Tundra Owners Know How to Squeeze MPGs

2014_Toyota_Tundra_SR5_007 II

Saving fuel is a top priority for truckmakers and consumers nowadays, and several original equipment manufacturers have re-engineered their entire powertrain lineup within the last few years to improve the fuel economy of their pickup trucks. The owners of pickups whose powertrains haven't been updated — Toyota, Nissan and Honda — have found other ways to squeeze out every MPG they possibly can.

According to TundraHeadquarters.com, there are specific driving skills many Toyota Tundra owners practice to get the most fuel efficiency from their full-size half-ton (some say it's stronger and heavier than your basic half-ton). Although most of the advice is common sense, these tips are worth noting because all truck drivers can benefit from them.

Foremost among the tips from Tundra drivers: Adopt an elegant and smooth driving style rather than an aggressive, fast-paced style. Other suggestions include using freer-flowing air filters, checking tire pressure regularly, doing regular maintenance work and not carrying what you don't need. We've also heard some V-8 owners have had good luck with different cold-air induction products. (Of course, these particular suggestions will apply to any pickup truck owner looking to improve their fuel economy.)

What kind of fuel economy the next-gen Tundra will be able to achieve is anyone's guess, but we're optimistic that Toyota understands that the big pickup makers have and are investing large sums of money in more technologically advanced and more efficient powertrains. Rumors of a modified version of the 5.0-liter Cummins in a Tundra make sense for a heavier-duty half-ton, but more needs to be done for the mainstream trim levels in the lineup. We'd expect additional fuel-efficiency advances for next-gen Tacoma as well.

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2014 Toyota Tundra 056 II



On my past trucks,I always installed a CAI along with cat-back duals.I did try a tuner/programmer once and wasn't impressed with the results so I removed the tune and sold the programmer.But with the intake and exhaust done I was able to get 2 to 3 mpg's more on the hwy.The sound was really good to my old ears.

I find that the techniques I use for winter driving on icy roads work for improving mpg. That would be gradual accelleration, try to avoid stopping at traffic lights (i.e. slow down well in advance to catch green light), build speed and momentum on hills and allow for some loss of speed on hills. If one looks up hypermiling techniques those are suggests they make.

It is amazing how much of a difference these techniques can make. People spend thousands on catbacks, CAI's etc. and an attitude adjustment works better.

This is a story? Really? Why is the reference to a Tundra forum even necessary or relevant. I guarantee you will find similar content on any automotive forum.

@Mark Williams

Detroit (and its competitors) spend untold millions of dollars every year trying to achieve better FE ratings. If something as cheap to make as an air filter or induction hoses really added to fuel economy in some measurable way the trucks would come from the factory so equipped.

Products like the K/N filters are really good products for improving throttle response but you're stretching it to suggest that a gauze filtration medium makes a difference in something like highway fuel economy.

A gauze filter does wonders for full throttle performance at max RPM. For trips to the Home Depot, not so much.

I am not disagreeing with the posts above, but manufacturers also have to contend with DOT/EPA noise regulations and such. Heck, if it weren't for safety requirements (heavier cars) we'd probably easily have sub 1-ton economy cars that got 70 MPG with a plain old gas engine.

@ Lou bc: Hypermileing is something I have been doing for over 20 years,and those techniques work.Add in CAI and some sort of exhaust mods and all those combined work even better.Living and driving in the mountains where I live,ya have to try everything you can to maximize FE.

I guess they wanted to include toyota in some kind of article since they haven't made any news in a long time. BTW, doesn't the tundra get the worst MPG of any 1/2 ton truck except for maybe the Titan?

What do Tundra owners do to make it not look as ugly?

@ToxicSludge - it a safer way to drive and it is much easier on the vehicle.

What do Tundra owners do to make it not look as ugly?
Posted by: Alex | Aug 21, 2014 7:07:57 PM

Park next to a Titan

never in my life have i witnessed and aftermarket part increase fuel mileage. only thing that will happen is you will gain in one spot and lose in another. you want to buy something that gets you better fuel economy get a tire guage and check pressure weekly. put it at 70psi all tires and enjoy the lumber wagon ride while you get 0.5mpg better on the hwy.

Here is tip how about I adopt a powertrain that squeezes out better mpg instead of placing it on the driver.

Does this article mean to imply that Tundra drivers care more about FE economy or have better techniques to manage FE?

I think all truck drivers care about FE, some more than others. Tundra drivers definitely have more reason to be concerned by their FE, because along with the Titan, they are privileged to get the worst FE numbers in the segment.

If someone wants better FE, there are basically 2 options: 1) Drive more efficiently or 2) Buy a more fuel efficient truck.

The market is full of excellent fuel efficient trucks. Perhaps Tundra drivers should realize that it's time to leave the nest and see what's out there.

I'm running my 2011 Tundra 5.7 DC LB completely stock. No additions; OEM towing package and load-leveling hitch with Rancho gas shocks.

I live at 4880ft altitude and often travel up to 9303ft altitude in the mountains.

Combined mpg is terrible! But no better and no worse than my 2006 F150 5.4 or my 1988 Silverado 350.

That's life when buying a pickup truck. You only buy it if you really have a use for it.

People who have to worry about the cost of fuel ought not to buy a pickup truck, even one that has a squirrel-engine in it.

I added electic fans on my 2004 f 150 aveage mpg was 17.1 and I got 22.3 mpg on the highway. The fans came form a ford van I total 2 months ago. was rather easy to do I'm sure if you could get them form a junk yard at a decent price. that was a 4 mpg increace.

Toyota needs to come out with better gearing. 3.73's would be a good start. It will help their highway mileage a lot. Sure you may sacrifice some towing numbers but not everyone needs all that towing power anyways.

well not long now till we get some real truck news.

Mike Levine@mrlevine · Aug 19

Looking forward to sharing some great Super Duty news in the next week or so. Maybe sooner. :-)

Why anybody would spend $10K MORE for a Tundra that gets WORSE gas mileage, WORSE performance, and WORSE payload and towing is beyond me!
If you own a Ram, Chevy, or Ford, you have a better pickup!

So do you drive a Focus?? It's a lot cheaper to drive than any pickup.

People buy BMWs, Comaro's, Corvettes, etc, a Cruze or Camry is cheaper.

People are buying diesel Rams, V8 Rams a Pentastar Ram is cheaper.

It not just about the cost. If that was the case everyone would be driving a Honda Fit.

BAFO: The diesel/V8 offer better performance in different metrics over the V6 so you get more for the extra money you spent. Tom's argument is that you're spending extra on the Tundra and getting worse performance in all metrics.

On my past trucks,I always installed a CAI along with cat-back duals.I did try a tuner/programmer once and wasn't impressed with the results so I removed the tune and sold the programmer.But with the intake and exhaust done I was able to get 2 to 3 mpg's more on the hwy.The sound was really good to my old ears.

Posted by: ToxicSludge | Aug 21, 2014 2:07:48 PM

The CAI/catback/tune thing has always been something that amuses me.

There have been a few honest articles I have stumbled across about the actual performance on the road of these mods and the results are mixed at best.

Black Bear Performance (a fairly reputable tuning shop) did a dyno test of different CAI's installed on a late model 5.3l silverado. Shockingly the best performer was one of those AirRaid Jr. tubes that replaces the factory ducting but utilizes the stock air box. Average increase in HP/TQ from the AirRaid replacement tube was highest across the board outperforming all other CAI designs. It only lost out on Peak HP/Torque numbers to one of those $5-600 fully enclosed intake systems from Banks (or maybe i t was AFE). One design actually dynoed less average power than the stock motor.

Fourwheeler magazine did a test on a 5.4l Ford where they incrementally added popular mods to see what the "sweet spot" for performance vs investment was, their findings showed that just splicing in a high performance muffler was dollar for dollar the best performance mod that could be made for money invested. Stepping up to the Full tubing given by the catback added a negligible increase over the high flow muffler alone at nearly double the price. Their findings also reflected that an AirRaid Jr. and high flow factory replacement filter netted the best gains per $ over a full CAI. They went on to do a full blown tune and headers etc and obviousl got the most performance out of that setup, but they clearly showed that with minimal investment in just a muffler, new intake tube, and a modest prepackaged tune you could something like 90% of the gains for less than half the total investment of doing a full catback, headers, and complete CAI.

You have to save a lot of gas to make up that difference in cost.

one thing this article doesnt mention is that in states that add methanol, ethanol and all this other junk, it reduces the efficiency of the fuel and you get worse gas mileage like here in phx. I always used to beat the high fuel economy numbers on the epa gas sticker on window, no longer. i have a 2010 dbl cab tundra 5.7L 4:30 rear end gears 4x4 with leveling shocks in front. I get 15-16.5 no matter how i drive. SO for maybe 1 mpg, i just drive the way i like and not piss off other drivers around me. Seriously considering the ram 1500 diesel. This tundra is a lot more truck than i need. it feels like a 3/4 ton when towing etc. great truck but really more than i need. rather have a less capable truck and better fuel economy. I bought it since i thought it was the best truck for the $$ in 2010 and 50000 trouble free miles since has easily proved it.

If saving fuel is a top priority for truck makers, I haven't noticed.

As a Tundra owner, here's how I'm adapting... I'm not going to drive it any more. No more pickup truck. Sorry truckmakers, you snooze, you lose.

Not that you're really losing because you can clearly have horrendous gas mileage and people don't have any choice. The pickup truck oligopoly really doesn't care because there's so many ways that fuel economy can be improved but they continue doing the opposite.

Some say it is stronger and heavier than your basic half-ton...

How about most say it is hideous and not designed for someone who would really use as the name states?

1994 called, they want their dash back!

Papa Jim, thats only partially true... the truck manufacture has to balance a lot of things, some of them come at a cost to performance. There are parts of the system that are very efficient but competing goals will always leave room for improvement.

Example 1: Intake resonance - caused by pulsing air. The air flowing into and out of an internal combustion engine is not a constant laminar flow, it pulses. On the intake side this is caused by the momentary low then high pressure swings as a valve opens creating a vacuum in the intake followed by a spike in pressure as the air rushes in to fill the vacuum and hits a wall as the valve snaps shut. In a straight through constant radius pipe this will resonate at a frequency roughly equal to the length of the pipe or one of its harmonic nodes. The engineers compromise by placing baffles, expansion chambers and irregular tube cross sections to interrupt/cancel out this resonance through destructive interference. This inhibits airflow and performance, that's why you see the most improvement by just replacing the intake tube and leaving the air-box and factory filter in place. K&N et al put a gigantic brightly colored chrome plated open element filter mostly for appearance so they can charge $300 and give people the impression they are doing more for their performance. All you need is the tube, modern factory airboxes and filters are pretty damn efficient.

Example 2: exhaust noise - this is no secret, a straight through uninhibited muffler gives the best performance. However, with less restriction comes more noise, and a truly free flowing exhaust will also drone due to the same reasons the intake will, because exhaust pulses, thats the burbling sound you hear in an idling engine, and that howling rasp/popping you hear at WOT on a racecar, piping hot air under extreme pressure is instantaneously released into cooler air on the other side of the exhaust valve and it creates a shockwave that carries down the exhaust pipe, any bend, baffle, expansion chamber, etc makes this quieter but that interrupts this flow will decrease performance unless it is carefully tuned to use the dissipating pulse to its advantage to "suck" the next exhaust pulse out of engine. These sound waves cause your mostly metal truck cab and interior to resonate like a big tuning fork, which unless you are 16-18 and use more hairgel than bath soap (c'mon guys we were all there once) drone/resonance is NOT cool. So here your have several trade-offs: cost, sound, and performance. The manufacturer cares primarily about cost, and sound depending on who the end user is. Again, this is why proof is shown time and again that the best improvement to a modern engine is replacing the factory muffler with a high performance one, as the factory tubing is fairly efficient. I dont know about you but I would rather keep my mandrel bent CNC welded factory pipes even if they are a bit undersized vs going to Joe Bobs Mufflerz and More to get some pinched down aluminized tubing cut with a sawzall, but YMMV. Their muffler though is a exactly that, a muffler, it accomplishes their sound and interior resonance goals at the cheapest price point reasonable for the platform. You buy something nice like a Vette and you get a slick bi-modal exhaust that does performance and sound but it also is like a $2000 option.

"If something as cheap to make as an air filter or induction hoses really added to fuel economy in some measurable way the trucks would come from the factory so equipped."
What really CAN make a difference is economy programming. Things like quicker up-shifts and holding converter lock-up longer can really pay off. As long as tow-haul mode stays in tact, it shouldn't hurt anything. Leaner fuel maps can help, as well, but then you're taking safety margin out of the engine.

As for the Cummins ISV 5.0- cancelled. Sorry.

A CAI does not increase MPGs.

The ECU on vehicles tries to maintain a perfect stoi ratio. If you put more air in, the ECU will also put more fuel in. Therefore, it is *possible*, under the right conditions, to make more power with a CAI. But it is impossible to improve fuel economy with a CAI.

The #1 thing I have found that increases fuel economy is to drive gently and obey posted speed limits at all times. Most guys don't do this...but try it for just two weeks and honestly obey the posted speed limit at all times and you'll be shocked at how your MPGs will increase.

@devilsadvocate - well said. One of the truck magazines did a test with the F150 and 5.4. They put a K&N CAI intake on the truck and the MPG gained would take 5 years to pay for the mod. IIRC they gained 0.5 mpg with more intake noise and a slight improvement in throttle response.

@WXman... how do I say it... that is plainly and patently false and shows a general lack of knowledge about how vehicle mechanics work. The equation isnt that simple/ one dimensional. The computer deals with spark advance and fuel air ratio, and throttle position. There are also the dynamics of how the air flows through the whol system. "cleaner" (less turbulent) air more efficiently fills the cylinders and more efficiently mixes/ atomizes the fuel. The above results in decreased detonation risk which allows the computer to advance timing and/or fuel to create more power per unit of fuel consumed rather than just blindly mixing more fuel with the available oxygen.

So again, its not that simple. If the engine was 100% efficient in turning fuel into power then yes, what you said was true, but since it isnt, adding an airflow mod like a CAI (or really just the tube between the airbox and engine intake, see my posts above) can increase fuel efficency.

You are partially right (albeit for the wrong reason) that full open element CAI's or those that use metal ducting can actually hurt performance because they dont insulate from engine bay heat as well as a factory air box or sealed "proper" CAI does that ducts air from the fender or from below the front bumper. And again, the real bottleneck is the tube connecting the two, not the gigantic filter they stick on the end, so don't get the two mixed up

My point is though, a proper CAI doesn't just improve the amount of oxygen in the cylinder in one dimension like you so ignorantly state. Yes the computer will add more fuel to burn with the added oxygen but the engine will also more efficiently build power per unit of fuel/oxygen burned do to improving the overal dynamics of how oxygen gets from the air outside into the cylinder. That 5-7 HP gained from this minor adjustment can easily make the difference between holding TC lockup with a high gear pulling a hill on the highway as opposed to unlocking the TC or kicking down a gear both raising RPM's and skyrocketing fuel consumption. Or it just simply keeps your foot a little less deep in the accelerator when cruising so you more properly take advantage of the increased efficiency.

I'll stand on what I said earlier:

Detroit isn't in the habit of losing FE because of a part like a muffler (which can be mass produced at less than 100 dollars per) or a low restriction air filter element which can be produced for less than 10 bucks.

As we've all recently seen, Ford has invested huge bucks in aluminum bodies to improve FE without compromising payload. GM and Fiat/Chrysler each in their own ways have invested heavily in FE.

@papa jim, I should clarify my original answer to you, I think in recent years what you say is true, I think that is why you have seen so much investment in sound dampening in the passenger cabin.

There's no free lunch, to increase airflow you remove bends, smooth radii or pipes and that means you will get resonance. The only way around that at that point is supressing the symptoms (unwanted noise). New trucks definitely have a much healthier exhaust note than before. So they are doing somethign about it. Would be interesting to see similar tests like the ones I referrenced above with a new model truck to see how far things have come, the Ford from the Fourwheeler test I mentioned was something like 2007-08 F150 and the GM that Black Bear Perf. used was like a 2009 5.3l Silverado I thing, it was a GMT900 so the year is less important since the only engine change was when they dropped the LQ9 Vortec Max 6.0l for the 6.2l. Would be interesting to see if Catbacks/tunes/CAI's have become obsolete.

As a tinkerer, that makes me a little sad.

Would be interesting to see if Catbacks/tunes/CAI's have become obsolete.


It depends on your goal. If all out horsepower is your goal, you must remove every obstruction to the air in, air out.

Exhaust systems on trucks are a compromise between too much and too little. Too big a pipe will hurt low-rpm performance and too small a pipe will become a bottleneck at high rpm.

Intake systems must have enough restriction to increase air velocity. Too big an opening and the velocity drops. Too small and the top end performance suffers.

I am getting close to just having an old truck and a hybrid suv with a hitch and the hell with all these gas guzzlers. My 1970 GMC 5.7L with a turbo hydra matic 3spd with a quadra junk carb that leaked more gas than went in the intake got 11-15 mpg with a 4:10 rear end. My 40 year newer tundra with a 6 spd and all kinds of fancy fuel injection, variable cams etc gets 15-16 mpg. that is a what 15% improvement in 40 years? and that ol carburated truck was still faster responding than all this electronic junk. Old mechanical linkage with old carburator reacted faster to pedal imputs than all this new stuff. that should be embarrassing. I am awaiting Tesla to come out with their suv and may say bye bye to ICEs. just hook a trailer to the tesla suv when i need to haul bigger cargo. you cant win with an ice, diesel costs more when you buy the truck, the fuel is more, the urea fluid, all the complexity who knows how long it will last and all the maintenance costs. Gas as a fuel with all the additives is becoming less efficient all the time, no shelf live. i run AV gas in my off road machines and lawn mowers cause the crap at the pumps for cars turns to varnish in a month here in phx. they cant dilute, pollute and reduce efficiency of charging up a battery yet ?? tired of backwards progress in ICEs. 40 yrs just 15% more efficient, that is a JOKE and its on us when we keep buying this more complex less efficient junk.

Lol, to get mileage from a Tundra you need to hyper mile it! Still well behind.

Nice feel good story for Toyota fans.

Hemi lol ( the Hemi gets last laugh) was always saying "the Ram or other then Toyota people were hypermiling. Now we know for sure how he gets his "we have people getting 22 mpg", yeah, hypermiling and driving 55 on the street orientated Michelins!

TRX4TOM summed it nicely.

Papa jim made a great post, too.

Tundraheadquarters is a dispreputable site. Nobody takes them seriously.

i love reading the comments of all the idiots that comment here....... Toyota posts real world numbers on their trucks...... IF Ford GM and Ram did this the numbers would be the same.... they post the max numbers from a v6 model on the truck and option you for the v8 OR they give you FE numbers on the little rear diff and option you for the bigger one so the window sticker doesnt even match.

Consumer reports show there is Zero difference between a tundra 5.7 w 4.30 gears and an eco boost w3.55 gears.... the gm 5.3 with the tiny rear diff averages 1mpg more..........

you all just puppets being played by the manufacturer how does it feel to manipulated? lol

How about not allowing the general public to buy these gas guzzling beasts. And ONLY have the tradesman model for people who actually use them for work. But, we all know this will never happen and we can carry on just wasting away resources and fk future generations

You know what is funny the people who inspired this article got on me for saying that direct injection, higher compression ratio and a more advanced VVT system would yield better FE and more power. They called that "fancy tricks" but write an article about these tricks. The "fancy tricks" I was suggesting is at least engineering used by Toyota on Lexus performance vehicles. http://blog.caranddriver.com/2015-lexus-rc-f-follows-up-on-remote-touch-interface-introduces-all-electric-cam-phasing-2014-detroit-auto-show/

Now we know who really supports the fancy tricks.

Why anyone would say a CAI and less restriction exhaust will not gain anything is beyond reason, as all an enteral combustion engine is is an air pump, more air in more air out more power or to be able to use less throttle for the same power and in doing so less fuel. Now the reason behind changing the intake tube is the factory tube has chambers to reduce noise for the EPA, and is just a balance for the government! If you remove them and add a cleaner tube with less restriction you get more air in, but make more noise doing so, same with the exhaust muffler, only you let more air out with less restriction, and while doing so more power and more noise.

Finally a story that doesn't involve a Ford catching fire or a Ram and GM recall!

And Tom#3 why get a Tundra, because in ten years it's still driving unlike the rest of the junk out there.

A simple high-flow air filter in a stock box CAN (and for me does) increase economy by 15%-20%. I've done this in three different kinds of vehicles and it's had the same effect with each one.

SAE's J2807 towing test standard. Toyota is the only company that isn't scared of being honest ab about tow numbers and mpg. Lot of manipulated sheep on this blog

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