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.
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.
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.
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