I often say to people that if fuel economy is one of your major concerns, then getting into caravanning is probably not your thing. When you double the weight of your towing vehicle and ruin its aerodynamics, like what happens when you put a caravan on the back, its fuel efficiency is going to suffer and probably by a considerable margin. That said, fuel economy is not something to be completely ignored. It’s an important factor when you’re trying to budget for an extended trip. It can also mean the difference of making it to the next town without having to rely on your jerry cans or a small isolated (and perhaps dodgy) fuel station along your route. Some places, like the Tanami Track, the distance between fuel stops is so great that many vehicles, particularly towing big vans, simply do not have the range to make it with their standard fuel capacity. Knowing your fuel usage and how to calculate it accurately can be very important when travelling outback Australia.
We have now had our Landcruiser for about 10 months now and in that time we have done just over 16,000km with a mix of city driving, extended highway trips and a few trips towing the Roadstar Safari Tamer. When we bought it, I had heard all sorts of stories about its fuel economy. Some said it was awesome. Some comments were not so glowing in their praise. My initial take was, its a bloody V8. What the hell can you reasonably expect from it? They are not made to be frugal, they are made to produce power and loads of it. No matter how efficient the engine is, making that power takes fuel, so my expectations were not too high.
Well the reality is the Landcruiser 200 diesel is an extremely fuel efficient vehicle and it has surpassed all my expectations. Technology has certainly come a long way and it is possible to have a V8 engine that manages to make you smile at the bowser.
That said, I have to admit, there are far more fuel efficient vehicles out there that are capable of towing big loads. But its the ease and non fussed nature of the Landcruiser’s engine that has impressed me. While I know its working hard at times, it certainly doesn’t feel like its working at its limits.
On a straight freeway run, I have managed to get the fuel consumption to below 10l/100ks reasonably consistently. 10.5l/100ks would be about average. 11.5l/100ks would be the higher end of the scale. Around town, the figures are much the same, probably closer to between 10.5 and 11.5l/100ks. In my opinion, these figures are staggeringly good…! My old Land Rover Discovery Tdi use to get fuel economy like that and it was a very small 4 cylinder engine.
Towing is where the fuel economy equation comes back to earth but certainly not outside of my initial expectations.
With a lightly loaded caravan (about 3.2t) we could get around 17.5l/100ks. That was pretty good and well below what I thought was possible. Loaded up a bit more towards the van’s 3.5t maximum, fuel consumption would increase to between 20 and 22l/100ks. Both times we drove in this near maximum load configuration involved either strong winds or some slow steep hill climbing roads. I expect the fuel economy would improve with more normal road and weather conditions.
I have tried a few different modes on the transmission but for the most part I’ve found that driving with the transmission in S4 and the PWR mode ON, seems to yield the best results with a good combination of drivability and economy. I sometimes select S5 on long freeways or open roads.
The cruiser seems to have a sweet spot for not using a lot of fuel when driving at around 80 – 90kph. Once you get into the 100kph speeds, it tends to use more fuel. Again…this is entirely expected.
So on the above figures, the range we can reasonably expect from the cruiser’s 138l feel tanks; on its own, about 1200km. Towing the van fully loaded, 600 -m 700km. If we had all 4 of our jerry cans available (4 x 20l = 80l), takes us to about 1000 – 1100kms. I am very happy with those figures.
Now if you are using these figures to compare to other vehicles, be very careful about what you might hear from other owners. Many people do not know how to accurately measure their fuel economy. Some rely on their onboard trip computers. I can tell you these are quite inaccurate. The Landcruiser’s fuel economy reading seems to be quite pessimistic. It often indicates 1 – 2l/100ks more than it actually uses. If your comparing with other vehicles, have a look on the various owners forums for accurate figures. There, owners tend to be more honest with other people than they can be on more general forums and Facebook groups. Driving styles also vary greatly between owners. I don;t like to drive my cars like they’ve been stolen but I don’t like driving like I’m driving Miss Daisy. I try to accelerate gently but keep up with the traffic.
It will be interesting to see how the fuel economy of the Crusier changes as the engine becomes more worn in. At just over 16,000ks on the clock, it has barely been run in. I am not expecting it to change too much but if anything it should get better. Time will tell. For now, I am a very happy camper.