MPG on Truck vs. Car with same engine

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In general, are engines of the same size that are placed in pickups vs. automobiles geared differently? That is, will the truck usually get less mpg than a car with the same engine? Is it simply a weight difference or is it in the drivetrain, aerodynamics, tires, etc.? I have a well-maintained and gently driven (95% highway, too) 2.4L Nissan with 33K miles in an '02 Frontier and it's getting 23-24mpg highway. I'd like to get it up to 27-28mpg (maybe synthetic oil, better air filter, plugs, minor things like that) and am just wondering if I'm fighting an uphill battle? (Pardon the pun! [LOL!] )
 
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It takes a certain amount of energy to move a mass of vehicle through the air and overcoming the friction of rolling resistance and gravity. Internal lubrication friction reducing will help some but will never give a truck the same effeciency of a lighter lower vehicle. Sorry but it's just going to take more energy to move a truck down the road, you can't cheat physics.
 

01rangerxl

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Trucks have weight and aerodynamics working against them, so they are definately at a major disadvantage there, but they are also tuned differently than cars in many cases. The engine block may be the same, but manufacturers often change head designs, intake designs and electronics since trucks need their power at lower RPMs than cars do. That could definately have an effect too.
 

LouDawg

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quote:
Originally posted by gr8gatzby: resistance to wind is the #1 determining factor, all other factors being equal.
In that case, if I just get it chopped......... [crushedcar] [LOL!]
 
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Weight that has to be accelerated, and a huge difference in aerodynamics are the main causes for the difference. However, trucks and SUV's may have the same displacement, but most likely have a different camshaft/intake/exhaust/tune which will also make a difference
 
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.... But yet if you look at all the new Pickups (1/2 ton) they're making them bigger and bulkier. Not more areodynamic. I don't like the path the 1/2 ton truck is on. They're big, goofy and bulky. new F150 and Titan are PERFECT examples of what i'm talking about. what happen to the size of a early 90's 1/2 ton?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Toy4x4runner: what happen to the size of a early 90's 1/2 ton?
Look at the New Tacoma with a 6500 # Tow package. It may have a bit more power and effeciency though. But what happened to the Mini-Truck?
 
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There are plenty of exceptions, but it seems to me that the same general trend holds for cars as well. Look at the present Camry vs. an early 90s model. Or the present Maxima vs. early 90s. As for the mini-truck, I too wish they would come back. There was an old (mid-late 80s?) VW pickup that looked like it could have come from the same platform as its contemporary Jetta. I still see them from time to time. I also still see those old Datsun mini pickups, beat to death and still running well.
 
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As posted above, its a bunch if things. The engine may be of the same displacement, but they are generally tuned differently to gain more low end torque on the truck side. I know my 4.6l V8 in my F150 is in that game. On top of that, throw in the generally higher weight, generally higher dead weight and size to overcome from the tires, and the huge aerodynamic differece, you can expect wodely varying mileage between the catr and truck with the same motor. As an example, crown vics regularly cruise at 20+ mpg on the same motor as I can very occasionally get 20 MPG on in my F150.
 

LouDawg

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Having read all of the comments, does anyone have any suggestions on how I might eke out one or two mpg more from this little 2.4? I'm asking mainly because I drive it so MANY miles! TIA...
 
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Its only rated 24mpg on the highway and thats probably at 65mph. My 04 averaged about 24mpg doing between 75 and 85mph over a 400 mile round trip but mine is the 5speed rated at 27 mpg highway.
 
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I'm getting highway mileage of 28mpg on my 2000 Frontier King Cab, manual tranny. 10w30 dino oil. Thats typically at a constant 70mph. epa rated at 26 highway. I also have a fiberglass tonneau cover. Michelin tires in a 215/65/15 s rating. recommended air pressures. I think variation in mileage in the same vehicle is driver dependent. I recall a vacation trip years back in a small 4 cyl vehicle. When I drove, I was getting about 29 mpg. When the other guy drove, it was about 26.
 
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Pretty tough to improve mileage on modern cars or trucks. I will be contrary to other people on this post, the biggest factor in Cars vs Trucks is the rolling resistance of the block treads commonly fitted on trucks. Selecting a highway or "pure street" tire will significantly improve mileage compared to an off road tire.Your tire mileage will also be better.
 
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Ever see the Big Rig trucks with their wind deflectors on top of the cab? Those things are there for a reason. Aerodynamics plays a huge role in fuel mileage. Another would be rolling resistance. The bigger the tires, the bigger the resistance. The single most effective fuel saver for your truck would be a bed cover (AKA tonneau cover). Your mileage of 23-24mpg is not bad at all for a truck. Just think of how bad it would be feeding a 2006 full size Ford Excursion with the 6.8L V10. Remember I said Excursion and not Expedition. The thing weighs over 8800 lbs or better. Can you say 8mpg? [Eek!]
 
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I didn't realize they made an Excursion with a V10. WHY?! I think the EPA mileage ratings are at 50 mph, which means the test is badly out of date. That is why most people never quite see the mpg stated on the sticker and advertisements. I agree with everything posted above, tires and bed cover especially.
 
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Make sure no tire is under-inflated, and/or pump up tires to maximum pressure. Synthetic gear oil may help too.
 
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quote:
Ever see the Big Rig trucks with their wind deflectors on top of the cab? Those things are there for a reason.
The improvement is smaller than you realize. It varies depending on the aerodynamics of the tractor and the engine/drive train combination. They make it up because those tractors will go 1 million + miles over their lifetime. When I worked for USF Freightways we wanted to find out when the break even point was for the additional investment in aero kits for the IH Eagles we were purchasing. They didn't pay for themselves until you reached around 350,000 to 400,000 miles. On city use tractors they never would pay for themselves. You really can't equate tractors to pickups or cars.
 
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start pulling out seats, carpet, power window motors and anything behind the dash. Nobody needs a heater system in FL either! lol. I lightened my '84 supra from 2950 to about 2400. You can push the car up the driveway with eas now. Granted it's a racing set up, but just think if it was stock that weight!
 
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