Mpg towing a popup

My wife and I are planning a trip from Michigan to Denver. We will be driving a 2003 Toyota 4 Runner, V8, towing a 1985 pop up weighing about 1500#. Will driving with the AC ON or off adversely affect the MPG? My wife thinks it is better to use the AC. I Think driving with windows open and no AC would give better milage. What does everyone think?

Normally at highway speeds the air conditioner is more efficient, although exactly how much varies by car.

Even if it wasn’t, isn’t your comfort for 20 hours more important than a few bucks?

I have a friend with an 03 4wd 4 runner v-8. he gets around 17-19 hwy unloaded, he claims he can get 20 but I have never seen it. Once we towed a utility trailer back from louisville on the interstate with an atv on the back and I think it got 13 or 14 on the way back. Its a gas hog.

I work with a guy with a 04 4 runner v-6 4wd. It gets 19-22 highway, but its not very powerful for towing.

Lets be honest, even if the a/c costs 1.5-2 mpg, who cares, its already gonna be bad enough. If its gonna be that big of an issue sell the 4 runner and buy a prius and stay at the inn or tent camp.

His 4 runner has auto climate control and I think it seems to run the a/c more than neccesary anyway, so its possible your compressor is on when you dont know it.

I work with a guy with a 04 4 runner v-6 4wd. It gets 19-22 highway, but its not very powerful for towing.

I have a 05 V6 4runner…and it has MORE then enough HP and torque for towing. It’s rated a Class-III (5000lbs). And if you replace the factory hitch with a good aftermarket hitch you can tow up to 6500lbs.

As for gas mileage…forget about it. It’s an SUV…and you’re going to be towing a trailer.

That’s the size camper I used to have. You hardly will know its behind you pulling it. You want to just use the air conditioning when its hot out. You’ll lose a mile or two with the camper but so what? You’re only talking maybe 1500 miles.

Use your AC. Comfort is worth a few dollars to me and that’s probably all you would be saving. You might actually get less mpg with the windows down.

If you’re worried about mpg use the A/C and leave the trailer at home. Have you done the math? Let’s say you lose 2 mpg with A/C vs. driving without A/C and windows up (and that’s a stretch). You might save $60 on your trip. Is that really an issue?

The aerodynamics of every car is different but I seem to remember studies showing that the drag of having windows down exceeds the mileage gain of no A/C.

Sleep during the day and drive at night. Less traffic means steadier speed and better mileage. It’s cooler so less need for A/C.

Your car will get awful mpg on the trip due to the towing of the camper. The AC won’t really affect it at all. You pay for the convienence of taking your home with you by buying more gas. My SUV goes from 20 mpg on the freeway to about 12 mpg when towing, that’s about what you can expect.

Windows down creates more drag, than windows up. The drag from windows down exceeds the power drawn off the motor to run the AC. If you were driving at 45 mph, windows down is about the same as AC on - at that speed it is a wash. At 70 mph the AC on is the way to go for the best mpg.

Yes, you can probably save gas by not running the air conditioner, but it’s July. Just run the air conditioner and make your wife happy. It’s worth the minuscule cost.

There have been tests done that show the mpg increase from turning the AC off is offset by the mpg decrease from screwing up the car’s aerodynamics by rolling the windows down. So, might as well run the AC.

I agree with several posters here, AC ON, windows UP. Not only will it be more comfortable, it will help avoid arguments with your wife over whether you are a cheapskate or a masochist.

If the truck starts to overheat pulling that pop-up up the Rockies, all that does out-the-window, so to speak. AC off, windows down, heater ON will bring the coolant temp down pretty quickly. The heat coming out may encourage you to stop for a cold drink while the truck (DON’T turn it off!!) cools down.

Actually, I think windows down might give better mpgs - you’ll eventually have less weight in the car once you’re a bachelor!

The variation in gas economy has already been well covered but let me add my own experience on such a venture.

Many years ago, I had a married couple come from the Denver area to my house in SE Wisconsin for a visit in July. They drove a Dodge Colt without A/C. I’ve made the trip many times but never without benefit of air conditioning.

When they arrived, they looked like they had just been rescued from being lost on the high seas for weeks. It took them at least a day to physically recover. It took them most of the week to resume being civil to each other again.

The main difference here is they did not have the option. If you actually have A/C and choose not to use it to save a couple bucks, good luck to you. The plains states are hot this time of year. When you get to Colorado, it’s not very green in the eastern part of the state for a reason.

My wife thinks it is better to use the AC.
Smart woman, better hang onto her!

Will driving with the AC ON or off adversely affect the MPG?
If the acronym MPG in any way relates to your getting any, running this trip without A/C will definitely have an adverse impact!

More comment from me. When I was a kid and no one had air in the car, we made that trip with wet towels on our laps. Our neighbor was so cheap that he wouldn’t buy watermelon in the summer for his kids because it was mainly water. The kids never would have tasted watermelon if not for us next door. Do you really want to put your family through that for a few dollars?

I have to kind of wonder about that 8 mpg mileage drop. With my Buicks and Olds diesel, I usually went from 27 or so to maybe 24. Most of it though was due to having to run the cars in the 3rd gear instead of the 4th overdrive gear to avoid transmission problems. This kicked the rpms up to 2200 instead of 1800 on the highway. 1500# shouldn’t be that much of an issue. 4000# yes.

"What does everyone think? "

If you’re so cheap that you’re debating whether or not to run the AC because of the minor penalty if in fuel economy, then it’s probably best just to stay home.

I too have a 6 cylinder 4 Runner and found it more then adaquate for towing a 3500 lb pontoon boat. The v8 will do just fine and could get better while towing. The mileage lost to AC is minuscule compared to that lost by towing. Use the air, it makes insignificant measurable difference.

Don’t be cheap, use the A/C and enjoy the trip. The mileage lost by towing the trailer will be much more than the loss due to the A/C.

On the 6cyl 4 runner, the guy that owns it says it cant tow much, I don’t know what that means, not much is different to everyone.

I remember taking a family trip in a station wagon, pulling a camper. There was alot of stop and go and my uncle turned the a/c off, heat on to keep the car from overheating. Im not sure it would have actually overheated… but it got HOT. Miserably so.

Just remember, your going on vacation, not a tough man competition!

Once in shop class we had a kid ho liked to prank people, we pretended we were putting our fingers in a vice and clamping down on them and seeing who could take the most amount of turns before crying uncle, he showed up and wanted to take part in our tough man competition. Well we got to the point where his fingers were in the vice and it was fairly tight, he didn’t cry uncle yet, but we all left, leaving him alone to figure out how to get out of the vise. He ripped the skin on his one finger pretty good. Why he didn’t use his knee to loosen the vice is beyond me.

On the 6cyl 4 runner, the guy that owns it says it cant tow much, I don't know what that means, not much is different to everyone.

Not a lot of consumer vehicles are Class-III. A pop-up that weighs 1500lbs is about mid range size. Mine weighs 2000lbs. Fully loaded with all our camping gear it tops out at almost 3000lbs. Add 3-4 adults and all our cloths and other “stuff” and I’ve added a total of 4000lbs above the vehicle when I’m just driving it by myself without towing anything.

Compared to other vehicles I’ve owned over the years…which included several V8’s…the 4runner is right up there as being able to tow the most.

Having grown up in the era before A/C became the norm, I can tell you that extended summer drives in a vehicle w/o A/C inevitably lead to an incredible amount of both fatigue and discomfort.

In addition to becoming hot & sweaty enough to soak the upholstery upon which you sit, there is the added delight of having insects (some of them capable of stinging) invading the car’s interior as a result of having those windows open. And then, there is the delightful scent of diesel exhaust wafting into your open windows…

Yeah, traveling in the summer w/o A/C was just a wonderful experience.

More fatigue as a result of no A/C= less alertness.
Less alertness = a significant safety hazard for the driver and passengers.

Discomfort as a result of no A/C= discord between passengers.
Discord between passengers who are married = a lot of tension that could otherwise be avoided.

As others have intimated, if the added cost of using your A/C is a financial burden for you, then you probably can’t afford to take a trip of this nature.