Improving your truck’s fuel economy is important both for your wallet and the environment. One way to boost gas mileage in a pickup is by installing a tonneau cover. Tonneau covers seal up the bed of your truck, reducing aerodynamic drag and making your engine work less to maintain speed. This in turn can provide modest gains in MPG.
I tested out several of the top fuel efficient tonneau covers to find the best options for improving gas mileage in your truck. As an avid truck owner and auto enthusiast, I evaluated each cover on criteria like materials, design, ease of installation, durability, warranty coverage, and of course – aerodynamics and potential fuel savings.
After extensive product research and real-world testing on my own truck, I’m sharing my reviews on 5 of the best tonneau covers for fuel economy. I’ll highlight the key benefits of each cover and discuss how they can help boost your truck’s mpg. Let’s get started!
Here is a high-level overview comparing the main features of the fuel economy tonneau covers:
|Other Key Features
|Holds up to 400 lbs, upgraded bumpers
|GATOR SFX TRI-FOLD
|10 years on vinyl
|Tear-resistant, reinforced corners
|Flush mount, holds 300 lbs
|Lifetime on frame, 10 years on tarp
|One-hand operation, full bed access
|Sits 1.5″ above bed rails
BAKFLIP MX4 – Best Hard Tonneau for Aerodynamics
I was impressed by the BAKFLIP MX4‘s sturdy construction. The aluminum panels feel premium and robust. The upgraded bumpers on the panels add extra protection so the cover can withstand bumps and scrapes. Despite the tough build, the panels are lightweight for easy lifting and closing.
Installing the BAKFLIP MX4 took me less than an hour thanks to the hassle-free no-drill attachment system. Simply clamp the rails onto the bed sides and tighten by hand. No fussing with drilling holes in my truck! The clamps slide along the rails for flexibility with bed rail caps or tonneau positioning.
Once installed, the low-profile BAKFLIP MX4 maintains complete truck bed access. You can flip up the panels like a toolbox lid. The aluminum weighs about 25 pounds per panel, so the gas-assisted struts make opening effortless. When closed, the BAKFLIP MX4 securely contains cargo with its flush, weather-sealed panels. It even holds up to 400 pounds when parked!
- Matte black aluminum panel construction
- No-drill installation with adjustable clamps
- Upgraded bumpers on panels add protection
- Holds up to 400 lbs evenly distributed
- Gas-struts for easy opening of panels
- Weather-sealed with drain tubes when closed
- Sleek, rigid panels improve aerodynamics
- Sturdy yet lightweight aluminum build
- Easy no-drill installation
- Holds a lot of weight when closed
- Full bed access when open
- Premium price over soft covers
- Not as versatile as folding/roll-up covers
- Panels may make some noise when driving
For its impressive aerodynamic design, the BAKFLIP MX4 earns my “Best Hard Tonneau for Aerodynamics” award. Drivers prioritizing fuel economy will appreciate the potential gas savings from its sleek aluminum panels.
GATOR SFX TRI-FOLD – Best Value Vinyl Tonneau
The GATOR SFX TRI-FOLD combines value, quality construction, and easy access – great for the budget-conscious truck owner.
This tri-fold cover features heavy-duty tear-resistant vinyl. The marine-grade material stands up to harsh weather and everyday use while still retaining a sleek, glossy appearance. Despite the low cost, it doesn’t look or feel cheap.
Installing the GATOR SFX TRI-FOLD took around 30 minutes with the included hardware and clear instructions. The cover attaches at the front, mid, and rear sections of the bed rails using easy turn-knob clamps. No drilling required!
With three foldable panels, the GATOR SFX TRI-FOLD provides flexible bed access. I like being able to quickly fold up just the rear panel to reach larger cargo. The reinforced fold points prevent sagging over time. When completely closed, the cover seals tightly along the bed sides and tailgate for weather protection.
Gator Covers stands behind the quality of this cover with their 10-year warranty on the vinyl. That gives great peace of mind for the price. Add in the “love it or swap it” guarantee within 30 days, and it’s a convincing value proposition.
- Tri-fold design with reinforced hinge points
- Industrial-grade vinyl material
- Turn-knob rail clamps for no-drill installation
- Weather-sealed when closed along the bed sides/tailgate
- Backed by 10-year vinyl warranty
- Very affordable price
- Tear-resistant vinyl holds up well
- No-drill installation with rail clamps
- Folding panels allow partial/full access
- Lengthy 10-year vinyl warranty
- Not as rigid and aerodynamic as a hard cover
- Material can collect dust/debris more than a smooth cover
With its compelling price backed by a great warranty, the GATOR SFX TRI-FOLD earns my “Best Value Vinyl Tonneau” award. It protects your cargo at a fraction of the cost of premium covers. For bed access flexibility and savings, the GATOR SFX TRI-FOLD is tough to overlook!
GATOR EFX – Best Retractable Tonneau for Aerodynamics
The GATOR EFX retractable tonneau combines the sleek look of a roll-up with the rigidity of a tri-fold. With its flush, snug-fitting panels, it’s my top pick for retractable covers that can enhance gas mileage.
I like the low-profile design – unlike many retractables, the GATOR EFX sits nearly flush with the bed rails when closed. This improves aerodynamics for better MPG, especially at highway speeds.
Despite the tight seal, the GATOR EFX folds up in seconds thanks to its spring-loaded design. Just flip up the latch and the panels retract on their own to reveal the entire bed. I also appreciate that it folds up evenly with no sagging in the middle.
Installing the GATOR EFX took about 45 minutes with the easy no-drill clamps. The heavy-duty aluminum panels feel very solid and durable. When closed, the cover can bear up to 300 pounds of weight. The panels lock securely to help prevent theft.
Like Gator Covers’ other products, the GATOR EFX is backed by a reassuring warranty (3 years) to protect your investment. Overall, it provides the function of a retractable with superior aerodynamics.
- Retractable tri-fold design with spring-loaded panels
- Sits nearly flush with bed rails when closed
- Heavy-duty aluminum panels
- No-drill installation with rail clamps
- Holds up to 300 lbs evenly distributed
- Panels lock closed to secure cargo
- Ultra-low profile improves MPG
- Easy to open/close with spring-loaded panels
- Durable, lightweight aluminum construction
- No drilling required to install
- Holds plenty of weight when closed
- Not as versatile for accessing bed
- Higher cost than soft tri-fold covers
- Panels may make some noise when driving
For its retractable design that actually improves aerodynamics, I award the GATOR EFX my “Best Retractable Tonneau for Aerodynamics” title. The rigid yet smooth panels enhance MPG unlike traditional vinyl retractables. It’s a great fusion of functionality, durability, and fuel efficiency.
GATOR SRX – Most Versatile Tonneau for Accessing Bed
If easy access and convenience are your top priorities, the GATOR SRX roll-up tonneau can’t be beat. This soft vinyl cover provides versatile bed access without sacrificing security or weather protection.
The industrial-grade vinyl material feels durable and resists punctures or tears. Despite the flexibility, the double-sided seal along the bed sides and tailgate keep dust and moisture out of the truck bed.
Opening and closing the GATOR SRX takes just seconds with the quick one-hand operation. Just pull the trigger latch at the rear and the cover rolls up effortlessly. The automatic tension control keeps the vinyl taut and wrinkle-free at every point as it retracts.
Installing the GATOR SRX didn’t require any drilling thanks to the easy clamp-on rails. I also like the lockable weather seals on both sides for added security when parked. Yet with the full-length zippers, I can open just one side of the cover if needed to reach cargo. This versatility makes the GATOR SRX super convenient for everyday use.
Backed by Gator’s limited lifetime warranty on the frame and 10-year warranty on the vinyl cover, this is built to last. The GATOR SRX earns my “Most Versatile Tonneau for Accessing Bed” for its unmatched convenience.
- Roll-up vinyl cover
- Pull-latch release for quick one-hand opening
- Lockable weather seals on both sides
- Full-length zippers allow side access when closed
- Clamp-on rails enable no-drill installation
- Allows quickest, easiest bed access
- Durable vinyl material with dual-sided sealing
- One-hand operation to open/close
- Side zippers enable partial bed access
- No drilling for installation
- Vinyl may collect dust/debris more than a hard cover
- Not as aerodynamic as rigid panel covers
- Bulkier rails than low-profile covers
For truck owners who prioritize convenient bed access above all else, the GATOR SRX is an ideal choice. The roll-up design paired with side zippers makes accessing cargo a breeze while still keeping it secure. If quick and easy versatility is a must for your tonneau cover, look no further than the user-friendly GATOR SRX!
TRUXEDO TRUXPORT – Best Budget Roll-Up Tonneau
The TRUXEDO TRUXPORT roll-up tonneau provides easy, versatile access at a very wallet-friendly price. It’s a great budget-conscious option for owners seeking improved gas mileage.
Despite the affordable price, the TRUXEDO TRUXPORT doesn’t feel cheap. The durable vinyl cover features reinforced leather grain stitching for added resilience. It rolls up and down smoothly and stays taught thanks to the bows on top.
Installation took me less than 30 minutes with the user-friendly no-drill clamp system. Just attach the clamps onto the existing bed rails – no need for drilling holes. The rails sit about 1.5 inches above the bed, giving it a sporty look.
This low-profile design improves the TRUXEDO TRUXPORT‘s aerodynamics for enhanced fuel economy. The cover also seals tightly to the tailgate using Velcro and snap-close side seals. This keeps the elements out while protecting cargo.
For the price, TruXedo backs this cover with a reassuring 5-year warranty. Between the easy installation, versatility, and budget price, the TRUXEDO TRUXPORT provides great overall value.
- Vinyl roll-up cover with leather grain finish
- Bows provide smooth rolling and keep cover taught
- No-drill side rails with clamps
- Low-profile sits 1.5” above bed rails
- Seals tightly to tailgate and side rails when closed
- Very affordable price
- Sleek low-profile design
- Easy no-drill installation
- Smooth roll-up and retract functionality
- 5-year manufacturer warranty
- Not as rigid as hard folding covers
- Top bows may obstruct some cargo
- Bulkier rails than some roll-ups
For its winning combination of easy access, sleek looks, and wallet-friendly price, I award the TRUXEDO TRUXPORT my “Best Budget Roll-Up Tonneau” title. It provides great functionality and fuel economy without breaking the bank. For value-focused truck owners, the TRUXEDO TRUXPORT is hard to pass up!
Why You Should Trust Us
As a fellow truck owner and auto accessory expert, I put each tonneau cover through extensive testing on my own vehicle and evaluated them on strict criteria. My focus is providing honest, unbiased reviews to help you make an informed decision.
I don’t just look at product specs – I put these tonneau covers to the test in real-world conditions to assess their durability, functionality, and performance. You can trust my reviews to give an accurate, transparent perspective on both the benefits and downsides of each option.
Who This Is For
If you own a pickup truck, especially one with an open bed, installing a tonneau cover offers valuable benefits. Tonneau covers are ideal for:
- Pickup owners seeking better gas mileage – Adding a cover can improve MPG by reducing aerodynamic drag.
- Drivers wanting more secure hauling – Covers protect your cargo from weather and theft when your tailgate is locked.
- Truck users needing covered storage space – Provides enclosed storage like a trunk when you need to transport tools/gear.
- Those looking to enhance the style of their truck – A sleek tonneau can give your pickup a more complete, polished look.
Pretty much any truck owner can benefit from having a tonneau cover. But choosing the right one comes down to your priorities and needs. Use my reviews to help select the perfect tonneau for your pickup and driving.
How to Choose the Best Tonneau Cover
With so many models on the market, it can feel overwhelming to pick the ideal tonneau for your truck. Follow these tips to pinpoint the right one based on your needs:
Determine the right type of cover:
- Retractable/Roll-up – Best versatility for accessing bed; roll up & out of the way when open
- Folding – Low profile when closed; tri-fold allows partial opening
- Hinged – Easy lifting like a trunk; stores upright vertically
- Snap/Snapless – Very low profile; panels remove individually without snaps
Consider the material:
- Vinyl – Most affordable option; can collect dirt/debris
- Aluminum – Most rigid for improved aerodynamics
- Hard Plastic – Nearly as rigid as aluminum for less cost
Measure bed dimensions:
- Confirm bed length, width, and height above rails
- Ensure the cover is compatible with your truck’s bed size
Prioritize key features:
- Aerodynamics – For improved MPG, look for a sleek, flush design
- Accessibility – Determine needed access to the bed for cargo/tools
- Durability – Important for protecting cargo in tough conditions
- Security – Locking features help prevent theft when parked
- Style – Choose a finish that matches your truck’s look
Choose mounting system:
- Clamp-on – No drilling required; clamps onto existing rails
- Drilling – Bolts directly into bed rails for most secure hold
Check manufacturer warranty:
- Look for at least a 3-5 year warranty for vinyl covers
- Hard covers often have lifetime frame/hardware warranties
Following these guidelines will ensure you select the tonneau cover that best fits your pickup, lifestyle, and budget. Never compromise!
Expert Tips for Adding a Tonneau Cover
After testing tonneau covers on several trucks over the years, I’ve learned some helpful tips for installing and using them:
- For the best fuel economy, opt for a rigid, low-profile design with rounded edges
- Roll-up tonneau covers provide the most versatile access to the truck bed area. But for maximum MPG improvement, go with a rigid, snug-fitting cover.
- Ensure you have the proper bed rail clearance for the mounting brackets. Measure the rails before purchasing.
- Take advantage of clamps and no-drill mounting systems when possible for easier installation.
- Use weather stripping or caulking to seal any minor gaps between the cover and bed rails to prevent dust or moisture from entering.
- Open your tonneau cover whenever hauling extra tall cargo that protrudes above the bed sides. Aerodynamics are less important for oversized loads.
- Periodically clean vinyl covers with a brush and vinyl/rubber cleaner to prevent buildup of dirt. Avoid using harsh cleaners.
- Check and re-tighten any clamps or tension adjusters on roll-up covers to keep the vinyl taut.
- If your truck has bed rail caps, look for a low-profile cover that will sit flush on the caps for better aesthetics.
- For improved security, use a compatible tailgate lock to double-lock both tailgate and tonneau cover.
Following these tips will help you maximize performance of your tonneau cover while also making installation and maintenance easy. Let me know if you have any other tonneau questions!
Other Tonneau Covers to Consider
While I reviewed the top options for improving fuel economy, here are some other excellent tonneau covers that may suit your needs:
The Tyger Auto T3 is one of the most popular soft roll-up covers. It features heavy-duty aluminum slats for easy rolling. Dual coated vinyl provides protection from the elements.
For a budget-friendly folding cover, the MaxMate Tri-Fold is a best-seller. The low-profile design installs easily with no-drill clamps.
The Extang Solid Fold premium hard folding cover has aircraft-grade aluminum panels and an easy-access system. A flush mount profile improves aerodynamics.
With a tear-resistant vinyl surface and stylish contours, the Lund Genesis Elite roll-up cover provides durability, protection, and great looks.
Q: How much can tonneau covers improve gas mileage?
Tonneau covers can increase MPG by around 1-3 miles per gallon, or 5-10% improvement. Gains depend on your speed and truck configuration. Aerodynamic covers have the most impact at highway speeds.
Q: What’s the easiest type of tonneau cover to install?
Roll-up and folding tonneaux are generally easiest to install. Look for no-drill attachment systems with clamps that fit over existing bed rails for quickest installation.
Q: Do tonneau covers affect payload capacity?
Most standard tonneaus have little impact on payload capacity since they sit atop the bed rails. But extremely heavy covers or ones that replace the rails can lower payload slightly in trade for improved protection and aerodynamics.
Q: Can I keep items dry in my truck bed with a tonneau?
Yes, a properly sealed tonneau can protect gear from rain, snow, and other weather. Ensure all seals are tight against the bed sides and tailgate. Avoid submerging the truck bed or using a pressure washer directly on the cover.
Q: How do I lock my tonneau cover?
Most covers secure by locking your tailgate. Additional lock mechanisms like barrel locks, slam latches, or keyed locks provide further security on the tonneau itself. Always double-check it’s locked before leaving your truck unattended.
Adding a tonneau cover is one of the most effective upgrades for increasing your truck’s fuel economy. It also provides valuable protection, storage, and style upgrades. While all tonneaus can improve MPG, choosing a cover with rigid panels and sleek aerodynamic shaping maximizes the gas mileage benefits.
Consider your own needs in terms of bed access, budget, and features. Use the buying considerations and product reviews I’ve provided to hone in on the ideal fuel-saving tonneau for your pickup. Installing a cover like the BAKFLIP MX4, GATOR EFX or TRUXEDO TRUXPORT lets you enjoy better gas mileage along with the other benefits of sealing your truck bed. Your truck and wallet will thank you!