By on September 23, 2017

2017 Ford F-450 Super Duty Platinum Crew Cab 4x4

Say you’re on the Ram website, perusing a new 2500 heavy-duty pickup. On the specifications page, you scroll down to the fuel efficiency table to see how many Andrew Jacksons you’ll be forking over at the pumps. The verdict? The Ram 2500 has a 32-gallon fuel tank. Thank you for visiting.

Unlike passenger cars and light duty trucks, heavy-duty trucks with a gross vehicle weight above 8,500 pounds aren’t required to flash fuel economy data on a window sticker. Searching the database turns up nothing in the way of information. Now, Consumers Union wants Congress to change that. The consumer advocacy group is calling on the federal government to place fuel economy information on window stickers for the benefit of large truck buyers.

As it awaits a response, the group’s Consumer Reports publication went ahead and tested some heavy-duty pickups.

“Even though the Environmental Protection Agency collects data from automakers on heavy-duty pickup truck emissions and fuel economy, it has never mandated that the results be made available to the public, largely for budgetary reasons,” Consumer Reports states in the intro to its test.

The results of the tests, which differ from the EPA’s testing standard, aren’t shocking. The considerable heft of the brawny trucks impacts fuel economy when compared to smaller pickups, despite the inherent fuel-saving advantages of a diesel engine. Put through the paces were 2017 model year Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, Ford F-250, and Ram 2500 trucks, plus the tweener Nissan Titan HD.

Unloaded, and with nothing hanging off the rear trailer hitch, the Silverado HD equipped with a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8 returned a combined 14 miles per gallon. That’s 2 mpg less than CR recorded in a 5.3-liter Silverado 1500.

The 6.7-liter diesel Ford F-250, also unencumbered with the things people buy heavy-duty trucks for, returned 15 mpg, or 2 mpg less than an F-150 equipped with a 2.7-liter Ecoboost V6. The 6.7-liter inline-six diesel Ram 2500 saw 14 mpg in the CR test, and the 5.0-liter diesel V8-powered Titan HD returned 15 mph. Naturally, these figures were lower than that of a light-duty pickup from the same brand.

Of course, most consumers are using heavy-duty trucks for heavy-duty work, and most aren’t likely to see such economy when towing that fifth-wheel or horse trailer or load of gravel. It’s because these trucks are usually, but increasingly less likely to be used for serious work that the EPA keeps the information to itself.

Currently, the information collected from the vehicles reflects the truck’s purpose. As such, heavy-duty trucks are rated in gallons per ton mile — the fuel consumed while transporting a ton of cargo one mile. City, highway, and combined figures do not apply, nor does the truck’s thirstiness while unladen.

Speaking to Automotive News, David Friedman, director of cars and product policy and analysis at Consumers Union, admitted that posting the results of the EPA test could be misleading for buyers.

“Everyone knows that the certification tests are pretty gentle and there’s a gap between real-world use,” Friedman said. “So, if, and when, they put out certification numbers, they will probably overestimate fuel economy. But we believe consumers are better off with some data than no data.”

Before the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) move forward with the group’s request, if indeed the agencies ever plan to, extra funds are needed to bolster the necessary manpower, Consumers Union claims.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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57 Comments on “Consumers Union Wants Heavy-duty Truck Buyers to Know Their Vehicle’s Fuel Economy...”

  • avatar

    Besides hurting someone’s emotions. What are the Cons, of not putting the estimated fuel economy on the sticker?

    • 0 avatar

      What would be the baseline for testing the MPG of HD trucks? Loaded, unloaded, service body, van box, towing, 4 door, regular cab, which rear end ratio, 4×4, 2wd, dually, single wheel etc……

      Not to mention, diesel, gas ( which displacement).
      There are so many variables that you would end up having to test multiple combinations. Just too crazy and know one truck would be the same.

      • 0 avatar

        You would test them empty the same way everything else is tested. It would give potential purchasers at least something to compare vehicles.

        It would really only be necessary to test the most common configurations.

        • 0 avatar

          That makes sense. It is why instrumented tests are useful. I see no reason not to provide the data; the consumer is free to use it or ignore it. Kind of like calorie counts on food. Forget about it happening if “extra” funding is needed to make it happen. Frankly I would not be surprised to see fuel efficiency information to be given less support than it gets now.

      • 0 avatar

        These vehicles are being increasingly used as regular cars. So you just test them just like any other passenger vehicle. There is really no reason not to do this especially given trends towards them as daily transportation that does not involve work.

    • 0 avatar
      Menar Fromarz

      It’s a total variable number, but if I really care to know generally the observed range of fuel burn, I look it up on and use the filters to sort engine and fuel type etc. gallons per ton mile ? Never heard of that metric, nor would it do me any good. Any 3/4 or one ton is going to baseline at about 15 mpg, any heavy load especially a high windage heavy load at higher speeds will increase fuel burn. But it’s nice to know numbers. For example, I had a 10k lb. fifth wheel trailer and it would drop my ford 6 liter down from 17 average to 14.5 over the high mountain pass. But as much as it helped to know, it’s a rather minor issue. Now if a one ton dually got 35 mpg, then it’s great to know vs a different truck that gave 15. Best full size economy I ever had was with a early 90’s dodge with the 5.9 mechanically injected diesel. I got as high as 29.5 at a steady 60 but never broke thirty. Those stick shift 3/4 ton five speeds were good for a extra 60-80 miles per tank vs the automatics. Great engine. Ok truck.

      • 0 avatar

        A friend of ours has a rollback with that engine. He would regularly get 22mpg with 1 and 1/2 cars on the rollback and one on the trailer on the interstate between Chicago (insurance auctions) and his business 2.5 hours away. Other than some issues with the rollback hydraulics it has been a good truck for him.

    • 0 avatar

      The same cons as if passenger cars were forced to display consumption while towing 20,000lbs: It would incentivize manufacturers to engineer for use cases their customers don’t care about. To the detriment of use cases they do.

      It’s no big engineering problem to get a 6000lb diesel truck to be more efficient downhill with a tailwind than the 3/4 tons currently are. But many of the things that would contribute to making them so (smaller grilles/less cooling/less unsprung (and total) weight, taller gearing….) are detrimental to many of the tasks they are currently bought to perform.

      • 0 avatar

        ^ this.

        When you start trying to best each other in economy, its just a numbers game and it would negatively affect the truck’s performance in the real world.

        Its different with cars, because all your Malibu has to do is carry a maximum of 5 people up to 70 mph and cruise there. Aero adds, taller gearing and such have much less of an impact because the car’s performance is pretty much unaffected by such changes. It might take a little longer to get to 70, if you choose a model with better MPG, but that’s about it.

        So, lets say it did work that way (where HD trucks try to best each other with EPA-rated MPG), so you buy XYZ truck because it gets 29 mpg on the sticker, which sounds great, until you hook up to a heavy trailer with cargo and the truck overheats, the transmission is overworked so it performs poorly and fails often, and under load, you’re getting less MPG than you would out of a truck the way they are now, because it was gamed to boost the number on the sticker.

        HD trucks aren’t designed for commuter use. If some choose to buy one and never tow or haul with it, that’s their choice, and they damn-well know that buying a half ton or midsize truck would be better suited to what they use it for. But, ultimately, the truck is designed to work, to haul and tow things the smaller trucks can’t (or can’t for long). This would be adversely affected by attempting to out-MPG their competitors.

        Really, I don’t see what difference it would make. The as numbers prove that the HD trucks aren’t that much down on MPG compared to smaller trucks, yet have far more capability and durability. They evidently get decent mileage considering what they were built for (which was not the same thing a car was designed and built for).

    • 0 avatar

      Providing MPG results for standard tests would be beneficial for consumers… but then manufacturers would game the results by installing 10-speed automatic transmissions that upshift every 5 MPH.

    • 0 avatar

      Another con would be the loss of available drivetrain combinations. 3/4 and one ton trucks are currently available in a massive number combinations of gear ratios, wheelbases, body lengths, bed lengths, chassis cabs, wheel and tire sizes, drive configurations, and payloads. If think-nothings get their way on compelling manufacturers to present representative fuel economy ratings for available trucks, many configurations that suit truck users will fall by the wayside due to additional expenses associated with certifying them. Also, once the camel’s nose is under the tent, you can bet that ratings will be followed by required consumption standards, further burdening working men who need these trucks.

  • avatar

    “… and the 5.0-liter diesel V8-powered Titan HD returned 15 mph.”

    That’s one slow truck!

    • 0 avatar

      What is really funny is how its on par with “real” HD trucks as far as that goes, but isn’t as capable. So, why does it exist? Its not more economical nor is it more capable.

      Don’t get me wrong, I kinda like the Titan including the HD, but I see no benefit to choosing it over a Ford, GM or Ram.

      • 0 avatar


        When will we get decent windows for editing posts again? They don’t need to be as long as before, but its ridiculously short now.

        • 0 avatar

          My understanding is the Titan HD is meant to be a bridge between 1500 and HD pickups. Engine and towing capacity of a larger truck, but comfort/refinement of a smaller truck. For the buyer who needs something at the upper end of the 1500 category, but not a full HD.

          • 0 avatar

            It is, but clearly there is no economy advantage, there really isn’t much of a price advantage, and its not as though the XD is significantly smaller than an F-250 (for example), either.

            Titan XD: 231-244″ L x 80-81″ W x 77-79″ H

            F-250: 232-266″ L x 80″ W x 78-82″ H

            I’m quite sure the difference in maximum length of the Ford is due to it offering a longer bed. So, apples to apples, the XD is 1″ shorter, the same width, and 1″ lower. Wow, what a huge difference that will make! #oneinchematters

            Anyone who has driven a recent big 3 truck can tell you, they are pretty refined, certainly not much less so than the Titan.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s better compared to the HD Payload 1/2 tons Ford sells. When towing and hauling at the upper end of (ever more inflated) rated capacity for 1/2 tons, the trucks are pretty far out of their element. Everything becomes critical, from load distribution on the trailer, to what tires and inflations to use, to the exact condition of the WD hitch etc….

        The XD, by virtue of being a bigger truck with truckier steering, frame and suspension, is just much more forgiving. Yet still has a “normal” IFS 1/2 ton front end, not something designed with an overhanging 1000lb snow plow in mind.

        With 1/2 tons being pushed ever further in the direction of lighter and lighter, more and more car like; and 3/4 tons at least currently being joined at the hip to their ever more over the top dually 1 ton brothers, there is definitely a growing niche for a “tweener” truck like the XD. RAM is sorta-kinda dabbling, and doing well, in the same territory with their coil (and air) 2500s, and graduated output from the Cummins. Nissan may need another generation of refinement or so, but the niche the XD targets, is definitely there.

    • 0 avatar

      The Titan XD is an odd duck. When it gets compared to 3/4 ton diesel pickups, it gets slaughtered. I doubt it would fair much better against a 1/2 ton 6.2 Chevy or 3.5 EB F150.

  • avatar

    Driving the speed limit, I get 15 mpg with my 6.0 gasser.

  • avatar

    Seems totally reasonable to hold heavy duty trucks to same standards as other passenger vehicles if people are using them as commuters (and they are). Now if we can just base vehicle registration on gross vehicle weight. I can dream.

  • avatar

    My 2015 2500 HD crew cab 8′ bed now has 130k miles, 99.7 % used for work either fully loaded, towing or both. Full payload with truck camper (mobile office) at 60 mph mpg is 12.4 at 70 mph 9.2. Add 10k pounds towing at 60 mph, get 9.5 -10 mpg no wind. Bordering on moving 20k pounds CGVW, then expecting 15-20 mpg is wishful thinking.

    Thought long and hard on getting a diesel, ran the numbers and the money saved was 40 bucks a month…not enough move over to an oil burner.

  • avatar

    Why wouldn’t a business care about possible fuel costs and compare competing products? Any business in transportation, fuel is the highest and most variable cost. I was considering a Sprinter(circa 2005) when I was a courier years ago and would have loved to see the numbers for a Sprinter v an E series or Express/ Savana. You had to dig in the forums to find that information. And then everyone has a different number.

    I’ve never understood why heavy trucks get a pass. Test it empty and test it loaded to max. Throw in the usual caveat YMMV especially if towing a trailer.

    • 0 avatar

      Fleets are starting to pay attention to fuel economy. The company my brother works for has been looking at those stats since the 2008 downturn. They also look at durability stats. Prior to that, the only metric was purchase price. They stay away from diesels due to the added purchase cost and the fact that their trucks don’t last long enough to get a return on investment.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Kind of pointless if you ask me. A few years ago, after I bought an Airstream travel trailer, I did obsessive research to figure out what to tow it with, then did a lot of test driving. The website pickup does some very careful real-word fuel economy testing both empty and pulling a load. Frankly, the differences between trucks with the same engine type aren’t material (1-2 mpg). So this falls into the “useless information” category. Sure, you can see how much better the diesels do, but adjusting for the $7,000+ additional cost of the diesel motor and the fact that, in some places, diesel fuel costs more than gasoline, even that doesn’t matter. You buy a diesel for the torque characteristics of the engine, not to save money.
    Having driven all of these, I seriously doubt anyone buys one of these for the principal purpose of being an empty daily driver. They all ride stiffly when empty; they are relatively slow and their additional 1,000-1,500 lbs. empty weight over a half ton is all too obvious when you drive them. People buy these big trucks because they want/need their extra capability for towing or hauling. Otherwise, if they want a truck, they get a half ton, which makes a much nicer daily driver and has just as much cargo and passenger-carrying volume.

    • 0 avatar

      “I seriously doubt anyone buys one of these for the principal purpose of being an empty daily driver.”

      Go to any big city in Texas. Yes, there are plenty of half-tons out there with pristine shiny beds. There are also lots of 1-ton duallies, nearly always diesel, in the same condition. People buy them because they project a certain image, and are happy to live with the bouncy ride and clumsy handling to get that image.

      • 0 avatar

        I know quite a few people with 3/4-ton trucks, and the vast majority of the time they’re driven practically unloaded as basic transportation or as highway vehicles to get to a job site. Apart from a few days each year where they are used for recreational towing, they could be replaced with 1/2-tons or even SUVs, with no loss in functionality.

        I don’t know why anyone is against having this information. All the arguments could be made about lighter trucks too.

        • 0 avatar

          It would, however, be worth complaining if they starting subjecting these trucks to CAFE rules. That’s what contributes to ruining vehicles, not the fuel economy data itself. Consumers will ignore a few mpg for a better driving experience.

      • 0 avatar

        An acquaintance was telling me that all of his staff have F150’s. The boss, just to prove that he was the boss, bought a F450.

        I owned an F250 for 15 years. It was my daily driver when I wasn’t on a motorcycle or camping/hunting/fishing or hauling/towing toys.

    • 0 avatar

      There are lots of people who use their 3/4 and 1 ton pickups as commuters, if not exclusively the vast majority of the time. I agree that they do not make a pleasant daily driver. I’ve got a F250 and F150 and the F150 seems like a sports car comparatively, not that I use either as a daily driver because I’d much rather drive a car, CUV or mid-size SUV when I don’t need a bed.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Living in the D.C. exurbs, I park in a lot of parking garages for work. Dually’s take up two parking spaces; F-450’s with contractor dump-beds, utility boxes won’t fit in parking garages. That has to be factored in when using a heavy-duty truck as a commuting vehicle. At one of my buildings, a guy has a Silverado with a lift kit and it doesn’t fit in the parking garage. We used to watch him circling around surface parking until a parking space came free. He comes in before 6 these days.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I found with my 03′ ram Cummins that the FE increased by close to 2 mpg after break in, call it 40k. I have not experienced that with a gas engine.

    Same occured with my TDI. I would regularly beat the city driving rating, again after a lengthy break in period.

  • avatar

    10 years ago this would have been acceptable combined city/highway MPG for 1/2 ton gas powered pickup trucks with a smaller V8 under the hood.

    Color me impressed.

    • 0 avatar

      Oddly enough, 10 years ago the diesel 3/4 tons would actually have gotten better MPG before the extremely strict emissions requirements that kicked in around 07/08 required all three makers to put in equipment that ended up reducing MPGs.

      It wasn’t unusual for the 5.9 Cummins trucks to see high 20s mpg when highway cruising and mid-to-high 10s in the city.

  • avatar

    It is what it is. You know the fuel tab is gonna hurt regardless of which HD you buy, or engine choice. The profit from running the truck makes it irrelevant anyway.

    That “profit” may have nothing to do with money or income, like if it’s just owned for RV/Toy-hauler/etc, weekend play, or brodozer jacked-up madness.

    Since actual buyers aren’t so concerned, I say leave HD truck makers alone to build the toughest, most capable rigs they can.

    Buyer’s decisions in this segment are mostly driven by truck capability, luxury and of course, fierce “brand loyalty” not heard of with any other vehicle type.

  • avatar

    Why can’t this gathered information just be made available on-line, why does it have to be put on a sticker? I’m not opposed to it at all but in gov-mindset, disseminating information and altering a sticker will cost them $89,000,000 to accomplish. Sarcasm aside, cui bono? Somehow I feel someone somewhere is jockeying for a federal handout to “help” with this new regulation. I say make this information available in the cheapest and easiest way possible.

  • avatar

    Go check Car and Driver dot com and look at the “In Depth Reviews”.

    I found the Ford F-series Super Duty and there was a chart that had the Super Duty diesel, Silverado Duramax, and Ram 2500 with 6.4 ltr Hemi. Best MPG on their loop (which includes much interstate driving at 75 mph) was 19 mpg and the worst was 15 mpg.

  • avatar

    This is more liberal socialist BS from CU to encourage Big Daddy Government (BDG) to regulate trucks in America.
    If you want to know fuel economy of HD pickups check websites like this, which also includes towing:

    You’d hardly need BDG to do that for you, or even demand it from manufacturers.

    Go Away, CU. Take yourself and your communist control philosophies to Canada or GB! Stay out of my country!


  • avatar

    Pretty sad when a “truck” with a teeny tiny 2.7L V6 hardly gets any better mileage than big, heavy Trucks with 6.7L V8s.

    Ecobust is such a scam.

  • avatar

    The ONLY way to increase mileage on a HD truck, given current air quality regulations, is to lower rpm for a given pull at speed. The engineering problem is components must be made to handle the torque. No cost effective materials with longevity exist to accomplish this.

  • avatar

    I think that GENERALY, Consumers Union has their heart in the right place, but man, they could suck the joy out of a teenage boy’s first, well, you know.

  • avatar

    Why on Google Earth would someone who wants to daily drive an unladen heavy duty truck care about fuel economy? #Freedum ain’t free

    • 0 avatar

      They probably DO care a bit, but they bought the monster for that 2-week camper trip, or once a month hauling job, and they cost so much, they can’t afford an everyday commuter too.

      Those who don’t do hauling or camper trips may derive a status or ego boost from owning and driving one, possibly accompanied by pleasurable gonad stimulation.

  • avatar

    Met many truck owners do really don’t care about fuel economy as they KNOW that the trucks have TERRIBLE fuel efficiency when compared to almost any sedan’s fuel efficiency.

    Also, how many truck owners actual use their truck to the fullest potential?
    The vast majority of people I see use it for their weekend projects or their personal time commuting for whatever.

    Sure, there are those in the construction or landscaping trades but many people buy trucks for the ‘masculine’ image that trucks perceptibly give off. Whatever! To each their own!
    But know that it’s THOSE truck people who are mainly the ones jacking up the truck prices over the years when they really do Not NEED trucks but WANT one.

  • avatar
    George B

    Consumers Union may call on congress to make a law requiring auto manufacturers to put fuel economy numbers on the window of large trucks, but there’s zero chance any congressional committee will take action to require the window sticker.

  • avatar

    The funny thing is, the diesels get pretty decent mileage. A friend of mine owns a 2015 F-250 Platinum Crew Cab 4×4 with the 6.7 Scorpion Power Stroke, and he gets 17-18 mpg around town; better that my 2013 Tacoma DoubleCab 4×2 with the 4.0 V6, which gets 16.

  • avatar

    I have an unmodified 2011 F250 Crew Cab 4×4 with the 6.7L. Unloaded on the highway I get 19 to 21 mpg. In my normal mixed driving commute I get 15 or 16 mpg. A couple of years ago we did a 21 day camping trip. About 4000 miles, most of it towing a 12,000 lb trailer. I averaged close to 10 mpg. Not too bad actually.

  • avatar

    Seems unnecessary to me as well… sounds like a potential money-grab. Anyone buying a HD pickup KNOWS they’re gonna get crappy mileage… & if they’re interested in researching it prior to purchase, there are numerous forums where they can get an idea of REAL WORLD fuel economy. I have a 2016 Ram 2500 crew cab short bed 4×4 with the 6.4L hemi & 4.10s in the rear. On a recent camping trip to Mammoth, with a fully-loaded bed, two adults, and one VERY LARGE dog (110 lbs), I averaged right at 18 mpg… cruise set on 73 mph & outside temps around 108 degrees. No complaints here.

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