Each truck filled up at the same gas station by the same fuel filler — once at the beginning, then at the end of the loop — in the same way, making sure the tank was full with a “double-click.”
It’s worth noting that the Ford had more than 3,000 miles on it when it came to us, the Nissan about 1,800, and the remaining three around 600. At each driver-change point along our route, we rotated vehicles to mitigate any differences in weight or driving styles. By the end of the day, each driver had an equal turn in each truck.
Our Michigan loop started in Romulus, just north of Detroit Metro Airport, and headed north to Auburn Hills, about 40 miles away. Most of the first part of our route was a mixture of large four-lane roads and tight city streets.
Our second leg took us from Auburn Hills to Flint, another 40 miles, but this stretch was mostly on Interstate 75. While in each truck, each driver took notes on noise level, ride comfort, any squeaks they hear, and their impressions of the overall package. This is the most subjective part of our test and makes for some lively discussions at the end of the day, but it’s an important part of the judging.
From Flint, we headed south to Howell for another 35-mile stretch, then just outside of Ann Arbor, and finally back to the original gas station, and the same pump, to record final fill-up results. Our total loop was just less than 170 miles.
The fuel economy winner was no shocker, since the Ford was the lightest of our competitors by more than a few hundred pounds and had the smallest (and newest) engine. The F-150 recorded a solid 21.2 mpg. The heaviest truck in the test, the Tundra, also had the worst fuel economy at 18 mpg. In second place, using the Hemi’s cylinder-shutoff technology, the Ram posted 19 mpg, with both the Nissan and Chevy (which also offers cylinder deactivation) close behind with 18.8 mpg and 18.7 mpg, respectively.