2009 Ford F-150 Improves Its Fuel Economy

By Igor Holas


The Environmental Protection Agency has finally released official fuel economy figures for the redesigned 2009 Ford F-150 pickup. And while Ford did in no way run away from the pack, it managed to catch up to the long-leading GM in non-hybrid trucks.

Looking at truck fuel economy used to be easy – you decided between compact or full size, and in full size you decided between the base 6 cylinder, midrange V8 and up-level V8. However, while this still mostly holds, GM has turned the game on its ear with the Hybrid Silverado and Hybrid Sierra. With EPA rating of 21mpg city and 22 mpg highway, these trucks have the second-best combined fuel economy behind the Ford Ranger with four cylinder engine and manual transmission (20 city /26 highway). Note that Chrysler has also announced its intention to launch a two-mode hybrid variant of its new-for-2009 Dodge Ram pickup in the next year or so, which will likely get the same fuel economy ratings as the Silverado and Sierra Hybrids do.

Then, this past summer, GM added yet another exception to the rule with the launch of Silverado XFE, a special edition of its 5.3 liter V8-powered Silverado with low resistance tires, aerodynamic improvements, and other tweaks that achieve a respectable rating of 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.

For its part, Ford decided to not offer a V6 engines and offer a cheap low-power V8 instead with the upcoming F-150. With lack of technology, and four speed transmission, the base two-valve 4.6 liter V8 will be rated at 14 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway. This rating will win no accolades, as ironically, the weakest, cheapest engine also happens to be the thirstiest engine in the 2009 F-150 lineup. The upgraded three-valve 4.6 liter V8 gets a better 15/20 rating, and the up-level 5.4 liter V8 earns a respectable 15/19 rating.

So while GM holds the top two spots with their Hybrid and XFE Silverado, Ford managed to squeeze into third with its three-valve 4.6 liter V8, tying GM’s 4.3 liter V6 Silverado. Plenty of other engine choices in the market are in the same fuel economy neighborhood, including all engines in the Dodge Ram (which for 2009 is rated at a fairly impressive 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway with the top 5.7 liter HEMI, which out-powers the Ford and Nissan V8s and matches the Tundra’s output, but falls short of GM’s thirsty (13/19) 6.2 liter V8), plus the remaining options in the F150 and Silverado, and Tundra’s V6, but many are not, especially Toyota’s and Nissan’s V8 engines.

One might not see the importance in the mileage of the new F-150 without looking at the old F-150. The current truck with similar engines and four-speed transmissions was significantly behind GM’s economy figures, and in the current automotive climate, any mileage improvement counts. It’s fascinating to see full-size truck manufacturers adding a fuel economy war to the ongoing battles for towing, horsepower, and torque supremacy.

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Author: Igor Holas

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  1. Ford needs to think of this F-150 is an interim model and begin designing its successor ASAP. The next F-150 needs to lose 600-800 pounds (if not more) and improve its drag coefficient by a minimum 10-percent (if not more). I hope an EcoBoost V6 shows up REAL SOON, but I’m not optimistic it can do much for this beast.

    While Ford canceled the F-100 –certainly the F-150 has grown too big and thirsty for casual truck buyers (as Ford’s extreme lack of profits attests)– the next F-150 should in fact be F-100-sized (betcha Toyota is thinking it should have kept the Tundra on the smaller side as well). Keep the F-250-450 the same size (but lighter), and improve the Ranger — wa la! A Ford truck family that fits all needs and budgets.

    In addition, Ford builds the tiny Courier in Brazil. I think a version derived from the new Fiesta ought to hit it big with the Scion set.

  2. I read somewhere that by 2010 Ford will introduce a 3/4 scale truck named, hold on, the F-100. Also, by 2011 or 2012 a new “global” be available. The EcoBoost V6 will more than likely be the top choice of the F-100.

  3. The future F-100/Ranger has been on-again/off-again for the past few months. From what I’ve read, Ford is now planning to put EcoBoost engines in the F-150, the F-100 idea is DOA, and the current Ranger will be dead after 2010. There is some talk of bringing the Ranger back sometime after 2010, but as a global truck assembled outside the US, but I’m sure that is tentative at best given the ongoing flux in the market, and the (currently) weak dollar. It seems Ford is confident that with EcoBoost engines and a smaller diesel, they can make the F-150 efficient enough, but it seems to me all the technology in the world can’t overcome physics. The 2009 F-150 is just too big and heavy to get the kind of fuel economy (at least 25 MPG) Ford needs.

  4. Ford needs to redesign its V8 Engines, A Overhead Cam Engine should be at least 2 % better on fuel and power than a overhead valve engine! GM and Chrysler are getting better fuel mileage with older designs, and this was before cylinder deactivation!Ford is taking a engine that is suppose to be more efficent and making it less in power and fuel mileage! Looks to me that they need to layoff some of their powertrain engineers!Plus their V6 was nobetter on fuel than the V8!My question is when does the law of physics kick in?

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