Which truck burns less fuel while towing a 7,000-pound trailer?

Pickup trucks aren’t known for stellar fuel economy. Even in 2019 America, many new pickups manage combined MPG ratings in the low-20 range at best. Hooked to a heavy trailer that number obviously drops, but by how much? The guys at The Fast Lane Truck contacted Ford and Ram and asked for the most fuel-efficient truck that could tow 7,000 pounds. The result was a pair of half-ton trucks nearly identical in price – $45,660 for the Ford and $44,275 for the Ram – but very different in almost every other way.

Surprisingly, Ford didn’t send an EcoBoost-powered pickup. The 2019 F-150 XLT featured here packs a 5.0-liter V8 making 395 horsepower (295 kilowatts) and 400 pound-feet (542 Newton-meters) of twist, sent to the rear wheels only through a 10-speed automatic. That’s right, this F-150 is strictly a two-wheel-drive model, and it uses a rather tall 3.15 rear axle ratio. According to EPA ratings, the truck should get 16 MPG in the city and 21 MPG on the highway when not saddled with a heavy trailer.

Gallery: Ford F-150 Versus Ram 1500 Efficiency Towing Test

The Ram is a 1500 Tradesman model that is pretty much a completely different animal. Under the hood is a 3.6-liter V6 generating 305 hp (227 kW) and just 269 lb-ft (365 Nm) of torque. It’s also a four-wheel-drive model, making it a full 600 pounds heavier than the F-150. An eight-speed automatic handles shifting duties, and the rear axle runs a shorter 3.55 gear, which can help in the towing department but isn’t the best for low-rpm cruising. It does, however, have a bit of electric assist from Ram’s eTorque mild hybrid system. As such, the Ram’s EPA stats are a bit better: 19 MPG in the city, and 24 MPG on the highway.

As for the actual test, each truck towed the same double-axle horse trailer filled with 7,000 pounds of ballast. The trucks also covered the same 98-mile circuit at the same target speed of 70 mph. Watching the video it appears both pickups have no problem pulling the heavy load, and at the end of the run, both have similar fuel mileage figures despite the differences in engine, drivetrain, and weight. Ultimately, the V8 edges out the V6 with a manually calculated average of 9.2 versus 9.0 MPG, however, the F-150’s indicated average of 9.5 was further off from the manual math than the Ram 1500, which estimated an average of 9.1.

We recommend checking out the full video to see some interesting commentary about each truck and some nifty aero tweaks that factor into the pickup’s performance. Do you have a better power/drivetrain/axle combination in mind for towing and efficiency? Tell us about it below in the comments.

Source: The Fast Lane Truck