CleanMPG Previews the Extang Trifecta Tri-Fold Signature Series Tonneau Cover

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by xcel, Apr 25, 2011.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG] For P/U owners, the Trifecta Signature protects your gear from prying eyes, looks fantastic and most of all, saves highway drivers fuel by the supertanker full!

    [fflash=right][/fflash]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - April 24, 2011

    The Extang Trifecta from the people that designed it.

    Tonneau covers. There are literally hundreds on the market and on the eve of driving the 2011 Ford F150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost out to LA to begin the “Star is Born” – Fuel Economy Adventure Challenge later next week, it was imperative that we had a tonneau cover to protect the outdoor gear while parked overnight from those that may have more than just passing interest in a super looking wrapped truck.

    In addition to keeping the gear hidden away, we need it to be protected from the elements. After all, what kind of weather would you expect to drive through over a 17-day stretch when passing through Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Phoenix, LA, back to Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Atlanta, Savannah, Washington DC and back on up to Dearborn to drop off the truck after it is all over? I can tell you it took all of 175-miles before driving through the first of I am sure many more to come, 3-hour driving rain storms.

    And finally we have the Fuel Economy. The standard 2011 Ford F-150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost is rated at 16/22/18 mpgUS city/highway/combined. According to Extang, makers of the Trifecta Tonneau, this bed protection is supposed to provide its owners as much as 10% more range before visiting the pump if he or she drives a lot of higher speed highway miles.

    The Extang Trifecta Signature Series in Detail

    So what’s a boy to do when he has a hot truck and a few spare minutes to discover what it has to offer? Why take things apart of course! And so it goes as I took the tonneau apart to see if the product was as good as the promotion that goes behind it.

    Removal and Reinstallation

    First, it is easy to remove and re-install which took all of 10-minutes in total. Snap open the rear nylon constructed and spring loaded speed clamps (this takes all of 5-seconds to do after your third or fourth go at them), fold the tonneau back up to the front through its tri-fold system and unclamp by hand the front clamps. Once removed, store it in the garage in its folded and smallest footprint condition. It is really as simple as that! Of course I followed all the instructions before doing so, right? Well not exactly as this is not my truck and I did not even have a manual!

    Lightweight yet Strong

    Next up is the weight. It is what I would call extremely lightweight by comparison to a solid or spring loaded tonneau’s I have used in the past. Remember the 11 Super Duty drive from Phoenix to Chicago and its front hinged tonneau? When first picking the Trifecta off the truck bed, I was thinking how can something this light hold up? While I did not weigh it, it felt no heavier than 30 pounds and a single individual is all that will be needed to install it on his or her truck.

    About that to light to hold up over the long haul thought. I started looking at the construction and after lightly twisting the hinges and cross bows (I do not know what else to call them but you know what I mean), the entire system is much stronger than its weight would imply.

    Weather Protection

    The sealing surfaces - The Trifecta uses what Extang calls a WeatherTuff pro-grade labyrinth rail seal. To the end user, it is equipped with a permanently mounted to the frame, very soft rubber like compound that feels, appears and is constructed very much like the seals found in your OEM trucks door(s). Pliable but tough and it seals tight against the truck beds rails. As you close your tailgate, the sealing surface off the back of the cover simply squeegee’s out of the way and back again to seal tight against the top of the gate.

    And in the real word? Remember that little 3-hour rain storm driven through between Kalamazoo, MI and the IL/WI border described above? While the bed was unloaded during that segment, I opened up the tonneau in the morning while it was still drizzling and not a drop was found in the bed or around the beds interior edges.

    It works and for what we have planned, that placed a very large smile on my face :)


    Because you have to open the Extang Trifecta from the inside rear via the speed clamps and then fold it back, once the tailgate is closed and locked, nobody is getting to your stowed gear without cutting through the fabric top. While this has occurred in the past, it is a very unlikely situation. If somebody is that desperate to get to your gear, they would have certainly broken out a window of your truck to get at what was inside of it anyway.


    This is the really cool part… I am fortunate to be equipped with not just the Trifecta tri-fold tonneau but a Signature Series. What is this thing called Signature Series you say? It is not your standard Vinyl but a more luxurious appointed cover with the same toughness as the standard vinyl. I will have to get a close up later on during the trip but to put it bluntly, it has a deeper felt like appearance from a distance and a tougher textured surface to the touch. In other words, it classes up your truck without losing the toughness that a tonneau is expected to provide over the many years of service it will have to endure under your ownership.

    Extang Trifecta Signature Series installed on the 2011 Ford F150 w/ EcoBoost

    A general exterior shot: The Trifecta tonneau looks good, works great and should provide an additional mpg or so.​

    Fuel Economy

    This is an area we will have to take the manufacturers word as I do not have the data to say one way or the other. I do have a call into one of the Ford Fuel Economy Supervisors which should provide more background on the subject of aerodynamic improvements with a tonneau cover but as of this moment, I can only say it helps by some amount. I just do not know by how much.

    Extang is claiming as much as a 10% improvement in fuel economy and for a higher speed highway driver; I have no doubt that their claims have been proven in the real world.

    We are simply glad to have a product that lowers the trucks overall Cd given the fuel economy goals we have set out all the while doing everything else a tonneau cover is expected to provide.

    A Real world Load-out

    Those that have been watching my load out of the 2011 F-150 with the Eureka! gear and food stuffs for over two weeks on the road know that this trucks bed is stuffed to absolute capacity. In fact I would be lucky to be able to add even the smallest carry-on bag as an example. When pushing, compacting and crushing the various soft bags currently located within the confines of the bed, I found the front tri-fold to be about 1’ too long for me to stuff that ever important last item in front of the right and left inside wheel wells. When trying to stuff the gear from the outside, I was reaching back underneath the tri-fold to arrange gear causing some frustration. I worked around it by compacting all the gear in front before adding more while working within the bed itself. In other words, begin your load out from within the bed and once past that first tri-fold, load as you see fit.

    2011 Ford F-150 SuperCrew – Short bed Load Out

    Maybe a few more toothbrushes but not much more will fit.

    Closed up, secure and ready to roll!​


    The base Extang Trifecta arrives to your door for $542 which includes free shipping. The Trifecta Signature Series adds an additional $45.00 with a total price of $587 delivered. Given that a set of blinged wheels can set you back a few grand, the extra $45.00 for the Signature Series appears to be a decent value for those that value the look of their truck over and above any of the tonneau’s other attributes which the Signature Series provides as well. In addition, the claimed 10% fuel savings will pay for the cover many times over the life of your truck with fuel breaching the $4.00 barrier in many areas of the country today.

    The Company

    Extang has been in business since 1982 and today, manufactures America's number one selling pickup truck bed tonneau covers.

    Extang engineers created the "No Damage, No Drilling, Clamp-On Aluminum Frame" tonneau truck cover and the tonno pickup truck bed cover systems while providing the Industry’s best warranty. The Extang Trifecta features a lifetime warranty on the frame and tarp. And in Extang’s own words:
    Early Conclusions?

    While we will not own the truck and the Extang Trifecta Signature Series Tonneau for but a few weeks, the few hundred miles I have placed on the truck to date has proven out the Extang Trifecta design and we look forward to many more thousands of miles with what has to be one of the best looking and functional tonneau covers on the market today.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2011
  2. rhwinger

    rhwinger Well-Known Member

    It will be "battle tested" and approved by the time we are done with it!;)
  3. FSUspectra

    FSUspectra Practicing true conservatism!

    I like that it just looks really clean, like it was made for the truck from the Ford factory. From the looks of it, you can open the tailgate with it closed as well, which makes getting something from the rear of the bed easier than other tonneaus that lock over the edge of the bed.
  4. beatr911

    beatr911 Tightwad

    My experience with tonneau covers hasn't been 10%, more like nil. I leave mine off nowadays as the truck is used for hauling gravel, firewood, etc. mostly anyway. The additionaly drag by the Loadhandler is far outwieghed by it's extreme usefulness and is almost undetectable in MPG penalty anyway.

    For a tonneau cover this item sounds like a really well thought out piece! The threat of leakage is always a factor with these, hopefully they have it whipped.
  5. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    Wayne talked with a F-150 engineer this morning and their studies coincide with your comments. They said it was more like .5 mpg.

    As far as the seal: We drove through 400 miles of blinding rain yesterday and everything looked dry this morning. I have had had a Extang Black Max snap down cover in the past on a 2001 Nissan Frontier. This fold back cover is MUCH easier to open and close than the snap down. If I were to buy one today, this cover would be the one.
  6. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    I just sent this link to my mom in Florida to show my sd. He has a F150 Platinum with a standard snap tonneau on the bed.

    On the Fuel Economy Adventure Challenge, the Extang Trifecta was very easy to fold back and offered a moderate level of security in the bed compared to the standard snap cover. I did suggest to NOT upgrade to the signature series since we witnessed how difficult it was to clean a bird dropping from the micro fiber like cover material.

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