out and more rubber comes in contact with the road. The more rubber in contact with the road, the higher the tire's rolling resistance. It takes more engine power to push a flatter tire because of the increased rolling resistance. More power means more gas used