Gas prices fluctuate constantly; when prices soar at the pump, car owners might start amending their driving habits to conserve fuel. Those in the market for a new vehicle also could focus on models that offer decent fuel efficiency. Electric trucks or SUVs also could be a fuel-saving option.
Car buyers who need to shop for a towing vehicle might be in for a more complicated search when trying to find a fuel-efficient option. While a vehicle might offer decent fuel efficiency, towing impacts the achievable miles per gallon. What is the most fuel efficient towing vehicle?
Those shopping for trucks or SUVs with decent fuel efficiency could consider:
- Ford Explorer
Towing Capacity: 5,000 to 5,600 pounds
MPG: 27 city / 28 highway
- Ford F-150
Towing Capacity: 5,000 to 11,300 pounds
MPG: 25 city and highway
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Towing Capacity: 8,900 to 11,000 pounds
MPG: 23 city / 31 highway
- Dodge Ram 1500
Towing Capacity: 6,120 to 8,280 pounds
MPG: 23 city / 33 highway
- Chevrolet Tahoe
Towing Capacity: 7,600 to 7,900 pounds
MPG: 21 MPG city / 28 MPG highway
Best MPG Towing 5,000 Pounds
Every model on the list of fuel efficient vehicles for towing can pull 5,000 pounds. However, the estimated miles per gallon for both the city and the highway are the absolute best figures these models can obtain.
Weight impacts fuel efficiency. Towing a heavy trailer will increase the fuel use of the vehicle and decrease the fuel efficiency. Although a model could get 28 MPG on the highway, all the extra weight will drive this number downward.
The benefit of choosing a fuel efficient vehicle for towing, though, might be related to the edge the vehicle already has related to its fuel consumption. While car owners might notice a drop in efficiency for towing, a vehicle with better fuel efficiency might still drive more miles per gallon while towing than a model with lower figures.
Car shoppers might wonder how much towing impacts the fuel efficiency of a vehicle. MotorBiscuit explains that fuel efficiency drops two percent per every 100 pounds of weight. In addition, the site adds that towing causes drag and this also impacts fuel efficiency.
Why Diesel Engines Might Be a Better Option
For many pickup trucks, diesel engines are an upgraded option for buyers. These engines provide more power for towing. Diesel engines work a bit differently than the standard combustible engine; with a diesel engine, the combustion that powers the engine happens when air is compressed, diesel (fuel) is then injected and the spark plugs ignite to create the explosion for power.
However, gas engines release the air then inject the gas. This mixture is compressed and then ignited by the spark plugs. The early compression of the air in a diesel engine allows for a more powerful explosion.
Diesel engines are noted to be more fuel efficient than standard gas engines. In addition, they offer more power for heavier towing needs.
Are Electric Vehicles an Option for Towing?
Electric vehicles don’t use standard gasoline. Instead, car owners charge their car’s battery to ensure that their drive is fully powered. Every electric vehicle has an estimated range—this is how far the car can drive on a full charge.
Many factors impact range, though. Driving uphill, using the heat or the air conditioning, idling in traffic and towing all can decrease how far the car can drive when fully charged.
Are electric vehicles good for towing? There are several electric pickup trucks and SUVs that offer decent towing capacity; these models include:
- Ford F-150 Lightning
- Rivian R1T
- Rivian R1S
- GMC Hummer EV
- Tesla Cybertruck
The Lightning proved to be so popular that Ford is no longer taking orders. The 2022 Lightning started at $39,974. It has an estimated range of 230 miles and can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
The Rivian R1T is a pickup truck with a starting price of $67,500. It has an estimated range between 260 and 400 miles. The R1T can tow up to 11,000 pounds.
The Rivian R1S is an SUV that has three rows of seating and space for seven. The R1S starts at $72,500 and has an estimated range between 260 and 320 miles. It can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
The Hummer EV is available in both a rugged SUV and a pickup model; the EV has a starting MSRP of $108,700. It has an estimated range of 329 miles, and the pickup can tow up to 7,500 pounds.
The much-awaited debut of the Cybertruck has yet to occur. Tesla is still accepting orders on this futuristic pickup, and car shoppers who prefer a sleek and modern truck that’s also electric could go Cyber. According to specs from Tesla, the Cybertruck will have an estimated range of 500 miles and will offer a towing capacity of more than 14,000 pounds. The Cybertruck has a starting price of $49,900; the tri-motor option is priced at $69,900.
Towing When Fuel Costs are High
Car shoppers might need a truck or SUV that is capable of towing more than 5,000 pounds; they might need to tow a small trailer or even pull a camper. When fuel costs are high, though, towing might serve to bump up the price at the pump.
While some SUVs and pickups are more fuel efficient, towing heavier weights requires more power—and more gas to fuel the power. Unfortunately, towing thousands of pounds will cost more in fuel; when the price at the pump is rising, towing might be an expense that burdens the budget.
Some car owners need towing power, and towing might be a part of daily life for those who raise livestock or work in construction. For those who need towing power for recreational purposes (towing a boat, a camper, etc.), the price at the pump could dictate if the camping trip is really worth the expense.
Car shoppers who are looking for the most efficient option for towing 5,000 pounds could decide to invest in an electric SUV or pickup truck. Many options on the market offer decent towing power, although the estimated range of each model varies.
Car owners also need to understand that as towing impacts fuel efficiency, it also will impact the estimated range for an electric model. Pulling thousands of pounds will likely decrease how far the vehicle can drive on a full charge.
While electric might be much less expensive than fuel, there is one issue that electric vehicle drivers face when they take their EV for a road trip. In some areas, charging stations are not plentiful. Electric vehicle owners might find that they need to map out their trip based on the location of charging stations.
When pulling heavy loads with an electric pickup or SUV, owners need to be prepared for more frequent trips to charging stations. They should not expect to hit the estimated maximum range.
How to Explore all the Most Fuel Efficient Towing Vehicles
Car shoppers who are looking for the most fuel efficient towing vehicle might want to explore their options without leaving home. Many car buyers spend hours researching different models, and sites like RelayCars let shoppers enjoy a more interactive research process. Instead of just browsing through a slideshow of photos, RelayCars allows shoppers to interact with 3D models of thousands of makes and models.
Consumers can download the RelayCars app for free via Google Play or the App Store. The app gives shoppers the option of exploring cars using 3D interactive models of vehicles or exploring these vehicles in virtual reality (with Google Cardboard).
Vehicle models on RelayCars are displayed as to-scale replicas. The 3D models can be rotated using just a fingertip. Shoppers can use interactive graphic panorama imagery to explore the interior of the vehicle, too.
Those who don’t want to download an app can visit the RelayCars website using a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). The mobile site provides the same interactive 3D models as the app, but the mobile site also allows shoppers to explore cars using an augmented reality experience.
The augmented reality experience can be accessed via the camera on a mobile device. The user will select a space in their environment, and the augmented reality experience will show a model of the vehicle in this space. Shoppers can walk around the vehicle and navigate the experience using their camera.
The RelayCars website and app also includes specs on all vehicles. Buyers can understand towing capacity, starting MSRP and other data for any vehicle they are researching. Both the app and the website also let buyers preview cars in different paint hues to understand all the options.
For buyers who are looking for the most fuel efficient vehicle for towing, buyers can explore different SUVs and trucks in 3D models and then review and compare the specs for their favorite vehicles. RelayCars is an immersive research tool that invites shoppers to explore vehicles to find the best choice for their budget and lifestyle.