Friday, January 30, 2009

Fuel Economy and Performance

Fuel Economy and Performance - Tundra works to narrow the tradeoff between building power and saving fuel.

This year GM and Ford introduced special packages for their full-size pickups that promise improved fuel economy. Sometimes the fuel economy estimates are mentioned in the same breath as the max towing capacity for the entire line. That can be misleading because no truck hauls 5½ tons and still gets 20 miles to the gallon. You have to equip a truck for one or the other, but not both.

First, here’s a quick review of the special fuel economy models from the competition:

Ford SFE (Superior Fuel Economy)
Available only on SuperCrew XL and XLT 4x2 w/ 5.5-foot cargo bed Includes 4.6-liter, 3-valve V8 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, 3.15:1 axle ratio
EPA estimated mileage: 15mpg city/21mpg highway; combined rating: 17mpg*
Engine power: 292 horsepower, 320 lb-ft torque; Max tow rating: 7,500 pounds

Chevrolet Silverado XFE and GMC Sierra XFE (Xtra Fuel Economy)
Available only on Crew Cab 4x2 w/ 5.8-foot bed (LT trim for Chevy, SLE for GMC)
Includes 5.3-liter V8, 6-speed automatic transmission, 3.08:1 axle ratio
EPA estimated mileage: 15mpg city/21mpg highway; combined rating: 17mpg*
Engine power: 315 horsepower, 338 lb-ft torque; Max tow rating: 7,000 pounds

GM and Ford say the improved mileage comes with the mid-level engine, improved aerodynamics, 6-speed automatic transmission, low-numerical axle ratio and reduced weight.

Look at the real tradeoff of owning one of these special editions when compared to a Tundra Double Cab 4x2 with a 6.5-foot cargo bed and equipped with a 5.7-liter V8, 6-speed automatic transmission and 4.30:1 axle ratio. The Tundra has an EPA estimated combined rating of 16mpg, just one mpg less than the Ford and Chevy special editions with smaller engines. Meanwhile, the Tundra's bigger i-Force engine is rated at 381 horsepower with 401 lb-ft of torque. This particular Tundra configuration is rated to tow 10,600 pounds when equipped with the factory tow package.

According to, the Chevy and Ford's annual operating cost would be $1,596. The Tundra's would be $1,697. That's based on 15,000 miles driving with 45% on the highway and 55% in the city. Cost of gasoline for this calculation was $1.81 per gallon in mid-December. Overall, the Chevy and Ford would use 20.1 barrels of oil while the Tundra would use 21.4 barrels annually.

The bottom line for truckers is the trade off between operating cost and capability. The Tundra costs only $101 more each year in gasoline but can tow 3,600 pounds more than the Chevy and 3,100 pounds more than the Ford. Even when towing identical loads, the Tundra will accelerate quicker and pull harder on mountain roads, all for about 28 cents a day more in gasoline.

* 2009 EPA MPG estimates. Actual mileage will vary.

No comments:

Post a Comment