Texas Truck Showdown 2016: Towing Mileage Test

Ford Towing 1 II

By Brian Wong, Cars.com

We took our competitors on a 170-mile loop around the greater Houston area to find our own real-world fuel-economy figures.

Each truck ran the loop twice: once empty and once while towing a 10,100-pound trailer. The variance between the trailers was no greater than 40 pounds.

The drive itself was largely traffic-free and was mostly spent at highway speeds, around 65 mph for the majority of the trip as we were driving in a caravan. This means that the figures you see here are on the high side of what you can expect in real-world conditions.

Here are the results for the unloaded trucks:

TTS16_Tow_MPG_Empty_F (3)

And the results when towing:

TTS16_Tow_MPG_Loaded_F (3)

Trailer Fuel Fillup 2 II

The 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 came out on top, winning the towing competition outright at 11.6 mpg and tying for first with the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 in the unloaded competition at 23.9 mpg. This is an impressive performance by the Sierra, considering that it has the larger 6.2-liter V-8 while the Silverado employs the smaller 5.3-liter V-8.

Note:

  • All of our competitors turned in lower real-world fuel economy figures than their trip computers suggested, especially the 2016 Ram 1500, which got 21.8 mpg on the unloaded leg according to its computer, but only returned 17.7 mpg in reality — an almost 20 percent difference.
  • Our trucks ran the full gamut of fuel grades, with two using regular, two requiring premium and one recommending midgrade.

How We Tested

We used consistent methodology to ensure accurate results as much as possible. Our drivers for this test were divided into two groups. One group did all the driving for the towing, and the other for the unloaded trucks. The drivers rotated through each truck along the route to account for differences in driving style and driver weight.

The routes were driven with consistent conditions: air conditioning on, cruise control off, Eco modes disabled and the windows up. After each loop, the trucks were all refilled from the same gas pump using the double-click method to ensure a consistent cutoff point.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears and Angela Conners

Overview | Acceleration | Braking | Mileage | Results

 

Trailer Fuel Fillup II

Trailer Setup II

Trailer Tire Check II

 

Comments

Towing econ is not too surprising- the biggest motor can stay at part-load the most, preventing the fuel map from going rich- which is what the Ford EB does to hold together. The Ram and Tundra using the most fuel is somewhat expected, too. The empty cruising numbers for the Ram are a bit sad- WAY under the EPA rating.

Will you look at that? The ecoboost beat the tundra, silverado 5.3, and Ram 1500 in both towing and empty mpg. Or should I call it the ecothirst? So what does that make the other trucks. And I have to say. The GMC with 6.2 is downright impressive. Probably a good thing I never test drove it due to the price.

Oh wait didn't beat the 5.3 unloaded. Just towing. And I'd like to know which truck required premium? If it was the gmc then that would mean the f150 probably had the lowest overall fuel cost.

The 2 thirstiest is also the 2 with the least amount of difference or mpg lost from empty and towing.

Well would you look at that. The Putz From Oz the all knowing g was wrong about the FE in one of the oldest engines in this lineup. He said the 3.5 would see single digits and I disagreed. He rebuttled. Again goes to show how little he knows about towing. I will say I am impressed with the 5.3L from GM. The 8 speed really helps that little engine that could.

Where is big AL, since the FOrd did better towning MPG, it cant be so, cuz Al said so

Another interesting note is the difference in FE between 4x4 and 4X2 models. Towing the GM gained about 1 mpg and Ford stayed the same. Empty was a big difference between all models.

Looks like LMAO kid was wrong once again, GM's 6.2 left that Ford v6 in the MPG dust.

Uuumm...no it didn't. It did very poorly for having 50hp/40tq over the Ford V6. It did nothing.

Looks like LMAO kid was wrong once again, GM's 6.2 left that Ford v6 in the MPG dust.


Posted by: johnny doe | Jan 25, 2016 11:16:10 AM

I would strongly suggest you have your mommy read my post to you. That way she sounds out the words for you. Oh wait your mama disowned you. Maybe find a neighbor do it. The Fat Girl From Oz was wrong. I was almost spot on about MPG. I already said a larger trailer would not affect MPG that much compared to the 4x4 test if they used the same trailer. The 6.2L WAS worse in a 4x4 configuration than the 3.5L Ford. The GM improved 1 mpg and the Ford stayed about the same. But I did forget they were testing 4x2s in this test but still almost spot on.

6.2 8 speed GM for the win. Just as I predicted.

GM, Ram, and Toyota did great in the MPG test. Ford did poorly. Ford's V6 gets the same or less MPGs then most V8s LMMFAO! Saddest part is the biggest of the half ton V8s out MPG Ford's v6. If you got a v6 with MPG tires, plus 500 pounds lighter then the biggest V8 and you still lose, then you know Ford can't build anything very fuel efficient.

One must recall that the Ram, and both GM trucks have cylinder deactivation. The 6.2 will behave more like a 3.1 litre engine under light load. These trailers don't look like they have a lot of wind drag so once up to speed on flat ground they probably aren't pulling too hard.

It would have been nice for PUTC to monitor how long the Ram and GM twins stay in cylinder deactivation mode.

They said the GMC ran premium in the results section. Therefore when you are calculating cost per mile, the GMC actually lost and the Ford won towing a trailer. Ford was also right behind the less powerful 5.3 empty. I suggest the Ford haters allow that to sink in when they claim Ford drinks too much fuel.

Lou, based on past test when towing the GM and Fiat do not go into cylinder deactivation mode. But unloaded they do. I would like to know that and towing RPM. Nothing worse than towing with your engine at 4K down the road.

Wow, the 6.2 continues to impress everyone.

Even better, the 5.3 is much much more competitive than the Ram and Ford zealots thought it would be.

6.2 requires premium and 5.3 requires regular. Hemi requires midgrade, Toyota requires regular...so they filled the Ecoboost with premium fuel too.

Lou, They filled the EgoBoost with PREMIUM!!!!!!!!

hahahahahaha.

GM wins and Ford girly girls lose again!

Sierra - I like the GMTK2XX trucks especially with the 6.2. The 5.3 has always been a torque-less wonder and the GMT900's had poor fit and finish. My brother had several GMT900 HD's. He now has a new HD and the difference between the 2 models is amazing. Another friend has a HD similar year and trim level to my F150. His 3 teenaged kids all say that my truck is more comfortable and more quiet in the cab.

GM has a pair of winners in the Sierra and Silverado as long as they quickly work out the typical new truck gremlins. They both were dropped from Consumer Reports "recommended" list due to quality durability issues.

Ford should be embarrassed with this. For all the investment in turbo charging and Aluminum to increase FE and it appears they're just keeping up. IMO, Ford 'the innovators' should have walked away with this easily. Not to mention these are 2 wd trucks. when you jump to 4 wd trucks Ford's weight advantage decreases from 500 lbs to around 100 lbs.

I bet a 5.3 Silverado weighing 500 lbs less would crack 25 mpg easily.

Ford seems to be #1 in marketing B.S.

GM could be pretty embarrassed too. Their biggest V8 runs in V4 mode most of the time and require premium fuel and have an off-center stearing wheel - WTH.

They may have ran premium in the EB but it is not required for daily driving. The aluminum move was not for fuel economy and the F-150 would have won with different tires.

Essentially the GM won because it needs to run in V4 mode with premium fuel and better tires to barely beat the F-150 V6. How is that a knock on turbocharging and aluminum? If anything that is an endorsement for Ford.

GM is going to aluminum and turbos on the next gen Silverado.

Lou_BC,
Can't help yourself with your positive negatives when discussing pickups!

Initial good comments on the GM twins, then straight into the subliminal negatives.

How much do you get paid?

I've nutted you out.

Ford PAYS you!

Thanks Mike for being the first poster with his eyes open! I would argue that the 5.3 would be cheaper to tow with than the Ford due to the Ford using premium fuel. If they would have run 87 in the Ford instead of premium, performance probably would have been closer to the 5.3 than the 6.2. Fuel economy would have undoubtedly dropped as well.

Dave Z
Do you actually believe what you are posting? If you do, I think
Your nuts.

where does it say they used premium in the ford? Ford recommends regular unleaded for the ecoboost.

So anyone else see the elephant in the room. Not Big Al either. With the GM doing well in FE in this test how did it suffer so bad in the Canadian test? Have to wonder about the validity of the Canadian test.

@Beebe, Pretty sure the GM 5.3 and Toyota recommend 87.
Pretty sure the Hemi calls for 89. That leaves the 6.2 GM and the Ecoboost as the two running premium. Article said two ran regular, one ran midgrade, and two ran premium.

@ Dave Z

No Dave you have 0 point to make here. Ford released the 2015 F 150 a year after GM released this current gen pick up. They new about the eco diesel from Ram and they still gave us this. Ford spent a year telling us how innovative, powerful and efficient this new wonder F 150 would be. For all the BS we heard about Aluminum and turbo charged v6's it should have mopped the floor with the competition. In stead it came in a weak second between GM's simple but efficient V8's and steel body trucks. What do you think will happen when and if GM moves it's truck to aluminum. It would appear that GMs overhaul of the LS based engine and cylinder deactivation along with an 8 speed transmission has proven to be the biggest bang for investment buck in years. IMO, in this test GM has schooled Ford big time.

@ furd fan girls

"the F150 performed great for an outdated V6. We'll see the results change when Ford updates the Eco V6. Then the table will turn, for now, congrats to the Sierra, who barely eeked out the Ford despite have more HP/TQ."

the GMC performed great for an outdated, simpler, smaller, pushrod V8. We'll see the SAME RESULTS when GM updates to a LIGHTER truck. Then the table will REMAIN THE WAY IT IS, congrats to the SUPERIOR Sierra, who beat the crap out of furd despite the Sierra being 500 POUNDS HEAVIER!


In stead it came in a weak second between GM's simple but efficient V8's and steel body trucks. What do you think will happen when and if GM moves it's truck to aluminum. It would appear that GMs overhaul of the LS based engine and cylinder deactivation along with an 8 speed transmission has proven to be the biggest bang for investment buck in years. IMO, in this test GM has schooled Ford big time.


Posted by: Jack | Jan 25, 2016 5:31:53 PM

Jack, you really contradict yourself here. First you say the GM V8 engines are simple. Then you talk about the cylinder deactivation system. You also miss the point they use an in block variable cam system. Even GM says it is high tech.

http://gmauthority.com/blog/gm/gm-engines/l94/ This engine is far from a "simple engine"

@BARFo - I'm sure you'd love to "nutt out" the bloggers on this site but there are specific sites for that sort of lifestyle choice.

The Big 3 well 2 + FCA are notorious for poor durability ratings when releasing new models. JD Power has pointed that out on several occasions. Consumer reports dropped the 2015 GM siblings from their "recommended list".

I guess that if I would of said that about Ford you would of splooged your keyboard.

Can't believe these retards on here. How many different names use the word Furd?? We all know about johnny blow and all his aliases but this posting under different names is retarded no doubt. Grow up guys and realize you may have a life out there somewhere.

Many times I will check this site out when I am sitting on the toilet making a statue of Johnny Welfare!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yOlvL37680

Quote:

where does it say they used premium in the ford? Ford recommends regular unleaded for the ecoboost.
Posted by: beebe | Jan 25, 2016 3:54:24 PM

-------------------------------------------------------------

Page 169 in the 2015 F150 Owner's Manual states:

"2.7L and 3.5L EcoBoost Engines

...to provide improved performance, we
recommend premium fuel for severe duty
usage, such as trailer tow."

Similarly, on page 9-68 in the 2015 Chevy Silverado 1500 Owner's Manual, it states:

"...if the vehicle has the 6.2L V8 engine
(VIN Code J), use premium
unleaded gasoline meeting ASTM
specification D4814 with a posted
octane rating of 91 or higher.
Regular unleaded gasoline rated at
87 octane or higher can be used,
but acceleration and fuel economy
will be reduced..."

------------------------------------------------------------------
Quote:

They said the GMC ran premium in the results section. Therefore when you are calculating cost per mile, the GMC actually lost and the Ford won towing a trailer.
Posted by: Mike Lemon | Jan 25, 2016 11:55:43 AM

-----------------------------------------------------------------

According to the owner's manual, Ford advises 3.5EB owners to run premium when using their F150 for "severe" usage such as trailer tow. When towing a heavy trailer up long grades, plenty of timing (power) is going to be pulled from the engine if they try to get by on regular octane.

2015 Mustang EB owner's recently discovered the same thing. Ford recommends 87 octane, yet their advertised power numbers were attained using 93 octane. I wonder if Ford's F150 3.5EB advertised power numbers were attained on 93 octane.
http://www.autoblog.com/2015/01/05/2015-ford-mustang-ecoboost-loses-big-power-on-87-octane/

The GMC Sierra scoring (round number here) 24 mpg empty is amazing. Remarkable impact that their choice of transmission/engine and the balanced package it provides.

To be the toughest tow package, and to get the best FE surely impresses GM's competitors too. Time for RAM and Tundra to consider a refresh, or at least do a better job of communicating to their potential customers where/when they plan to present an equal choice.

Ford's 3.5 turns in an impressive performance too. Without Ford's effort, GM would have run away with this testing.

Ford's 3.5 turns in an impressive performance too. Without Ford's effort, GM would have run away with this testing.


Posted by: papa jim | Jan 25, 2016 8:18:17 PM

I believe without Ford's effort GM would not have pushed as hard to improve either. The real value of competition is everyone does their best to out do the other. In 2011 model year the 3.5L really shook things up.

Wow, this is so odd. The Fat Girl From Oz has not been posting here in a while. I guess with him being wrong about the F150 FE and performance she has to bow out till no one is looking then she can post paragraph after paragraph on the poor FE out of the F150. BARFO probably has a word doc open right now writing and writing about his hatred for Ford so his head does not explode.

I bet if his theory was correct it would be non stop F150, Aluminum, Ecothirst, FE and whatever.

Does this site emit subliminal "dumb" rays?

If the average blogger's IQ was any lower this would be a National Geographic story on fungus.

This whole showdown was really a battle of two. GM and Ford own the full-size market and it shows here.

Fiat Chrysler needs to spend some money to speed up their half-ton update instead of trying to stuff the hellcat into overpriced SUVs and mediocre sedans. The rear coil springs gotta go too.

The Tundra at this point is in a sad state. 3/4-ton fuel economy and uncompetitive payload/towing capabilities. It's shocking just how stagnant Toyota has allowed this truck to become.

Truck Crazy Ford kid sounds pretty mad. Guess he don't understand that 900,000 people bought GM trucks vs Fords 700,000. He can't under stand that people are tired of Fords B/S. He thinks I post on 50 different names, well I don't. I just use this name to post with. Truck Crazy kid go email Mark Williams, he's got my full repeact to show you Ford kids I only post on this name. It be really nice if you go ask him. It is getting old with you clowns saying I post with different names when I don't. Problem is you and LMAO obummer kid are the ones posting on everyones names and making new ones to act like the dumb 10 year olds you are.

Mark Williams, he's got my full repeact to show you Ford kids I only post on this name. It be really nice if you go ask him. It is getting old with you clowns saying I post with different names when I don't. Problem is you and LMAO obummer kid are the ones posting on everyones names and making new ones to act like the dumb 10 year olds you are.


Posted by: johnny doe | Jan 25, 2016 11:35:35 PM

Hey Obama phone using section 8 trailer park living loser, since you are so tight with Mark feel free to ask him how many names I post under. You know, since you are so tight with each other. What a loser you are.

These results are in stark contrast to those from the canadian truck challenge published a month ago. They saw terrible fuel economy from GMs 5.3 / 8 speed combo. I am unclear this could cause such a dramatic discrepancy. Ditto on the ecoboost vs Hemi, even tests previously done on this site have shown not nearly as dramatic a difference in fuel economy between those two engines. Neither has been updated in years.

Where is BARFO the FE god? Where is he and all his BS about Ecothirst? Common BARFO we know your out there. You never go 5 hrs without posting something about the F150. We want to read about your F150 wisdom and 8 mpg trucks.

@Cummins - good point. Test vehicles should be obtained randomly from dealers. That is the only thing that like about Consumer Report tests. Their durability data is good but truck tests suck.

Lou_BC,
The vehicles when obtained from the manufacturer will be in the best tune possible.

Unless Cars.com/PUTC have lots of money to purchase vehicles this would not be possible.

"The vehicles when obtained from the manufacturer will be in the best tune possible."
@BigAl - it is not unheard of for car companies to send vehicles that are "optimally tuned" to tests and shootouts.
In other words , they aren't the same as what you(um well anyone in USA or Canada) or I would by off of a car lot. VW isn't the first company to play with programming.

That is why CR randomly buys them off of lots.

Maybe that is why the Ecothirst wasn't as thirsty as you claim........... "It was in the best tune possible."

Ha ha ha.


Lou_BC,
The vehicles when obtained from the manufacturer will be in the best tune possible.

Unless Cars.com/PUTC have lots of money to purchase vehicles this would not be possible.

Posted by: Big Al from Oz | Jan 26, 2016 12:22:48 PM

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH the back pedaling begins. So is it just Ford that offers the best tune possible so you wont be severely wrong or did the GM twins have " the best tune possible" also. Maybe Fiat screwed up "their best tune possible" but in the wrong direction. That explains the poor MPG.

So what is it BARFO, just Ford because you dislike them? Just like your comment about aluminum. You said aluminum is good and will be needed for pickup trucks. Just not now. Point being Ford is using all aluminum and you do not like that because of your hatred for Ford.

Why are we using the manufacture recommended fuel for each vehicle but when it comes to payload we overload 2 pickups? Seems ridiculous that this site talks about sae j2807 tow standards but now we're overloading pickups. And whichever pickups use mid grade and regular are burning ethanol which will get you way worse mileage.

The gmc 6.2 almost won every contest it totally swept ford echoboost congrats gm braking, economy ,pulling ,racing and ford guys crying about outdated engine it was totally redone 2015 We could retest in 10 years and gm would really dominate win the turbos r junk .

I'll probably be dumping my ecoboost for the 6.2l. I've owned many 5.3s with no issues and alright mpgs. But that 6.2l is beast mode. I run 93 in my boost anyways cuz of mods and carbon build up issues, I just hate the girly sound of the 3.5l with an exhaust. Plus the Diablo tuner adds boat loads to the 6.2l

Elevation is the difference. A naturally aspirated engines performance will decrease as the elevation increases.

Houston is at near sea level. Where was the Canadian test performed ?



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