By Kevin Gordon
Recently our friends over at TTAC have been on a (much welcomed) rampage about automotive journalists being overly fair to those cars that they cover in order to maintain a good relationship with the manufacturers. As a smaller site that works hard to get interesting cars and products to review, it can be challenge to remain balanced. With that in mind, when I began to gather my thoughts about the TonnoPro tonneau cover I had to take second look and double check all of my judgements. Could it make through my freshly renewed journalistic vigor? Read on to find out.
When it comes to adding aftermarket accessories, few products make more sense than a cover for the bed of your pickup. Instantly, you can add weather protected storage while maintaining the ability to carry filth that would destroy the interior of other forms of enclosed storage. As a result, there are a wide variety of covers available on the market. You have your choice of hard and soft covers, different materials, and even options for folding, rolling, peeling, or lifting. With that kind of variety, it becomes a matter of personal preference as to what you want out of your cover and truck.
For full disclosure, we at Autosavant have begun reaching out to accessory/aftermarket manufactures to request products to demo and review. Our plan is to use them for much longer periods of time than one would for a normal media product review. This will result in reviews not coming instantly (follow us on Twitter for real-time updates), but we hope it will allow us to truly discover how well things work. In this case, we reached out to a few tonneau manufactures and TonnoPro was nice enough to send us a cover at no cost.
With it clear that we were given the cover to review, and with my recently checked integrity, I can still say that, without doubt: The TonnoPro cover is everything you could ask for in a soft/folding truck bed cover. It is light, easy to install, useful on a daily basis, and significantly less expensive (~$300) than other types of covers. The major advantage to having a soft folding cover is its ability to quickly get out of the way if you need to carry large items. Additionally, the ability to quickly remove the entire cover for full loads is a two-minute process. The other side of the coin is that you cannot carry heavy items on top of it. Here again, it is a personal preference and plan for use that would determine if one of the folding hard covers or a solid tonneaus would work better for you.
The cover has been on our long term F-150 for the past five months and has served without issue. During the recent hurricane, not a single a drop of water made it into the bed of the truck and we didn’t even install the additional set of weather stripping that is provided with the kit. Installation was simple and took less than 10 minutes. Installation required no tools and our factory bed liner did not interfere. On their site, www.tonnopro.com there is a better video of the install than we could shoot and it shows the entire process taking less than 4 minutes. One important difference I have seen between the TonnoPro and other soft tri-fold covers is that their rear attachments are actual screw adjusted latches. On some competitive models the rear attachments are held by springs and I have seen strong winds (while parked) lift their covers and test the strength of the whole system.
From an improved mileage standpoint, we have not seen any spectacular gains, if any. Average mileage has remained at just about 18 MPG depending on driving style. It is clear that a significant amount of air is no longer making it to the inside of the bed, but there is still much debate about weather this actually improves mileage. There are a few good videos of flow modelling on YouTube that show flow with a tonneau cover and without. Again, this is still an area of great debate and even the brains at MythBusters have had to revisit this topic. In their second set of tests, they drew new conclusions, so it is a bit difficult to conclude a winning model.
There really is not much more to say about it. I can’t imagine a truck without a tonneau cover. The utility of being able to use the bed as a weather proof trunk makes the F-150 as useful as any full size two row SUV, while maintaining the ability to quickly convert to a vehicle that can carry a load of mulch without soiling your carpets. I would highly recommend a cover and in particular, I would recommend the TonnoPro tonneau cover.
TonnoPro provided the cover to Autosavant at no charge for this review.