Texas Truck Showdown 2016: Half-Ton Fuel Economy

Ram Track 1 II

As noted in our most recent head-to-head comparison test, the Texas Truck Showdown 2016: Maximum MPG, we had some odd results surrounding the testing of the 2016 Ram 1500 HFE EcoDiesel pickup truck in the fuel-economy portion of our contest. We noted the questionable readings and promised to revisit the topic after some retesting. We've done that, and what we found was interesting and likely to make us more careful in the future. We also retested the 2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn we had for our Texas Truck Showdown 2016: Max Towing contest.

EcoDiesel Retest

The Ram EcoDiesel uses a capless, narrow fuel-filler tube, which makes filling the Ram tank a little tricky; combine that with the foaming characteristics of diesel fuel and we've surmised that may have created a problem. As we've done in the past with gasoline fuels, we tried to use a double-click method (we set the pump nozzle on automatic and wait for it to click off by itself, then wait and slowly add more fuel until we get a second automatic click), but we found that the diesel nozzles don't have the same shut-off sensitivity, which caused us to fill each diesel fillup to the point overflowing.

We suppose it's possible that one or both of our fillups could have been in error (likely due to tank foaming, nozzle issues or a restriction in the filler tube), but we're not sure. All we know is that after calculating the EcoDiesel fuel-economy numbers based on the amount of fuel put into the Ram tank (twice), we found a much higher fuel-economy number than we've ever recorded or seen (in fact, more than 45 mpg). As a result, we decided to use the factory computer average mpg data in order to compare the test results of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel with the rest of our competitors and noted we'd do further testing at a later date to confirm the scores.

Thankfully, Ram was able to get us the exact pickup for our retest; unfortunately, we were not able to conduct the retest on the exact flat route outside Houston where the original fuel-economy testing was conducted.

Our retest was conducted in the Southern California, which included a good amount of highway driving, climbing out of the Los Angeles Basin and up and over the ring of mountains that surround Los Angeles, in some cases reaching 3,000 feet. To duplicate our original drive route as much as possible, we made stops at three separate intervals and kept our speeds to all posted limits. We also had the windows rolled up, the air conditioning turned on and cruise control off, just as we do during comparison mileage tests. When the Ram was loaded with our test payload of 1,500 pounds, we did engage the Tow/Haul mode (just as we would expect pickup owners would).

Ram ED gauges II

Similar Results

The results of our first retest were interesting, but not surprising. Given that our retest route (similar in distance to our original route) had more elevation gains and little city driving (similar to our Houston drive route), it didn't surprise us that we recorded 28.5 mpg fuel economy when empty and 29.1 mpg when loaded, almost a direct parallel to what our test drivers recorded during our Texas Truck Showdown 2016: Maximum MPG test (30.1 empty, and 31.2 loaded), albeit slightly lower. (We should note that the nominal difference would not have made any difference in our Showdown finishing order.)

What did surprise us during this retest, though, was how finicky the capless fuel-filler hose could be with the fuel-station nozzle, as well as how much foaming diesel fuel can do. Those two factors alone during our multiple retest loops made this mileage test more challenging than normal. In some instances we had to wait for a minute or two to allow the foam to calm down in order to continue filling the tank to a full level while trying to avoid fuel overfill, which spills into the Ram's outer fill cup that drains directly to the ground via a small drain hole if filled. This very well could have been the reason for our initial false reading in Texas. Thankfully, during that test we reset the computer trip readouts to allow the vehicle computer to calculate mpg as well. As it turns out, that number looks to be very close to the fuel-economy numbers we collected during our retest.

Our test procedures, no matter what head-to-head comparison we're conducting, are always the same: We start and end at the same fuel station, using the same tester to conduct all tank fills. We also fill each vehicle at the same pump where fuel use allows, using the same double-click method for each one. We then run our loop, we conduct driver swaps at regular intervals so each driver gets into each test vehicle, allowing for weight and style differences between drivers. Then we return to the same station to use the same fuel pump to fill up the tanks again. Then, based on the miles driven divided by the gallons of fuel, we calculate each test truck's mpg. When testing pickup trucks, we transfer the payload from our "full-load" pickups into the pickups that just completed the test loop empty. Then we drive them all over the same route again, making sure each truck has completed the route both empty and at full payload.

Ram squat II

Loaded Versus Empty

After our full-payload run to retest the Ram 1500 HFE EcoDiesel, given how much sagging the rear end does with the 1,500 pounds in the bed, we thought it might be interesting to see if our fuel tank would accept any more fuel immediately after we unloaded the bed of payload, bringing the truck back to level. What we found was that the same fuel pump at the same station was able to fill the tank with almost another gallon of fuel once the bed was unloaded. As a consequence, we made sure to add that extra fuel when calculating our loaded mpg test run.

That's something we hadn't considered in Texas — adding fuel to a heavily loaded pickup can reduce the amount of fuel the tank can accept because of the angle at which the tank is accepting fuel; sort of like how quickly or slowly a pump will think it's full and shut off because the nozzle senor reads foam. It seems like either or both of these issues could have gotten in the way of collecting repeatable mpg numbers.

As a consequence of this retest, we'll pay more attention to issues such as fuel-flow rates into a tank, nozzle sensitivity, foaming and bed angle in all future pickup truck comparison tests.

Trip Computer Reset

We also discovered that a pickup's trip computer can be tricky as well. For readers who remember us mentioning the 2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn's optimistic average fuel-economy computer readout when compared to our actual fuel economy in our Texas Truck Showdown 2016: Max Towing, we've since discovered that it can take a few tanks of collected data to get trip computer readings closer to real numbers. Even if you clear all the trip A and B screens and mpg readouts, the computer still holds past data for averaging. We're guessing that our test vehicle may have been in the hands of a hypermiling test driver before we took possession and that may have skewed our average mpg readouts until we got several hundred miles behind us, which would explain why the real-world and trip computer numbers were off by almost 20 percent in the beginning. In fact, during additional fuel-economy testing with the Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Hemi V-8 4x2, we found that the Ram's computer mpg numbers were well within the margin of normal error (usually less than 1 mpg) when compared to the readout, but we had the truck for a week and ran it through almost three full tanks of fuel.

During our empty mpg retest on the Laramie Longhorn, we found our average fuel economy to be 21.5 mpg, while the computer calculated 21.3. Our original numbers during our Houston empty fuel-economy testing calculated at 17.7 mpg. The computer-calculated mpg on that same test run in Houston with the Ram Laramie Longhorn was 21.8, much closer to what we found upon retesting. In this case, recalculating the empty fuel-economy category of our test would give the Ram Longhorn about 16 more total points than originally scored, but, again, nothing in the Showdown's finishing order would change.

We know that by laying all this out we leave ourselves open to scrutiny about how we do our testing; however, we think it's more important that we be as clear and honest as we can in our questions and explanations about what we find in our tests and retests. In these retests we wanted to be as thorough and detailed for you as we were in our original tests. It certainly would be much easier for us to simply ignore these issues when they crop up, but then we'd be short-changing you about information you might need when making a new-truck purchase.

Others might criticize us for not making our comparison tests as scientific as possible, but that's on purpose: We want to test and reveal these pickups in ways that real-world consumers experience these trucks. Our testing always will have the average pickup buyer in mind. We package our information and test results in ways that typical consumers can understand and appreciate, and might even take with them as they walk into a dealership. Of course, more comparison tests are on the way for 2016.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears, Angela Conners and Mark Williams


IMG_4164 II



To my friends in Mississippi Hawaii Idaho and Michigan don't forget to vote Trump today.

It is amazing how this truck gets 30mpg. What else do people want?

@Jason88, it is impressive, and should not be compared to any other truck, in reality for a 1/2 ton FE should never be a real driver when buying, until now that Ram has a diesel and actually can claim good FE. You cant even compare to the gas as far as extra maint and cost of diesel vs gas, because the gap is so wide in MPG difference(6-8MPG)....well done Ram again on this truck!

Lot of people say it takes years to payoff the premium for the diesel engine but they are wrong. As a twice owner of a Passat diesel (2004 and 2012) I can tell you when I sold both I had people fighting over them and I got several thousand more for it than if I had the 2.5 5cyl gas engine. I got all my extra diesel engine option money back plus I enjoyed getting 45mpg while I had it.

"We want to test and reveal these pickups in ways that real-world consumers experience these trucks. Our testing always will have the average pickup buyer in mind. We package our information and test results in ways that typical consumers can understand and appreciate, and might even take with them as they walk into a dealership."

In my view, this is more important than anything for fuel-economy testing. I don't need antiseptic, perfectly conducted tests under "ideal" conditions. Who drives under ideal conditions?


@Mark Williams
I think you touched on something deeper regarding tests. If any of these trucks are hyper-miled for some good distance before you test, the shift patterns will be adjusted for that. You will likely have conservative shift patterns for hundreds of miles before it gradually adjusts to the new pattern. This could give you better MPGs, but it could also give you slower performance. The reverse would also be true for trucks that had very aggressive driving done on it prior to you getting the truck. Better performance but lower MPGs. I think this would hold true for any of the manufacturers, and could skew the results in close tests.

At the end of the day though it's still comparing diesel to gasoline. It's nice those options are available but everyone already knows diesel will always win MPG tests. Also, I recall the last test all the efficiency modes on the other trucks were turned off. I think the results would have been closer which may help people decide if they want to pay the premium for diesel. This showdown still has way too many variables and flaws to be the be-all end-all comparison, unfortunately.

Not that it matters to me. I prefer mid-size trucks.

Fuel economy are for cars and hybrids!

Trucks are for work, off-roading and everything else!

No wonder why trucks are becoming less and less trucks and more and more like cars as with their pricing, thanks media!

Can you get a FIAT truck to 200k miles without buying it again in repairs? That milage is insane good but I don't need a repair shop queen. Still don't trust them.

@GOM, really? who cares.....I dont know anyone who buys a new vehicel and wants to get to 200K miles, heck by the time they get close to 100k, they get discarded and on to the new one, so the question is, can it make it to 100k? yes it will be fine

DEARBORN, Mich., March 7, 2016 – Ford Motor Company is the only automaker named a 2016 World’s Most Ethical Company® by Ethisphere Institute today – a distinction that comes as ethics in business increasingly affects customers and their purchase decisions

I don't think selling a lemon 2.3 ecoboost in the mustang is very ethical. Check mustang forums it is full of problems. Just YouTube mustang ecoboost smoking and that's one of the many issues.

Ford has fixed many of the 2015 mustang issues for 2016 and is also redesigning the turbo vacuum for the 2017 model year.

But why should people avoid a first year Ford if the company was ethical and thoroughly tested their products before it hit the market.


They should have pick VW for it diesel engines technology or GM for killing hundred of customers with there ignition keys.......... or Ram Trucks with there buy back lemon program.........

I don't think selling a lemon 3.0 ecodiesel in the Ram is very ethical. Check Ram and Cummins forums it is full of problems. Just YouTube Ram ecodiesel engine exhaust smoke in the cab and that's one of the many issues.

Ram has fixed many of the ecodiesel Ram issues for 2016 and is also redesigning exhaust parts.

But why should people have to avoid a first year Ram EcoDiesel if the company was ethical and thoroughly tested their products before it hit the market.

I never said give it to RAM or GM. I just said Ford is far from ethical.

You are just like the pundits on political shows. When the host asks why did the Republicans do something the pundits just respond the Democrats do it too.

I don't think it's ethical to put lieing sticker on the windows about MPG and needed to change that on EPA request.
Ford got this award before massive recall in the pipeline.


This award is not what I am focused at, when buying a new car, but I understand it's all the ford customers needs.


I did.

Thought this was about a Ram truck? Why even bother to bring Ford into it?? This is great mileage for a diesel 1/2 ton and again as of now it has no competition.


Posted by: GET RAMMED | Mar 8, 2016 2:25:47 PM
I did.

Posted by: RAM | Mar 8, 2016 2:28:27 PM

Too Funny

I'm not a Ram fan but their half ton longhorn sure is a good looking truck. A neighbor of mine had a hemi-powered one and put over 60,000 trouble free miles on it. A relative of mine just dumped his platinum F-150 for a new hemi-longhorn. I couldn't blame, his platinum spent more time at the dealer than in his driveway. With respect to the eco diesel, I have seen them around town but don't know anyone personally who has one.

This became about Ford because a Ford fanbois posted an undeserved award for Ford. What BS.

As for this truck, I give it much respect. 30mpg by this website plus countless real owners out there is amazing. My coworker got a Canyon diesel last week. He is getting 32 mpg. Unbelievable. We need more trucks like these instead of ecobusts.

Mark. Would very much like to see a comparison test with 4x4 ram ecodiesel 3.55, 3.92 gearing against Colorado diesel. Empty, 1500 pound payload, and pulling a 7000 pound trailer. Mpg!!!

If they fix the one fault with the cam gear I believe is was, then this already awesome engine will keep many people happy for a lot of miles in some nicely made Ram interiors.

Ethisphere institute. Hahahahaha hahahahaha

@Ram, guess you love getting Rammed huh??

@Ram, guess you love getting Rammed huh??
Posted by: Fed up.

Nice school kid name calling, did they teach you that one in second grade Ford clown school son?

"Ford Motor Company is the only automaker named a 2016 World’s Most Ethical Company® by Ethisphere Institute today – a distinction that comes as ethics in business increasingly affects customers and their purchase decisions"
Posted by: blueman | Mar 8, 2016 12:50:53 PM

Great to see a Mexican company doing so well!


@GOM, really? who cares.....I dont know anyone who buys a new vehicel and wants to get to 200K miles, heck by the time they get close to 100k, they get discarded and on to the new one, so the question is, can it make it to 100k? yes it will be fine

Posted by: Nitro | Mar 8, 2016 12:45:15 PM

WHAT?????? you do realize 100k is about equal to 50k 15 year ago.
If any new vehicle cant made it to 200k it is JUNK.. hell i made it to 150k before i even needed a water pump or my plugs changed. im at 177k now and have never even had the valve covers off

The only way to get an accurate fuel mileage number is to spend an hour filling up the tank. First pump till it stops, then fill at a hundredth of a gallon per second. An absolute trickle fill. The tank is not full until every ounce of fuel going in comes out the overfill spout. Use a bucket to collect it and calculate the overfill by the weight minus the bucket weight empty and convert to gallons.
I have an ecoboost f-150 with a 26 gallon tank. I've gotten at least 33.25 gallons in it before. This isn't rocket science. These auto review methods of calculating fuel economy are totally insufficient for accuracy.
This is before any other variables are even considered. For example, my 2011 f-150's torque converter won't lock until the transmission reaches 105 degrees. Until then, fuel economy is a wash and not even worth looking at. When I commute in the winter in Charleston, SC, my 10 minute drive consists of the torque converter being unlocked until the last 2 minutes because of how cold the transmission is. This is a durability protection feature that protects the transmission components until the transmission fluid reaches a proper temperature.

Truck Owners from Texas don't speak for me on what truck is best for my needs plus I don't respect their views.
I live in the snow belt northeast mountains, I need a truck with the extra power to climb steep mountains (Texas has NO mountains) I need a truck that goes thru deep snow (Texas has little snow) I need a truck that climbs downed trees in the woods, (Texas has no trees).
People from Texas are more civilized where they go for luxury and quiet ride where they pick a truck for looks instead of substance.
Truck owners from Texas are pussies, girly men as far as I am concerned!

@Ram, no they didn't teach me that one in school, you walked into that little name all by yourself with little or no help. You did it.

Oh the comments are getting good aren't they?

Funny how the BIG news everywhere is talking about the F-150 brake failure recall but nothing here about that!
shhhhhhh! be quiet,,,,,, don't mention it,,,,,,that may make the F-150 look bad, it only effects 70,000 trucks, no big deal!
brakes are not a safety issue

@Walter a Passat (diesel)?

Could there be a bigger four wheeled POS?

BTW, welcome to PUTC. This is a website devoted to trucks. Can you offer any anecdotes that are truck related?

Also, if your Passat was a diesel it is entirely impossible for you to know what the sale price (used) for a 2.5 gas model is because you did not sell one--do I have that correct?

Also, if your Passat was a diesel it is entirely impossible for you to know what the sale price (used) for a 2.5 gas model is because you did not sell one--do I have that correct?

Posted by: papa jim | Mar 9, 2016 5:52:21 AM

papa jim- If I wanted to kill myself I'd climb your ego and jump to your IQ.

Diesel cars typically offer better resale value than their gas- or hybrid-powered counterparts. This leads to several benefits for car owners. One is that shoppers who frequently trade cars won't lose as much money in depreciation as they may on the same vehicle with a gas engine. Although you won't see that cost savings up front, improved resale value can still help justify the premium of a diesel engine if you're on the fence about which powerplant to choose.

Better resale value can also help if you're interested in leasing. Because a lease essentially pays the depreciation on a vehicle, diesel cars may offer a better deal than gas-powered vehicles because their depreciation curve isn't as steep.

Those are just the facts!

Ok a few things.

1. The 2 "click" method? Seriously? Guys that's not how you determine the fill. You should be using measured amounts (unless testing maximum range) and even then you should go to the stated capacity of the tank. This 2 click thing like you discovered is just no good. Too many obvious variables.

2. 28 to 31 are great numbers. Why/How is it more loaded?

3. What an archaic dash display. Shame on you Fiat. Im sure the higher trim levels must be better. And the absence of gauges is sad although im sure they aren't the only one taking this horrible car trend into trucks.

Hmmmm, it seems like some people used my name while I was on vacation and still using it now.

@Frank or Fed up
You don't know to read , respond to the wrong post and person and forgot to switch your nick name. You should wait to get sober buddy.

@skeeter, i did an auto trader search within 100 miles of my location for trucks with 200k miles or more and there was 19.... then i did for over 100k, there was 67, then i did under 100k, there was 1300

I did the same auto trader search for my area near Chicago and there are 70 trucks for sale over 200k @25 miles
281 @100 miles and 2067 @300 mile away trucks only!

Some of these trucks have 400-700k and people are still asking
9000-11000k for them. Crazy

And that is only trucks for sale imagine how many are just on the road!

Are you kidding - you didn't know about diesel foaming how reliable are your other diesel tests?
Car and Driver got C/D observed: 21 mpg
Edmunds long term average mileage - 22.5 mpg

This is very misleading.

Lou dc obviously knows nothing about Texas. Btw, you can't two click diesel.

@Clint, if they used a sensible and accurate measuring system for adding fuel to the test trucks it would be so much harder to "manage" the results.

Cars.com advertisers could end up taking it seriously. If you get my drift.

Don't understand what the problem with getting true mileage from any vehicle. In the early seventies I used to work for Douglas Motors in Summit, N.J. a Volkswagen dealer. When customers complained about fuel economy in their beetles & rabbits, the shop would disconnect the fuel lines to the tank and let the engine run out of gas. Then we would connect a tank with one gallon of gas to the engine and have the customer drive till the gallon ran out. Then they could not argue about there gas mileage. Think you guys should try the same thing and see what kind of mileage you really get.

I guess people still don't get it that you shouldn't keep clicking to get more fuel in the tank.

It's bad for the EVAP system.

I just put my pump on the slowest speed possible, for accuracy. It clicks, and that's it.

But you guys that want to keep clicking away, and drive well past the gas light comming comming on, on a regular basis, save up for EVAP and fuel pump repars.

@Art your boss's approach to customer satisfaction is really inspiring. Sarcasm is intended here.

You run out of gas. And you're wrong. Jeez. Did you guys get a lot of repeat customers?

Interesting how the commentary is going on this 'diesel' thread vs the Rover diesel thread. I'm sure we can all see how diesel can offer better fuel economy than gasoline but even today diesel tends to cost about $0.50 more than premium gas per gallon, almost exactly balancing the cost per tank and eliminating much of the diesel's advantage. This doesn't even consider the diesel engine's higher up-front price (balanced by a typically higher trade-in value) or the cost of the exhaust-scrubber fluid, which adds to the overall operating costs.

On the other hand, the cost of maintenance can depend much on how the vehicle is driven. Someone who drives it hard and punishes the drivetrain with maximum-peformance driving all the time is bound to realize more breakdowns and repairs than someone who drives somewhat moderately. I rarely get less than 100K miles out of a vehicle and put over 160K on a Camaro, though went through three torque converters in the process due to running a high-stall converter on roads where you go from maximum traction to a slippery sheet of plastic and back at nearly every traffic light. Now imagine if that were hitting the crankshaft directly rather than going through a torque converter? I learned my lesson and tend to wait until after I'm past the 'Stop Here' line before really laying down the torque.

The point is that diesels do have a reputation for greater reliability than gasoline engines, even if they are more expensive to repair. But either way, how it's driven is just as important as what fuel it uses.

Having been around diesels for more than 45+ years and around the testing of diesel engines on dynamometers, anyone performing fuel mileage test should know that fuel consumption is represented by pounds of fuel used per hour. Fuel consumption in pounds per hour is then divided by the horsepower load, this is effiency. Using a fuel station fill up to represent mileage could be a +/-, 15-30% margine of error. When comparing two vehices of comparable spec's, this requires many exact miles of accurate accumilated data, comparing gallons used, hour of usage, accuracy of fills, odometers, speedometer, models as exact as possible. Having repowered a 1990, F350 dually with a 6BTA Cummins engine, after a 20k real life fuel milage average of 21.3 mpg, 528 hours of operation, 37.8 miles per hour average, 939 gallons of fuel used, 1.778 gallons per hour consumption,. This engine was broke in on an engine dynamometer for 8 hours under full load, all factory spec's were observed, no hot roading. Please, when expressing fuel mileage, put apples with apples, and oranges with oranges, when you do this you will find accuracy more easily to obtain and belive.

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