Gas Mileage and Your Truck

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V8s are disappearing from trucks – as V6s have already all-but-disappeared from cars. As engines, period, will shortly disappear – if the handful of people (there at most a few thousand of them) who constitute “the government” succeed in dictating to the millions of the rest of us the kinds of cars (and powerplants) we’ll be allowed to own in the future.

Some of you will have read my recent article about the new (2022) Toyota Tundra, which for the first time will no longer be available with a V8 engine. The other trucks in its class – models like the Chevy Silverado and Ford F-150 – still offer V8s, but are similarly headed in the direction of replacing V8s with much smaller V6s, the prelude to getting rid of engines altogether – in favor of electric motors.

Which few, if any, truck buyers are demanding. Which is interesting.

It ought to be enraging.

We are told – by the handful of people who constitute “the government”  – that trucks use “too much” gas, hence the justification for government decrees as regards how much gas they may use, with the threat of fines to be applied for using more gas than these people who are “the government” says is allowable. These decrees – Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations – have been in play since the ’70s and they – along with “emissions” regulations – are the reasons for engines getting smaller and soon to be going away, altogether.

But questions are begged that are never asked – much less answered.

In the first place – as regards gas mileage – if there is market demand for high-mileage trucks why would it be necessary for “the government” to mandate them?

Put another way, if V8-powered trucks use “too much” gas, wouldn’t people stop buying them? Or at least, enough people would stop buying them so as to prompt the truck manufacturers to make them more agreeably fuel-efficient?

The fact is people can’t wait to buy them.

V8 powered trucks being literally the best-selling vehicles on the market. Part of the reason for that being these buyers want the V8 – and don’t especially care about gas mileage.

It is very doubtful they care about the slight gas mileage “improvement” that attends replacing the V8 with a turbocharged V6.

Have a look at the stats of the current Ford F-150, which still offers a 5.0 liter V8 but which is available with two twin-turbo V6 engines.

The 5.0 V8 rates 17 MPG in city driving and 24 on the highway. The 2.7 liter twin turbo V6 rates 20 city, 26 highway – and only makes 325 horsepower vs. the V8’s 400. The F-truck’s top-of-the-line engine is a 3.5 liter twin turbo V6. It matches the output of the V8 and rates 18 city, 29 highway – an improvement vs. the V8 of 1 MPG in city driving and 5 on the highway, for an average improvement of about 3-4 MPG.

Expect the new Tundra’s twice-turbo’d 3.5 liter V6 to deliver about the same spread vs. the current Tundra’s 5.7 liter V8.

Would truck buyers willingly pay extra for this?

The turbo’d engine increases the price of the truck such that any “savings” on gas are rendered immaterial. And it is possible – likely – that the more complex, more parts-involved twin-turbo V6 will eventually cost them more than whatever it “saves” them on gas – in repair costs.

It’d be interesting to allow them the choice.

But these insufferable control freaks who are “the government” won’t allow that. Leaving it up to buyers to determine what succeeds on the market is prevented by the expedient of requiring the manufacturers – Toyota, Ford, Chevy, et al – to comply with the regs. The CAFE regs incentivize the incremental MPG gains achieved by nixing large engines in favor of smaller ones. No one bothering to ask why this is any of “the government’s” rightful business.

After all, the people who buy the trucks aren’t forced to buy them – or feed them. They freely pay for what they want. Including the gas used by these trucks. No one else is forced to pay for either. So why is it anyone else’s business how much – or how little – gas these vehicles use?

Eventually, this question might occur to people. It might make them angry.

Which is why “the government” brings up emissions – the other half of the pincer movement that is meant to encircle the engine and – ultimately – annihilate it. These emissions are not of the gasses that most people assume are being discussed when that word is used; i.e., the emissions that water the eyes, make it harder to breath, that cause smog to form. Those emissions were almost entirely cleaned-up decades ago. This fact could never be admitted – just as it can never be admitted that the ‘Rona isn’t a deadly threat to 99.8-something percent of the otherwise healthy/not-elderly population.

In fact, the percentages parallel.

Better than 98 percent of the actually harmful (to people’s lungs, to air quality) emissions emanating from car – and truck – tailpipes have been cleaned up, leaving an almost irrelevant percentage left to worry about that does not justify the hysteria – or the extreme measures demanded to make it 100 percent.

Ergo, a new justification – or rather, a redefinition.

“Emissions” now encompasses the harmless gas, carbon dioxide – which does not foul the air, water the eyes or make it harder to breath. It is alleged to be a cause of “climate change,” but in that case, why not have an honest discussion about it?

Instead, “the government” conflates what are commonly understood to be objectively unhealthy/dangerous emissions with those that are asserted to be so and which are of an entirely different kind. This rhetorical legerdemain suggest deception. It certainly provides the next justification.

If “efficiency” isn’t sufficient.

If the control freaks who are “the government” can’t get rid of engines via regulations decreeing how much gas trucks can use then they’ll get it done via regulations that decree how much gas may be emitted. And this is the second reason for the disappearing V8 – in trucks – as it is the reason for the almost-disappeared V6, in cars.

Both reasons conjured by “the government,” contrary to the wishes of we, the people.

. . .

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24 COMMENTS

  1. You people just don’t get it.
    The gubmint is full of geniuses and you all are too stupid to know what’s good for you.

    Therefore, the braniacs in DC will decide what all 330 million of us want.

    Refusers will be lined up against the wall.

  2. “Better than 98 percent of the actually harmful (to people’s lungs, to air quality) emissions emanating from cat – and truck – tailpipes have been cleaned up, leaving an almost irrelevant percentage left to worry about that does not justify the hysteria – or the extreme measures demanded to make it 100 percent.”

    I’m a sometime road cyclist, and I’d like to underline this point from personal experience. One Saturday morning, back in the summer, I was pedaling along on one of the county roads, and a succession of a dozen or so classic cars (1950s and early ’60s) overtook me, no doubt on their way to a meetup or show somewhere. I’m used to being overtaken by modern motor vehicles, and had lost my awareness of the fact that their exhaust is un-smellable. But the classics? They were downright “juicy.” Gave me a bit of nostalgia for my long-ago youth, when those classics were the norm, and that smell was familiar.

    You’re right — emissions (“real” ones, that is) are a completely-solved problem.

    • The problem is that the people born 1985 and later don’t know this. They repeat this fear mongering. When they’ve argued with me after I pointed out the problem was solved 25 years ago now I’ve told them in other automotive places online to go sniff the exhaust of a pre-catalyst car and get back to me.

      Without a reference frame it is very easy to manipulate these people.

  3. “Better than 98 percent of the actually harmful (to people’s lungs, to air quality) emissions emanating from car – and truck – tailpipes have been cleaned up, leaving an almost irrelevant percentage left to worry about that does not justify the hysteria – or the extreme measures demanded to make it 100 percent.”

    I’m a sometime road cyclist, and I’d like to underline this point from personal experience. One Saturday morning, back in the summer, I was pedaling along on one of the county roads, and a succession of a dozen or so classic cars (1950s and early ’60s) overtook me, no doubt on their way to a meetup or show somewhere. I’m used to being overtaken by modern motor vehicles, and had lost my awareness of the fact that their exhaust is un-smellable. But the classics? They were downright “juicy.” Gave me a bit of nostalgia for my long-ago youth, when those classics were the norm, and that smell was familiar.

    You’re right — emissions (“real” ones, that is) are a completely-solved problem.

  4. Instead of mpg per engine, what really needs to be determined then is the CO2 output of the various engines in comparison to mpg. I suspect the smaller engines will be found to contribute more to smog than the larger engines, especially in heavier vehicles. I have never heard anyone recommend this course of action. So maybe Eric can take this idea and do some more exploration on this first sentence.

    • Hi To5,

      I think it’s important to not accept their premises; i.e., that carbon dioxide arising from internal combustion engines is causing dangerous “climate change.” This is an assertion of a piece with “wear a mask” to “stop the spread.” Of course the “climate” is “changing.” It changes serially, inevitably – naturally. The question is whether it is changing unnaturally and dangerously – and if so, whether that can be definitively attributed to carbon dioxide “emissions” from vehicles and so on.

      That has not been established – only asserted and exaggerated.

  5. How ingenuous of the Sociopaths In Charge. Fuel consumption is a free market self solving problem. CO2 emissions are not. So they went with the CO2 thing. Meanwhile, if you can believe this, in the UK, where CO2 emission from vehicles are soon to be outlawed, they are preparing to SUBSIDIZE the production of CO2, for industrial, manufacturing, and agricultural purposes. I don’t think I’m from this planet, and I want to go home.

    • Thanks for the LOL with that last sentence of yours, Mr. Kable.

      Indeed, more CO2, yes MORE CO2, would be great for agriculture. More plant growth, more productivity. And as CO2 is only about one-half of one-percent of the atmosphere, there would be absolutely no negative effects on us if CO2 were doubled or tripled.

      But as Eric deftly pointed out, the government that once was ours is not run by We, The People nor even staffed at high levels by We, the People. So, they get to LIE and break laws all they want, and deny to us the very things they keep for themselves (such as automatic weapons, and gas-guzzlers, and freedom to Assemble for their off-camera parties, etc.).

    • “No signs of intelligent life here, Mr. Spock.”

      “Then it shall be a suitable bombardment range for the Empire, Captain”.

      And so they beamed back aboard good ol’ ISS Enterprise, NCC-1701 (not “A”, “B”, “C”, or bloody “D”)

  6. Eric,

    I believe “The 2.7 liter twin turbo V6 rates 29 city, 26 highway…” was supposed to read “20 city”, given your table there. Had me scratching my head for a minute. 😉

    Also, there is “strength in diversity”, unless you mean diversity of thought, action, style, choice, etc. Before reading your site consistently, the increasing abundance of “crossovers” was a bit baffling, as they are, I believe many would agree, aesthetically disagreeable. Now, I understand the cause of this vehicular uniformity, and it’s infuriating.

    Maybe they should just skip the V6 twin-turbos and go straight to the… 2.0L.

  7. ‘No one is bothering to ask why this is any of “the government’s” rightful business.’ — eric

    Wikipedia: CAFE standards were first enacted by Clowngress in 1975, after the 1973–74 oil shock.

    Never mind that re-engineering an auto fleet that takes years to turn over can’t fix an acute supply crisis. Indeed, it happened all over again in 1980, the second oil shock.

    Not until 2019 did the US briefly achieve net energy independence. And that — surpr-i-i-i-i-se, supr-i-i-i-i-i-i-se [Gomer Pyle face] — was thanks to more drilling and more supply.

    Same as it ever was.

    But like the National Helium Reserve, maintained even today in case we should need to launch the WW I blimp fleet again, the First Oil Shock CAFE standards soldier on into perpetuity.

    Half a century on, they’ve been refashioned to fight the War on Carbon.

    As carbon-based lifeforms, we can be 100% certain that the War on Carbon is aimed squarely at US.

  8. The gubmint really doesn’t understand truck people, or why people would buy trucks in the first place, do they? I live in Lexington, KY, horse capital of the world and surrounded by a lot of farmland. Can somebody please explain to me how a lower-horsepower engine is supposed to pull a horse trailer? Or haul thousands of pounds of hay? Man, oh man.

    • I’d rather find a 1958-vintage Dodge pickup with the venerable 251 CID Flathead Six…Not much for power, only about 135 bhp, but, oh man, was that one TORQUEY engine! With it’s undersquare design, and stout crank, it was MEANT to pull a hefty load, albeit not all that fast!

    • Jim,

      Just use your magic fairy pixie dust and it will give you the power to haul those trailers. But seriously all of these rules are conjured up by urban, left wing bureaucrats who’s idea of rural life is driving their prius 10 minutes outside of DC to a park with some trees and a paved hiking trail. They don’t need big gas guzzling trucks with high HP and higher tourque so no one should need them. Those things are just for hillbilly orange man supporters who cling to their guns and religion and want to be noticed. They are evil and need to be eliminated by nanny government and they are just the govt bureaucrats to do it.

      • As they drive up in THEIR gas-guzzling Chevy Suburbans et al, brilliant flashy lights going, with armed and ARMORED goons with “assault rifles” ready, b/c you “truck people”, another manifestation of “White Supremacy”, are just SO “DANGEROUS” to the safety and welfare of the nation!

        • See the recent demonstrations in Melbourne Australia with the cops decked out in full battle gear, a big armoured vehicle with lots of mercenary police hanging onto it by one hand, with their guns in the other hand, all just to silence a few protesters against the stab jab of poison.

          • Speaking of hanging, they’ve also locked down construction, from which many of the protesters came. Too many things to tie a rope to on a construction site.

  9. Eric,

    Do you have an opinion on crate motors vs doing an overhauls? Lots of folks here have a bad opinion of Jasper and ATK crate short/long blocks. Based on opinions here I’m leaning toward having local shop rebuild 5.3 vortec. Ol gal has 284K & is noticeably low on power and higher on mpg.

    • There can be many reasons for those symptoms, chiefly a rich running condition.
      Does your engine consume a lot of oil or coolant?
      Does it score uneven or low on a compression test?
      If oil/coolant consumption and compression are good you don’t need a new engine. You may have a lazy MAP, MAF or O2/AFR sensors. An open thermostat can cause cold rich running. A clogged air filter. Shitty ignition/spark plugs. Dirty or leaking fuel injectors. Worn valve timing components. Plugged cat or muffler can also strangle an engine.

      I wouldn’t get involved with engine replacent now if you can help it. It’s getting difficult to find parts or labor anywhere and it’s only going to get worse. Not to mention it seems replacement parts are of such low quality now oftentimes you’re better off with junkyard parts.

      • I put new plugs & wires early in the summer and am kinda anal about oil/air/cabin filters. It’s more akin to 50-some year old Mike can’t run like 30-some year old Mike anymore. The power/mpg issues are noticeable but aren’t showstoppers.

        • Hi Mike,
          Do you ever notice smoke out the tailpipe? Blue is burning oil, black is unburnt fuel, white is steam (if you’re consuming coolant). If you’re not consuming oil or coolant and the engine isn’t making a racket or running rough it’s likely mechanically ok.
          I’d suggest taking it to a good independent mechanic to analyze the live scan data for anything on the edge of triggering a code and getting a dry compression test to determine the physical health of the engine. If you get a long block installed there might still be a failing component that’ll cause the same problems.

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