2015 Annual Physical: Fuel Economy

Fuel economy II

Not surprisingly, during our empty fuel-economy runs, the Ram 1500 Tradesman EcoDiesel performed even better (29.8 mpg) than last year's Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn air-ride EcoDiesel (26.2 mpg). Unfortunately, the empty run data we collected on the Ford F-150 2.7-liter EcoBoost could not be double-checked; we'll have to rerun that data at some point in the future to verify.

2015_AP_MPG_Empty_F

Also, we do not have towing fuel-economy data for the Ram 1500 Express because the truck we ordered only came with a bumper hitch ball receiver (which we were told had a 5,000-pound rating). We needed a 2 5/16th-inch ball to tow our trailers, and that size was close to impossible find with a shank long enough to mount through the bumper-hitch hole. We eventually got the problem solved — so we do have Davis Dam trailering data for the Express — but not until after much confusion and frustration with the local Ram parts department.

2015_AP_MPG_Loaded_2 (2)

Towing fuel economy for both the Ram EcoDiesel and Chevrolet EcoTec3 were quite impressive; however, the feel of Ram EcoDiesel with a 4,200-pound trailer was much more confident and less strained than we experienced in the Silverado 1500. Also of note, although the Colorado V-6 has a maximum towing capacity of 7,000 pounds, the 4,200-pound trailer was a handful for the midsize pickup.

How We Conducted the Test

Our fuel-economy test was performed during the first week of December with our start and finish lines at the same Chevron gas station in Chandler, Ariz. After filling up each of the six trucks in the same fashion, at the same pump (with the exception of the EcoDiesel), with the same filling attendant, we set all the trip computers to zero (physically recording odometer readings as well) and set out on our 100-plus-mile drive route that took our pickup parade on a six-leg loop in and around Phoenix.

Fuel Economy 2 II

Our route took us through equal parts of densely congested city driving (Chandler and Gilbert), then to open highway driving up the Apache Trail to the Acacia Recreation Site.

Because we planned to have six trucks for our fuel-economy test day, we scheduled five stops to allow for driver changes to make sure we equalized any single-driver (good or bad) habits and weight. Since we wanted to test the fuel efficiency of each of these powertrain combinations over the same route when towing a decent load, we contacted our friends at Imperial Trailers and got three identically sized and weighted double-axle three-stall Logan Coach horse trailers. Each of the three trailers weighed 4,200 pounds. In the name of full disclosure, we weighed each trailer and found we needed to add a few bags of rock salt to two of the trailers, so our heaviest trailer became our standard weight.

With three trailers and six trucks we were able to make two complete drive loops of our test loop in a single day, driving each truck over the route once empty and once again with a trailer in tow. Once we made our first loop, we swapped the trailers onto the three pickups that had just run the route empty, and we were on our way. By the end of the day we had both empty and loaded fuel-economy numbers for our trucks.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

Fuel Economy 3 II

 

Overview | Acceleration | Braking | Fuel Economy | Davis Dam Towing | Wrapup

Comments

The Colorado's unloaded FE is thoroughly impressive, even mid size sedans can struggle to get 27mpg in a mixed loop. If you want to DD a truck, it makes a compelling case for itself.

I agree with Al the 27 mpg is pretty impressive and far better than I would have expected. Even when towing it was towards the upper half. I figured it really wouldn't be any better than GM's 4.3 since it is a car derived motor that IMHO was put in the truck for the marketing of 300+ hp rather than for actual truck use as the 4.3 is likely the better truck motor.

The new 2.7 Ecoboost did pretty well on the unloaded section, which it is designed to do, but less than 10 mpg towing is pretty rough. We all knew it would suck down fuel but I figured it would be more inline with the 3.5 Ecoboost at around 11-12.

I wonder how much of a difference we'd see if all the trucks were more or less the same but the only thing that changed were the gears? Maybe unloaded mpg's would suffer across the board but towing would improve? (I know it will but I wonder how drastic a difference it might actually be)

What do you say PUTC? Can you get the OEM's to let you have essentially 3 versions of each truck with the 3-4 different engines offered to show us all how the MPG's would compare? That is only like 50-60 different trucks to test ;)

"Impressive" is not the word to describe the Colorado's unloaded fuel economy. "Unbelievable" is the appropriate adjective. As in, not even remotely believable. You guys need to go back through your data because you have an obvious mistake there. The 2.7L ecoboost unloaded mileage is not believable either. You *definitely* need to go back and figure out why you couldn't "double check" the ecoboost's mileage.

@Mileageman

My wife bought a 2009 GMC Acadia new. We road tripped with that car alot. It has a similar drivetrain to the Colorado truck, apart from being FWD. Direct injection and 6spd auto. Our GMC used to surprise us with some amazing mileage on roads where speed limits were in the 60 mph range.

Almost 30 with the diesel's impressive, but holy crap I wasn't expecting that out of the Colorado, especially mixed and that it's only rated 27 highway.

Why would anyone buy an Ecoboost? I have to agree with Wards article, where is the Eco in these engines, I can't believe how bad the 3.5's mileage is! Some moron is going to spend $60K for that truck??

I have to say the Colorado was surprising to see it's MPG.

I thought the 3.5 ecoboost mpg's was suppose to be bad..... If you go to the v8 challenge it's gets better mpg's then most others v8's

Average over 100 miles? Try maybe average over 1000 miles.
That is simply not statically significant.

@JimK

Totally agree

100 miles can be significant IF all of the variables are nailed down really tight.

1000 miles would be WAY better, as you suggest if for no other reason than the weakness of the measuring tools, gas gauges and odometers, etc.

To get precise, the longer the interval in miles the less the variables (instrument error, human error, etc) matter.

Just for the record my 2013 ecoboost gives me better fuel economy both unloaded and trailer pulling. I get 12.5mpg towing a very similar trailer with 1 horse and a bunch of tack in it going to horse shows. I probably do drive a little slower than these guys but I do try to not impede traffic.

The 2.7L struggled with mpg. It's pathetic and it's getting to be the norm from the EB line. Fortunately for Ford, low fuel prices benefit the EB. I still wouldn't want to hear that thing towing up a long hill or have to stop for refueling every 150 to 200 miles.

with such a small engine the 2.7L if being towed with more than short distance, and more than a few trips should be equipped with a 3.73 gear or lower meaning 4.10 wouldnt hurt the little motor either. If you plan to tow why would you buy it anyway? i would buy anything but that motor if i was going to tow daily.

The 2.7 ecoboost was towing 6,800 lbs, the others were towing 4,200 lbs. Might make a difference in fuel economy. Just sayin'.

Chrysler really needs an update to the 3.6 V6. Direct injection will cut gas consumption. The light duty 8 speed automatic really helps cover the guzzling engine.
GM needs 8 speed automatic for '16 in both the 4.3 V6 & 5.3 V8 for '16.
It seems like if you want Ford's F150, wait for '17 to get the 10 speed automatic.

When you compare loaded and unloaded mpg's of the v8 challenge the ecoboost motors get exceptional mpg's compared to some of the competition... Like the ram. The 3.5 gets better mpg while offer better performance then a 8 speed hemi.... Same goes for the 2.7 ecoboost, it offers better mpg's and better performance then a 5.7 hemi equipped ram. aluminum use by ford is a success!!!!

Mpg's of the v8,s to compare!!!
http://special-reports.pickuptrucks.com/2015/01/2015-light-duty-v-8-challenge-fuel-economy.html

Unfortunately, the MPG comparison is not accounting for the total cost difference between using Diesel or Regular Unleaded fuel. Area code 01752, per gas app, cheapest Regular is $1.95 and Diesel is $2.67 -- Diesel is over a 36% premium over Regular. Reduce the EcoDiesel MPG by that (not even including DEF costs), and and the EcoDiesel MPG is not so impressive.

Don't get me wrong, I LUST over the EcoDiesel, but a far more accurate mileage measure for comparison would be cost per mile.

100 miles isn't even a 1/2 tank of fuel!! How can anyone draw an accurate mpg estimate off that little mileage? At least run full tanks and take an average. Granted, that is alot of driving, but 100 miles is only about a 1/4 in someof these trucks. I can likely hit 18mpg around town in my Titan if I only drive 100 miles before the next fill up.

I wonder what kind of unloaded mileage the full size GMs would get with the 3.6 as opposed to the 4.3. The Colorado's unloaded number is impressive!

It doesn't make sense to call that thing Ecoboost. I would understand Powerboost, but Eco?
There is no Eco at all. Liars. Ford customers are sheep.


the 100 miles is for sure not a good test for FE. I had done that before when buying a new truck, drive down the highway for 100 miles or so and see 25MPG in my Diesel, then by 460 miles, its at 22 and that's hand calculated(2011 f250 6.7l)

My apologies.



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