Pickup Truck Aerodynamics: A Crash Course

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2014 GMC Sierra SLE

The 2014 GMC Sierra’s new front air dam directs air out and around the truck’s tires, benefitting the truck’s aerodynamic efficiency.

Ever heard the age-old myth that keeping the tailgate of your pickup down will help improve aerodynamics and, consequently, fuel economy? We at Freehold Buick GMC sure have—in fact, we’ve heard just about every car myth out there—but we can tell you with confidence now that keeping the tailgate down (or off and replaced with a net) isn’t helping your fuel economy any. In fact, it’s hurting it.

To arrive at this debate-settling conclusion, GMC did some in-depth testing on the 2014 GMC Sierra full-size pickup truck in a wind tunnel at the General Motors Aerodynamics Lab. The wind tunnel is 750 feet long with a fan at the end, 43 feet in diameter, which can generate winds of up to 138 mph. During the testing, GMC discovered that a truck is more aerodynamically efficient with the tailgate in the up position. And aftermarket nets, which have served to replace these tailgates, are even worse than no tailgate at all!

Because of the intensive testing done in this lab, the Sierra 1500 will be the most fuel-efficient V8 pickup available. For example, with the results of the tests, GMC was able to create a bumper that greatly reduces drag by directing air toward the ground instead of through the rough underbody of the truck. The Sierra will also feature a ducted flow path between the radiator and the grill to keep air from bustling through the front cavities of the pickup. And don’t forget about the all-new EcoTec trio of engines for the Sierra 1500, featuring the most fuel-efficient pickup powertrain on the market!

So now that we’ve resolved the ancient question of whether or not to leave the tailgate up and seen just why the Sierra pickup is the best bet in the segment, all that’s left to do is get your very own 2014 Sierra 1500 when it arrives here at Freehold Buick GMC this summer. Keep checking in for updates as we gear up for the arrival!

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