Ultimate Three-Quarter-Ton HD Challenge: Fuel Economy

IMG_8520a II

We know fuel economy is not a huge issue for this segment, but since we had all three gas-engine choices together, we thought you might want to know how they compared in head-to-head driving when empty and near max payload.

During our empty runs through the small towns and townships to the northwest of Detroit, the best-performing empty truck of our test was the Ford F-250 Super Duty, just edging out the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 by a little less than 3/10ths of an mpg and beating the Ram 2500 by more than a single mpg.



What surprised most of us after our loaded runs (which included two passengers in each truck on the same route, this time with a full 2,480-pound payload) was how close the final numbers were to what the trucks had run empty. The Ford had the widest spread, at 1.4 mpg, while the Chevy was just 7/10ths of an mpg different and the Ram just 4/10ths of an mpg.

Speaking of the Ram, try as we might, it was difficult to figure out when and where the Ram's 6.4-liter Hemi cylinder deactivation program kicked in, and with these numbers it's difficult to tell exactly how much benefit it's really providing. It's too bad the truck doesn't have a screen setting that allows you to see when it kicks in. This is where GM does it right, allowing a driver to select an information screen that tells the EcoTec3 driver what cylinder mode the engine is in at any given moment. (Note: The Vortec 6.0-liter V-8 used in this test was not an EcoTec3 engine and does not offer cylinder deactivation.)

The winner of the fuel economy loaded test on our 150-mile loop was the Chevy with 14.09 mpg, and the winner of our empty run was the Ford with 15.1 mpg.

How We Did the Testing

Each of our three-quarter-ton pickups was driven at the same time, on the same route, with the same amount of weight. We started in Ann Arbor, Mich., and found a 150-mile route that incorporated equal parts highway and city driving, with rural two-lane roads and congested main streets full of stoplights. We ran all trucks with the air conditioning on, recirculation off and windows up. At each designated rotation spot (we had three on each loop), we shut off the engines immediately after parking and did not start until we were all ready to pull out of the parking lots together.

We topped off each truck at the same filling station near our hotel, using the two-click method, allowing the pump and nozzle to let us know when each tank was equally filled. At the end of our mileage route, we used the same gas station, pump and method when calculating the actual mileage and fuel results.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears


Chevy Silverado 2500 HD 6.0L V-8

IMG_8099a II


Ford F-250 Super Duty 6.2L V-8

IMG_7771a II


Ram HD 2500 Hemi 6.4L V-8

IMG_8062a II


Overview | Milan Dragway | Fuel Economy | Milford Hill Climb | Braking | Davis Dam | Eisenhower Pass | Results



Chrysler should upgrade to the ZF 8hp90
GM should upgrade to the 8L90
Ford...? Maybe downsize to 5.0 V8 & and pair with coming 10 speed automatic.

For all the Ram guys who said said on the last test its not about how fast you can go.

Ram has the worst braking and the worst fuel economy.

Consistent power and fuel economy is a GM trademark.

And recalls apparently Jason!

Yeah, free recalls are a big deal.

GM has always been able to get decent mpg. Long stroke engines and overhead cam engines always appear to get worse mpg but have better torque characteristics.

For those who say mpg doesn't matter, a fleet operator will notice a few mpg's difference. I notice the difference at fill ups between winter driving and summer.

Does anyone else appreciate how clean gm can make the engine bay? I sure do!

Looks like ford uses the same radiator from the powerstroke.

If you look closely at the photos, you will notice that the GM pic the only one taken from the front of the truck, not diagonally. Thus it appears that it's the "cleanest" engine bay.

Ford is disadvantaged because they don't use pushrod engines anymore. That is the best way to save space is to stay old school. Even that being the case, there is still a reasonable amount of room.

The Ram also has plenty of room in the engine compartment. The air box is what makes it not look that way.

I'm surprised they are able to get those kinds of MPG out of the Chevy, I own a Silverado 1500 HD 4 door (which is a 2500) with a 6.0 and it gets 10 MPG! I worked for a company that had a bunch of Chevy 2500 reg cab trucks with the 6.0 and they got 10 MPG. My neighbor has a '13 Chevy 2500 extended cab with a 6.0 and it gets 10 MPG!! How are they getting 14 plus on this test?? I wish my truck would get that kind of mileage!!! No one I know that has a 6.0 gets over 10 mpg! LOL

GM has room because the 6.0 days back to the 1990's.

Ford really needs to clean up their engine bay.

I have a 2014 1500 gmc. It's an extremely open engine bay with easily accessible transmission and engine oil dipsticks. Some room can be attributed to the electric steering assist. There's way more room than the previous generation though.

The 2013 5.0 Ford before that you couldn't even check the transmission and required a step to reach the extremely low oil dipstick. Although it was very roomy compared to the old 5.4.

Speaking of checking the engine oil, you gotta be about 5'10 and over to reach the Chevy 1500 4x4 5.3, not so with a Ram 1500, and I've never checked the oil on one of the newer Fords so I don't really care! I've got no desire to own one of their V-8's because they are high strung, and need more RPM.

So is it the same way with the 2500s? I would assume so.

My girlfriend said the 2007 and up GMC's don't look too bad, I told her the new ones are plenty ugly. Sure enough, I'm outside working on something, and I get a text from her saying "you're right they really are ugly, they look like a brick"

So I'm guessing the Chevy tires here that they call off-road tires are Goodyear SSA's?!

They are a highway tire and that is it. They are not worth a crap off-road, and they wear out very fast.

HD gas trucks get 10 mpg. It is what it is. This 14 mpg is quite optimistic. I wouldn't bank on it.

I get 10 city and 12-13 highway

7-8 plowing, hauling, towing.

7k lbs takes a lot to move.

Maybe at 55mph, on the flats with no headwind... 14-15 mpg... maaaaaybe

I like all of them.

2004 2500HD 6.0 pulling several 23 mile trips for hay and a couple trips to town with a dump trailer. Hot and humid weather with really crappy E10 ethanol gas 87 octane and I was able to get 9.5mpg with the AC on all the time.

my 2010 got 17 unloaded with a tail wind, lucky to get 9 towing 10,000 lb 5th wheel, if head wind forget it 7.5

I regularly get in excess of 14 with my 09 3500 Silverado dually in the curvy, hilly roads of TN, around 11 towing a 4 horse trailer or 32' gooseneck of hay. These figures are completely believable. Still not exciting. It would be nice if corporations would dump as much money into making these trucks better economically as they do trying to outdo each other in the diesel HP war. MPG matters to me a lot. This class of truck has malingered in the 8 - 10 mpg range for decades.

Sorry, these must have been miracle trucks. I had an extended rental F-250 gasser this last summer, and that truck wouldnt get over 11 MPG ever. Not empty, on the highway, or being towed behind a truck. None of these trucks will get what is being said here.

Steve, I agree. My 2015 Chevy 2500 6.0 L gets just under 13 all day long. I cant get any better with the stock arrangement.

2012 f250 6.2 and my average tank gets 15.5-16.....best I've ever done was 17.5 babying It the whole tank. Towing a 8000lb TT, 8-9mpg

I drive both, Ford & GM 3/4 , 4 wheel dr-empty & super loaded. The Ford @ 62 mph really babying it has gotten 1 time on a 900 mile trip 17.2. But under normal conditions 75-80 , it gets 13.2 mpg. Loaded hard driving 8to9. Never have super babied the Chevy, but hard loaded it gets 6to 9. It's geared 4.11. Ford is 3.73. GM pulls better but high rpm-3500 at speed, can't lock into 5th manually. Ford 2500to2750@ speed locked in 5th and in flat even 6th. Personal preference all around-Ford by a long shot. Lots better creature comfort,service, no recalls, no govt. bail out.

I've driven them all, and can attest that the dodge with the 6.4 gets the best mileage. Could get about 20mpg out of it.

The comments to this entry are closed.