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.


  • 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



I wish they would have used some altitude for the towing stuff. At sea level an N/A engine will have no issues with power... make it pull the same load after 7000ft and it's gonna be angry. I went from a V10 with 4.30s to a diesel and there is no difference at 1000ft altitude, and an insane amount of difference at 7-8000+...

Interesting test, i drive a 14 ram 1500 with 5.7 hemi and 3.55 rear end and i get on average empty daily driver 18 mpg

towing my travel trailer 26ft averaging around 6500 lbs i get around 8-10 mpg , i might get 12 mpg if not windy out

the eco mode very rarely kicks in towing my trailer.

didn't see what the gear ratios were on any of the trucks i know the toyota was probable 4.11 and the ford was probable 3.73

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