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Old 04-16-2019, 03:47 PM   #1
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Most gas efficient tow vehicle?

Hey campers I'm towing my 3200 lb travel trailer with my wife's Nissan Pathfinder (5000 lb tow capacity). I've been averaging roughly 12 MPG. I'm considering buying a newer vehicle for myself and would like to look into a vehicle that would tow the travel trailer with better gas mileage. Having two kids with us. I've been told a Ford F-150 crew cab year 2015 or newer gets the best gas mileage and would be my best choice. Does anyone have any better recommendations? I would appreciate any advice from experienced people in the trailer towing community! ThanksClick image for larger version

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Old 04-16-2019, 04:04 PM   #2
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Well in my opinion towing and fuel mileage do not go together. your towing basically a barn door down the road. the F-150 will benefit you in stopping ability and allow you to carry more stuff. just an opinion
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Old 04-16-2019, 04:18 PM   #3
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12 mpg is pretty good. If you need a vehicle anyway the F-150 lite with the lighter frame, lower cargo capacity and 2.7 litre Eco-Boost might, just might, eek past the 12 mpg mark. Especially with a 10 speed transmission. Either that or maybe a Ram 1500 with the 3.6 Penta Star with the electric assit and 8 speed transmission.

But wait - I have experienced where a bigger motor working less hard might be the way to go. Look for trucks that get 25 mpg and cut that in half. There you go 12.5mpg.

What do others think, would a F-150 that gets 22 mpg highway get 15mpg with this little single axle trailer? You can get a Max Tow package that includes a 36 gallon fuel tank.

Like mentioned already, towing a fuel economy do not belong in the same sentence.
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:08 PM   #4
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I transport TTs for the Mfgs. I just took one similar to what is in your picture from the plant in Indiana a little over 600 miles to Ozark MO 19’ 4K weight, single axle. Truck averaged 16.7 mpg with cruise set to 65 mph. 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel 8 speed 4 door with GDE tune. Keeping to 65 empty the truck will average 30 mpg on the interstate. 22/24 mpg locally mix of Hwy/city.

Quiet & smooth and comes with 100,000 mile warranty which comforts when buying used. You can find new 18s on the lots that you can get out the door for less than 40k. I normally average 14 mpg with double axle box TT or 15 mpg with double axle 6,400 pound average Airstreams cruise set at 65.

Study fuelie.com for the best statistical data on truck fuel economy. I’d look at the Ecodiesel and GM Colorado/Canyon 2.8 liter diesel. Ford just released an F150 diesel but it’s still only available in expensive high trim levels or XL for fleets. Also fwiw GM is about to release their 3.0 diesel 1500. All of these should get dramatically better fuel economy towing a smaller trailer like yours than gas or big diesel trucks.
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:30 PM   #5
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I forgot to mention you will want a 2 wheel drive that you can lock the rear wheels together if you get stuck. A 2WD will hey approx 2 miles per gallon better fuel economy vs a 4 x 4.

Like mentioned above. If you really want the very best of the best in fuel economy diesel is the way to go. I am thinking there are several half ton trucks with the little diesel that can. If you can buy a Ram Eco Diesel for 40k that is alot of truck for the $$$.
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by RyanPetersen View Post
Hey campers I'm towing my 3200 lb travel trailer with my wife's Nissan Pathfinder (5000 lb tow capacity). I've been averaging roughly 12 MPG. I'm considering buying a newer vehicle for myself and would like to look into a vehicle that would tow the travel trailer with better gas mileage. Having two kids with us. I've been told a Ford F-150 crew cab year 2015 or newer gets the best gas mileage and would be my best choice. Does anyone have any better recommendations? I would appreciate any advice from experienced people in the trailer towing community! ThanksAttachment 242316
Not to be mean but a Pathfinder is a horrible tow vehicle. They have FWD based rear suspension and squat like heck. I strongly recommend no towing or a very small trailer for any CVT transmission, no matter what Nissan says. They have always had issues and don't last when working hard.

I reckon you'd attain 12 MPG rather easily with almost any 1/2 ton pickup and almost any engine choice. The more gears you can get, in theory you'll get better fuel mileage. I wouldn't expect much more than 14 MPG hauling for any engine/trans combo. Although Vern's Ram(Fiat) Ecodiesel might eek out a wee bit more on flat ground with no wind they don't sell them in the USA anymore and I doubt they'll ever meet emissions again, the reason they were pulled from North America. You may not know but they cheated just as VW/Audi did. Most if not all diesels are being found as cheating or outright lying on emissions output. It's that or not polluting and power output goes down as does fuel mileage.

FWIW you may not realize this but I believe aerodynamics has way more to do with fuel mileage than engine size or trailer weight. 5 years ago we had a 26' TT, loaded weight approx 5500-6000 lbs. I was making 8.1 to 8.6 MPG U.S. in most conditions with my gasser dually. When we bought the longer 32' 5er weighing 12500-13 000 lbs loaded I was surprised and confused by the 8.3-9.0 MPG I was getting under similar driving and weather conditions.

My TT had an insulated floor but the transversal frame rails were exposed . The gap between the pickup's cab,box and then the full front of the TT made for a LOT of wind resistance too.

The 5ers front is much closer to the cab than the old TT was. Also, my 5ers underbelly is insulated and encapsulated with a flat underbelly, even the spare is tucked in the floor. While I definitely feel a 30 MPH headwind it is not as severe as with the old TT.

I wouldn't put too much stock in all those 15 MPG+ while towing claims. Even my buddies hauling 10 000+ lb 5ers with their turbodiesels don't get mmuch better than 11 MPG, 12 on a good day.
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:57 PM   #7
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I transport TTs for the Mfgs. I just took one similar to what is in your picture from the plant in Indiana a little over 600 miles to Ozark MO 19’ 4K weight. Truck averaged 16.7 mpg with cruise set to 65 mph. 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel 8 speed 4 door with GDE tune. Keeping to 65 empty the truck will average 30 mpg on the interstate. 22/24 mpg locally mix of Hwy/city.

Quiet & smooth and comes with 100,000 mile warranty which comforts when buying used. You can find new 18s on the lots that you can get out the door for less than 40k. I normally average 15 mpg with double axle 6,400 pound Airstreams cruise set at 65.

Study fuelie.com for the best statistical data on truck fuel economy. I’d look at the Ecodiesel and GM Colorado/Canyon 2.8 liter diesel. Ford just released an F150 diesel but it’s still only available in expensive high trim levels or XL for fleets. Also fwiw GM is about to release their 3.0 diesel 1500. All of these should get dramatically better fuel economy towing a smaller trailer like yours than anything else.
The Dodge/Jeep Ecodiesel maybe your best bet for fuel efficiency. If you’d rather not go to a pickup truck take a look at the Grand Cherokee. The diesel was available from 2014-17. We get 28-30mpg not towing at 75 mph.

Those monster diesels in today’s modern pickup trucks have as much horsepower and torque as some motorhomes. That’s why the get poor fuel economy. Plus they frequently get hot rodded around town.
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:10 PM   #8
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Areodynamics - I could tell if I was towing into a headwind or traveling with a tailwind.
Towing into a headwind I thought something was wrong until I stopped for fuel and felt the headwind. Towing with a tailwind I thought something was wrong...like the fuel gauge was stuck until I got out to eat and felt the strong tailwind.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:45 PM   #9
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Well in my opinion towing and fuel mileage do not go together. your towing basically a barn door down the road. the F-150 will benefit you in stopping ability and allow you to carry more stuff. just an opinion
I agree. If you compare truck to tuck you are probably looking at maybe 1/2 mpg difference. Getting a diesel would increase the mpg however, you pay a lot upfront for it. TFLtruck.com does a bunch of MPG comparisons while towing... unless you are towing for a living, don't by the vehicle based on mpg. Basically, no one manufacture has the 'magic formula' to out do the others in towing mpg. Unless you vehicle is a dedicated tow rig, you'll have much better savings looking at non-towing mpg.

My recommendation is to just get a good tow vehicle that has the features you want. At 3200 lbs, any full size pickup will pull your trailer like a dream.
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:07 PM   #10
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I concur with wind comments. I towed a travel trailer across country several times for military moves using a GMC Sierra or Toyota Tundra. My mileage on each leg was more dependent on wind than anything else including weight or hills.
I would just go with whatever capable vehicle you like most and expect poor fuel economy towing. I also agree to avoid front wheel drive based unibody vehicles for towing.
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:02 PM   #11
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F150 with the 2.7L engine. Will tow 3200 lbs easily.
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:05 PM   #12
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If MPGs are your only criteria, a diesel would be your vehicle. The Jeep with an eco-diesel is likely a pretty sweet tow vehicle for that trailer. But be careful, once you get a more capable TV, then you want a bigger RV. This is an expensive game that many on here (myself included) have played.
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Old 04-18-2019, 02:05 PM   #13
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.......Although Vern's Ram(Fiat) Ecodiesel might eek out a wee bit more on flat ground with no wind they don't sell them in the USA anymore and I doubt they'll ever meet emissions again, the reason they were pulled from North America. You may not know but they cheated just as VW/Audi did. Most if not all diesels are being found as cheating or outright lying on emissions output. It's that or not polluting and power output goes down as does fuel mileage. ..........
Yes FCA Fiat Chrysler Automotive recently bought VM Motori the diesel engine builder as well as the merger with Chrysler/Ram/Jeep. But Fiat no more builds these engines than they build Ram trucks. I presume you present it this way as to smear the ED & Ram as Fiat's reputation in the states from back in the day is dismal.

The 600 mile trip I referenced includes across the state of Missouri from St Louis to Springfield on route 44 which is all hills on a normal semi windy day. The actual small trailer trip 16.7 or even 14 average mpg with a typical box TT seems dramatically better than the 8.1 to 8.6 you experienced. So much for your eek a wee theory.

Our often overstepping federal government EPA department temporarily suspended sales of Ecodiesels for part of the model year of 2017. FCA was never found guilty of cheating on ED emissions. My understanding is FCA was found guilty of not first getting gov approval for engine management software controls for when conditions such as cold starts which would not meet emissions. FCA was only required to make software changes for the remaining 2017 model year (save face?) which also applied for the 2018s. This is entirely different than VW. VW paid giant restitution and fines could not make emissions requirements with existing hardware and had specific EPA test cheat software. FCA will pay by comparison very small restitution for its errors. (to collect money and show power because they can?)

Ram pumped out 2018 EDs in the 4th generation Ram through December. There are still new EDs available on dealer lots with the full 100,000 mile warranty and at great discounts. Power ratings were never dropped. The 5th generation Ram with a new 2nd generation Ecodiesel engine is said to be available for order this summer with the first hitting dealerships in the fall as a 2020 model year. You can read about this on the 5th gen forum linked below. I can see from the pics the 2nd gen ED engine looks quite a bit different than mine.

https://5thgenrams.com/spied-2020-ra...ort-ecodiesel/

https://5thgenrams.com/ram-1500-ecod...-updates-news/
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Old 04-18-2019, 04:37 PM   #14
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Will it be your daily driver also? Will it be your only vehicle?
How much will you be using it to tow?
Will you be doing the routine maintenance yourself, or a shop you already have a relationship with, or the dealer?
Is there the possibility of acquiring a larger RV during the possible lifetime of the new(er) to you tow vehicle?

I wouldn't get too hung up on a 1 MPG difference. I know that the major factor for fuel economy when I tow is how fast Im trying to go. I use a *lot* more fuel at 70 than at 55 MPH.
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