Fuel economic trucks and towing

I’m fuel economy conscious. I need to plow up to six inches of snow and pull a 1300 lb. RV trailer long distances. What truck will give me the towing power and the best fuel economy around town and when towing? Are we ever going to have clean diesel pick ups in the USA?

I think a Ford Ranger with a 6 cylinder motor can do the job.

Ford is advertising 17/23 mpg for the 2011 F150 with the 3.7L V6 in 2WD. Nice, if you can afford a brand new truck.

Toyota makes a 4WD 4 cylinder Tacoma that should fit the bill. For any 4WD pickup, even a compact truck 20 MPG is about the best you can realistically hope for. We do have clean diesels in the USA, it’s just that they are in 3/4 ton and 1 ton trucks. Don’t plan on seeing the 2.5-3.0L turbo diesels in U.S. spec compact or full sized half ton trucks any time soon as they would add thousands to the cost of the trucks, to the point where it would be unlikely that you would ever recoup the added costs in fuel savings.

My question is simple:

How often will you need to plow the snow, and how much, exactly? Will you be doing this as a business? Clearing a road? Clearing a 20ft driveway? And how often will you be pulling the RV?

I ask for a simple reason. I’ve had coworkers pose similar questions, but they had a 20-30 ft 2 car wide driveway to plow, and they towed that trailer once a year. I did the math for them and showed them that they were better off buying a sedan and a snowblower, then renting a truck that once per year. Their driving habits were such that the fuel costs would have been tremendous.

Just as an example, assume 15,000 miles per year of driving plus a 2000 mile trailer tow (round trip) and gas at $3/gal.

Option 1) Pickup - 2011 Ford F-150 XLT with trailer tow package and automatic - Edmunds TMV $26,359. MPG about 18.5 combined, based on guesses off of fueleconomy.gov (slightly over the old 4.2L). Total cost over 15 years (assuming no residual value in the truck): $67,710.

Option 2) Sedan - 2011 Mazda6 i Sport with automatic - Edmunds TMV $19,688. Mpg about 26 combined, based on owner reports at fueleconomy.gov. Add in a Poulan Pro 2 stage snowblower for $1,025. Truck rental for a week per year: $500 plus fuel. Total cost over 15 years: $59,039

I agree with the Nissan or Tacoma 6 cyl. You can easily pull the 1300lbs with anything including the 4, but plowing takes a toll. In plowing. it’s not the depth but the weight, distance you push and how often. 6" of heavy snow can be rough on trucks if the drive is long. There is very little difference in fuel economy between the excellent Taco 6 and the harder working 4. NO truck in 4wd will be a mileage champ. The Ranger will begin having problems sooner than later if you work them too hard. They are toys.

The diesel trucks we have now aren’t very cost prohibitive, you’re looking at about 40k plus new.
For plowing, you’ll want a heavy duty pickup, an F-250 will be your best bet

According to Toyota’s web site, the four cylinder Tacoma should be able to handle the towing, although you might consider upgrading to the V6 if you tow through mountains. Maybe you should consider a beater for the plowing duty.

"Maybe you should consider a beater for the plowing duty."
Best option Whitey. Few around here want a used truck after it’s been used for plowing unless it’s real cheap and/or to be used again for same. Every time you ram a snow bank, it’s a “collision” as far as the front end is concerned. Towing is comparable child’s play.

I would go with a titan or a diesel GmC/chevy. They will last for ever towing that little bit and long distances excellent ride and way more than good enough durability wise if you decide to up your haul. Theres a titan with an extended fuel reserve for long hauls also. A ranger will do the job but not happy given few years, in that case a frontier or tacoma would be 2x better longevity.