Milestar Tire on a Jeep Wrangler getting Gas

I can recall being able to empty the coins in my ashtray back in the 80s to get 1/2 tank of fuel. We've come a long way since the $.89/gallon gas prices, but that's just the nature of the beast I guess.

TJ vs JL

I recently sold my straight-6 4.0 gas-hungry TJ and picked up the 2-door JL 2.0 Turbo in an attempt to get closer to a reasonable fuel economy... which when it was stock, was getting 20mpg's.  I then added 38" tires, overland gear, cargo rack, RTT etc. Now, I'm sitting at around 14mpgs with the 2.0 turbo, which is better than the 11mpg TJ, but still not great.

Jeep with Milestar Tire Getting Gas

For around town and commuting I certainly love the comfort of the JL and the slightly better fuel economy, but where it really matters is on the longer road trips. I did a little comparison from the past 4 trips I've been on to see how things would pan out.

Since I built this Jeep in February, I've been on 4 large road trips (Death Valley, Moab, Canada and Mexico) totaling about 9100 miles just for those road trips alone and at an average of about 14mpg's, used about 650gal in fuel. Now, granted, I would never agree to drive a 20 year-old Jeep TJ that far, but had I done so, I would have used about ~830gal of fuel. The price difference in fuel between those 2 would easily be over $700.

The Cost of Doing Business

Does it really matter or is that just the cost of "doing business" when it comes to overlanding? For those who spend a great deal of time on the road, exploring, driving and carrying heavy loads, even just a few points on the MPG scale can add up.

I pay close attention to weight when loading out my rig and I don't plan to keep the rack and RTT on there when I'm around town for a month. For Canada, I knew that I'd be around fuel most of the time, so I left off the TrailRax and Rotopax from the outside to lose a little wind drag. For Moab, I wasn't overlanding, so I didn't take a rack, RTT or extra rotopax so I could stay nice and lean with aerodynamics.

As much as I like to have my rig look cool with all the latest and greatest overland gear, I prefer practicality, simplicity and better MPG's over the "fully outfitted look".

Be Smart, Plan Ahead

There's been quite a few times where I won't fill my water jugs until I get closer to my camping destination in an attempt to save a little weight in transit. There are quite a few Overlanders out there that fall more into the "Over-Loading" category so that they "feel prepared" and they tend to bring everything. Be smart, plan better and save fuel!

2-Door Jeep Wrangler on 38's sitting in driveway
Aero - Eco-Mode (fast attack)

How you drive plays into that formula as well. For instance, for those with newer rigs that give you instant MPG, pay attention to how where your consumption spikes with all your wind drag. My rig is fairly efficient up to about 60mph, and after that, consumption starts to spike. It's different for every vehicle, but it's good to pay attention because at the end of the year, it all adds up.

Jeep on trail loaded with overlanding gear flexing out

Everyone has their own way of tackling fuel consumption and aerodynamics and we'd love to hear about them. Leave some comments below and add your thoughts.