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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