How Much Fuel Does a 4×4 Vehicle Use?

Fuel prices are not getting any cheaper, and weekly gas fill-ups are often a big part of my families monthly budget. Fuel economy is a factor that I always consider when purchasing a new vehicle. And, If I’m compromising on gas consumption costs, I had better be getting something for it. Right?

Just how much fuel do 4×4’s consume? 4×4’s(four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive) are actually pretty comparable to 2-wheel drive vehicles. You would think that the extra weight would cause them to consume significantly more gasoline. 4-wheel-drive trucks have come a long way and it all depends on engine size, and brand of truck you are going for. 

How much fuel does a 4wd vehicle use?

Is a 4×4 really less fuel-efficient? I looked at quite a bit of research and outlined it below. I hope it helps inform your decision if you’re looking to buy a 4×4 or choosing something more fuel efficient.

Do 4×4 Trucks Use More Gas?

If you’re looking at a truck or SUV for Overlanding, you will almost always find that the 4wd version of the vehicle you’re looking for will use more gas. There are a few exceptions. You can see a quick example of that in the breakdown below.

VehicleMPGCombined MPG
2020 Toyota Tacoma V6 2wd19 city 24 highway21
2020 Toyota Tacoma V6 4wd18 city 22 highway20
2020 Toyota 4Runner V6 2wd16 city 19 highway17
2020 Toyota 4Runner V6 4wd16 city 19 highway17
Data from

I have a 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad 4wd and get about 18 miles per gallon. Keep in mind, that’s average driving and not taking into account any off-roading or overlanding.

What are you getting in return for that extra gas? And, is it worth it? The anwer to that question is going to be different for everyone. For me, I wasn’t so concerned about the gas mileage. I work from home a lot and don’t need my vehicle to commute to and from work daily.

It’s important to keep in mind that you are going to get better gas mileage in 2-wheel-drive mode for all 4-wheel-drive vehicles. Really, unless you’re offroading, you should be in 2wd most of the time.

Do Your Research for a Fuel-Efficient Truck

The 4-wheel-drive trucks that are coming off of the assembly line today are more environmentally responsible, and therefore more fuel-efficient. You may be pleasantly surprised at just how fuel-efficient these new trucks are.

 A few 4x4s on today’s market are actually showing better gas mileage than the same brand’s 4×2 trucks just a few years ago. So, it just goes to show that you really do have to look at every option. 4x4s offer more capability. And, now they are even better on gas than older two-wheel-drive trucks.

I recommend checking out You’ll be able to compare the fuel economy for different vehicles side-by-side. It will give you all the info you need to make an informed decision. Keep in mind, as you go up in engine size, the mpg rating will change.

Looking at every model a company offers and comparing it to other leading trucks will help guide you to the best fit for you and your lifestyle.

How Does It All Add Up?

If you’re wondering just how much fuel these powerful trucks consume. The figures we have for everyday use will be much better than the one we have for off-road or rugged terrain driving.

As a general estimate, when you engage the all-wheel-drive in your vehicle and demand more out of it, you will experience 30-50% fewer miles to the gallon. That is obviously a broad figure, but each vehicle is different, and therefore a more exact number is impossible to calculate.

Since it requires more parts on a vehicle to make it a 4wd, an all-wheel-drive truck will weigh more. For every pound of weight in parts that is added to the vehicle, the more gasoline it will use. 

So, for every 100 lbs. added, you lose about a tenth of a mile per gallon. Approximately several hundred pounds worth of parts added to make a truck 4wd capable gives you that 30%-50% figure.

If you’re an overlander, you’re probably going to add additional weight with skid plates, rock-sliders, racks and roof-top-tents. Make sure you’re keeping that in mind.

Where is the Extra Gas Going?

It’s all about the capability! And with that capability comes some extra fuel cost. Pushing any vehicle to its limit will cause it to be less fuel-efficient. 

Taking your 4×4 up steep inclines, driving fast, and through rugged terrain will sometimes cut your mpg in half. In half! No wonder all-wheel drive vehicles are thought to be major gas hogs!

An all-wheel-drive truck weighs more, and how does all that extra weight get hauled around? Through the use of fuel! The heavier the load, the more gas it will take to get around.

Why Buy a 4×4? 

If you’re wanting to get in to overlanding or off-roading you’re going to need a 4×4. Now, there are exceptions to that rule. Check out this 2wd compilation video to see what I mean:

That’s going to be the exception to the rule. A lot of that would be made easier with a 4wd vehicle.

The top reason people buy all-wheel-drive trucks is for the capability. The ability to get through a snowstorm, and to get you through the rugged off-road trail. You want something we can count on. For personal and business use, 4x4s provide that.

Trucks were made for tough jobs, and for giving you that extra power when you need it most. Even if you don’t need it for the purpose of taking it off-road, you may just like the way they look and feel. I mean, they do look badass.

The Advantage of 4 Wheel Drive

The bonus of having a 4×4 is that you capability advantages that two-wheel-drive vehicles don’t have. Other than finally qualifying to be a member of a 4×4 truck club, there are a few other advantages.

  • Snow. In the winter months, especially if you live in the Northern US states and Canada, you’re going to have snow. It’s pretty much going to be necessary for those that experience harsh winters to own a 4×4.
  • 4-wheel drive vehicles are the only ones allowed to drive into certain mountainous areas. The most exciting thing for a lot of 4×4 owners is the off-roading adventures that they can have because their vehicle is powerful enough to get through the terrain.

How cool is it to drive through the back roads and mud? You probably would not get to do that with a two-wheel-drive truck. So, is it worth the extra gas money?

Tips On How to Use Less Gas in a 4×4

Get up on the highway! When you are looking at a truck’s fuel consumption, the highway number will always show as a more fuel-efficient option vs. city driving. This is true in most cases, but you also need to keep speed in mind.

Keep Your Speed Consistent

It simple. Driving at a steady speed, like what you do on the highway, will be better for your gas tank. All of the stopping or changing speeds will use less gas than if you were putting on the brakes every few minutes. 

Keep The Speed Limit

Keeping your speeds as low as possible will help you save money at the gas pump. I mean, don’t drive like Grandma. I’ve noticed, in my Tacoma, that if I stay at around 65-70mph on the highway I get way better gas mileage than if I’m running at 75mph plus. Speeding is just going to use far more fuel than a steady average speed.

Watch Your Tire Treads

It’s all about the tires! On average, a 4×4 vehicle will use more gasoline than a 2×4. BUT! If you put large tires you are not doing your gas tank any favors. On the same note, make sure that you keep the tires inflated at the recommended pressure. When you’re off-roading, a lot of times it’s good to lower your tire pressure for traction, but driving with low tire pressure on normal roads will kill you gas mileage.

Regular Maintenance

Don’t forget to keep your vehicles maintenance schedule. Neglecting regular maintenance for your vehicle can cause you to get worse gas mileage than before. Giving your truck a simple oil change and routine maintenance on time can mean a big difference in fuel use. Take care of your truck, and it will take care of you.

Final Thoughts

There is definitely a difference in fuel consumption between a 2wd vehicle and a 4wd drive vehicle. For you, like me, it may be negligible. Personally, I’ve had way more fun in my 4-wheel drive Truck than I would have had in the 2-wheel drive version.

If you’re wanting to get the most capability and advantages out of your Truck or SUV then 4-wheel drive is the way to go. There are ways to save a little gas here and there. But, having a 4×4 will allow you to take on almost any off-road adventure.

James with daughter on the trails

About James...

Hi, I’m James. If I’m not working on this site, you can often find me outdoors roaming the trails. I’m an avid hiker, mountain biker, and overlander. I’m excited to share my passion for the outdoors with you.