green towing

Towing will most certainly put a dent in your car's MPG, but there are ways to improve fuel economy even when towing a heavy load.

iStockPhoto/Tim McCaig

You may do your part every day to watch your step on the environment and avoid leaving a carbon footprint. But some days, going green is harder than others. Sure, you may recycle your grocery bags, ride the bus to work and buy organic, but when green guilt starts foiling your vacation plans, who's to say where to draw the line?

After waiting all year to take your new boat out, it strikes you that towing it for the long trip will effectively drop an anvil on your hybrid car's sky-high MPG. Not only do you feel your wallet shrinking by the second, but your green conscience is now burdened with the guilt that your vacation will now sap up gas and release carbon emissions.

Should you shed that shiny new boat from your vacation plans? Or is there a greener way to tow short of going Flintstones-style and literally pulling our own weight? The heavier the load on a vehicle, the more power, and therefore fuel, it will need to move. Nevertheless, although hybrid cars aren't known for their heavy towing capacities, you shouldn't necessarily feel pressured to forego the boat or the trailer for fear of green guilt.

In fact, as stellar gas mileage becomes more popular among consumers, companies seeking the green market are working to equip towing vehicles with higher MPGs. Ford, for example, promises about 20 MPG for its 2009 F-150 truck [source: Carty]. Likewise, companies seeking the blue-collar, boating and camping markets are working to equip hybrids with better towing capacities. For instance, GMC has come out with a 2009 Yukon Hybrid that can tow up to 6,000 pounds (2721.6 kilograms) [source: Edmunds]. These kinds of options are ideal for a person who wants one vehicle to drive to work on a daily basis and economically handle towing a trailer on the annual road trip.

There's no reason you should feel powerless in the plight to save gas with that boat in tow. By becoming a smarter consumer and a smarter driver, your towing vehicle can be an efficient green machine. We'll go over some of the most important tips for better towing gas mileage next.