Ford F-250 Loses Skewed Towing Fuel Economy Test

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Silverado 3500HD beat the F-250 by a big margin, but the test results were skewed by the time of year.

The team at The Fast Lane Truck recently tested three heavy duty trucks with a heavy trailer to get the real world fuel economy figures of the 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD, the 2018 Ford F-250 and the 2018 Ram 2500 HD. The results of the test found that the Silverado was considerably more fuel-friendly than the other two, but commenters were quick to point out that the Ford and Ram were tested during the colder months while Chevy was tested when it was warmer outside. As a result, the results of this test are clearly skewed, leading to results that are likely to change if all three trucks were tested on the same day.

Silverado 3500HD towing

Testing the Silverado 3500HD

The video above is technically a trailing towing test by The Fast Lane Truck with the 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD with the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel, four-wheel-drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Host Andre Smirnov explains that he had previously tested the 2018 Ford F-250 and the 2018 Ram 2500 HD with their diesel engines and his goal was to see how the Chevy compared to the competitors when hooked to the big, heavy trailer.

Smirnov explains that he fuels up the truck, drives 98 miles on the flattest highways in his area of Colorado and returns to the gas station to top off the tank and calculate the real world fuel economy figures. He also offers us a look at the cargo of water-filled plastic tubs, water-filled barrels and some cinder blocks that get this trailer to 12,500 pounds.

TFL Towing Rig

During the drive in the Chevy, Smirnov points out the fact that the onboard system is reading better than 13 miles per gallon, but the real results come when he gets back to the gas station. The truck only takes 8.01 gallons of diesel fuel, which over the course of a 98-mile drive leads to an average of 12.2 miles per gallon. That is considerably better than the 10.05 miles per gallon achieved by the F-250 or the 10.9 from the Ram, so the Chevy is far more fuel-friendly, right?

Maybe not.

Weather Matters

In the comments, a viewer named Cory Breider points out that when The Fast Lane Truck tested the F-250 and Ram, it was earlier in the year while the Chevy was tested in the summer months. This means that the F-250 and Ram were tested with “winter diesel” while the Silverado was tested with “summer diesel”. The winter fuel has chemicals added to help prevent the fuel from gelling in cold temperatures, but that change in the composition of the diesel fuel leads to a loss in energy and a loss in energy leads to a decrease in fuel economy numbers.

Ford F-250 Fueling Up

In other words, the Silverado had the advantage of summer fuel, which commenters on the video point out can lead to fuel economy figures that are 1-3 miles per gallon better than winter numbers. Had all three trucks been tested in colder months with the winter diesel, the Silverado would have almost surely returned worse numbers while testing the F-250 in the warmer months would have led to better numbers for the Power Stroke.

Would those different figures have changed the results enough to close the huge gap between the Silverado 3500HD and the F-250? Maybe not, but it isn’t fair to use the tests from The Fast Lane Truck to state that the Chevy is 3 miles per gallon better than the F-250 when towing a heavy trailer.

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Patrick Rall is a regular contributor to LS1Tech and JK Forum, among other auto sites.

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