Aerodynamics and trucks aren’t usually used in the same sentence, but as gas prices go up, most consumers become more sensitive to the cost of driving. I bought a pickup truck last year before the semiconductor shortage, mostly because I needed a new vehicle, but I also thought I should get one before the Covid-19 dominoes started falling through the car industry. I really like the utility of the truck bed and the towing capacity even though trucks aren’t necessarily safer vehicles to drive and even the hybrids usually get worse gas mileage than cars do.
Although I can understand why trucks aren’t necessarily safer than cars, that idea seems to conflict with my experience as a personal injury attorney; the people driving trucks seem to be injured less frequently and less severely than people in cars. Even though it’s no longer just simple physics regarding the weight of the vehicle or the height of the driver, I don’t mind relying on intuitive, observational experience. That is, as long as you’re not driving a small pickup.
But now that I have the truck, I’m a little more concerned about the aerodynamics of the truck bed and the gas consumption. My truck is a hybrid, so it gets decent gas mileage, yet I’ve heard that a cover can really increase the aerodynamics. Better aerodynamics means lower drag, and lower drag means increased miles per gallon, but I haven’t found any great studies on the practical effects. One manufacturer showed higher speeds with a cap than for a tonneau (the flat cover), but I didn’t see anything about camper covers probably because there is so much variability. I mean, look at this one-of-a-kind, definitely-not-aero camper I saw down at Lake Tahoe complete with a solar panel!
Surprisingly, General Motors performed tests in 2013 that busted the belief that the aerodynamics are better with the liftgate open, and they showed that a soft tonneau is better than fiberglass. In typical fashion, I think I’ll have to test it out for myself. I’m guessing that the difference in drag will not appreciably increase the miles per gallon since the drag behind the cab is such a small percentage of overall drag, but I’ll check it out and let you know when I do.
What do you think? Have you done anything to make your truck more aero? Or less aero?